Hindi Film 101: The Problem of Concentrated Power

Another big structural thought post! This one is on the problems that come up when the same handful of people, at the very top the industry, are controlling everything.  And no, I don’t mean the stars.

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Dharma Movie Updates! Badrinath and Bahubaali

Is it crazy that I am equally excited for both these movies?  Badrinath should be very very proud if I am putting it up there with Bahubaali 2!

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Anupama Takes a Look at Dharma Productions: The Arrival of the “D-Girls” in India!

T.J Stevens posted on last week’s Wednesday Watching post a video from Anupama Chopra’s “Film Companion” series, which was really interesting!  So interesting that it is too much to talk about in a post comment.  And yet possibly slightly too little to talk about in a post.  We will see!

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Fascinating Industrial News! Karan and Shahrukh Heading for a Battle Over Streaming?

The big headline news being reported everywhere is “Shahrukh movies come to Netflix“.  But here’s the big thing to notice in the stories, they are coming to INDIAN Netflix.  So unless you do that thing where you use a mirror site and trick your computer into thinking it lives in India, or unless you yourself live in India and have Netflix and a good internet source, this does you no good.

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OKKanmani: Saathiya Redux? Or Ekk Deewana Tha?

So, Dharma productions/Karan Johar just announced that they will be remaking Mani Ratnam’s OK Kanmani, to be directed by Shaad Ali and starring Aditya Roy Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor.  I am very excited!

I love Ratnam remakes, because it means with get Rahman songs we already love, but redone with lyrics we can understand (Gulzar is doing the Hindi lyrics, so you know they will be awesome!).  And this one looks like it might actually turn out as well as its soundtrack!  My hope is, as well as the last time Shaad Ali remade Ratnam, Saathiya, which is one of my favorite movies.

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Boring Industrial Inside Baseball stuff

Notice how I put the really exciting picture at the top so we would remember why this really matters?

So, currently, the highest Shahrukh movie on the all time gross list for India is number 5.  NUMBER 5!!!  The shame of it!  Ahead of him is PK, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Bahubali, and Dhoom 3.  The whole list is here on wikipedia.

Now, you know what all these films have in common?  They are all from the past 5 years.  And the film at the top is usually from within the past 2 years.  In America, we are used to that, the top grossers are always fairly recent, but in India that wasn’t always the case.  Mother India set a box office record in 1957 that stayed in place for 3 years until Mughal-E-Azam surpassed it in 1960.  Mughal-E-Azam held the record until Sholay beat it in 1975.  Sholay  held the record until Hum Aapke Hain Koun came along in 1994.  Hum Aapke Hain Koun was toppled quickly by DDLJ in 1995.  Then DDLJ lost it’s crown to Kuch Kuch Hota Hai in 1998.  That record held until 2001 when it was beaten by both Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham and Gadar: Ek Prem Katha.  Gadar held the record until 3 Idiots in 2009, at which point everyone breathed a sigh of release because they could start pretending Gadar never happened (very very problematic messages in that film).  And then 3 Idiots held the record for a long time, by a big big margin, until it was finally beaten by Chennai Express in 2013.  All Shahrukh fans cheered and celebrated and laughed in the faces of their Aamir-fan friends, or at least that’s what I did.  Truly, it was a magical time!

SRK@B2.jpg

(Shahrukh, take a bow!  You earned it!)

And then about 2 months later, Dhoom 3 came out and Aamir was on top again.  It stayed up there for a year, until PK came out, and then Aamir had the two top spots.  PK is still up there, but Bajrangi Bhaijaan did really well this summer and came close to beating it.  And Bahubali, of course, is a huge deal since it is the only non-Hindi film up there (although it was distributed by a Bombay based production house, Dharma, which is very important in terms of overseas awareness and national reach in India).

So, on the micro-level, this just means we all need to buy as many tickets for Dilwale as humanly possible in order to return Shahrukh to his rightful ranking.  I don’t care if you are actually seeing Star Wars, you buy your ticket for Dilwale!!!

But on a macro-level, in terms of global trends, economics, and the future of the industry, what does all of this mean and where does it come from?

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