A few days back, in one of my blogs, I have written on as how ‘I am never wrong’ and yesterday (January 24, 2017) after the war-of-words in Facebook, it became pretty evident. Yes, we are never wrong and our points are always ‘best’ and seldom can we agree with the opposite person and seldom is theirs and my line of thoughts ‘similar’. We move on a parallel track. Hardly have we agreed, hardly…!
A few years back, I had written a blog titled ‘Let’s dare for an Assamese movie’ and in it I had tried to specifically highlight the issues and reasons for as why an Assamese is repulsive towards an Assamese movie. From poor making to over-the-top acting, everything in the Assamese movies post mid-2000 has been poor. Even the ardent lovers of Assamese movies decided to side away and the condition of the Assamese movies reached its pathetic best. Success and failure can be said to be represented by a sinusoidal curve, and for the Assamese film industry the curve after reaching a record low, is gradually making an upsurge, but…!
If you have read my previous blogs then you will know that ‘but’ is my favourite and I often use it. I don’t know why I am fond of ‘but’, but I love but!
Anyhow, I was talking about something pertinent…what…err yes, about the upsurge of Assamese movies in the recent times and something like ‘we are never wrong’ to go along with it. How on earth even the two related? Now, I am confused! Oh yes…
It all began some years back when the ‘Assamese’ society almost ‘boycotted’ Assamese movies for these movies were ‘drab’ and very much uninteresting. Apart from having the same sets of lead actors, the movies did not offer any freshness and were monotonous- in terms of everything. Over-the-top acting, heavyweight literary dialogues and lousy emotions- the movies were fuelled with such bullets; but they failed to hit the targets and thus resulted in the eventual ‘boycott’.
‘Corner your own pet cat and she will pounce on your neck’ is a grand old saying and I feel that this is very true when comes to cinema business. From the late 50s to the mid-70s it was Rajesh Khanna who ruled the hearts of millions and gradually he began to fade away and Amitabh Bachchan replaced him. Then from the 90s it has been the three Khans, Akshay Kumar and a few other talented actors who successfully made dens in the hearts of the fans. But even then the fan following of the three Khans is unprecedented and doesn’t matter what is the quality of their movies, most of the movies become stellar hits. The quality of the story or level of acting is seldom looked upon when it’s a ‘Khan’ movie. I know this is not true every time but still, the fact holds true in many fronts.
Now I am actually confused, and do not know as why did I write the above paragraph? Maybe tagging Amitabh Bachchan and the Khans will yield me more readership? Bang on…but there is another brick behind the wall as well.
From Rajesh Khanna to Shah Rukh Khan, every ‘star’, and every ‘actor’ has tasted their own share of success and failures. The success of an actor is not his until and unless the audience accepts him or her. In this male dominated society, rarely have we seen a woman-oriented movie walking the purple turf. The brilliance of Smita Patel or Madhubala or Meena Kumari is spoken widely today, long after they are gone. But while they were alive and were ‘rocking’ the silver screen, they were mostly considered as the second fiddle. But…
Hell no, not again! I am back with my romance with ‘but’ and again I have diverted from the main topic. I still have not understood why am I writing about the Khannas and Kumaris while writing about the Assamese cine industry?
On a serious note, there is certainly a strong connect between the two; and if you have been intelligent enough, you must have already figured out by now as what is that connect? The connect, about which I am talking about, is acceptance- acceptance by the masses, acceptance by the audience. We have accepted one Bachchan as our superstar when there were better actors than him during his time. We accepted his melodramatic acting as the reflection of the society. We accepted one Raj, one Prem and made SRK and Salman Khan the heartthrobs of the nation; irrespective of their monotonous and drab performances. We went ‘ga-ga’ over the dance movements of one Rohit and boom- a superstar was born overnight. The question, however, is that have they been able to maintain that stardom even after continuously dishing out craps in the forms of movies? The answer is a simple- YES!
Why is SRK the ‘biggest’ Khan or Aamir the most bankable actor of Bollywood presently? I have answered it earlier- acceptance. So does this mean we, the greater Assamese society, are not ready to accept our own home-grown stars? Sad, but true, NO we are not!
‘Will I watch an Assamese movie only because I am Assamese’- No certainly not.
‘Why should I pay so much to watch such crappy performances?’- No, you definitely should not.
‘Our Assamese actors are the powerhouse of overacting. Is there a point to watch their fake accent and fake smile and fake tears?’- Definitely, there is no point.
There are questions galore (like the above) and most of them, I strongly believe, will yield similar answers as provided above. But the most annoying question, however, is- ‘Assamese movie? Will it be good? Last experience was a bitter one.’ If we were supposed to do and determine everything as per our bitter experiences, then I suppose no one would have ever dared to fall in love a second time after a nasty break-up nor would have anyone tried liquor a second time after puking all out. If everything was to be determined according to our past experiences, then would we have learned driving after hitting the wall and injuring us badly? I know these questions and points that I have raised will sound irrelevant to many and many will also feel that these are out of context as well. I agree, they may be, they are. But…, yes there is a big butt, of but here which I feel we need to understand.
The idea behind to write this blog came after the ‘debates’ on Facebook yesterday (January 24) on the issue of pulling down an Assamese movie from the theatres due to the release of two ‘big-budget’ and ‘supposedly’ money grossing Hindi movies starring Shah Rukh Khan and Hrithik Roshan respectively. I have absolutely no issue in the screening of these two movies, but I have an issue with the pulling down of the Assamese movie, which was doing a ‘decent’ business and the business was gradually picking up.
