Akshay Kumar, who has turned presenter for “Chumbak”, believes Marathi cinema is way ahead of Bollywood when it comes exploring complex stories. “The content of Marathi cinema is no doubt better than Hindi cinema. Also, they (Marathi cinema) are much bolder. I have seen ‘Balak Palak’ and I have enjoyed watching it. It is a bold film, they (Marathi cinema) create (good) content and that too bold,” Akshay said during the trailer launch of “Chumbak”.
The film, directed by Sandeep Modi, stars Swanand Kirkire and teen actors Sangram Desai and Sahil Jadhav. “This film has travelled to several film festivals and got lot of acclaim. That has not happened with my films. My films have not gone to festivals and I felt I should give my name to this film as the content is really good. I have been acting for 28 years but I haven’t seen such a beautiful and real performance like that of Swanand Kirkire.”
Not for money
Actor-producer Akshay Kumar says that he did not produce the forthcoming Marathi film “Chumbak” with the intention to earn money at box office. Asked what prompted him to associate his name with “Chumbak”, Akshay said: “I don’t want to earn money by producing this film. I do lot of films through which I earn money and this film is not one of them. This film will show you right path. I have seen many films, but not every time, I want to associate myself with the film, but this film touched my heart. The kind of message that this film gives, these are the things what I would like to teach my children. I feel people should pass on this to their children so that they can learn what is right and what is wrong.”
The actor said he is keen to be a part of meaningful films. “I could have done ‘Rowdy Rathore’ and earned three times the money, I earned for ‘PadMan’. The idea is not about earning, but I thought of talking about women’s problems. I can earn money by doing other kind of films, but I want to do these kind of films.”
Akshay, on his part, believes the market for regional cinema is growing. “‘Sairat’ has done great business. Even Riteish Deshmukh’s last Marathi film did well. I am not looking for business in this film (‘Chumbak’).”
About the message given in “Chumbak”, Akshay said: “I feel parents should take their children to watch this film because it tells you that there are two ways to lead a life, one is right path and another is wrong. In that, you have to choose what path is correct for you and that’s what the journey of the characters in this film.”
The film, starring renowned lyricist Kirkire, is a story of friendship between a 15-year-old table-cleaning-waiter-boy Baalu and his chance encounter with a 45-year-old mentally slow man Prasanna that forces him to make a choice between his dreams and morality.
Remaking a film
Akshay Kumar says he wants to be a part of the Hindi remake of Marathi film “Balak Palak”, which was produced by his close actor-producer friend Riteish Deshmukh. “There was a film which I watched…’Balak Palak’… and it’s really a bold film. I think Marathi cinema is much bolder in its content and doesn’t shy away from presenting taboo subjects. I would like to remake that film.”
Akshay has acted in socially-relevant films like “PadMan” and “Toilet- Ek Prem Katha”. Asked if he wants to continue doing such films, he quipped: “Now I am also going to do one more social film called ‘Housefull 4’. I like doing all kinds of cinema. I don’t have a particular image and I don’t want to tag myself. I keep on breaking my image all the time and it always comes as a challenge for me. As an actor also, it keeps you going,” he added.
There’s no denying that cinema, especially Hindi cinema, has tremendous influence on contemporary Indian culture. Bollywood is arguably one of India’s most well-known brands globally. Having spent five decades in showbiz, I am often asked some common questions at various forums — international conferences, social media and familial get-togethers. Let me try and answer a few of these questions. This is the latest bollywood news.
Why do Bollywood films not win Oscars? First, we must understand Academy Award, the official name of Oscar is an award given by a few thousand (7,000-odd) members of American Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Only recently, a couple of non-American artistes and a few technicians have been included in the voters’ list of the academy. We must remember until China emerged for a select number of Hollywood films, 70 per cent of the revenue of a Hollywood film came from their domestic market. Hence, all awards and promotions were largely US centric.
Academy members, bulk of whom were retired artistes and technicians, were largely ignorant of global cinema. Condescendingly they gave out one award for best foreign film every year. A lot of canvassing and trade marketing and PR happens before nominations and winners are announced. Indian filmmakers don’t have either adequate skill or money for this promotion.
