Saturday, August 11, 2007

Bollywood & Business

Today’s Economic Times has Ms Chopra as the guest editor for a section titled ‘Business of Bollywood’, and as the point that’s been hammered across, at 25 years she’s the youngest guest editor yet.

Two. Are the issues I have here. The first is ‘youngest’. But that’s understandable. At any age post 30, one ceases to be young, at least by various measurement standards. There’s all this talk about you’re as young as you think– but that’s a pure feel good hogwash. Because in any classical counting deliberation, you’ll be not categorized with the young. The below 25 year olds who seemingly hold the key to the future of the country. Nope, at even a single year more that 30 you cease to belong to that future.

Unless of course you’re keen on joining the political theatre in India. There, at even 54 years, you’re undeniably part of the youth wing. It is only the septuagenarian plus who make it to the cabinet level. This however, is a digression and justifies an entire post to its own.

My second issue is Ms Chopra. To be precise it is more to do with her being the guest editor at the aforementioned paper. At first glance I was almost dismissive, but then decided to read it just to prove myself right.

As it happens, I may have to retract my thoughts.

The two pages on Business of Bollywood – nicely done. It certainly has more to with who & what was featured there – and if Ms Chopra had a genuine part to play there – then seriously – nicely done.

The two most usual suspects of Bollywood were interviewed – Mr. SR Khan & Mr. Johar. And I’m the first to admit, while I am hardly a fan of their cinema – the messrs are good. They’re sharp, intelligent & very, very savvy towards the media. Both SRK & KJ are charmingly honest & disarmingly dismissive about themselves. In what I believe to be an extremely well planned manner.

Their views about ‘corporatization of Bollywood’ are candid and well thought out. KJ muses:


…corporates — UTV or Adlabs, Percept or Eros, Reliance or Reliance Adlabs — have to eventually get their act together creatively. They have to employ the right kind of people who can choose the right screenplays…

Pretty much true I’d say. Signing a Hrithik Roshan for uncountable crores of rupees sounds like a manufacturing conveyer belt. And art, while definitely a form of business, is fundamentally a creative process. Templatize it and you lose it.

Yet, for all their creative impunity, as it were, they are rooted in reality. SRK shoots straight from the shoulder:


…I would like to keep making films with my own money if I can afford to. I have made six films so far, three flops, two were average and one is still to be released. I have just about survived…But till my next flop I will be independent as a producer. If I flop, I will go to one of those Reliance shiliance.

Oooh I love the Reliance Shiliance! I’d root for him over ADA any day!

KJ plainspeakingly dismisses Bollywood ever making it big in North America.


...Let’s have no illusion. We can never dominate the North American market. Let’s not expect that the non-Asian audiences will watch our films. UK does to a point, as the association goes back a long way. If we think our movies are going to get 6,000 screen releases in North America, it ain’t happening...

I agree. We don’t need to. For all its millions of dollars, we have our own audiences & they’re growing. In taste, in niches, in experiences.

I’m increasingly becoming a fan of KJ’s easy charm and self deprecating humor. You don’t come across such people often, those who can laugh at themselves. My favourite one was when in the first episode of the second season of Koffee with Karan, KJ takes a break while chatting with pals Rani Mukherjee, Kajol & SRK and signs off saying they’re in conversation with the king & queens of Bollywood, and he’s not talking about himself!

Oh he’s such a princess!

Puns aside, the final product inside the ET pages is pretty worthy. Though as an individual I initially resented (harsh word, but I'm trying to disarmingly honest!) Priyanka Chopra being there, I guess it was a job well done. Come to think of it, if KJ has already been a guest editor for BoB, SRK has done the honours with TOI, that doesn't leave the newspaper with too many options from Bollywood for the job, does it?

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Deepti said...

I happened to read this edition as well and I agree that even though it did appear to be one of those "done to death" bollywood masala write ups, I was pleasantly surprised.

meraj said...

i picked up the edition from the airport to reject it immediately because of the esteemed guest editor (wonder what makes these guys academic or cereberal enough to become this...but considering the way our media is these days, even my bai can do the job. this gues editor phenomena brings back the memories of the doctorates which many worthy people keep getting. you mentioned about one of them).

your views on KJ and SRK are absolutely right...these guys know this machinery called Bollywood. but both of them are too loud and visible for my tastes.