Reminiscing the better days of Bollywood

Filmmaker Subhash Ghai believes Indian cinema has bowed down in front of the corporate

Ians June 30, 2015

NEW DELHI: Filmmaker Subhash Ghai, whose repertoire is studded with films like Karz, Ram Lakhan, Khalnayak and Pardes, believes commercialisation has nowadays made the Indian cinema world a cash trap — a mode for brand promotions. His last few movies — Yuvvraaj, Kaanchi: The Unbreakable and Black & White — failed to spin the magic the ‘Showman’ was known for in the 1980s and 1990s.

“The [Indian] cinema has been reduced to a cash trap industry. Earlier, it was a creative industry, but now more of commercialisation has entered in it. Now actors don’t talk about a particular scene or performance, they talk about the collection,” said Ghai.

Also concerned by the rising pay cheques reserved for the A-listers, Ghai said: “Film corporate companies have faced big losses in recent years. The only ones who have gained are the stars and the marketing companies.

“Producers should try and make films with a good story and director rather than giving out half of the budget to the stars. I used to pay only 10 per cent of my film’s budget to the stars. But now, stars are more interested in endorsing products rather than acting in a film,” added the filmmaker, who takes pride in the fact that “stars used to run after me” during his prime.

The 70-year-old, who was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Weekend and Awards in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, earlier this month, is even against the idea of actors turning producers as he feels it makes the director’s job more difficult.

“Directors have become producers because they don’t want any other person to interfere in their credibility. But when actors become producers, they try to dominate the director. Nowadays, the corporates are asking every actor to become a producer. Apart from three to four directors like Rajkumar Hirani and Rohit Shetty, the rest have given in,” he said.

Having started his directorial career with the 1976 film Kalicharan, Ghai considers himself “blessed” to have stayed in the industry for such a long time. He says the 1980s were the best time of his almost four-decade-long journey.

“I was really flying high in the 1980s as most of my films did well at the box office. Since Kalicharan, I made 19 films in all, out of which 14 were blockbusters. From 1975 to 2005, it was the best era of my life which spanned for 30 years,” said Ghai.

“I feel blessed that I’m one of those achievers who stood in the industry for four decades. But now I make films on my own terms and happiness, not under anybody’s pressure. I ran constantly on a treadmill for 30 years. So, I’m a happy and peaceful person today,” added Ghai, who also has a film institute in Mumbai.

Enjoying the slow pace on the film direction front, he said: “I used to take six months for making a film prior to 2005, but after that I took four years’ gap while directing a film. It’s just that you feel a lot more responsible and try to do something for the upcoming generation and the country.” 

Published in The Express Tribune, July 1st,  2015.

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