Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Dharma Productions and Karan Johar - Turning Over A New Leaf?

Dharma Productions latest venture 'Agneepath', a remake of the 1990 original is set to release in a day or so. This one stars Hrithik Roshan, Sanjay Dutt, Priyanka Chopra and Rishi Kapoor while the original one had Amitabh Bachchan, Mithun Chakraborty and Danny Denzongpa. It didn't work at the Box Office then, its expected to work big time this time around and the general buzz is awesome. Within two weeks from Agneepath, Dharma has another big release 'Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu' lined up. How many production houses will be daring to release two films worth crores of rupees in a span of two weeks? Big stars, Big budgets, Big Films!

Cut To

An independent film maker whose film just released in select theaters in the metro cities is in conversation with a leading news channels' film critic who is half an advocate for independent cinema and aspiring filmmaker himself. They are discussing the ending of the former's latest release which involved the lovers not coming together. The film critic goes on to say, 'It had to be like that, else you'd have done a KJo but good you kept it this way'. The filmmaker replies by saying 'Yeah, I wouldn do a KJo with my film'. The filmmaker struggled a lot taking his baby to many festivals, investing his hard earned money in its production and still not having many who give a f**k about it. But as he said, "We did it to hear that sound of applause at the end of each show. We made a fairly decent film. This is what every artist wants. F*@k the money."

Cut To

Agneepath and EMAET gear up for release but the question remains. Why are the two films releasing at such a short gap? Does KJo know that his product is not worthy enough to last more than two weeks? Will they not eat into each other's publicity campaign? In the meanwhile, KJo takes up the challenge to review this indie filmmakers latest release and gives it the biggest celebrity endorsement because it stars a film critic who used to write devoutly underwhelming reviews of all KJo movies before he exchanged places this time to go in front of the camera himself. 

I decided to dig this whole thing up and bring out the real truth, obviously, as I see it! I am definitely ready for your garrote, guillotine or gaali if you choose to disagree because I am just a passenger in an airplane full of windows with multiple viewpoints. See this as a perspective, dont hammer it like a nail on the wall. 


To find answers to my question I download a pirated version of the filmmakers venture and see it to decide for myself if this conclusion of the above discussion was valid. There's a huge upcoming clout of people who hate and spread hate for Karan Johar and his likes in the industry, managing to do both pretty well at the same time. This clout consists of some indie filmmakers, some film critics, some journalists, some nobodys who like saying 'this shit is f***ed up' at almost everything and some others. My intentions here are not to spark a debate between independent and commercial mainstream cinema, or the many other categories that cinema can be put into. I can leave that debate for later. This indie filmmaker pointed out that he has spent a lifetime of money and time bringing his latest release to the audiences and might just not have the courage to do it again. He says, "If you cant beat them, join them". Alas, this is the demoralizing tale for a big chunk of independent cinema these days and the star system has in the industry has never let it improve. All these filmmakers want to tell a story, believe in the power of a strong script, which can never be substituted by style. I really hope all those stories reach the celluloid someday and these upsetting trends of reaching the Rs 100Cr mark are put to an end soon but deriding KJo and discrediting him for his achievements is not the way to go about it. Each of the haters is definitely entitled to his opinion and school of thought but they gotta see that KJo's antics may be praiseworthy in a domain that they dont relate themselves to. 

I find it inappropriate to blame KJo for perpetuating the star system when the whole industry is plagued by it. On the other hand, he went out and has given great platforms to new directors and amazing talents such as Ayan Mukerji (Wake Up Sid), Amit Trivedi (Wake Up Sid + EMAET) and Akshay Roy (upcoming untitled film, co-produced with Ekta Kapoor). He is blamed for constantly writing similar characters and making sappy movies that associate with schmaltz more than substance but he did make My Name is Khan, which is one of the most sensitive international issue-based films made in the industry. He goofed it up trying to make it a hero's tale rather than a man's tale, too bad, but he did give religious profiling a shot, right? As famous film journalist Anupama Chopra points out here, he is the architect of contemporary Bollywood style. No one knew how to make it look big, how to make it look classy, how to make it look every frame look gorgeous before the likes of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham came out. Indian Awards may be considered to be rigged but if Filmfare holds any credibility, his movies have won a lot of them. 

The point is, at the end of the day, even he takes up challenges, just like any other indie filmmaker. Be it the aggressive and on-point marketing of Agneepath or writing the review of the above mentioned release. The only difference is its easier for him to win those challenges because he has chosen to feed the star system which comes with big risks along with big numbers. The risks are outdone by the numbers, more often than not. But you cant hate the guy for being successful in his own domain. Atleast he knows what he is doing. As Aniruddha Chatterjee points out here, only 3 movies in the last four years have had total collections which are more than double of their first week collections. We have stopped having a repeat audience and its not a bad decision to release EMAET two weeks after Agneepath in that case. The industry cannot be changed by one KJo alone, I feel he is doing his bit by giving the perfect backing to a lot of indie talent. I am no big fan of KJo and I am not here to advocate on his behalf. He did play safe for a long time, but he has switched over to taking risks now and not all Dharma movies are sappy and gay anymore. He should get this chance to do something different instead of being a victim to pre-conceived notions. Agneepath is getting great reports and is unlike anything Dharma has done till now. The least we can do is find a new scapegoat to make fun of and believe that its not that bad to have a happy ending to a movie!


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