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Getting in Film Industry is Tough but Sustaining and Surviving is Tougher!

Getting in is tough, of course, but sustaining and surviving is tougher


Getting into the film industry is tough. But, once in the industry, one does not come alone. With him or her comes the anxiety and the insecurity. Getting in is tough, of course, but sustaining and surviving is tougher. Producers, directors and other technicians all live with the uncertainties, depending on the fate of a film they are associated with.

While the technicians could work with various film units at the same time or even with the advertising field because films were shot in phases over a couple of years, actors had little else to do besides films. The actors were burdened with a heavy load of insecurity. Their fates swung like a pendulum every Friday their film released.

Having seen the state of various stars and superstars before them only added to the insecurity of the every new lot of actors who made it to the film industry. So many big named makers and stars had died either in poverty or out of frustration after becoming irrelevant.

But, this was the norm in the film industry. Just about everybody entered with a Best Before Date; most of all, the stars.

Film, Industry, Anxiety
Getting into the film industry is tough. Pixabay

Not going too much back into the past, imagine Rajesh Khanna. After a number of flops, finally, when he arrived, he did it with a bang and went on to give one hit after the other in a period of just about four years or so. He was the most romantic hero on screen and girls wrote love letters, not fan mail, to him in blood! Boys dressed like him and sported his haircut. Then, suddenly the trend changed. The very actor from whom he stole the show in “Anand”, returned the favour in their next film together, “Namak Haraam”. That was Amitabh Bachchan, who was destined to rule the roost displacing Rajesh Khanna.

The later generation learnt from this and decided to use the popularity to optimise earnings.

Initially, the trend was for popular playback singers like Mohammad Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar, Mukesh and others to perform in overseas stage shows. They took their audience on a nostalgia trip, reeling out old melodies (film music was all about melody those days). The eighties saw the revival of the ghazal era with Jagjit Singh leading the pack, as new talent sprang up in the form of Pankaj Udhas, Talat Aziz, Penaz Masani, Hariharan, Bhupinder and few others. The fame of some of these singers spread, and they were called for stage shows and private performances not only in all corners of India but also overseas. Some drama troupes also followed.

Initially, the filmstars’ overseas jamborees started and ended with Dubai, where the underworld don Dawood was based. The stars seemed to be at his back and call; weather he wished for them to perform or to just add glamour to the cricket matches held there. You saw some of the biggest names in the film industry by his side during these cricket matches.

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The stars who obliged were sent back with gifts like TV sets and video players, a priced possession back then besides a cash component of a lakh or so (a big amount in those days, for a matter of a day or two), not to mention the ‘phoren’ trip.

Sadly, a side effect of this Middle East era was prostitution. Merely a single film credit was enough to brand one as a filmstar and that meant high bucks. People there, somehow, took fancy to stars. This gave birth to a new racket. Some middleman would approach the trade papers with the picture of heavily but gaudily made-up girls posing as if on some film set! The trade papers charged to print photos. This facility was used by filmmakers to publish pictures of either shootings or song recordings. This helped the producers convey to their distributors and investors that the film was making progress. The girls used this facility to get branded as filmstars and proceed to the Middle East, prospect hunting in the oldest profession in the world.

This was an unexpected windfall. The smaller and side actors also joined the bandwagon, and would attend pre-wedding mehndi ceremonies as well as weddings for a lakh! There was actually a growing demand for actors to attend weddings and other ceremonies, as well as to cut ribbons for the inauguration of various enterprises.

Initially, if an actor inaugurated a shop, it merited some space in the media, especially the print media. Later, when these media guys wizened up and started charging, it was still worth it.

Film, Industry, Anxiety
But, once in the industry, one does not come alone. Pixabay

The ultimate came from Shakti Kapoor, about this side business that actors were becoming a part of. His reply was very candid: If I am paid a lakh, I will even attend a funeral!

I don’t think that was so much greed. Seemed more like insecurity. Make hay while the sun shines.

The big league was soon to follow. The superstars were willing to dance and regale your crowd at weddings if you happened to be among the Forbes list or a noted NRI. So the King and the rest danced to the tune of Sterling Pounds!

The ad world had taken a fancy to stars as brand ambassadors in place of the regular models and rampwalkers. Instead of dancing for the Middle East dons, the stars were now willing to sell everything from underwear to non-existent soda water as a surrogate ad for alcohol.

