I know it sounds queer but let me start with Bollywood, a relatively more popular film industry…..
Nobody can deny that the year 2012 has been nothing short of a revelation in our Hindi film industry, a.k.a. Bollywood. It’s heartening to see the revival of an industry which at one point in time had almost been taken for granted.
A time period from the mid 80’s to late 90’s may be put into perspective here during which we had films like ‘Prem’, ‘Laal Baadshah’, ‘Gunmaster g9’ etc; films so bad, they actually ended up being a laughing stock for us.
Sure, there were films like ‘Sarfarosh’, ‘Zakhm’, ‘Khamoshi’ and the likes, but to be honest, they were few and far between. Too many clichés (the helpless and widowed white sari-clad mother, the dutiful son, et al), too many unrealistic climax sequences, too frivolous storylines, more often than not, ruined the whole experience for us.
Then came a wave of new thought, people in the industry started experimenting, both with the content and its portrayal. What started on an experimental basis in the early years of the new millennium has started reaping results now. For every ‘Rowdy Rathore’, we have a ‘Kahaani’, for every ‘Bodyguard ‘ we have a ‘Shanghai’.
Please don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against these core ‘entertaining’ movies. They are good, really good for the men who toil hard all through the day, and need their share of laughter, emotion and action every Friday night. Every now and then, we can include ourselves in that list too. 🙂
Cinema, as a medium of art, should have space for all tastes and everyone should feel invited to the movies: the entertainment-seeker, the melodrama lover etc. Whether it’s difficult to cater to everyone’s need is not the line of thought we ought to bother ourselves about; what should matter to us is whether the intent is there or not.
And Your Point is?
Thanks for bearing with me! I bet you must be wondering about the purpose of this ranting right now. Where is this all this leading to? What’s the point? And maybe this – ‘Why are we talking movies in DB in the first place?
Good questions; all of them.
Well, my intention of setting up the context of the Hindi film industry (Bollywood) in the above paragraph is that maybe our film industry (Ollywood in common parlance) is going through a similar phase as the former had in the ’80s and ’90s.
Maybe, we are pandering too much to a certain section of the society at the cost of neglecting the mainstream Odia audience. Maybe, greed in general and box office collections in particular, is a greater driving factor for the makers of Odia films these days than the idea of expressing ideas via cinema. Maybe the sheen has worn off of Odia movies. Well, there could heck of a lot of maybe’s.
Are the Glory Days of Ollywood Over ?
There was a time when Odia films would claim accolades across the national canvas: notably, Sri Lokenath (best film) and Nua Bou (best actor to Prashanta Nanda).
But those days seem to be over for us. All we get are remakes of southern hits, including the style and mannerisms of the hero/villain too, right down to the manner in which punches and blows are landed across. Almost every film released these days is a remake.
I won’t take names; it’s anybody’s guess about the movies we are talking about here. There should be space for everyone in the industry. Herein comes the catch-22 situation, the classic chicken-or-the-egg scenario.
Take this issue to the producers and directors of Odia films, and pat comes the reply, “Who do we make these ‘different’ films for? Who’ll come to theatre to watch them? Where’s the audience for these kind of movies?
According to them, most of the ‘urban’ crowd in our state comprising the middle, the upper middle and the high-end audience segment don’t watch Odia movies anymore . Youngsters belonging to such families don’t watch them these days simply because they aren’t ‘cool’.
Odia movies don’t make for good, interesting coffee-table conversations at CCD. Whereas, Vidya Balan’s awesome performance in ‘Kahaani’, Robert Downey Junior’s charisma in the ‘Iron-man’ series surely does.
No holier-than-thou attitude here. To be honest, I don’ t even remember the last time I had seen an Ollywood movie.
Can We Help Ollywood Revive Itself?
Well, this is a million dollar question. However, the answer lies somehwere in us. Relax! I don’t mean that you should start watching the Ollywood movies as your first step. Movies, whether Hollywood, Bollywood or Ollywood, should be good enough for you to spend your valuable money and time on, right?
And, our producers would try original movies only if…..I guess you get the drift.
I seriously think this deadlock should be resolved and efforts need to be made from both sides. But then, the first step has to be taken by the people from the fraternity, lamenting the lack of an audience simply won’t do. The change has to be from within, i.e., scriptwriters have to break free of their comfort-zone and stop plagiarising/copying southern movies. New themes and new perspectives have to be brought forward. The motto here should be to think out of the box.
