Two Non-SRK Trailers, Baadshaho and Mubarakan, Which Just Make Me Think of Other Better Films

Well, that’s not really fair, I don’t know yet if they are better films because these films haven’t come out.  But I can suspect they are better films, because the films they remind me of were really really good, and it showed even in the trailer.

Maybe it’s that trick of age thing, where your earlier memories are brighter.  I know that’s why I think of the films of the early 2000s as the “real” Hindi movies.  But I honestly think these two trailers serve to remind us of movies that were better.

The Baadshaho trailer, for instance.  Quick flashes of character introduction, a small historical time period establishment, awesome bass riff in the background.  It looks fun, kind of Grindhouse-like.

 

But then there’s this.  Which also establishes a specific time period, also introduces a series of characters, also has a bass riff (is that the right term?).  But the riff (?) is better, the time period establishment is more inventive, Ajay Devgan’s hair doesn’t have stupid highlights, everything is just slightly more so.

 

Tell me, is this just the haze of nostalgia, or is that second trailer actually clearly much much better?

 

In the same way, Mubarakan just came out with its first trailer.  Arjun Kapoor and Anil Kapoor are co-starring for the first time.  And Arjun is playing twins.  So it feels like Aurangzeb, only with a chubbier Arjun and Anil instead of Rishi.  But then the trailer wasn’t that tone at all, it was all wacky comedy and it felt really familiar.  I couldn’t put my finger on it until the last frame declared it was from the team that brought me Welcome, Singh is King, and No Entry.  Right!  That’s what it feels like!  Only, just not quite as good.

 

Anil is good, but he can’t be a whole movie all on his own.  Welcome, which I saw all by myself in a theater at 10am on a Saturday, had a stacked cast, a plot with so many twists I can’t even remember them all, and over all was just joke-joke-joke-joke.  I’m not saying it was a great movie, but it was a fuller movie than this one, you know?  Here, watch the trailer and tell me if I am wrong:

 

So, why is this?  Why are movies just not as good any more?  Besides my own nostalgia blinders.

 

Well, I’ve got a couple of theories, which you can feel free to shoot down and say “No!  It’s just nostalgia!”  First, I think success has bred caution.  In all kinds of ways.  Once Upon a Time in Mumbai, for instance, that was an out there idea, a period gangster piece with anti-heroes, picking up on the vibes of Company and Kaante, but combining them with the era of Deewar and Zanjeer.  And thinking way way outside the box with casting, Emraan Hasmi, the ultimate chocolate hero, as an action star.  Remixed songs combined with original pieces, a storyline that brushes right up against the edge of libel in its historical realism, all kinds of neat things.  But now, Milan Luthria is the man who made OUATIM, and Dirty Picture.  Period pieces are everywhere, high (Dum Laga Ke Hasha) and low (Shootout at Wadala).  No more really out there original trailers/movies, it’s all about recreating the thing we liked last time.

Second, no one works as much or in as many films any more.  Look at Welcome.  Pawesh Rawal, Akshay Kumar, Katrina Kaif, Anil Kapoor, Nana Patakar, Mallika Sherawat, Firoz Khan.  Plus a crazy catchy title song, a wacky plot with twist after twist, and tons of location shooting and big song numbers.  Today, you would take just one of those elements and call it a film.  Look at Rustom!  It had Akshay Kumar, and……….  No real song numbers, a bunch of TV actors and character actors no one really knows, two b-level barely recognized actresses, and a plot that is spread pretty thin to cover a full two and a half hours.  And almost entirely shot on sound stages and greenscreen.  And now, we have the same team coming together for this film, and there’s Arjun Kapoor doing double duty, Athiya Shetty in her second film, and Anil Kapoor trying to hold down the “funny recognizable guy” role all by himself.

