Soudip Chatterjee is an avid reader of Koimoi. He is a digital marketing professional and story- script writer hailing from Kolkata.
Baahubali The Conclusion have taken the box office by storm from last couple of weeks. Everywhere in India or in abroad people just can’t stop gushing over this SS Rajamouli spectacle. The film has managed to reach the pinnacle of excellence within a period which is unimaginable for other films. The visual extravaganza, the emotions, the larger than life characters and the edge of the seat action scenes everything made Baahubali the conclusion a modern day classic. This never seen before affair not only winning the people’s heart or vanquishing box office records but raises some serious questions! Now the mandate from people are clear, whether it’s North India or South, they want bigger and better films mainly which have ample of entertainment factors with universal appeal.
Period films were never safe baits for Indian Film Industry until the typhoon named Baahubali came into theatres. K. Asif’s ‘Mughal-E-Azam’, Ashutosh Gowariker’s ‘Lagaan’ and ‘Jodhaa Akbar’ and ‘Sanjay Leela Bhanshali’s ‘Devdas’ and the latest ‘Bajirao Mastaani’ are some famous names of Bollywood period films which gave spectators some experiences but those films were nowhere close to the Baahubali phenomena, neither in entertainment factors nor in ticket windows.
After Baahubali The Beginning we saw few filmmakers in South India came up with some period films to cash the Baahubali effects but those films became immediate disasters, such was the power of Baahubali but now after Baahubali part 2 the chances of the same are quite higher. Now, news are coming that producers are leaving no stone unturned to make period films which they think are very safe genre ( which is usually not) and most of them are eyeing the two cult epics ‘Ramayan’ and ‘Mahabharat’. But here are some factors which worked for Baahubali may not work for the upcoming period films.
Lack of Visionary Directors
‘A blind is better than a visionless director’.
The magic of Baahubali should be credited to one and only the genius filmmaker, SS Rajamouli and his vision. He gave us hints through his films that one day something gigantic like this is coming from him. His school of film making is totally different. The way he emotes or makes a jaw dropping situation out of nothing is unique. We have hardly any director of his caliber present in our country. If a person comes very close to him is Sanjay Leela Bhansali but his approach to the film is very artistic and allegorical which can be very harmful for a big period film as lots of money are involved in those films. The chance of receiving flak from mass audience is high.
People in pre Baahubali times have some how survived the ‘okay’ish frames but now Baahubali has increased their greed. They now want big canvas films but sadly there is hardly any one to do the justice with a period film. Most of the directors don’t have an iota of knowledge in using VFX and at the same time connecting audiences with emotions. The scale and the scenes in Baahubali has set a benchmark now and anything less than that in upcoming period dramas will be considered as blunders. Now, few days ago Allu Arvind announced ‘Ramayan’ but to cope up with level of Baahubali he needs a perfect director or it will turn out to be another ‘Rudramadevi’ or ‘Puli’. Hollywood has directors like James Cameron, Peter Jackson, David Yates, Ang Lee to play with imaginations and create marvels in each genre, sadly we don’t have that options.
Period films in India are divided into two parts. They are, Real historical and fictional historical. Real historical film characters are full of risks as there are no particular formulas which increase the chances of rejection. For an example, ‘Jodhaa Akabar’ and ‘Bajirao Mastaani’ were accepted where as ‘Asoka’ and ‘Mangal Pandey’ were outrightly rejected as none found anything interesting in it. So uncertainty looms over the fact that the characters will be accepted. Fictional Historical films like ‘Lagaan’ and ‘Baahubali’ did havoc but a less gutsy ‘Mohenjodaro’ spoiled the career of everyone associated with it. So while choosing the subjects one has to make his brain very sharp that has the ability of tracking the pulse of Indian audience very well.
Less Gutsy Producers
If Baahubali is a product of the vision of the director and the passion of the actors, it took perfect business acumen to execute it. Shobu Yarlagadda and Prasad Devineni know how to use the money and whom and they had everything chalked out before they came into making this epic. The ways they kept the buzz alive and put their trust on the vision of SS Rajamouli were truly praiseworthy. But for most of the other big (period) films, the producers chops off the budget suddenly, interferes in the directions and dictates more frequently which in most of the cases become nightmare for the team. The producers have zero trust on his directors and they sell their products in a festival or under the name of big superstar. Hence the audience gets a half baked film.
Less Commitment and Big Salary from Big Actors
When a visionary team forays into an adventurous film or a period film, the captain of the ship (Director) has drawn a sketch of his characters already in his mind and according to that sketch the team wants his actors to come up with. Playing a role in period films is no cake walk; one has to learn horse riding, sword fighting, rock climbing, actions, new body languages which require lots of time. While signing the film, the actor needs to give the time to the project and remains in the skin of his character until it finishes off. Renowned faces bring more people to theatres. Most of our recent stars, being busy in multiple projects perform better in parties or advertisements than their films which is a sad state of affair. They don’t get enough time to learn something new because they prioritize their social lives than anything else. Their remunerations are sky high too which is hard for the producers to maintain who have already invested a huge chunk in the film production. As a result, stars loose out some of the memorable roles and the film fails to earn its full potential.
Ramayan and Mahabharat
When we talk about making big films, most of the big names choose to make ‘Ramayan’ and ‘Mahabharat’ but as these two are widely popular among people, the cinematic experience will be predictable to some extent and there are very few scopes to re modulate the narrative as any major change can hurt the religious sentiments of a section. No doubt that these two novels will be a treat to watch on 70mm screens but the question is, would it give writers to experiment with their imaginations? I am afraid, If everyone makes these two in their eras most of the outcomes will look same. The products will be bland and repetitive, therefore. More than that, there are chances of controversies being made by groups too. So it will be very tough to bring something new from ‘Ramayan’ and ‘Mahabharat’ than their usual cults.
The problems are uncountable and the challenges are big. It’s high time to make or break something. Post Baahubali we can get to hear a lot of period or war films being made in a lavish budget but which one will attain the height is still a question. For Bollywood, the number one industry of India, the problem looks bigger and Baahubali is not the only reason. ‘Fast and Furious’, ‘The Junglebook’, ‘Jurassic World’ has decimated most of the big stars film’s collection and now Baahubali has uprooted their pride beating it every left, right and middle. If the star dominated industry intends to show something out of the box respecting the mass audience, it will be saved because Baahubali has not defeated anyone; it has given the due to the audience and re-established the old school formula of entertaining everyone.
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