Well this is an interesting batch of news in terms of changing industrial forces! Managers, story rights, all kinds of things that didn’t used to exist and may not necessarily result in a different or superior end product.
Amitabh is Rich
Well, this is random small thing. News is reporting that an investment (which I guess was part of the public record when it happened) has paid off big time for Amitabh. Which makes sense, when you are rich you can invest a substantial amount in A LOT of things, which raises the odds that one of those things will pay off. It’s one of the many ways that it is easy for the rich to get richer and hard for anyone else to get anything. So this is more of a “lucky, but not totally unexpected and impossible” thing.
Anyway, I am curious if this means that Amitabh will be working less. He first started this kind of crazy treadmill of work back when his corporation went bankrupt and he had to pay the bills/clear his debts. But I assume he’s been free and clear of all of that for a while now, so he’s been working just for fun and to make a little extra income. But now he really really doesn’t need the income, so maybe he will stop working totally. Or else only do super interesting roles, not just kind of interesting roles.
(Or maybe he will spend even more time taking naps. It’s what I would do if I were suddenly a millionaire!)
Abhishek Hires a Manager
Speaking of Amitabh, Abhishek has hired a new manager, Reshma Shetty, Karan Johar’s best friend/Salman’s ex-manager. Who Salman just fired, post Tubelight. Not sure what is happening with that. Tubelight excepted, it seems like Salman’s career is on an even keel right now. I’m not seeing terrible stories about drinking and womanizing and stuff. And surely any bad business decisions are more his fault than anything else. So the firing of Reshma was always kind of odd to me, and this story doesn’t really help explain it. I can understand that Reshma is ready to take on a new client, but I still don’t understand why Salman let her go.
(Most impressive part of her PR abilities, keeping all but this one photo of herself off the internet. And no, that other “Reshma Shetty” isn’t her)
Going from Salman to Abhishek is a bit of a step down, no two ways about it. Getting in with the Bachchan’s makes it worthwhile, but it’s still an odd choice for Reshma. Them hiring Reshma makes sense, this is another part of the flurry of stories and changes around whatever the heck is happening with Abhishek post giving up on the Dutta movie, clearly that Dutta thing (whatever it is) happened and they brought in an expert to control the damage. And it also explains the flurry of PR activity around Abhishek, Reshma came in and organized the stories about the upcoming movies, the public appearances, and so on.
And I also can’t help but like the idea of two women scorned by Salman (Reshma and Aish) hanging out and commiserating.
Hichki is Professional
The whole idea of hiring a professional manager is kind of newfangled. Like, before it would just be your wife or your brother or someone who gave you advice, and separately you would have a “secretary” who helped organize your shooting schedules and sometimes took meetings for you. But now we have “managers”. And we also have films developed like Hichki was.
Turns out, Hichki/Yash Raj actually bought the rights to the Brad Cohen book about him becoming a teacher with Tourette’s Syndrome. Even though they knew they would be taking almost nothing from it, they still crossed the t’s and dotted the i’s. I am guessing this is some forethought, if they want this film to crossover to American theaters and other sources, they want to avoid any possibility of legal issues.
Meanwhile, in India, they are running into legal issues with a writer who claims their ideas were stolen. I am more interested in the backstory to the claim than the claim itself (which seems probably false, especially since Yash Raj is so careful about everything). Siddharth P Malhotra (the director) says:
“I had acquired the rights to make Front of the Class as a Hindi motion picture in 2013. Nishant Kaushik’s claims are baseless. He was contacted through Exceed Entertainment and I haven’t even met him once. We were looking for writers who could come up with a take on the Front of the Class. We had approached several writers including Nishant. He was given a brief for the film and the story and slant he came up with, was not what we were looking for. So, we did not proceed with him and Exceed was informed about my decision immediately. This was, 2015. Several prominent writers like Amole Gupte, Abbas Tyrewala have worked on the story of Hichki and we have obtained NOC’s from them and I thank each one of them for being the creative contributors of Hichki. We have credited all the writers who have worked in our film. So, it is ridiculous that we will not give credit to anyone in particular who has worked hard and contributed for Hichki.
Yash Raj films itself meanwhile also made an announcement saying that they, Yash Raj, had acquired the rights to the book. So the picture I am getting is that Siddharth, who hasn’t actually directed a film in years, was working on behalf of Yash Raj when he came up with this idea and acquired the book rights. And then kept working on behalf of Yash Raj while he developed it for the past 4 years to get it ready for filming.
(Also, as I tracked down when this film was first announced, Siddharth P is secretly part of the larger Kapoor/Prem Nath clan. He’s hiding it with his last name, but he’s really an insider, which explains why Aditya is giving him so much rope)
What this means is that Yash Raj is keeping its corporate philosophy of individual developers. In Hollywood, for instance, it might begin with a script. The script lands on the desk of a producer who works for/with a particular studio. The producer develops it, uses an Agent to help put together a deal for various actors and other talent, and finally the director comes in to bring it across the finish line.
But the Yash Raj structure seems to be that the director talent takes the lead, going all the way back to the story point. Either you write your own script, or you pick out a story you want. And then you develop it. And finally you film it. And you have the support of Yash Raj studios, and (usually) Aditya Chopra personally as you go through this multiyear process of development.
I don’t know if this is necessarily better than the Hollywood system, but it certainly doesn’t seem to be any worse.
Shahid Kapoor Signs with Imtiaz!
Finally, the story I am really excited about! Shahid has officially announced that he is making his next film with Imtiaz Ali. This little string of films, Rangoon and Padmavati and Batti Gul Meter Chalu and now the Imtiaz film, I am very excited about them all in terms of what they mean for Shahid’s career.
It felt like he had this kind of desperate trying for years before now, like he would do an art film and then that wouldn’t hit and he would do an action film and then that wouldn’t hit and he would do a comedy. Always with him as the star, always with him running around doing a massive promotional campaign. Always this subconscious message of “please like me! I will do whatever you want if only you like me!”
But now he is doing multi-starrers and kind of relaxing about the promotions. And Batti Gul Meter Chalu and this Imtiaz film, they feel like something he is doing just because he is interested in the idea, not because he thinks it will be good for his career or something.
The Imtiaz film in particular, that feels like a definite decision as an artist, not as a movie star. Imtiaz just had a massive flop, that was also a massive artistic achievement. Shahid as the up and coming movie star might not want to take a risk on him. But Shahid as the actor who only wants to do stuff that is interesting and challenging would rush to work with him.
I am super excited to see what Shahid and Imtiaz come up with together. I don’t always like Imtiaz, but it seems to depend a lot on who his collaborator is. I don’t like him with Ranbir, because he and Ranbir together seem to end up leaning a lot into the “poor little boy can’t grow up” idea. But with Shahid, Imtiaz created a character with a really interesting mixture of “damaged on the inside” and “carefully hiding it on the outside”.
In the years since, Shahid has gone even more in that direction. His more recent roles are this great sort of fragile masculinity. I am very excited to see what he comes up with working with Imtiaz.