Resolutions Hindi Cinema Should Make for 2020: From Better Streaming Deals, to Finally Finishing Brahmastra

I have to say, Hindi Cinema could do a lot of things better! Like, as an industry. Terrible habits it has fallen in to of procrastination, laziness, and overspending. Here are some suggestions I am offering for what the industry as a whole should be doing.

1 Gain weight! More full-figured actresses

The biggest impact for me of the recent batch of star kids launches for me has been a realization of how BORING the body types and faces of actresses have gotten. Sara Ali Khan and Jhanvi are lovely young women, but I sincerely have a hard time telling them apart. Meanwhile their mothers were instantly recognizable and different from everyone else.

Image result for amrita singh sara ali khan

2. Lose weight! Thinner budgets

Forget the economic unsustainability, big budgets just make for boring movies! I want a film where there is less money and more originality, more story, more songs.

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There is no reason this film needed either this horse, or Jacqueline Fernandez

3. Learn a new language! Better Subtitles

Better subtitles all around! If Karan Johar and others are starting to snap up rights for non-Hindi films, then they should make sure those films are released with decent English subtitles, not just dubbed. And the Hindi industry needs to get serious about making universal subtitles, the theatrical release subtitles are usually the best (a few funny mistakes, but the songs are subtitled and so on), those same subtitle files should be made available for streaming and DVD release as well, instead of the streaming and DVDs being worse.

Image result for gully boy songs subtitles english
It’s ridiculous that a youtube user had to write the English subtitles for this scene instead of them being included with the teaser

4. Build New Relationships! Better Streaming Access

It’s not about content, it’s about access! Netflix and Prime (for example) will make a big deal about high profile purchases for their systems, and then will not make those available worldwide. You shouldn’t have to use a VPN to watch the biggest release of the year, there has GOT to be a way to make them consistently available everywhere in the world. I assume it is an issue of rights sales, and the streaming giants (at least for the biggest releases) need to stop penny pinching and put out the money for rights in every market, not just some.

Image result for ek ladki ko dekha to aisa laga
Why is this movie available on Netflix in some countries but not others?

5. Maintain Old Relationships! Better Platforms

Indian content in particular really does not have a good track record for programming support. If I am on Prime, I can watch any BBC item and know it will have closed captioning, it will play on my Roku, my ChromeCast, my Phone, and my Computer. But with the Indian content, starting for no reason I can see, it will sometimes play only on my computer and not anywhere else, sometimes only on my computer and phone and not anywhere else. Subtitles in particular will play on one device, but not others. Or not even be available. All of this is technical, not content related. They have the rights, the subtitles exist in the world, they just need to write better code so that their users can get what they want to get.

Image result for a gentleman poster
Oh look, this movie is on Prime! Oh wait, it’s only on Prime with ErosNow! Oh wait again, it’s on ErosNow, but with subtitles that only play on your laptop not your TV screen.

6. Be More Open to the World! Better Search Tools

It’s ridiculous that einthusan, the mostly-illegal platform, has the best search tools! You can easily see the recently added items, filter by actor, by year, and by popularity. None of that is available on Netflix or Prime. Okay the actor, maybe, but most of the time those searches are either too narrow (excluding films where the actor’s name is miss-spelled in the credits) or too broad (including films where a different actor of the same first name appears). Most irritating is the tendency for films that are no longer on the platform to show up in a search and, only once you have clicked through, to be listed as “unavailable for now”. Second most irritating is films that have been added recently not showing up on search results for several days because they are not properly indexed.

Image result for fanaa poster
Why does this movie show up when I search keyword “Shahrukh Khan” on Prime? No really, I’m asking, I can’t figure it out!

7. No More Procrastinating! Finish the Films You Have Started

Brahmastra, Takht, ’83, all of them big deal officially announced movies, all of them stuck in uncertainty. Even after filming started! It’s ridiculous that a date is announced, a time is set, and still the films are not finishing as planned. Be better!

Image result for '83 poster
We have stills! We know ’83 finished filming! Why the heck hasn’t it come out yet?

8. Take Chances! Try a Genre That Hasn’t Been a Hit in a While

Hindi film has a pattern of seeing a hit, and then endlessly reproducing that hit. It feels safe to just do the same thing that has worked before, but you have to take chances sometimes. When was the last time we had a straight up detective film with a master thief and a dedicated police officer? Or a show movie about a romance between two dancers? Or a family romance set at a wedding? How about a Village Picture?

Image result for dhoom 3 poster
I guess Dhoom 3 was kind of a heist movie, but there was a lot of other stuff going on too. And anyway, it was ages ago! When will we get another cops-criminals film?

