Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
A not-so-good year for Bollywood
If you are looking for a word to describe Bollywood’s output in 2008, “ordinary” would be high up on the list. The world’s most prolific film industry churned out over 200 films this year and trade analysts say a staggering 90 per cent of these ventures didn’t make any money.
“This has been a trend for the last four to five years,” said analyst Taran Adarsh.
“Unfortunately, we refuse to learn from our mistakes.”
For Adarsh, the biggest losers of the year were “Drona”, “Love Story 2050″, “Yuvvraaj” and “Karzzz” — all big-budget films that failed to woo cinema audiences.
The presence of stars like Abhishek Bachchan, Priyanka Chopra and Salman Khan couldn’t help salvage the first three and the fourth, a remake of a 1980 reincarnation thriller, couldn’t live up to expectations.
The films that did make money at the box-office didn’t find favour with critics.
“Creatively, there was nothing that stood out this year,” said Shubha Shetty Saha, head of DNA’s entertainment supplement.
“The storylines were uninteresting; the acting too wasn’t all that great.”
The common ingredients in the hit “masala” films of 2008 were the toppings of comedy, song-and-dance and foreign locales that sometimes made up for the lack of a coherent storyline.
Despite mixed reviews, “Singh is Kinng”, “Race” and “Rab Ne Bana Do Jodi” made Bollywood smile in what has otherwise been a bleak year in terms of box-office pickings.
Even “Dostana,” a slapstick comedy about two men pretending to be a gay couple, did good business despite dealing with the taboo subject of homosexuality.
“For me, the biggest trend this year was that audiences were willing to look beyond the stars. The real star was the script” said Vipul Shah, the producer of “Singh is Kinng”.
BEST FILM OF 2008
“Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na,” a low-budget film marking the debut of actor Imran Khan, was a hit with youngsters in urban areas. The film’s witty dialogues and some peppy music by composer A.R. Rahman contributed in some measure to its success.
It was one of the few bright spots in a year Bollywood has had to battle its own share of demons. Revenues dried up due to a financial meltdown and a short-lived workers’ strike while November’s militant attacks in Mumbai made cinema audiences stay away in droves.
BLOGGERS IN BOLLYWOOD
In 2008, Bollywood also found a creative way of expressing itself. It blogged.
Superstar Amitabh Bachchan used his popular blog at blogs.bigadda.com/ab as a platform to talk on various issues. Celebrities like Salman Khan, Karan Johar and Shilpa Shetty also tried their hand at online diaries.
“Shah Rukh and Salman admitted to having a fight, Amitabh Bachchan alleged on his blog that someone from the fraternity was trying to sabotage the industry.”
Bollywood also found another obsession – fitness. From Kareena’s size zero and organge juice diet to Aamir Khan’s “eight packs” for Ghajini, Bollywood spilled the beans on its fitness plans, and the media lapped it all up.
On the plus side, the industry’s newest stars Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone admitted they are a pair, joining Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor on the list of most popular celebrity couples.