We filmmakers, today, in India, are in a soup, to put it mildly. Out of every ten films that are made, maybe, and just maybe, one film is a good film. Those are not very good odds.
Look at the dichotomy here. Filmmaking has never been easier. Hey, nowadays, you can even shoot a film on your iPhone and win Sundance with it! You don’t even have to pay for film! And editing, no more scissors cutting through film. No more complicated conversion machinery. All you need is a laptop, and a decent enough editing software, which , surprisingly enough, are extremely affordable.
Today, the ease of filmmaking is such that you can make a film, while sitting at home.
And yet, we are making some of the worst films that we have ever made in this country.
Yes, there is a problem with us filmmakers today. And that problem…is that we fail to connect with our audience.
The thing is, each generation of filmmakers come with their own set of intrinsic problems. For most of the earlier generations, it was technology and money. Coming from a poor country, they had a plethora of stories to tell but no means to tell them. Resources were limited. But the stories that they had to tell were stories that people wanted to hear. The stories they told struck a chord.
Us, not so much. We don’t suffer from a lack of resources. On the other hand, we have to resources handed out to us. But the stories we have to tell, those are not the stories people want to hear.
And it is important to understand why this is so. A storyteller is only as good as the audience s/he attracts. Why do our stories not attract an audience? Why do we resort to making a Dabanng or a Hate Story to make a profit? Why do the films that we think are good, like Tamasha, fail to achieve what a Prem Ratan Dhan Payo does? Why do even films like Tamasha not cross the line between ‘good film’ and ‘very good film’? Why are our films no longer internationally acclaimed? Filmmakers blame producers, producers blame the audience and the audience? Well, the poor audience has no say in all this. The audience has no say in the kind of films that are dished out to him.
After all, we the better educated, the better travelled, who are equally at ease with both Sushi and Butter Chicken, know better, don’t we?
Or do we?
Once upon a time, there wasn’t much of a difference between the urban Indian and the rural Indian. The only difference was money. But today, that’s not the case.
Today’s urban India is no different from say, a Europe or North America. We urban Indians today are global citizens! And that’s great!
But somewhere in this race, rural Indian has gotten left behind. Stuck in a time loop fifty years ago. And we say they don’t understand our films?
Of course they don’t! How can we even expect them to?
The problem here is not they don’t understand our films. The problem here is that we don’t understand them. The problem here, is that we fail them, day after day, insulting their intelligence with sub-par movies saying, but this is what they want!
When did we even ask them?
It’s not their responsibility to make an effort to understand our stories. No. We are the storytellers. It is our responsibility to go amongst them and tell their stories, in the best way that we can.
And maybe it is time we did so. And then, maybe, just maybe, we will start telling stories they actually want to hear.