Often do I encounter a very common form of hollow criticism coming from film fanatics I hang around with, hollow because the answer to it somehow lingers within the sub conscious mind of ours. The criticism revolves around the fact that why do the Indian movies seem to lack the charisma, rationale and elemental perfection that is possessed by the cinematic reflections of the west? Why does it seem that the Indian filmmakers – directors, scriptwriters and actors consign to oblivion when it comes to creating a piece of art that is infused with logical matter and a fortitude of conceiving a notion that shimmers with brilliance?
The answer is the adulteration of our cinema with the burgeoning plague termed as ‘commercialization’. The germ of commercialization has indoctrinated the masses of the vision - the presence of which is mandatory to both create as well as witness an enlightened form of cinema. The country in which the eminently notable film award ceremonies preposterously boast of different array of awards, one for the critically acclaimed – the truly commendable ones whose films deliquesced in the hallowed darkness of the theatres for only a week or two, enabling them to reap off a meager profit through their backbreaking labor ; and the other for the commercially lucrative – the films that we pay for to watch in the theatres, sanctioning them to earn three times of their budget in the very first week itself yet silently castigating nearly all the major aspects of the noted cinematic work only to rush to the theatre, the very next weekend to witness a similar work, entrancingly repeating our mistake only to regret again- do I need to say more?
People often get perplexed failing to differentiate between an actor and an entertainer. An actor relies solely on the soul of the character that a good script defines, absorbing the attributes of it, approving the character to dominate and influence his/her notions and actions when in front of the camera regardless of the fact how the audience will perceive that performance. Whereas, an entertainer is a person who is devoid of an originally authentic vision, an ambiguous puppet swayed by the eccentric expectations of the populous, a clown whose face is smeared with the unwanted colors of redundant performances and superfluous characters.
Salman Khan is one such entertainer.
Considered to be one of the avant-garde of the hundred crore league of Bollywood, Salman Khan’s five films have listed themselves in the hundred crore league. As if in a theatre of absurd, it’s sarcastically ludicrous that Mr. Khan - who appears to be barren of ample of acting flair, who has been loitering through the course of his career with carbon appearance in every film as if it’s not he is playing some character that’s penned down for him, rather it’s more like ‘Salman Khan playing Salman Khan’, who executes the minimal expressions his facial muscles enable him to conjure, who improvises his bizarre and abject dance forms catalyzing their repetition over and over again – has a colossal army of devotees who have till yet made sure that every film of Mr. Khan that has released after 2010, makes its place in the 100 crore league.
Salman Khan’s first film to invade the 100 crore league was the 2010 action flick ‘Dabangg’. With Salman Khan playing a orderly cum corrupt policeman ‘Chulbul Pandey’ who does not believe in breaking the rules but rather bending them in order to assuage his needs, the film was noteworthy as an singular uncommon attempt of its time comprising of rambunctious action sequences, candid dialogues and festive songs accompanied by breathtaking dance numbers. With the masses bombarding the theatres in extravagant numbers, the film received a sizzling reception at the box office and panned up to enormous heights , thus finding its way in the 100 crore club.
The next two Mr. Khan’s films that followed were Ready and Bodyguard. Both films were released in 2011 and abided by the presence of a protagonist whose only facet consisted of buffeted action and idiosyncratic comic timing that though were cheered upon in the theatres, made no sense at all. Such cheers, applause and ovation of the numb and the dumb allowed these two films of Mr. Khan to crawl their way into the big 100 crore league. Mr. Khan had hit the hat trick.
Backed up by Yash Raj studios, director Kabir Khan tried to breathe some logic in the next ‘Salman Khan starrer’, giving some serious overtones to the character. Being a big budget project, the film was shot on location in some quite exotic countries. Accompanying this glamorization was the stereotypical charm of the casting of the feigning real life couple of Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif. All the rest was bombs and bullet shots that somehow killed of any logic (if any) as the film proceeded towards its interval. However, the name of a big studio, immense star cast and pretentious ‘masala’ had already done the substantial harm – Kabir Khan’s Ek Tha Tiger (2012) was Salman Khan’s fourth film to enter the 100 crore league.
In 2012 itself, the sequel to Mr. Khan’s Dabangg, ‘Dabangg 2’ released. With Salman Khan reprising his role of ‘Chulbul Pandey’, the cast was not the only aspect that prevailed as a similarity with the previous installment of the film, but nearly everything was common – the plot, the actions of the characters, the action sequences, the dances et cetera – for a moment one may fool himself/herself into believing that Dabangg 2 is actually traced on the frame work of its parent version- a variant comprising of the same properties. The fate of Dabangg 2 was pre-decided. It was destined to enter the 100 crore club, for it was not a singular movie, it was now a part of a franchise. Not the Dabangg franchise, but the Salman Khan franchise.
Salman Khan’s latest release ‘Jai Ho (2014)’ is on its way to enter the Godly 100 crore league of Bollywood. It surely will be Mr. Khan’s sixth consecutive film to be crowned as a 100 crore grosser yet though after presenting it with such a accolade, we should always remember that the journey of ‘Jai Ho’ towards the elite club, lacked of an itinerary. Thus the path it took was full of robust obstacles and acute puddles of criticism that centered around the ever existent yet lately realized fact that there’s enough evidence to prosecute a Salman Khan starrer for professing parallel harmony with its predecessors.
The more extensively this realization dawns, the more sooner shall the masses be able to perceive a new wave of Indian cinema.
The sole objective of my words is not to criticize Salman Khan or the commercial form of cinema that he patronizes and shall continue to do so. May be, in times to come, the commercialized form of cinema shall be in vogue to such an extent that it may even be categorized as a whole new genre along with drama, comedy, noir, crime et cetera. But my argument is not genre oriented, it’s not biased. What Salman Khan is doing at the moment is not uncommon, all the major actors (or as they say ‘stars’), directors and storywriters are doing the same. They are so intoxicated by this concept of 100 crore club that their exclusive objective has somewhat diverted from creating exceptional cinema to earning exceptional amounts of money regardless of whatever they create. From actors such Shah Rukh Khan, Akshay Kumar, Priyanka Chopra, Vidya Balan, Amitabh Bachchan and Hrithik Roshan to directors such as Karan Johar, Aditya Chopra and Farhan Akhtar, all are slave to this commercialized notion of cinema.
Why can’t a good, calculated, precisely apt and prudent form of cinema be commercially successful? Why do high budgeted duds rake in billions? Why don’t people remember Kiran Rao’s ‘Dhobi Ghat’ and Anand Gandhi’s ‘Ship Of Theseus’? Why not invest less and make more out of it? Why not believe that the quality of the cinema we produce shall result in the quantity of capital that we would end up earning? Why not go for good cinema for once?
Most importantly, why not annihilate this chasm that exists between critical and commercial forms of cinema, infusing them as a singular entity that revolutionizes the form of Indian cinema and the eye that absorbs the moving images from within the darkness?
Perhaps, one day a logically feasible piece of art shall make its place in the 100 crore league of Bollywood. I wouldn’t be complaining if that artistic revolution is headed by Mr.Khan, I did rather be happy for him. But till then, me, you and everybody around whom the cinema influences so much, shall wait for somebody who would influence cinema instead.