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Once upon time, the Hindi film industry had only one awards function, the one instituted by the Filmfare magazine management in 1954. At this function, each year, best of the top stars performed on the stage. It was not about money, it was considered prestigious to be chosen to perform. For a newcomer, if chosen, it meant exposure to showcase his or her talent in front of the best of the who’who of the industry.

But, then came television and along came the sponsors. The sponsor wanted his money’s worth and the attendance of as many stars as possible started to matter. The outcome was that there would be an award statuette for almost all the glamour willing to attend. Not to mention, a bagful of money for those who performed. After all, the sponsor wanted an entertaining package for his money.

The sponsors also brought forth some more awards in Screen, Zee and IIFA, besides a few that started and faded.

There were some, of course, who were not the stage performer kind, as dancing and prancing around on stage was not their forte. They ended up those who could and were in demand for such shows as Bhaand, not quite flattering a term when translated in English!

But, money makes anybody dance. At one of the Ambani family weddings, they needed a world-renowned performer and the choice fell on the American singer, Beyonce, while the film stars handled the catering, serving food to the guests.

@The Box Office
The three new releases of last week, “Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas”, “Prassthanam” and “The Zoya Factor”, have all failed miserably. From the Ganesh festival till Diwali has never been considered an opportune time for release of new films. The footfalls don’t happen. The public reports of a film come much later, but after the audience comes. That did not happen with any of these films right from the opening show.

Wrong decision, especially for Sunny Deol, who launching the career of his son, Karan Deol.

* “Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas” had another drawback in that it turned out to be an old-fashioned love story and could manage to collect a meagre Rs 7.5 crore in its first week.

* “Prassthanam”, a film about a baahubali family and its internal power struggle, is a subject done and dusted with, and failed to appeal. The film ended its opening week with figures of a poor five crore.

* “The Zoya Factor” found few takers and closed it first week with a mere three crore.

* “Dream Girl” has proved to be a hit. The film has crossed the Rs 100 crore mark with ease, with its two-week total standing at about Rs 116 crore.

* “Chhichhore” is a major hit, adding Rs 22 crore in its third week, taking its three-week tally to Rs 121 crore. (IANS)

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Films Reflecting Fashion Trends

Now, there are no barriers between film fashion and real-life dressing. In fact, films reflect real-life fashion as that is more identifiable to the movie buffs. It is mostly about denims, jeans, hot pants and what have you. But, to break the monotony and provide some comic relief, we have Ranveer Singh and his outrageous dresses

films, cinema
The importance of short films in India rises up. Pixabay


There always used to be a debate till not long ago whether films and filmstars inspired fashion in society or do they merely reflect fashion and trends in general.

Come to think of it, there has been no noticeable influence of films and filmstars on creating trends that the people followed except in certain phases. Initially in films, the men mostly followed western trends. Usually, they were dressed smartly in suits when it came to urban stories. Otherwise, Dhoti was the norm. And, the majority of the male urban population, by then, had adapted western garbs while the women still stuck to sari. Even the traditional Punjabi garb of women – the Shalwar Kameez – was still a long way away. Later, it came to be known as dress! If a woman was not wearing a sari, she was wearing a dress.

As for women, it was limited to a Sari whether she was romancing or playing a housewife. Tradition ruled. If there was an influence of Hollywood films, it was limited to male stars. All sorts of films were being made and a hero even donned a hat, which was not Indian. As it were, few followed filmstars when it came to trends in fashion. Society was too traditionally ingrained in customs.

So far, there was no debate on the people following fashion trends from films.
There was a single trend that was common to filmstars as well as youth of the 1950s and ‘60s.

I cannot say for sure who picked it from who. There was this hairstyle that actors like Dev Anand and Dilip Kumar sported, as did the men in the real life. This fashion must have been timebound since both the actors, Dilip Kumar and Dev Anand, changed eventually.

As far as I can recall, Dev Anand changed it midway through the filming of his movie, “Guide”, and went on to retain the new hairdo for the rest of his life.

One would reckon that the debate over films followed life trends or whether the public followed films started roughly around the 1970s. In most cases, these were not followed as fashion. Rather, picking up an odd something that a hero did in a particular film.

South, Actors, Regional
The Indian film industry may be the biggest in the world and the South film industry, combined in itself, outnumbers the Hindi films produced. Pixabay

The best example here was the checked – rather, designer – hat that Dev Anand sported in his musical hit, “Jewel Thief”. Actually, female stars inspired more fans to follow their hairstyles. The one that became a craze was filmstar Sadhna’s Chinese Cut with the patch of hair falling on her forehead. It came to be known as Sadhna Cut.

