Debarati Palit Singh
Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Bollywood films have gone through some major changes in the last few years. ST looks at two major trends that are redefining cinema

Bollywood has evolved a lot in the last decade. From content to music, style of acting to treatment of stories, new trends have emerged every now and then. This is because of the changing tastes of the audience, which in turn could be attributed to the progress of society in general. 

While the age-old formula films are still filling seats in theaters, films that were once labelled ‘independent’ and ‘experimental’ are now getting a lot of attention at the box office. We find out how films need more than just A-list actors to carry it to success, and stories from small cities are resonating with urban and international audiences. 

What’s common between films like Stree, Badhaai Ho, Uri: The Surgical Strike, Bareilly Ki Barfi, Tumbbad, Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety, Shubh Mangal Savdhaan? None of them featured A-list actors, but they still managed to become big hits. The success of these films makes one thing clear — the usual formula isn’t really working as the realistic storytelling is raking in the moolah at the box-office. This questions the age-old formula which involved larger-than-life heroes, items numbers, half-baked stories, multi-star casts and sequels. The audience has been rejecting films even by the superstars of the industry like Shah Rukh Khan (Zero), Aamir Khan (Thugs of Hindostan), Salman Khan (Race 3).  

New-age heroes like Ayyushmann Khuranna, Rajkummar Rao, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, and Vicky Kausal are connecting with their realistic characters. Producers can no longer push films just based on the leading man. An industry insider says that filmmakers now should either make films like the Baahubali series or stick to realistic narratives. “The middle path won’t work any more,” he added. 

During an interview with ST, Nawazuddin said that actors have to choose characters that the audience can connect with. “We can no longer get away with playing a hero fighting 25 goons at a time. It’s the character that matters to the audience,” he had pointed out. 

Director, actor, writer Deven Bhojani, who has worked in TV and films, believes that for the success of a film every single factor matters today. “I am really with the changing trend. Maybe a decade back, films like Queen, Uri, Vicky Donor would not have been accepted. Maybe no one attempted it, or even if they did, it wasn’t with that kind of conviction. These films are being attempted now and they are getting commercial success too, which is a good thing. Content is getting as much respect as the stars because the audience wants every aspect covered while watching a film,” said the director of Commando 2.  

Bareilly Ki Barfi helmer Ashwini Iyer Tiwari, during an interaction with ST, said that the audiences refuse to accept just about anything in the name of cinema. “Mostly youngsters come to the theatres. They watch everything from world cinema to commercial films. If they like a film, they tell others to watch it and if they don’t, they won’t talk about it,” she said, adding that this is probably why even big stars are now ready to compromise with the on screen image they have created over the years but not with the content.  

Till a few years ago, big budget films based in the bigger cities meant sure-shot success at the box-office. They featured grand sets, glamorous costumes, fancy cars, foreign locations, and so on, which lured the audience to the theatres. But that is no longer happening.  

Stories from the small cities have now caught the fancy of the audience not just across India, but internationally too. Films like Manmarziyaan, Bareily Ki ..., Stree, Dum Laga Ke Haisha, Masaan, Lipstick Under My Burkha, Anaarkali of Aarah and Newton among others, were all based in small cities, made in small budgets, but made profits at the box-office. These films have touched a chord with the audience for their simplicity and brilliant storytelling.  

Actor Zareen Khan, during an interaction with ST, said that grand sets or dance numbers in foreign locations do not matter any more. “The audience has become intelligent now. So we cannot bluff them with foreign locations and fancy stuff. They know if they want to accept or reject a film, irrespective of its budget,” she said.  

But why are stories based in small cities connecting with the audience? Director, actor, producer JD Majethia said, “Cinema is all about good stories. All these years, we have seen everything ‘larger-than-life’ but today audiences want to see good, well-made, and well-presented stories. They can relate to such stories and there is an instant engagement. When the audience cannot connect to the world you have created, they will not have fun. That’s the reason the films based in small cities or in the bylanes of the country connect with the audience,” he said, adding that when the audiences watch stories of a common man from a small city, they feel that their own story can be told on screen too, and this motivates them.

Change is the only constant thing in life. In the last decade or so, our food habits, travel aspirations, fitness goals and even the way we consume entertainment have changed. Technology too has transformed our lives in a big way. From Amazon-ing deals of the day to Uber-ing to work, from Swiggy-ing dinner to Tinder-ing relationships, and from UrbanClap-ping homes to PayTM-ing transactions --- our future is digital. Some of us have learnt to embrace these modifications and adapted to them, a few of us are still grappling with them and then there are some of us who are resenting them. 

Sakal Times, which completes 11 years today (May 7), has always accepted, welcomed and championed for change. So here is the special anniversary issue dedicated to Changing Times, Changing Lives. Today’s Plus 4 section talks about the spirit of change. We hope our readers enjoy the new elements and have as much fun reading it as we had bringing it up.

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