Monday Morning Question Post! If You Still Have Anything to Ask Me, Ask Here!

This is the third time I’ve done this (first post here and second here), and I am hoping you aren’t out of questions yet!

If there is anything you are curious about, either about my personal tastes or opinions or history, or a question about the films, or just something you want to start a discussion on, ask it here!

So long as I keep getting questions, I’ll keep putting these posts up every Monday, and you can ask any questions you have for me here at any point during the week, and I will respond as fast as I can.

26 thoughts on “Monday Morning Question Post! If You Still Have Anything to Ask Me, Ask Here!

  1. do u know any bollywood or other language films about north eastern states in india? megalaya,mizoram,manipur,nagaland etc….? dont want films like chennai express stereotyping whole region for jokes nor any song scenes…. any film showing the real life there?

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    • Well, there’s Dil Se, which has both a “present day” sequence and a flashback sequence in Assam. I haven’t seen it yet, but the Malayalam film Neelakasham Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi takes place partly in Nagaland. And some quick research I just did shows that Manipur at least as it’s own thriving film industry, which of course would be the best way to learn about those regions, from something made by and for themselves.

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    • I think Tubelight. I like Salman more as a sweet naive type than as a big action hero. And I am really curious about how they will handle the historical storyline.

      Also, Ek Tha Tiger was such a nice contained story. I know they left it open ended, but the big point was for the two characters to choose love over everything else. And now that they’ve made that choice, I’m just not as interested to see what happens next.

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      • What exactly is Tubelight about? All I know is that Salman’s a soldier and there’s a chinese heroine. Honestly, I feel that Ali Abbas Zafar is a better filmmaker than Kabir Khan which is why I feel that Tiger Zinda Hai will turn out to be the better movie.

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        • It’s supposedly about the Sino-Indian war. So it’s a period movie, and a war movie, both of which are unusual. And some vague rumors make it sound like Salman might be “childlike”, kind of like his Bajrangi Bhaijaan character. Oh, and there are two brothers, played by Salman and Sohail.

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          • That’s interesting! Isn’t this the first time that Kabir Khan is moving away from the topic of India-Pakistan relations?

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          • Kabir Khan also did New York, which was more about American and Indian American relationships.

            Part of the reason I am curious about this movie is because of what it might mean about the increasing trade tension between India and China. Has the current situation reached a point where Kabir Khan feels the need for a Veer-Zaara type love story to set things right? Or is it that the trade between the nations has reached the point that a co-production product is viable again?

            Or, maybe it’s all a distraction, and this really is another Pakistan-India movie, but in the context of Pakistan’s involvement (or lack there of) in the Sino-Indian war.

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  2. I’d be glad to ask more questions. ) So, thanks for the opportunity!
    I also like these Q&A posts because I get to read other interesting questions and answers.
    As a non-Indian who is so much into Indian cinema (however, I wasn’t until I got introduced to such brilliant films as 3 idiots, TZP, RDB and Lagaan), I’m very interested in the Industry as such.

    So, it was a short lyrical digression. ))) My question today is – why such obsession with Box Office?
    I understand, BO collections are important, but they are rather important for every specific movie (or producers and distributors, to be more precise). I like European and Canadian cinema too, but I don’t know the collections (or verdicts) of any of the films. With Indian films you just cannot be unaware of it if you at least a bit into Indian cinema. Words like collections, verdicts, BO predictions, trade analysts, ATBB, 100 cr club come first when one decides to read something about Indian films. I think, it’s a little weird because BO collections in most cases don’t even determine quality or artistic merit of a film. So, there is something quite unclear to me also. Hmm, it’s a long question. )))

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    • What an interesting thing to think about! That’s why I like these question posts, because they challenge me to think about things in a new way.

      Firstly, European and Canadian cinema is in a very different position than the Indian film industry, as are Iranian, Russian, Chinese, and plenty of other industries, because they have state support. The amount and quality of state support varies country to country, but most places have some kind of protection in place for their national film industry, ranging from subsidizing film production to tax breaks on local film tickets, to just a social encouragement to support a local industry. Box office isn’t as important, if you are a filmmaker or artist who is just interested in staying within your local industry, because there is a soft cushion to land on. You won’t go bankrupt, and you will always be able to find work.

      This is not true for American and Indian films. Both industries are kind of hanging out there on their own. Yes, there is some accidental benefits to them from state actions (for instance, India’s import laws heavily restricted outside films from being shown in the country until just recently). But in general, they are seen as detrimental to society and the government is most likely to get involved in order to limit them, not support them. So the industries are run on an entirely capitalistic basis. They are purely there to make money, and if you can’t make money, you are out of a job.

      The American film press does track box office closely, actually more closely than India (that’s why I always focus on the global figures, not local, because the global are gathered by an American based company that is obsessed with accuracy). But the American film industry tries to put more gloss on their product, and hide the raw monetary part of it from the public a little more. The stars talk about the “challenge” of a role, or “having fun on set”, not a calculation as to if it will up their box office value. Studio heads and directors talk about the “exciting” script and “really believing in the story”, not figuring out how many tickets it would sell.

