January 12 was a big week for Bollywood audiences. After a gap of four long dull weeks, the audiences had a choice of three movies. Two were not the...
January 12 was a big week for Bollywood audiences. After a gap of four long dull weeks, the audiences had a choice of three movies. Two were not the kind of movies that the highbrow critic crowd loves but to the man on the ground, they were anticipated. ‘1921’ comes from Vikram Bhatt; the movie is a part of India’s biggest underrated horror movie franchise, which started with the underestimated horror hit called ‘1920’.
The second one was Kaalakaandi from the writer of ‘Delhi Belly’. Saif Ali Khan in a pivotal role had the youngsters excited. The trailer did drive a buzz amongst the young crowd on social media.
The third was of course from the blue-eyed boy of Bollywood critic samaj Anurag Kashyap. A movie based on the caste conflict and corrupt sports system of the cow belt – ‘Mukkabaaz’. The team of the movie had indulged in the aggressive promotion before the movie and it did have an interesting mix of newcomers and some not so celebrated actors like Ravi Kishan in intense character roles. This was to be an interesting Friday for the avid Bollywood watcher.
By evening the bubble was busted and it disappeared so fast that by January 13 the onus of keeping numbers alive for Bollywood went back to the four-week-old box office juggernaut called ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’.
There is nothing more ironic then to underline the ruthlessness of the Indian audience that ‘1921’ the most panned has made most moolah at the box office. Given the collection speeds ‘Kaalakaandi’ and ‘Mukkabaaz’ will probably struggle to cover their peanut budgets at the box office.
And this makes you ponder at the reasons of these movies which failed at the box office and dread if 2018 too will turn out to be a repeat of the negative and tragedy at box office year that 2017 was.
The conventional wisdom of the well-bred Bollywood media and the stiff upper lip intellect brigade will be to blame it on the shallowness of intelligence of the Indian audience. Look hard though and you realise these numbers are bad and the audience rejection came quick and swift because these makers have somewhere become diluted from the thought process of making simple watchable films.
The most tragic in my book is the decline of Anurag Kashyap. The man who gave us such epic out of the box entertainers like ‘Dev D’ and the twin pair of India’s answer to Bollywood gangster classics called ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’. Somewhere Anurag Kashyap is letting his personal thoughts and ideologies, which as a maker he is completely entitled to, take charge of his screenplays. If the disease was partly visible in ‘Udta Punjab’; it has totally eaten the screenplay in ‘Mukkabaaz’.
The painful part is ‘Mukkabaaz’ could have become his most epic effort till date had he kept his caste politics opinion in control in the screenplay of the movie. What remained a taut love story plus sporting ambition movie with a background of corruption and caste conflicts till interval declines into a director’s boring ideology lecture post interval and totally loses steam by the climax. Anurag Kashyap refuses to grow beyond his own ideological limitations and it is now showing in his movies.
‘Kaalakaandi’ is another example of how sometimes great writers make failed directors at least in the tradition of Bollywood. Years ago Mehul Kumar’s trusted heavy duty screenplay and dialogue writer KK Singh ventured into becoming a director on his own and delivered a colossal dud called ‘Veergati’.
Akshat Verma tried making a serious ‘Delhi Belly’ laced with the typical Delhi cuss words totally forgetting that it was the director’s craft of keeping cuss words part of the narrative in the original which worked for ‘Delhi Belly’.
‘Delhi Belly’ had sharp humour. ‘Kaalakaandi’ had pretention of humour in it. Again director remained trapped in his last thoughts of ‘Delhi Belly’ and this was the cause of ‘Kaalakaandi’ being a major disaster.
Then the curious case of ‘1921’. The movie makes you scared, very scared – if you think, is Vikram Bhatt going to make a ‘1922’ also? Or what if he goes the reverse chronological order of the calendar like 1919, 1918, etc. ‘1921’ is a done to death repetition of his own horror themes.
The movie looks a boring repeat of his last outing ‘Raaz Reboot’. I might be totally wrong in my deduction but maybe the audiences gave this one the maximum money because they found this movie’s presentation and content most honest. Both appeared crap.
A depressing first big week from Bollywood where three in the past sharp directors disappointed us because they just won’t grow out of their own mind traps.