“Gadar 2 and Jawan are big-budget films and they have taken 2-3 years to be made. Theatres will be empty again after a couple of weeks, waiting for the next big film to arrive.All the big stars do one film a year. No big star does two films.SRK did not have a release in the last five years. Hrithik and Aamir also do one film in two years. It can’t be the case that only these top 5-6 stars’ films work. When people go to the theatres to back a combination of films then I’d say that the audiences are back,” Sanjay told ETimes.
Combination of films?
Like there’s a film called Baap coming up starring Mithun Chakraborty, Sanjay Dutt, Sunny Deol and Jackie Shroff. When people go to watch that film then I can say that the audiences are really coming back to theatres.
Earlier, we wouldn’t call a film that has done 90 cr business a hit. Nowadays, we call a film superhit if it has done a 75 cr business. We start congratulating each other if the film gets an opening of 4-5 cr.
The fault lies with us makers too. I’d say that we have been orphaned. And I’ll explain how. Humare upar koi Maai-Baap nahin hai. Earlier, at least a studio was there that would pump up the PNA. Now, who does the marketing for a small-budget film? Studios have shut down. There’s no studio green-lighting a film, literally. It is becoming a Catch-22. Films neither films are made nor audiences are coming. Once these two things return to normalcy. The Film City used to have more than 50 shoots a day on average. Today, there are hardly 5-6 shoots happening a day. All the stars are sitting at home. Producers ke offices mein maatam hai yaar.
So, we shouldn’t be celebrating too early?
Absolutely not. What are we celebrating? This money is not coming into the film industry, no? It is going back to those who invested. How does it change anything for the film industry? The exhibitors who were suffering have got some relief. They’re happy for a while but in their hearts, they also know, “Yeh chaar din ki chaandni hai.”
Has action as the genre worked in a big way?
It’s not just action. There’s Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani too. A good, well-promoted, entertaining film with a big star – people are coming. But if the film is not big or doesn’t have big names, people are ready to watch it on OTT. As it is Indians like free ka maal. We pay for OTT subscriptions, but in a sense these things are free only. 95% of the movies are skipped by the general audience in theatres. They prefer to watch it at home.
What needs to be done to get the audience back in theatres for a longer time?
Right now, we are talking about only spectacles and brand value. A spectacle of Pathaan and Jawan or brand value of Gadar 2. But how many of such films can be released in a year?
After watching Pathaan, I came out of the theatre as a worried man. I said, “As a filmmaker, this is the new normal. This means apart from the stars, I need 200 crores to compete with that film. To make a film, I will need two big stars, one villain and a massive heroine. You’ll need that in order to compete.”
In Jawan, Shah Rukh has done the same. Knowing Shah Rukh and his passion for movies, he has worked with the same passion for Paheli as he has worked for Jawan. He works with passion and he spends money with passion.
In Aap Ki Adalat, SRK said that, I don’t take money from films. I tell producers to spend on the film. I earn money from appearances and endorsements; which is so true. Have you ever heard that Shah Rukh Khan has charged this much money for a film? Baaki heroes ka statement bann jaata hai.
Taking up issues in Jawan
This is common in south Indian cinema. Hats off to Atlee. and it is courageous of Shah Rukh to back that content. In the south, they take up issues. There’s masti, dhamaal, over the top moments in the film, but that one ungli wala speech balances everything. It’s very good.