      Sometimes it seems like the artists themselves buy into this a little too. Directors will go wildly over budget, stars will delay filming because they don’t “feel” like doing the role, etc. etc. It is left to the studio heads to try to balance the money motivation with everything else.

      Now, in India, everyone is much smarter. The press and fans know that money matters, if the film isn’t profitable, if it doesn’t make a certain amount, then the next movie by this particular star or director or on this particular topic won’t get made. So they track the box office, because it matters.

      And, as I have been posting about a lot lately, the really good “artists” in film are also very good businessman. They have to be in India, you can still literally lose everything if your film fails. Like, be shot by the mob, have your house taken away, end up on the street kind of lose everything. That would be the extreme example, but it does happen.

      You know Sajid Khan? Of the Housefull movies that everyone makes fun of but which make a ton of money? His father was a producer who had a couple of failures and lost everything, became an alcoholic and left his family, and Sajid and his sister and mother became essentially homeless, shuttling between relatives. So you can see why Sajid cares about box office over all!

      The other part of this is the different relationship Indian film fans have with their stars! I don’t think fans of Tom Cruise are going to come to blows with fans of Harrison Ford over who is better, but that’s the kind of attitude Indian film fans have to their stars. And box office is where the power comes, and where they can prove their devotion. It’s the horse race effect, you want your guy to “win”. And it’s also practical, it doesn’t matter how many songs you write about your hero, or fanvids you make, or tattoos you get, if their next film flops, they won’t be able to make more movies.

      One final note, for myself in particular I find the way the Indian film press related to box office interesting because it shows a different attitude towards art. It’s the difference between “media studies” which is what I have my degree in, and “film studies”. “Film studies” is all about “textual analysis”. You look at the product in a vacuum, decide if it is good or bad or groundbreaking or interesting, all of that, just based on the finished product. Maybe, if you are an over-achiever, you also read some interviews and look at some information on the filmmaker. But mostly it is just about the art itself.

      Media studies is interested in what the art says about society, including how it was received. So, not just “DDLJ is a really really good movie” but “DDLJ is an all time record breaker a the box office; why? What does that say about society? What was so special that the audience really related to it?” I like this better because, for me, art is about society. It’s meaningless if no one sees it, if no one cares. And if a lot of people care, than it is meaningful, even if it seems stupid and pointless on the surface, there must be something there that people find value in.

      Okay, I could go on and on about this, because it is a fascinating question, but I am going to make myself stop now!

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      • Thank you for your extended answer! Film-making in India is a tough and risky business!
        Suddenly what seemed totally unreasonable to me appeared to have a complex of reasons!

        Yes, I’ve heard of Sajid Khan and Houseful since Houseful 3 has been in the news lately.

        >if the film isn’t profitable, if it doesn’t make a certain amount, then the next movie by this particular star or director or on this particular topic won’t get made.

        So could this be the reason behind UTV Motion Pictures is about to shut down? I was very surprised to hear about it, because the film studio brought many amazing and profitable movies. However, its several recent films did not collected well. Or is there likely another reason?

        >Okay, I could go on and on about this, because it is a fascinating question, but I am going to make myself stop now!

        That was really informative and made me realize things I had not any idea about! Thanks a lot!

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      • If y’all don’t mind, I am going to enter into this conversation 🙂

        I agree with Margaret in saying that the relationship with fans also has a large impact on why box office numbers are highly publicized. How much a film makes is considered a measurement of a star’s stardom and stamina. This is especially true in Tamil and Telugu cinema where fans see their favorite actors as their family members. This is why Salman Khan is called bhai (“older brother”) by his fans and many people in Tamil Nadu and the Telugu states refer to their heroes as Anna or Annaya (“older brother”). So these fans take it very personally when their hero, their brother loses. I know many people on twitter who argue about everything from pre-release business to tv ratings to prove that their favorite hero is bigger than another person’s favorite hero. More than your hero not being able to make another movie after their movie flops, you worry more about the fact that your hero lost since you were not able to beat the existing records. For example, Mahesh Babu fans currently have the upper position since Srimanthudu was is the 2nd biggest hit in Telugu cinema (Baahubali is number one but it is so much of an outlier that all the fans are fighting for 2nd place now). It’s been over a year and those records have still not been broken so this is a form of bragging rights. And the target for every other star hero is to beat the records that have been set by Mahesh Babu. So basically fans care about box office numbers so they can brag about their hero and this obsession with numbers is taken advantage of by the media and producers of movies.

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        • All I have to add to this is a story I read in some book on Indian film, about a little girl in kindergarten in the US. Her parents came in for their first parent-teacher conference and were talking about their family and so on, and the teacher was confused, because they said that this was their first parent teacher conference for their oldest child. But, the teacher said, who is “big sister Madhuri” your daughter keeps talking about?

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        • Yeah, I also noticed that fans often take actors’ successes or failures personally.
          So, if they develop “family like” attitude towards them, it’s quite explainable.
          Thanks for joining the discussion! )

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