Ram Gopal Varma’s highly-anticipated Sarkar 3 featuring megastar Amitabh Bachchan in the central character couldn’t live up to the sky high expectations. Varma’s Godfather adaptation where Amitabh Bachchan’s Sarkar is loosely based on former Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray wasn’t able to do wonders to the box office. The crime drama co-starring Amit Sadh, Yami Gautam, Manoj Bajpai, Jackie Shroff in pivotal roles turns out to be the sad version of classic gangster flicks.
The script, direction and performances in the film are over-the-top and remind you of the 80s style gangster sagas. Although Bachchan tries hard to do justice to his role, the clichéd dialogues and vague narrative from an ambiguous screenplay tend to be repetitive and outdated. Similarly, Manoj Bajpai and Jackie Shroff are wasted due to terrible characterization. Amit Sadh tries to fit in the shoes of Kay Kay Menon and Abhishek Bachchan, but Varma’s weak screenwriting hampers the flow of the movie as Sadh ends up overplaying at times. The only saving grace in the film appears to be Ronit Roy and Yami Gautam. Both have shown promise and growth in their roles by enacting subtle expressions and emotions on-screen. Amitabh Bachchan’s Ganesh Aarti in his baritone is the show-stealer and only positive element in the entire movie.
Once, a hot favorite among youth, the ace-filmmaker who gave us Rangeela, Satya, Kaun and Company has lost his charisma. Known for depicting realism on the silver screen, Varma paved the way for Madhur Bhandarkar and Anurag Kashyap to experiment with path-breaking cinema. However, the storytelling in his movies has deteriorated over the decade. But it’s the same case with most veteran filmmakers who were dominant during the 90s.
Subhash Ghai, Mahesh Bhatt and Vidhu Vinod Chopra have given up on direction and are mostly active in film production, film seminars and conferences. The problem with these filmmakers is their obsession with old-school narrative. All of them tried hard to match up to Hollywood thrillers and MTV’s glitz and glamour. They somehow missed the mark in terms of storyline.
In Hollywood Steven Spielberg, Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese are still active in movies. Spielberg (70), Allen (81) and Scorsese (74) are still experimenting with multiple genres of filmmaking as opposed to their Bollywood counterparts who are facing a dearth of fresh scripts and talents. It’s not a Tom Cruise or Julia Roberts but the script that leads to the success of a Top Gun or Pretty Woman.
Bollywood has a worldwide market of more than US $ 500 million excluding regional cinema. There’s an immense pool of talent that hasn’t been tapped so far. The success story of Dangal and Baahubali 2 has broken all the myths and stereotypes set by Bollywood filmmakers. The problem with Mumbai-based film industry has been its over obsessed craft dependent on Hollywood-inspired scripts.
Ghai was once considered to be the most bankable showman whose story sense was at par with Manmohan Desai, Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Raj Kapoor’s cinema. He was regarded as a progressive filmmaker who gave classics like Karz, Trishul, Hero, Khalnayak, Ram-Lakhan, Pardes and Taal. The debacle of Yaadein, Kisna and Yuvraj led to the downfall of his filmmaking career. Same happened to Ram Gopal Verma Ki Aag. Bhatt was an exception who took voluntary retirement among his contemporaries.
The problem with the late eighties and early nineties filmmakers was their fascination for melodrama and Hollywood’s glitz and glamour. Ghai was a mass entertainer who had a great sense of film craft for the mainstream audience. His movies were all about rhythmic music, latest fashion trends in terms of costumes and sets and most appealing portrayal of leading actresses like Meenakshi Sheshadri, Madhuri Dixit, Mahima Chaudhary and Aishwarya Rai on the celluloid. Bhatt had his own way of storytelling by equating dark subjects like infidelity, prostitution, extortion, communal violence with soulful music. Varma specialized in cashing on hard-hitting narratives comprising underworld, supernatural or psychological thrillers. But where these filmmakers miss the mark is the extent of dramatization in contrast with realism in their storylines. Mukta Arts’ puts too much emphasis on saas-bahu and family bondings on the lines of daily soaps, RGV factory’s monotonous underworld and horror flicks and Vishesh Films’s dreary tales of Mumbai’s red-light areas, adultery, and social tragedies made the audience opt for mass entertainers over meaningful cinema.
Apart from an outstanding script, it’s important to collaborate with new breed of artists and content writers. Film-making is a process that requires a team effort. So, it’s essential to acknowledge the right talent and accordingly assign them their respective roles. It’s the willingness on part of the makers to encourage aspiring actors and writers to showcase their potential in order to promote versatility instead of mediocrity.
Aamir Khan has always as a producer chosen stories that are simple and involve unexplored complexities of human nature and society as a whole. If Aamir’s films can fare well at box-office, then it is simpler to experiment with innovative script-writers and young film-artists. Although the historical success of Baahubali-series and Dangal worldwide have boosted the morale of budding filmmakers to try different genres, still there is a long way to go in terms creative story and screenplay in Hindi movies.
An idea conveying individual’s perspective in terms of relationships, ambition, success, failure, spirituality could have helped ace-Bollywood filmmakers to retain their legacy in the long-run.