9. Forget and Forgive the Past! Stop Making Remakes

I’ve liked a lot of these remakes, but I still don’t think they should exist. Even if you are taking a familiar plot, like Pati Patni Aur Woh, give it a new name! Don’t weigh it down with comparisons to past hits, or show your own lack of faith in your film by focusing promotions on the popularity of the original. Remember, Om Shanti Om was a remake. So was Kal Ho Na Ho. As faithful a remake as the ones we are getting now. But that’s not why people saw them.

Image result for kal ho na ho poster
Kal Ho Na Ho was as close to Anand as Aashiqui 2 was to Aashiqui, but no need for using the same title because it could stand on its own!

10. Learn New Things! Like Spelling

Can we just try not to have any more “good newwz” in the new year? Not even succeed, but at least TRY. The first step to change is acknowledging you have a problem.

Image result for good newwz

What do you think? Which of these do you think is most important for Hindi cinema in 2020? Which would most improve your life?

28 thoughts on “Resolutions Hindi Cinema Should Make for 2020: From Better Streaming Deals, to Finally Finishing Brahmastra

  1. To improve my life?

    Get those movies to release! I want Takht like no movie before! Even if it’s a box office disaster like Kalank, I still would love the aesthetics and the songs and some of the relationships at least.

    Which of these do you think is most important for Hindi cinema in 2020?

    Subtitles and ALL the Streaming stuff you mentioned. Aaja Nachle is on Prime, but it has no subtitles for example, nor has Yeh Dillagi, which makes me mad, because I want to show them to others if possible and if not with subtitles I will just go to Einthusan (which, since we don’t have Hotstar here) is really the second best option after Prime since Netflix is a just pitiful in its amount of Indian movie content. The only good thing is JHMS there, which I’ve rewatched 15 times because of its availability.

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    • This is what I am saying about Netflix and buying up ALL the rights! Prime has a larger library in America, but Netflix has the better films and they all have subtitles. Only thing is, they only paid for those rights in America, not in Europe. It makes sense from a penny pinching sense, you are probably one of the few people who will watch those movies in your country so why should Netflix spend money just for you, but it doesn’t make sense from a global market side of things! I’ve stopped doing my “movies on Netflix” posts partly because I realized they didn’t apply to half my readership who has a different Netflix than I do. I would be promoting them way more if I could be sure all my readers, not just my US based ones, were getting the same Netflix.

      On Wed, Jan 8, 2020 at 3:36 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. Netflix and Prime have the worst search and algorithms ever. It is completely unusable and I have to find things online first and then specifically put in the name. That is too much work for casual viewers. There is no way to quickly find new releases, no way to get good recommendations, and no proper way to explore. I recently watched a WW2-based movie and now I get 100 recommendations for WW2 movies and 99% of them are really bad – obscure stuff with poor reviews that were specially made for TV 20 years ago. What on earth? Just because I watched a WW2 movie doesn’t mean I want to watch a hundred more poorly rated B-grade WW2 movies. There’s gotta be a better algorithm than “hey, this person watched a WW2 movie, let’s give them 100 more WW2 movies, most rated 1 star.” Why not instead recommend a German film or a regular HW film but from the 40s era, which is rated highly? Or a documentary about the Atomic Bomb. There’s a way to do this that is more intuitive and pushes people to watch content but in a smarter way.

    I like foreign films but have no way to search for them because I know nothing about those industries and don’t know the language. If you put some high quality foreign films in front of me, I’d be happy to watch. But there is again nothing like that at all. Why don’t these streaming services try harder to get people to watch more international content? It would be a bonanza for them. Casual users can’t go searching for any of it because nobody has that kind of time or dedication to search for it themselves.

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    • I am sure they steer you towards the films where they have the most profitable viewing contract, so really bad old movies that they own outright and don’t have to pay by play. But on the other hand, if they go to such extremes pretty soon no one is going to be watching anything and will just give up on Netflix!

      Agree completely about the categories! Simply let us sort by rating and number of user ratings (like every other website does) within certain categories! French language films rated 4 stars on average from 20 or more users, that’s it, that’s all we need. Or just borrow other lists, there are standard lists of “100 best films” all over the place, just put something like “This films are included in BFIs list of all time best!” and show people that.

      And they are buying all this international content in order to attract new viewers from those countries and pick up cheap content, why not spend some time figuring out what is high quality and will appeal to their viewers?

      With Indian film it feels like they have so much and it is impossible to sort through, but the flip side is when I try to find something like “high quality British mystery show” and I manage to set up the right search parameters, and realize they don’t actually have anything! Which might be related. If I look at the first homescreen listing for “Indian films” and for “British Shows” (for instance), they look about equal. But in reality the homescreen mini-listing of “British Shows” is almost everything they have, and is just 5% of what they have for India. They are making the stuff they have a lot of impossible to find and sort, in order to make the stuff they have a little of look bigger!

