The great interval disconnect!
Quick question. In the recent past how many movies have you seen, which have at least held your attention till interval and then totally spiralled...
Quick question. In the recent past how many movies have you seen, which have at least held your attention till interval and then totally spiralled downwards? While walking out you almost feel ‘hey I should have walked out at the interval.’ I felt like that while walking out after watching the recent
‘Padmaavat’. However, in Bollywood’s history of failed at box office cinema, there are many such examples. There are examples on the other side too where a movie has totally shifted into fourth gear post interval and you are one of the many viewers who forgive and forget what takes place in the first half, the movie, of course, moves on to become a rocking box office hit.
‘Saathi’, an underrated 1991 box office hit is an example of a movie picking up post interval. Directed by Mahesh Bhatt in his prime days this movie had the most unsaleable box office actors like Aditya Pancholi, Mohsin Khan and Varsha Usgaonkar. The movie moved like a boring friendship based in the 90s and suddenly after the interval, it develops complexities, friends become foes, there is a betrayal. A son ends up taking revenge for his rag picker father. The movie had Pancholi’s most sharp performance to date.
The other example of decline post interval yet the movie making it big at the box office is the movie that announced Suraj Barjatya to Indian cinema, the movie was ‘Maine Pyar Kiya’. Today, it is deservingly called a classic and yes it was a trendsetter but probably not many of you will be aware that when it was released initially not many had liked the contrast of the movie moving into a tear jerking heavy mode after a breezy before interval romance that it was. Yet the impact of its freshness made people flock the theatres again and again.
We are looking at the great ‘Bollywood Interval’ disconnect. We as viewers would have always wondered what causes it yet there are no set guidelines, which can save a director from the great interval disconnect. There is also a school of thought that makes you feel is the great interval disconnect is a great strategy from the director.
In the 1990s at least twice the master storyteller of brooding volcanic intense dramas called Raj Kumar Santoshi used this strategy brilliantly in at least two of his movies. ‘Ghayal’ and ‘Ghatak’. While ‘Ghayal’ for a good part of its opening remains a happy story of a young man who has a warm family and a great future as a boxer to look forward to till the family is caught in the deadly trap of a drug lord.
It remains at best a story which moves in second gear till interval. Till it practically explodes from post interval. Ditto for ‘Ghatak’, a story, which revolves around a dying father and his two sons becomes a story of a man’s struggle against the nexus of land mafia.
In both movies, you realise that Santoshi was setting you up until interval so that when the director unfolds the real story you are found unaware and then you go with the flow of the director. In both ‘Ghayal’ and ‘Ghatak’, we loved it when Santoshi practically grabs our collar and drives us on superfast goosebump driving stories.
‘Kaabil’ was one example from last year where the movie totally moves to a different engaging plane when a blind Rohan decides to turn the tables on his wife’s tormentors. ‘Kaabil’ is another example where the director is setting you up. There are movies where interval promises a lot but what comes after the interval is a damp squib. SRK’s ‘Fan’ was one such film. The movie sets up an interesting premise at the interval but the execution of the revenge of the fan post interval was very below average.
The fact of the matter is that Bollywood would do well to learn from the master storyteller of the south SS Rajamouli. ‘Baahubali: The Beginning is remembered for its epic ‘why Kattappa killed Baahubali?’ question moment in the end. But if you recall its interval was far more epic and the tempo was maintained in the second half. ‘Baahubali: The Beginning’ has absolutely no interval disconnect.
Maybe one day some genius will crack the code for the interval disconnect and that day we will probably recommend that guy for a Nobel Prize.