 

But the real problem is that there is no room at the middle for people on their way up or their way down.  Back when OUATIM came out, Emraan was nothing.  Well-known chocolate hero, never considered as an actor.  But Milan Luthria took a risk on him, and Emraan took a risk back, going outside his comfort zone.  When Welcome came out, Nana Patakar was no longer considered the brightest star in art cinema in India, but he had found a comfortable spot in the middle in character roles, and it wasn’t “beneath” him to play a comic role as the 5th lead in an Akshay Kumar movie.  And it’s not just the actors, there was more space for an art director to experiment, or a popular director to try something new.  Budgets are getting bigger, and films are getting fewer, you either take the safe bet big name, or you take the super cheap total unknown, nothing in the middle.

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12 thoughts on “Two Non-SRK Trailers, Baadshaho and Mubarakan, Which Just Make Me Think of Other Better Films

  1. This is an interesting take on recent developments and the risk-aversion that seems to be the norm. And it is a sad commentary, since it means more mediocre movies.

    And yet, there are some who have managed to push through, like Alia Bhatt. How to explain her success? Or, rather, how has she managed to differentiate herself from others on the way up? Is it as simple as making better choices? If so, how is it that she gets better options to choose from than, say, an Athiya Shetty?

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    • Karan Johar is how. He pushes and pushes and pushes his mentees and gets them past that difficult bit where there are just no choices. I was thinking of Siddharth, myself. How he is a mediocre talent, but somehow has landed at this point in his career. Oh! Tiger Shroff too!

      Well heck, that’s why nepotism is such a problem nowadays! There is no other way in, not because nepotism is more powerful than before, but because all the other options have been closed due to the business changes. Look at poor Amit Sadh, who works and works and works and just doesn’t seem to get anywhere. Because no one is willing to take a chance on him in the Baadshaho level films, which is where he needs to go on his next step up.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think your history of Hindi films is somewhat askew. I’ve been noticing it in quite a few of your statements lately. I don’t know what’s causing it. Are you just going by your own impressions? Or your personal experience?

    For instance, your saying Emran Hashmi was nothing before OUATIM. He was a very big star, and actually was known for his acting as well as his kissing. And I’ve never heard/seen him described as a “chocolate hero.” Actually, that term pretty much went out after the 90’s, I think. I haven’t seen any of the newer actors described that way. Heck, even Hrithik wasn’t described that way in his debut, which was in 2000. By that time “Greek God” or “international looks” seemed to be the preferred phrase.

    Not nostalgia, but can it be that you’re now more used to what Hindi films have to offer? Earlier, when you were just getting into them, everything was new and thus full of possibilities. Now you’ve seen many more films, so there’s bound to be more of a “been there, seen that” kind of reaction on your part. I think this is the reason why it’s very difficult to get me out to go see a movie, especially Hollywood ones, but even Indian ones. There’s too much recycling going on. In HW, especially, I’m finding that all kinds of highly lauded “period” movies are set in times that I’ve actually lived through, so I prefer my own memories of events, rather than what the film makers imagine. 🙂

    Plus, Hindi films have just declined. 🙂 My personal view is that they are really trying to figure out who they are trying to represent and/or appeal to. Most of them are made by the SoBo boys, who’ve all grown up inside the industry, and really have no touch with India any more, as their lifestyles are as much mirrors of “western” lifestyles as they can afford to be. But on the other hand, you have many more talented directors who are “outsiders”, who’ve grown up in small towns, or at least outside of the charmed circle, and they’re getting more breaks to make the kind of movies they want. Despite its flaws, even Rustom is a departure from the kind of films BW was making, say, ten years ago.

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    • It’s always hard to track the history of popular perception of things. It’s not anything you can point to or pin down, it’s a cumulative effect of the way something is talked about in the media, the way your friends discuss it, etc. etc. For Emraan, I remember my friends joking about him, how he was just known for kissing. And the sort of vague surprise when Jannat came out and he did well in it. But looking at his filmography, Gangster looks like as close as he came to a non-romantic role before OUATIM. It was an outside the box casting.

