Skip to main content

Are Screenwriters Under Appreciated in Bollywood?

The Hindi movie industry is one of the most prolific film industries in the world. According to available figures on the Internet, revenue collections in 2019 stood at Rs 19000 crore. This includes revenues earned from films, television, OTT, etc. Over the last couple of years, thanks to the pandemic, movie viewing in theatres has seen a significant decline. People are preferring to watch streaming channels where there are scores of movies and web series to choose from at the press of a remote button. 

2022 has seen more movies releasing in theatres but it seems like audiences are not returning as fast as the filmmakers would like them to. So much so that a string of big budget films including the much awaited Aamir Khan starrer Lal Singh Chadha has had a shockingly disastrous opening at the box office. Something that would be unthinkable for a mega star of his stature. Akshay Kumar, another mega star has had an equally tepid release in Raksha Bandhan

It's not as if all film releases are faring badly at the box office though. A clutch of movies made by the South Indian film industry (including RRR and KGF) have had massive collections at the box office. So what gives? According to most industry pundits, the major factor for the great run that South Indian films are experiencing is their emphasis on a strong storyline rather than star power. The Hindi movie makers in contrast are relying on the heft of their mega stars to pull audiences into the theatres and it's not working any more. The pay package of the big-league Bollywood stars is anything between Rs 120 - Rs 135 crore.

Recently, even Akshay Kumar  admitted that writers are the most important professionals for film projects and they are not adequately compensated (source: Economic Times). While it is one thing to pay lip service to the role of the screenwriter, will this realization change anything on the ground in Bollywood? To do that, movie makers will have to rejig the entire system. Which would mean that actors like Akshay Kumar would have to take a massive pay cut. It remains to be seen if the star-centric system can actually be rejigged and made into an ecosystem that focuses on great storytelling rather than star power. 

Do share your thoughts. 


Popular posts from this blog

Tomb of Sand by Geetanjali Shree - Review of the International Booker Prize Winner

Tomb of Sand by Geetanjali Shree My rating: 5 of 5 stars Geetanjali Shree's original book in Hindi is called Ret Samadhi and the translated version by Daisy Rockwell is Tomb of Sand. The writer's style is lyrical and captures the essence of an Indian family completely and evocatively. In fact the amazing thing about the author's style is that it goes above and beyond the cast of characters, roping in inanimate objects (like the door, for instance), the natural elements, crows and invisible things like borders. The story lies not so much in the plotline of an old woman and her journey to find the house and man she has left behind as in highlighting the nuances of families, countries, borders, neighbourhoods, galis and mohallas , the environment, the smells, sounds and landscape, the past and present and everything in between (including a delightful treatise on the silk sari as narrated from the point of view of a crow!) that makes up the heart and soul of India. The writi

Basu Chatterji's "Balcony Class" Films

Basu Chatterji's Rajnigandha was like a breath of fresh air in the 1970s film universe of Bombay. At a time when the Angry Young Man was beginning to dominate celluloid screens, Amol Palekar was as un-hero-like as you could get. He was the Common Man who traveled in buses, did not have hero-like mannerisms and did not breathe fire and brimstone at his opponents. Basu Chatterji's Middle of the Road Cinema burst on to the scene and surprised the movie-going audience with its everyday situations and storylines that had an undercurrent of humour. Chatterji catered to an audience that he liked to call the "Balcony Class".  Anirudha Bhattacharjee, author of Basu Chatterji and Middle-of-the-Road Cinema writes an entertaining and heartwarming account of the life and work of Basu Chatterji, one of the most under-rated directors of Indian cinema. Recall of Chatterji's brand of feel-good, slice-of-life movies is perhaps highest for his Rajnigandha, Chotisi Baat, Baaton Baa

Book Review of Where Did You Go? by P.L. Jonas

  The popularity of novels like Gone Girl and T he Girl on the Train with an intriguing premise, unreliable narrators and plot twists, has put the spotlight on psychological suspense stories. Such stories have a thriller like urgency about them and yet are rooted in familiar, real life situations. A well crafted, edgy psychological suspense can keep the reader hooked till the very last page.  The novella Where Did You Go ? by debut author P.L. Jonas begins with an intriguing set up. Sammy, a successful but reclusive ghostwriter, is offered a chance of a life time. The project involves completing a half-finished manuscript by her favourite writer, Margaret Mitchell, the celebrated author of  the all-time classic Gone with the Wind . Her brief is simple: she needs to follow the outline that the author has left behind and submit a draft within a tight deadline.  Her publisher, James, is confident that Sammy has what it takes to finish the novel. The chance of having her name on the book