Post 1990, actors became directors, a trend that continues unabated even now. Shahrukh’s Red Chillies, Pooja Bhatt’s own production house, Aamir Khan’s production enterprise, