2014 will see a wide variety of political films releasing around the next few months owing to the upcoming elections. This week will see the clash of two films with political backdrop which includes Youngistaan and O Teri. While Youngistaan talks about a young Prime Minister coming to power, O Teri focuses on the recent CWG scam and soon joining the league will be Bhoothnath Returns where a ghost contests elections against an evil and greedy politician. Many may shrug this off as a mere a co-incidence but after talking to the filmmakers and a prominent trade analyst for understanding these films, their relevance to elections and politics and change in the approach towards the subject.
Though this year will see a splurge of political films, this trend of political cinema has not emerged as a contemporary phenomena but it has been a part of this industry since always. Trade analyst Taran Adarsh says, “If you notice there has been this trend since old days with films like Aandhi (Suchitra Sen-Sanjeev Kumar). Prakash Jha too has made a couple of films like Raajneeti and Satyagraha.”
While there is no denying that politics has been explored well in Bollywood, what leaves all of us a little surprised is the fact that some commercial filmmakers like Atul Agnihotri have switched to films with a social message. So why this sudden interest in politics? “O Teri is very relevant to today’s time but it satirically represents the situation. It wasn’t intentional that film’s release date is set around elections. It’s just about the issues that the country is facing currently but it will definitely give you food for thought this coming elections,” says Atul.
Another reason is that Bollywood writers require inspiration and reality is the fodder for their films. Voicing it out aloud, film critic Taran says, “A particular episode or a newspaper headline can excite a filmmaker like MMS scandals or Arushi Talwar case and when he believes that there is an audience for it, he goes ahead with the film.”
Maintaining the fact that films are a reflection of the society and that everyone is longing for a change, Atul not only agrees with it but also believes that talking about the contemporary issues in the country is of utmost importance. “We do realize that we need change, we need a thought that will define our country and future of the people. And moreover, filmmakers often draw inspiration from the times they live in.”
Elections being the focus in the upcoming months, Bhoothnath Returns plans to cash in on the topic as it talks about a ghost contesting in elections. “It is related to elections completely. People will like the concept not only because of its uniqueness but also because of the fact that it portrays the kind of campaigns that happens during elections. So the film is surely to benefit with the current scenario,” says Ajay Kapoor, the CEO of T-Series.
So are films proving to be an eye-opener during elections? Producer Vashu Bhagnani thinks that films may help audience in choosing their right leader. Referring to the topic his film deals with, Vashu says, “When we talk about Youngistaan, the youngest Prime Minister of the country, it is actually what people want. Agar aadmi 70 years ka bhi ho toh bhi uski soch young honi chahiye! In India, we have a lot of youth population. I am 53 and my son is 28. I have to look at the world from his point of view, only then I can run my house. Exactly the same way, a Prime Minister should think what a party worker wants,” says Mr.Bhagnani.
But what we see is a shift from the intense political dramas to satirical, quirky and romantic films with political backdrop. Producer Atul thinks adding that entertaining element is beneficial. “Nobody has approached this topic of politics in this way. O Teri is a satire. People are making intense films but we prefer to entertain people.” Agreeing with the changing trends in cinema, Taran adds, “You have to sugarcoat the film. Thoda toh gaana daalna padega. Because the story has to connect with the audience… it is required for a layman. No one likes to be preached.”
At the same time, a sudden trend of similar genre films often creates saturation! With constant campaigns from potential leaders and Bollywood participating actively in Lok Sabha elections and at the same time, films talking about scams and elections releasing, often, there is a tendency to get saturated with the topic. However, disagreeing with this one is trade analyst Taran Adarsh who believes content is the king. “A good film will always find an audience irrespective of its genre, irrespective of competition or comparisons.”
After the analysis of these political dramas and satires, we do realize that reality is the true script behind Bollywood but at the same time what will draw you to the theatres is the unique way in which it is presented. But at the end of the day, box-office decides the fate of every film. If we look into the past, some films like Raajneeti have ruled the roost in terms of critical and mass appreciation. What needs to be seen is if O Teri, Youngistaan and Bhoothnath Returns are able to achieve those expectations or will they fall flat amidst intense political dramas that have earned success?