Good filmmaking possible only if production houses rope in creative producers

MUMBAI: Filmmakers in India have begun to realise that low-budget films do well within the country as well as outside, if the content is good and relevant.

This was one of the views expressed in a rare meet of film directors who gathered at the Ficci Frames to talk about other directors, and not just business – something that producers do.

Noted directors Anurag Kashyap, Zoya Akhtar, Imtiaz Ali, Bruce Beresford (director of ‘Driving Miss Daisy’) and award winning Australian filmmaker Robyn Kershaw were giving their view of ‘The Art of Movie-Making: Director’s Cut’ at a session moderated by Amol Gupte.

Kashyap said, “The year 2012 is set to be a landmark year in the annals of the Indian film industry that is to celebrate its 100 years next year. This has been proved by two low budget films ‘Paan Singh Tomar’ and ‘Kahaani’ becoming hits.”

Compared to blockbusters like ‘Bodyguard’, ‘Ready’ and ‘Singham’ and some others, films that also brought in good returns during 2011 were ‘Rockstar’, ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’ and ‘The Dirty Picture’.

The participants also mentioned that low-cost films have been doing exceedingly well internationally too. To prove this, Gupte said the South Korean distributor of his film ‘Stanley Ka Dabba’ had ordered as many as 102 prints of the film which was released in India with 200 prints.

But the directors also agreed that small budget films are not a cup of tea for big time producers who always bank on big stars to fetch them good business at the box office.

“But both these films - ‘Paan Singh Tomar’ and ‘Kahaani’ - have proved that even without a Khan, a film can fetch superlative returns if there is good content. After a long time we have set to underline that content is indeed the king,” added Kashyap.

Kashyap went on to add that there was a need for a creative producer who could look at the creative part of the film besides the financer who was equally important.

Agreeing with him, Akhtar said Excel Entertainment had just the right combination in Ritesh Sidhwani sourcing the funds for a project, while co-producer Farhan Akhtar looked after the creative aspects of the film besides directing it. “Hence it was a wholesome Entertainment company,” she observed.

Referring to the negative aspects of a producer, Gupte said: “Since my film ‘Stanley Ka Dabba’ had school-going children including my son Partho comprising the cast. I shot only on Saturdays so that the studies of the children should not be hampered. I approached Fox Star Studios only after I finished the film. If I had approached them earlier, they would have come to know that I was shooting only on Saturdays and they would have shown me the door. This is because the studios and big-time producers are very particular about the schedules and want to complete a particular film on time. They account everything financially and not with creativity,” he added.

Agreeing with Gupte, Ali said, “When I started to make my first film ‘Jab We Met’, there was some problem or the other cropping up from the producer’s end. But I was determined that I would go ahead with my conviction of making a good film and I succeeded. But it took me three years to complete the film, though I had planned to complete the filming in three months. However when I undertook to helm ‘Rockstar’, both the production people and I were in unison in our thoughts. In my view, the system needs an immediate change,” he added.

He felt that directors turning producers will not help to change the scenario. “Of late I turned producer, but since then I have been able to direct only one film for I am too much glued in my production activities,” observed Kashyap.

It now remains to be seen whether producers heed the directors’ call to involve a creative producer. Such a step will not only turn fruitful but will also cut costs dramatically. All said and done, the star system is on the wane with good content coming to the fore.

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