Actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui feels the Bollywood hero is the most clichéd creation one can think of, adding that he likes to keep a distance from that image.
“I have played a variety of roles, be it gangster, a writer or a policeman. Even if I get an opportunity to play the lead hero in a movie, I will do it only on the basis of my style,” Nawazuddin told IANS.
“The Bollywood hero is one of the most clichéd roles (that) you will find. People have this conception on how they see him, the kind of clothes he wears etc. This is a zone I ideally don’t want to be a part of because then you go into an absolute comfort zone,” he added.
According to Nawazuddin, anybody can play the hero but the difficult part is to play the same role differently each time.
“For this, you need an education and practice. According to me, a versatile actor is one who is able to play the same role differently. For example, I have played the mafia don several times, whether it is Faisal Khan or Ganesh Gaitonde. But each role is different, as there is always that one signature dialogue/move that sets the character apart from the other. I did the same even with Dilly Mahmood (in ‘McMafia’) too,” added the actor.
Starting off with bit roles in films such as “Sarfarosh” and “Shool”, Nawazuddin made a name for himself by associating with projects such as “Gangs of Wasseypur”, “The Lunchbox”, “Liar’s Dice”, “Badlapur”, “Manjhi: The Mountain Man”, “Kick”, “Bajrangi Bhaijaan”, “Lion”, “Mom” and “Sacred Games”.
The actor was happy to be a part of the television crime drama “McMafia”, which is about Alex Godman (essayed by James Norton), an educated hedge-fund manager who unwillingly gets sucked into the lawless world of his Russian mafia family. Nawazuddin features as Mumbai-based gangster Dilly Mahmood in the show, aired in India on Zee Café.
The show is inspired by the 2009 non-fiction book of the same name by Misha Glenny and explores the world of organised crime.
Talking about his experience of working with director James Watkins on “McMafia”, Nawazuddin said: “James Watkins has been following me since ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ and it is my performance in this movie, along with ‘Miss Lovely’ and ‘The Lunchbox’, that eventually helped me bag my role in ‘McMafia’.
“Watkins is an experienced and passionate director and has also directed a few episodes of ‘Black Mirror’. He is somebody who keeps a keen eye for detail and beautifully brings out the smallest element in each shot. On ‘McMafia’, the overall experience was great, not just working with the director but all the other actors who were apart of the show,” he said.
In fact, Nawazuddin stumbled upon Norton’s India connect while working on the show.
“While shooting, he once told me that he had come to India almost 15-20 years ago as a backpacker, and during his stay he ran out of money. In order to make some money, James appeared in the crowd scene of a Bollywood film,” said the Indian actor. (IANS)
If the Industry has survived (thrived?) so many decades it is because of the influx of fresh capital from new, glamour struck players. Every generation since the beginning of the Indian film Industry has seen a fresh set of people finance it. Till the 1980s it was usually traders, merchants and traditional money lenders. Then the exhibitors and distributors started advancing money and a lot more of glamour struck venture capital came in. Of course, sine the 1930s the top stars of the time always set up their own production companies and the trend continues to this day. Every decade technology delivers a bonanza to the perpetually cash-strapped film industry.
The popularity of radio and records and cassettes saw music royalty bring in extra cash in the 70s and 80s. This was pattern was replicated by the coming of TV and home video in the 80s and 90s and now streaming rights. However, the big break was the spread of Multiplexes. Suddenly, box office exploded as these modern hangout cinemas pulled the young urban youth and families back to the cinemas. The overseas market, largely driven by large South Asian diaspora, changed another market dynamic. Some younger filmmakers realized this and tailored their films for this well-paying market segment.
A paradigm shift happened in the mid-90s when some young media professionals-turned-entrepreneurs set up the first fledgling studios (after the demise of the earlier lot in the early 50s). A few of the old timers reimagined themselves and stayed in the new sweepstakes. Some music companies too became quasi studios venturing into film production and distribution. By the turn of the millennium, Bollywood had become not only a global brand but a billion-dollar Industry. Entertainment was recognized as Industry making institutional finance available to film producers. Import of equipment was liberalized and foreign shooting became convenient. Slowly the disorganized mom and pop business moved towards professionalism and eventually corporatization. Bank finance, insurance, contracts, copyright came into play.
However, more change was to come in the decade that followed. The rise of the Internet following the mobile revolution changed the game altogether. Rising income and aspirations and changing lifestyles altered the media and entertainment landscape. Digitalization of cinema from pre and post production to distribution and exhibition has also contributed to a dramatic change in Indian cinema. Today you can make a film on your smartphone and commercially release it. Now there are film makers who are making films only for the digital space.
By 2010, major studios — Fox, Disney, Reliance ,Viacom and Zee had arrived and further changed the market dynamics. In the last decade, video-on-demand and Over-the-Top (OTT) platforms together with broadcast TV not only brought additional revenue but newer niche markets. Audience is consuming filmed entertainment differently across different screens. Now Amazon, Jio, Netflix, Hotstar, Zee 5, Alt, Apple, Facebook, Google et al are commissioning films and are the new financiers of the movie industry. Thousands of new and old members of this large fraternity are getting back into the creative mainstream. There are at least a 100 production companies all over India. There are more trained professionals than ever before and encouragingly a lot more women in power in Bollywood. Every year at least twenty first timers make a mark and many of them from small towns with no family connection. For a change the big potboilers compete with small, new age films.
There are many young, often first-time film makers who are making path breaking cinema which a substantial enough audience is loving it. Today’s top actors are also a lot more adventurous. In any case, even the most commercial of films are much more rooted in reality than before. Production design, cinematography and sound are now of international standard. Unfortunately, marketing costs have spiraled up but without the adequate research and media planning resulting a lot of wasteful expenditure. Star prices still remain abnormally high, often being 40 per cent to 50 per cent of the entire budget. Interestingly, after a gap of many decades, talent from smaller towns and even villages are coming to Bollywood and many are making it to the top. Also, a lot more films are set in smaller towns reflecting concerns of a new class of film lovers.
The most heartening development, though, is the influx of streaming services. Not only do they bring a lot of money into the system but also offer a far, far wider variety of films: shorts, documentaries, animated, real-life dramas but also all genres of features films. They are not hung up on stars or big names. Besides, in another welcome development, a number of big producers and directors and even top stars have ventured into producing content for these digital giants. Thankfully, all of them are also giving breaks to new writers and film makers and some exceptionally talented actors.
There are some endemic problems which still linger. Paucity of screens and over production make it unviable for smaller, especially independent films to get a release. The obsession with big screen in an age where 80 per cent of all content is watched on TV and increasingly online is rather an archaic approach. It is estimated that half the world will watch content on handheld devices by 2025. With a multitude of leisure alternatives films, including those made by Bollywood, have to compete with texting, social media, gaming, sport, live events, streaming audio and video, adventure and even travel and dining out.
Writing largely still remains a weak link and is invariably derivative and mediocre. We need a more energetic and creative fraternity which is willing to experiment and is willing to move to newer platforms. This obsession with the big screen has to end. A few hundred cineastes and critics hung over on purity of cinema cannot let opportunities drift away. Film making is ultimately about storytelling and an audience. Why should screen size be a limitation? A new mindset is what is most required in the Indian film industry, particularly Bollywood. We can, in the next five years, double the size of the filmed entertainment Industry to $6 billion per year. (IANS)