      You are right about my being more used to things and so on, that’s why the films of the 2000s will always be the most vivid to me, but I have to acknowledge and correct that when possible.

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    • “Hindi films have just declined.”

      Actually, it’s mostly the Bombay films that have slumped. The last amazing formula film to come out of Bombay (by that I mean the legacy production houses plus big stars plus loud naach gana) was Om Shanti Om. And it was delightful.

      On the other hand, we get regional storytelling and regional settings taking over. Look at Gangs of Wasseypore. That’s a bihar-based gangster epic that doesn’t get the recognition it deserves.

      I guess it’s time that Bollywood gets serious about filmmaking. Starts making fewer films with better stories and smaller budgets. Everyone would get more screentime. We actually need to revamp the Hindi tv entertainment industry too. Maybe if there were better tv series to act in, we won’t have every “serious” actor trying to make it in films (by doing rubbish films)

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      • I agree with everything, except I want more films with better stories and smaller budgets. I think it’s the fewer films (and they have already cut way way way way way down on output) that are causing issues, it’s making everyone more cautious. Instead of one movie like Tubelight coming out and dominating every screen in the country, I want 3 movies coming out. Distributors and theater owners would be less worried about making sure each one is a bit, and filmmakers (including stars) would be less concerned about their reputation if it’s just one film out of 3.

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        • I first noticed the thing with the number of screens and ticket prices with ghajini. I think bollywood has genuinely gotten to that point where it’s all about selling a film which has no repeat value. Like they know these movies won’t be purchased by channels and pay per view services because they’re shit and their only hope of making money is drawing a crowd into the theatre. Forget the wow, I want to watch a bollywood film that makes me think about it, that I want to talk about for ages after.

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          • Yes!!!! And I have seen those movies this year, but they went in and out of theaters with hardly any notice.

            that’s the other problem with the big opening weekend business, there is no space for the smaller word of mouth type films. I loved loved loved Running Shaadi, which was in theaters for like 4 days. I told everyone I knew to go see it, and no one could, because it was out of theaters before they had a chance. Because it had to make room for the next big opening weekend epic that you only want to see once.

            Or, Raees. Not a perfect movie, but I enjoyed it so much more on the second viewing. It’s definitely a “come back and watch again once you know how it ends” kind of film. But no one really got a chance to do that, because after the first week, it was already moving out of theaters.

            Or Neerja! Which actually managed to succeed based primarily on word of mouth. One of the few films in the past two years where the screen count dramatically increased in the second and third weekend. But everyone is still chasing that record breaking box office, which means record breaking budgets, instead of looking for the simple profit margin.

            On Sun, Jun 25, 2017 at 9:43 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Yup. Neerja, Waiting (I so loved it!), Blueberry Hunt (I didn’t know Naseeruddin Shah could do ‘hot older guy’!), Masaan (it hurts me on such a deep level I’m afraid to watch it anymore), Nil Batey Sannata… All these films are amazing. Our mega stars are faltering because they’ve never done these smaller films (well SRK did Paheli which I loved but he disowned it since it didn’t sell and Amir had Talaash which looked like it challenged him) with sensitive stories and now there’s no space for them in these anymore. There are smaller stars, getting recognition for their solid work in these smaller films. Think Kay Kay Menon (spelling?), Kalki, Nawazuddin, Swara Bhaskar, Richa Chadha.. These people are selling films just on their name through word of mouth publicity. Have you watched the Wasseypore series? What did you make of it?

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          • I have not watched the Wasseypore series, I will someday I am sure. I just don’t much like Anurag Basu. Not an objective judgement, just personally not to my taste. so that’s why I haven’t been rushing off to see it.

            On Sun, Jun 25, 2017 at 10:12 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  3. Pingback: New Yash Raj Trailer! Way More Interesting Than the Stupid Star Launch Thing | dontcallitbollywood

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