Besides, there is no substantive financial fallout by winning this award. For some it’s a mere ego massage. At the end of the day, I don’t see much difference between a Filmfare award and an Oscar. As neither impact the box office returns of a film and both involve a lot of lobbying and PR. Oscars and similar awards cannot even ensure the people involved get work because of these awards. Of late, our media has gone on a hyperdrive every award season, egged on by an equally ignorant bunch of social media ninjas.
Today, almost every organization from your neighborhood club to leading media houses run dozens of award shows where the only criterion for such awards is either to attract TV audiences or sell advertising. In most cases, strange categories of awards are created to “honour” every and anyone who attracts eyeballs. Many get paid to receive awards in person or at least some assured media coverage in lieu of being honoured. Our insecure creative fraternity collects these poorly designed trophies by the bagful, some TV media coverage and indulge in some mutual back slapping at these made-for TV shows and the accompanying red carpet and after parties, often in borrowed outfits.
Some organizations like IIFA and IFA are actually running a thriving business on the basis of these shows and awards. Similarly, while dozens of Indian films are screened in film festivals regularly, few win prizes at major festivals like Cannes or Berlin. The reasons are again akin to the Indian performance at the Oscars. Since there is hardly any economic payback (except an occasional Lunchbox or two) not enough time and effort are invested in the festival circuit. There is very little government support in this regard. If some younger filmmakers are carving a niche for themselves, it is only their talent and spunk which is responsible for their success. Media and audiences confuse red carpet appearances with a festival presence. The same set of half a dozen critics keep writing their obscure columns read only by few filmmakers and cineastes.
Another question I am often asked is why don’t ‘good’ films get screen time or are not even released in many cases? Again, the answer is simple. One cinema theater is a part of a business and not some film society promoting good cinema. When they have an oversupply of films every week, they obviously select those films which will have maximum footfalls. Why should they be responsible for either safeguarding ‘art’ or give opportunity to new talent at the cost of a haemorrhaging bottom-line.? For true cinephiles, there are enough film festivals where such films can be viewed. Besides, several film clubs and institutions hold regular screenings of award winning and off-beat cinema in dozens of towns and cities. I watch almost 30/40 such films at such screenings.
We must remember India is a hugely under screened country. With a population of over 1,300 million cinema lovers and production of 2,000 films and just 9,000 screens, it becomes obvious that half the films will never get released as the cinemas can’t accommodate them. Since there is no embargo or qualification on producing films, all and sundry jump into film making, many with no talent and others with no resources. The result is several disgruntled filmmakers, writers, artistes and technicians and, of course, a small section of the audience. Leading the chorus of how unfair multiplex chains are is a group of film critics, cineastes and some cultural interlopers. Let’s not forget, since the beginning of cinema in India over a century ago, many a talented and brave people have fought against odds and not only succeeded but even made landmark films in spite of lesser cinemas.
A third question one is often asked is about the personal life of stars. Fueled by a surfeit of gossip, slander in media (traditional and social) and ‘insider information’, most people believe that all of us in showbiz are on some 24×7 party. The assumption is most of us are debauched, amoral, irresponsible and uneducated purveyors of lust, lucre and lubricity. I am often accosted by strangers and friends alike wanting to know about some young star’s purported love affair.
For many film folks specially, stars have nothing to do apart from sleeping around. Much to the disdain of my inquisitors, I have to disappoint them by my plain-speaking denial of existence of any such El Dorado in showbiz and the many modern myths that are nothing but fertile imagination hard at work. Less than .1 per cent of film professionals can even afford a luxurious lifestyle. Even the very few who do make millions do it at a considerable cost of losing their privacy, family life and even simple pleasures like eating out or going for a walk. A lot of the time is spent working in trying conditions for hours in grime and greasepaint. Even looking good all the time is a painful task. Stars today are under a severe fitness regime and often are under strict dietary restrictions. Filming long hours, sometimes in remote locations, is not an easy life.
It is assumed, largely based on hearsay and stray misdemeanors, that all film people are promiscuous. There is great exploitation and gender inequality. Of course, there is but perhaps far less than in other occupations. Nowadays, most production houses and all studios practice a healthy work environment and discrimination on caste, creed, language, religion and sex is discouraged. Today, there is a greater awareness and observance of copyright and seldom are writers, technicians, artistes, musicians and other creative professionals denied their credit. A $ three billion industry, employing over half a million people, is definitely not what people imagine. Behind tinsel and glamour, and neon lights, there is struggle, ignominy and loneliness. (IANS)