The other female hairstyle was called bouffant, a fluffy hairstyle, which was dubbed Chidiya Ka Ghosla (bird’s nest) in Hindi. Most heroines used it and so did women in real life, especially on special occasions.

The hat from “Jewel Thief” became such a rage that every next young lad was seen wearing it. After all, despite his seniority, Dev Anand had always been a youth icon. In fact, in Mumbai, he was known as the Matinee Idol. In those days, cinema halls ran four shows a day between 12 noon and 9 pm for new films. But, they screened old Hindi films in, what was called the matinee show, which started at around 10 am. These old films were screened at half the admission rates and were popular with collegians. Dev Anand, films were the most sought after. (In North, matinee shows meant 3 pm shows.)

India did not have the system of franchise when it came to film fashion or memorabilia as it happens in the West. Hence, the “Jewel Thief” hat, which would have sold in lakhs, brought no profits to the production house.

Another product that drew attention was the Rajdoot mini motorbike used in the film “Bobby”. The bike was a hit as was the film. However, the craze for the bike did not last long due to technical reasons, which only bike riders could define. Having experienced a ride many times, I tend to agree.

The thing about bikes was that, they were popular with the collegegoing youth but, their decision to ride a bike and the buying power rested with parents. Another product that took off after “Bobby” was the Bobby hairpin for girls. Sold in millions, it ensured no gain for the filmmaker.

Imitating star fashion was back with superstar Rajesh Khanna. The actor established himself as such a legend as an icon of romance, that just about everything about him was an inspiration for his fans. Rajesh Khanna’s costume designer devised a special kind of kurta for him because tucked-in shirts did not look good on him since he had big backside! The kurta he wore came to be known as the Guru kurta and became a rage. This was one fad that lasted for a long time.

Of late, even the films that are being made and are working at the box office are those promoting social issues and nationalism. Pixabay

Khanna fans also tried to imitate his hairstyle. So much so that even actor Dharmendra decided to appoint Khanna’s hairstylist for himself.

While costumes and hairstyles did not always create trends, the stars’ costume designers (as their tailors were known), as well as barbers (known as hair stylists) benefitted the most. Stylo, Kachins, Lifestyles, Bada Saab were the prominent costume designers.

Kachin’s was the designer for Amitabh Bachchan. Usually, they preferred open collar shirt with a jacket for the hero. Costume designers were good at camouflaging the shortcomings of their stars. Bachchan, it was said (and seen), had a hugely drooping left shoulder. Kachins did well to pad it up. However, open collar was not made for frail Indian male physic and never caught up.

The sari was replaced with shalwar kameez for female stars. Yet, it did not get through to the women of the world. Finally, it did, with the era of tight churidar and tastefully designed kurtas which helped accentuate a heroine’s body. The mandatory chunni was done away with.

The best ambassador to carry these churidar kurtas in those days was Mumtaz, a huge star in her own right. The change to sari was made with a sexier way of wrapping it just above hips thereby making the woman’s hips more prominent. That has stayed.

Besides Mumtaz, Zeenat Aman and Parveen Babi were considered the most fashionable who could both carry any kind of dress. Also, influenced by Muslim social films, gharara and sharara became popular for a while but these were not day-to-day fashion and remained limited to special occasions like weddings.

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Can’t say if it is because of films or tradition, but the Punjabi Dress, as shalwar kameez are known, has been accepted as the all-India alternative to sari. That is, even most of the schools from the North to deep South, have accepted the dress as the school uniform for it covers the whole body even better than the sari does.

In between, there were other flashes of fashion that were much discussed in the media as well as public. One of them was Sharmila Tagore sporting a bikini in the film “An Evening In Paris” (1967). The other was Shashi Kapoor wearing bell bottom trousers in “Suhana Safar” (1970). Both created a debate. The thing with Bikini was that it did not have much use to Indian women while, when it came to bell bottoms, they were already in with the college lads; Shashi Kapoor may just have given them further boost.

Now, there are no barriers between film fashion and real-life dressing. In fact, films reflect real-life fashion as that is more identifiable to the movie buffs. It is mostly about denims, jeans, hot pants and what have you. But, to break the monotony and provide some comic relief, we have Ranveer Singh and his outrageous dresses. (IANS)