Aditya Dhar and Malayalam director Manu Ashokan at the session of ‘The Emerging Filmmakers of India’ on day five of the ongoing International Film Festival of India (IFFI) discussed the ongoing trends in Indian films, whether it is regional cinema or Bollywood. The two directors, Aditya and Manu, struck luck at the box office this year with their films, Uri: The Surgical Strike and Uyare, respectively. Both directors preferred films with strong content over star power.
When asked about the changing views of the Indian audience and the fact that content is drawing them to theatres, Manu replied, “For the audience, the criteria for watching a film has changed. They are very clear about what they want to see.”
When asked for his views on the reducing magnetism of star power, Aditya said, “The failure of some big-budget films in recent times have reaffirmed that the whole scenario is changing now; in fact, many smaller films are doing well. Content and not star power, is driving Indian films. Uri had made on a budget of around Rs 24 crore. If I had made it with a big star, the production cost would have gone up to Rs 100 crore, which means that the recovery should be Rs 200 crores for just a breakeven. The whole point is that the risk becomes higher.” Aditya recalled, “After work on Uri commenced, a lot of people told Ronnie Screwvala, ‘War films don’t work in India, the last one that worked was 'Border' (1997)’. But funnily, a couple of days ago, the ADGPI of the PR wing of the Indian Army told me that 16 producers have come up with such scripts and are seeking permission to start shooting. So, in 2020, there will be 16 Bollywood films on wars! So, sorry for the trend,” he said laughing, “but it’s true that this industry works on trends.”
The discussion then moved to female-centric films, and Manu pointed out that such films are making a lot of money, too. “Earlier, producers felt that female-oriented films won’t make money. But now that it has, they have started producing more such films. My brief to the female technicians in my team was that there is nothing they can’t do. Even my producers are women.”