Last week this time, I was in the throes of excitement and all with a good reason—there was the uncensored version of noted film-maker Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel that absolutely had to be watched! What made it an even bigger treat than the usual media preview before a film’s formal theater release was the fact that this was part of PVR Screening Room, a hatke initiative launched by acclaimed film critic and TV show host Anupama Chopra and PVR, the multiplex chain. Aimed at film aficionados, it was one of those much coveted “invitees only” sort of event and rather well attended too what with several directors and actors, besides media persons present at the do.
Given the churn in our films and the rapidly changing audience tastes, this initiative is both simple and ingenious—it does its bit in both engaging and educating the two vital links of the film market—directors/producers and the media. Though this whole experience of watching worldwide cinema, some uncensored, a few unreleased in an intimate, select environment with movies handpicked by an expert and presented to the consumer, well, almost on a platter, is not altogether new, it most certainly is an indicator of our altering worldview vis-a-vis films. After all commerce supports initiatives that have, at the very least, a hint of wealth creating potential, and given the success of different kinds of films, both Indian and foreign has encouraged film entrepreneurs to try out innovations that are likely to strengthen the market potential even further.
Fortunately, even if not equally, the market is expanding all around. There are newer markets for Hindi and Indian films just as foreign films are finding takers in unexpected niches within India. The fallout of such proceedings is rather interesting.
Why, at the time of writing this, there is news of John Travolta acting in Shekhar Kapur’s film as also the fact that his Hollywood colleague Kevin Spacey conducted an acting workshop for Bollywood stars, writers and directors at an Indian film award show! And I am not even going to get started on Spacey trying to shake a leg to King Khan’s Lungi dance!
Not too long ago, Mumbai and the world witnessed the impact the company of Robert De Niro could have on our film fraternity—even Ranbir Kapoor, our brightest young star stood dazzled. But then again, Bollywood has done its fair share of counter dazzling around the world too—think Big B at the New York premier of The Great Gatsby or Aamir Khan with David Cameron, Shah Rukh Khan at Berlinale or Aishwarya Rai Bachchan at Cannes. The only missing link now is for an Indian star to be cast in parallel or lead role in an out-and-out international film. To cut back to The Grand Budapest Hotel, Tony Revolori as the Mid-eastern lobby boy Zero Moustafa, is tested against the consummate expertise of none less than Ralph Fiennes (as M Gustav, a legendary concierge), in an almost equal role. The 17 year old Revolori an actor of Guatemalan descent who grew up in Anaheim is living the showbiz fairytale, of landing a meaty role in a huge Hollywood Production! The only two Indian actors who have come close are the young Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire) and Suraj Sharma (Life of Pi) though in their case, it helped that these stories were Indian as also the characters.
However, with burgeoning market interest and Hollywood majors, actors and studio bosses included, it should be a matter of time that we see Indian acting talent take centrestage.
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