Not only my Facebook wall, but even my friends’ walls were filled with emotion-laden updates about this pulling down. Some went on to discuss economics, some spoke about the business this movie has generated. A lot of arguments and counter-arguments came and went, but the debate did not take the name of dying down until one party backed out. And I feel, backing out is the best option when ‘no one is wrong’. Logic was thrown out of the window and things turned personal and fingers were raised about one’s credibility and what was he/she in the real life or was just a hero in the virtual world.
‘Assamese movies’ market is bad, the collection is poor and so why will the movie hall owners continue to screen such a movie only due to regional sentiments’- some wrote.
‘Can one guarantee that the said Assamese movie will remain houseful for a week and if one can guarantee then I too will support this voice, raised due to the pulling down’- wrote a few.
‘You do not know the ground reality, the actual box office collection. You are not a businessman. The pain of running a business is not known to you’- one wrote on my wall.
Yes, agreed the market of Assamese movies is bad but who or what is this market? Who makes this market? Is this something from the Mars? Aren’t the Assamese people, this market? If yes then why is the market bad? Why is that even after dubbing a movie as ‘good’, ‘brilliant’, ‘excellent’ the market continues to remain poor? Why we are not yet attracted to watch an Assamese movie?
No, I cannot guarantee anything and how can I guarantee something when the possibility of success and failure is not in my hands.
My ground reality truth is far different from yours, and thus you will never accept it, nor will I accept yours. ‘I am never wrong’, remember the attitude?
On several occasions earlier, I have interviewed a lot of people from Guwahati’s nearby places and asked them if they watch Assamese movies. A majority of them have said no, while some said that they wanted to but since there is a lack of movie halls screening Assamese movies in or near their locality, they don’t watch Assamese movies. But when asked about Hindi movies then most of them said yes they do watch and some even said that they don’t mind spending Rs 500 and half of your day to visit Guwahati and watch the movie of their favourite star.
So the lack of hall is not the issue, but the issue is of lack of will.
Acceptance, as I have said earlier, acceptance is the key. Part blame is on the makers, part of the audience that today the acceptance is wandering in some oblivious desert and I am not hopeful of it returning soon.
This is my observation only. Blame it largely on the audience for not visiting halls to watch Assamese movies. At a time, in the late 80s and early 90s, when Assamese movies were doing brilliant business alongside the Hindi movies, there came a fatwa from the most celebrated militant outfit of the State. As per the fatwa, the movie hall owners were asked not to screen Hindi movies and gradually, in the smaller centres, the hall owners stopped screening Hindi movies. And since Assamese movies those days were sparse, most of the halls eventually were locked down. With the closure of several halls, the Assamese movies lost its niche audience. Since there was no audience to criticise or appreciate Assamese movies, the makers also lost their way and they remained rooted to the movie making style of the early 90s, but by the time the industry got a fresh breather during the mid-2000s, a lot of things had changed in movie making. The audience, I feel, did not take it easily and they stopped visiting the halls. Then again, the 2000s belong to the 80s and early 90s generation and their tastes of movies were far different from the 60s’, 70s’ generation. The makers, I feel, failed to make this connect and the way was lost.
But as I have said earlier, there has been a change- a visible change and the new breed of actors-directors are making sincere efforts to revive the style of movie making and now the onus is on us, the Greater Assamese Audience to appreciate these efforts. And these efforts should not come only on a Facebook post but we should also show the appreciation my shaking out our purse as well. Business or the economics of Assamese movies are directly related to the audience and hence when someone says that ‘Assamese movies’ business is pathetic’ then it is like saying ‘I am a bastard’s child’ and I am sure this is not a good thing to say.
I admit that the Assamese movie industry has a long way to travel. We have brilliant stories in our kitty. Some of the new boys and girls out there have taken some steps to bring these stories on celluloid. Let us be constructive and help the industry grow. It is high time that we do away with our crab mentality. We speak high about the Marathi film industry or the industry from down South, but what we have failed to see is that it is the people, the communities that have come together and helped the industry to grow. It is very easy to point fingers, criticise and abuse but difficult to point fingers, criticise and work shoulder-to-shoulder.
It is not necessary to watch an Assamese move only because we are Assamese, but we should watch an Assamese movie only because it is also a movie. If the audience doesn’t hit the theatres, then forget Assamese movies as even the most awarded movie of the year will also have ‘bad business’. To watch movies because one loves watching movies and to love a movie after watching it is different.
Speaking about business strategy, it has been widely and often said that ‘to release an Assamese movie at the time of any festival when a big budget Hindi movie is scheduled to be released is stupidity’ or ‘to release the same at a time when the superstars’ movies are scheduled to release is sheer foolishness’ is something I can not digest! If in the states like Maharashtra, West Bengal, Karnataka, and a few more there are dedicated slots for regional movies at the theatres then why can’t we have the same in Assam? Maybe I am being too emotional and business is not run by the emotional fools. But is not the very desire to earn profits from a business is emotional? Maybe not…
It does not matter if one SRK gives crap years after years since I love him I will watch his every movie. So what if an Assamese movie is dubbed as good by many, but since my past experience was bad, I will skip this movie. And yes, Assamese movies’ business is poor, I agree! And the funny part is that some expert comments about the business of Assamese movies come from those who seldom watch an Assamese movie. But still, they are the frontrunners in commenting! Why, because ‘we are never wrong’! And when we have an opinion about movies, we are definitely never wrong!