Directors, on their part, have to be gutsy enough to take up scripts which are totally different, totally opposed to the conventional norms of filmmaking in the Odia film industry, backed by producers. A corporate mindset, with a commitment to professionalism would do a world of good to every stake holder here.
Production houses have to be bold and back such offbeat cinema. They must have a vision for future, and must create a market for such films. Nobody’s advising them to completely stop making contemporary money spinners. After all, it’s a question of the bread and butter for these production houses.
But, maybe a certain percentage of their annual budgets can reserved to support the offbeat, however small these budgets might be. Why not make a film for the educated, sophisticated urban Odia audience with a story relevant to our times, minus all the unnecessary melodrama? A story which highlights the highs and lows of city life, or maybe how a person in a city might feel lonely despite being surrounded by millions around him, for example? How about movies on the uncertainties and predicaments of the daily rigours of life, especially relationships? How about the clash of modern, western-influenced cultures with that of traditional Odia culture?
Well, I’m not a film producer but as a keen film industry observer, I think there can be countless stories out there. All they need is a platform, a pedestal.
How to Promote Movies to Potential Audiences?
Now comes the other half of the solution, the other hemisphere- invariably, it’s us, the audience. What can we possibly do to restore the glory of the Odia cinema?
There would be hundreds of other people who want to see good quality cinema on the big screen. Awareness is one word which comes to mind as far as the solution goes.
If there are good films out there and an established producer truly believes they’ve made something really different as compared to conventional movies, they shouldn’t shy away from promoting the film to the potential mainstream audiences.
The concept of promotion isn’t new, and in fact, it’s been there for ages. One just has to keep in mind the kind of films promoted. The movie-going crowd, for one, would easily spot the difference; word-of mouth reviews, friend recommendations go a great deal in bringing about the much needed viral publicity. Regional newspapers, especially the newer entrants into the publishing arena, should carry a weekly review of Odia films.
I agree the start will be slow and under whelming, but hey, who said things were easy? Why not use the social media as a forum or a meeting point for budding Odia filmmakers/scriptwriters/enthusiasts to for a group, meet,make friends with, and share ideas, techniques or arrange for fundings as well?
Right Now is the Right Time – Here’s Why
The Multiplex: The opening of multiplexes might work as the blessing in disguise. If possible, these independent, thought provoking movies could be screened in any one of the multiple screens. That way, every stakeholder is relatively safer. Even when the film doesn’t doesn’t do too well, the multiplex owners can still recover the running costs from any one of the other movies running on other screens. Producers can take solace from the fact that their films were actually screened in the first place, and that the acceptance/rejection was straight from the audience.
Flim Festivals: Film festivals do take place in and around the capital city every now and then. The BYOFF (Bring Your Own Film Festival) held annually at Puri is one of the more prominent ones. More Odia movies should be enlisted for viewing in such festivals.
Cinema Entrepreneurship: Young Odia filmmakers, especially those with great ideas, but woefully short on budget should be encouraged. Young budding film makers with fresh ideas and creativity, should endeavour to make their next films in Odia.
Scope for Broad Recognition: It’s high time that Odia films, and the whole process of associating with them in any which way, were stopped being subjected to inferior treatments. Today, low-budget movies are the toast of film festivals both in India and around the world.
Low-budget Movies: If one has the passion, the idea, and the zeal to spread one’s message across, then the resources, including the huge sums of money associated with it, should no longer be an issue. In fact, a few films are being produced without a full-fledged crew. This way, one can do away with the unnecessary distractions and focus on the subject matter itself.
Finally, I believe many of these points are simply stating the obvious, and many of you would be thinking, ‘Hey, that’s no big deal’. Sure, it’s no big deal. But if it isn’t, then why aren’t we doing something about it? Why have we been silent observers all this while? Shouldn’t we do something about it? Shouldn’t there be efforts from our side too?
I’m an optimist, and so wish some game-changers in Ollywood would wake up from their deep slumber, and rise to the occasion in a grand and spectacular manner! Well, if that already sounds like the script of a typical ‘masala’ movie, so be it! 😉
Thanks for your time, buddy! Please do let me know your thoughts on mine. Let these exchanges of thoughts herald the change!
By Guest Author: Shashwat