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      • They are throwing money around without checking for quality. They just want to show they have a big library. Look at Netflix’s original Indian content. It is *terrible.* Now when I hear it’s a Netflix movie/show, I automatically steer clear. Why would they pay to buy something like Drive? Was it the price they had to pay to get a contract with Karan Johar? For us in the Western world, it’s not that big a deal but for people living in India, you’re going to charge them extremely expensive monthly charges (5 times as much as Prime!!) and give them stuff like Drive? Netflix is going to bomb in India if they keep this up. Literally the only thing they have going for them is SRK’s old library.

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        • It’s so weird that Netflix and Prime have that massive price difference in India. Especially since it doesn’t match the quality difference. I would expect Netflix to have the full Yash Raj library, Made in Heaven, and the RK films, the like super high quality stuff. But instead it is all mixed and matched between Netflix and Prime, there is no justification for the price difference.

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  3. From your mouth to God’s (or Jeff Bezos’s) ear about streaming and subtitles. I’ve expressed my frustration with Japanese Prime often enough. Just would it kill someone to let me watch Made in Heaven in my first language! Also, some things are embargoed forever in Japan and I don’t understand why. In some cases it’s because they are going to faff around and then release them in theaters years later, as with Dangal. But come on, you’re just not going to release 7 Khoon Maaf at this point, just let us watch it!! My life is so much easier and more fulfilling since I just went to the dark side and paid for Einthusan already.

    Ha, I just wrote about the spelling thing on the Watching thread, but it applies to punctuation too!

    Other things I want: (1) I was thinking while watching Manikarnika that I’d really like a nuanced movie about the British in India. Every British soldier in an Indian film is just over the top evil, but it would be cool to explore problems with empire that occur even when the people are well-meaning. (2) Bring back Fawad.

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    • I have that nuanced film for you! Byomkesh Bakshy, the British police inspector just wants to keep the peace in his city and meets in the middle with our hero. Also, Mangal Panday, but then you have to watch Mangal Panday and it’s not worth it. I guess also A Death in the Gunj? Since that has Anglo-Indians in the 1970s.

      So really, it’s Japan’s fault! If they hadn’t gone weirdly crazy for that one Rajinikanth movie 20 years ago, the Indian filmmakers wouldn’t be holding on to the fantasy of a profitable Japanese theatrical release for all the best films.

      On Wed, Jan 8, 2020 at 9:00 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. They should try new things! Hindi industry has become a joke lately. Only biopics and epics and saffron films. Just give me a break. I want good thrillers, action movies, swoony romances, but not c-grade ones nobody knows they exist. I want big stars to try new things. And I want them to work like in 90′ – few different movies in a year. Even if one of two flop it doesn’t matter because they will have another one. Having only one big release a year kills the industry, beacuse there is too much pressure. The only person who should stop doing multiple movies is Akshay, because his.movies are trash.
    Another thing I wish – better streaming deals. I want to be able to watch my Malaal on Netflix, and Kumbalangi Nights on Prime, and other nice movies I can’t watch because I’m in Italy.
    I also want Hotstar in Europe and Zee5 to disappear and give all their movies to Prime.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes! Starts doing multiple films a year! From that comes everything else, more variety of genres, smaller budgets, and on and on. It all starts with the big names lowering expectations for their One Big Release.

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  5. Better access to old movies. The selection on legal streaming is extremely small and gets swapped out all the time, so i got Eros Now for a number of rare old movies, and several of them were removed before I could watch them. So many movies that were available on DVD have not been digitised and are now impossible to find, because no one sells DVDs anymore.

    Hotstar needs to come back to Europe, although I haven’t looked into Zee5’s selection yet. I don’t want those to go to Prime because we don’t have Prime here.

    I also want the end of censorship.

    I agree with most of everyone’s points, too.

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    • I forgot about the old movies issue! It’s so frustrating, there are films that have just disappeared and they aren’t even that old. Like, Trimurti. A Subhash Ghai movie, with SRK and Anil and Jackie, you would think it would be available SOMEWHERE, but instead it has just gone away.

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      • Trimurti is available on Netflix! Netflix just seems to have acquired rights to a whole bunch of old movies.

        Now, if I could only find Ashanti. I have been searching for it forever and cannot seem to find it anywhere.

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        • Yaaaaay! I wonder if Red Chillies finally managed to get the rights or if Netflix made a separate deal? And if a bunch of films showed up, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was another mass purchase, like how they have all the random Eagle Films just because Shahrukh was obsessive about getting the rights to Chamatkar?

          On Thu, Jan 9, 2020 at 11:10 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • This is beyond my level of expertise but it looks a mass purchase. I am seeing everything from old Amitabh movies like Don, Kaalia, The Great Gambler to many other classics like Sridevi’s Sadma, the originial Khoobsurat with Rekha etc.

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          • Awesome! I wonder who was sitting on all those rights?

            On Thu, Jan 9, 2020 at 11:40 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  6. Your headline says Hindi cinema but your 2nd point about thinner budgets is illustrated with a Non Hindi film poster? Or do you have this gripe with all industries?
    Also pretty sure Takht hasn’t started shooting yet so how can they announce the release date?

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  7. Please please stop the supid jingoistic historicals and experiment with something new. Try a new genre or one that isn’t already saturated.

    Please invest in the subtitles. I can ignore the stooopid titles but subtiles matter and can ruin the movie.

    Dub more movies in Hindi. I am not saying this is fair in that Hindi movies are not translated to other languages. But, if you want larger audiances to watch your movies, either in theaters or on streaming, translate more movies into Hindi. It also exposes more southern actors/actresses to the Hindi-speaking audiance. And it has to be cheaper than making remakes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dub more movies into Hindi, but keep the same title! Even if you retranslate it! And don’t re-edit them for the dub. I hate it when a good layered Tamil action film loses half an hour and the title changes from something like “the meaning of running” to “Action John!”

      On Thu, Jan 9, 2020 at 11:27 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  8. My main wishes would be for:
    1. More female characters who pass the Bechdel test. It doesn’t always have to be in women-centered films (though those are good too). But check your scripts, make sure you have more than one female character with dialogue, and that they talk to each other for at least one scene about something other than a man. Bonus points if your female characters fall into categories besides romantic interest or mother.

    2. Return to showing more kinds of family and community relationships. I miss the multistarrers and complicated families. It feels like we’ve shrunk to either romantic couple, or parent-child, or some flavor of co-worker (classmate, office mate, fellow spy or officer, etc.). Where are the siblings? The in-laws? The neighbors? The interfering town gossips? The deep friendships? These are the kinds of relationships I always felt Indian films were better than anyone else at showing, but they are fewer of late.

    3. More imagination and good storytelling, fewer high concept gimmicks. Agree on the more different kinds of stories – heck, do what Hollywood does and option some books, let the writers work out the plot and characters for you. Take a break from sports films, one issue films, and historical battle epics.

    4. Courage to not play it safe. Politically, artistically. Take risks on new talent and ideas, tell the stories you think need to be told.

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    • 1. I agree, except I think because of the form of Hindi cinema, you can’t focus on the Bechdel test alone. It’s such a lead character based genre, most interactions are one on one between the lead and another character. So you could (and should) absolutely give more leads female friends or colleagues to interact with, like in War when Anupriya was an important member of the team and the Big Boss Politician was a woman as well. The only times you might see two people interact who aren’t the lead is when they are talking about the lead (the neighbors complaining about him, co-workers setting up backstory, etc.) But if you want a two person conversation between two women that is not about a man, you have to make the lead a woman. And then suddenly your lead can interact one on one with women, and any other women pairings who talk about them would be talking about a woman.

      2. And this would be a great way to bring in more women! In the “olden days”, the hero’s sister had these great storylines, and it was a nice way to have a woman in the film wasn’t just a love interest. And then casts got culled down and we lost the “sister” roles. And also the “friend/cousin of the heroine” roles. I hate it!

      3. And there have been great book based films in the past! Ones that weren’t even promoted based on the books necessarily, just sort of there in the background. The ones people are making now though seem to be mostly based on English language bestsellers, which are kind of similar to each other, young urbanites figuring out life and love. And any depth from the book gets a little lost in the film most of the time, I am still made at how Kerachi You’re Killing Me was butchered for Noor.

      4. Yes! Cast the person you think can carry the role as the lead, not the person with the right name or background. Go where the story wants to go, don’t give it the “approved” ending.

      On Thu, Jan 9, 2020 at 10:53 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I wonder if the lead driven films end up limiting the kind of story you can tell, and thus the source material and the size of the cast – at least if you’re trying to go lean and tight and keep it under 3 hours? What elements do you think directors feel they have to include that end up constraining their choices?

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        • Off the top of my head, every film requires an intro sequence, a romance plot, and a big heroic moment for the hero. Which take time away from the other bits of the narrative, like fleshing out the heroine. And can feel awkward and inserted. That big heroic moment has the biggest impact I think. You have a movie like DDLJ or Bharat where there is a big fight scene for no particular reason at the end, that’s a little illogical but not so bad. Far worse are the films like Dangal where all of a sudden everything has to shift around so that Aamir can be the savior of everything instead of it being a collective effort.

          On Fri, Jan 10, 2020 at 10:20 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Yes, agreed. I felt that with Gang Leader. The fight scene doesn’t really fit the character or the character journey, just Nani as the “hero”.

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    • Yep! It’s part of why I really really hate the spelling thing. It’s not just bad spelling, it’s dumb superstition. Plus, it is a sign the makers don’t have a lot of faith in the film, if they feel like they need spelling to help it.

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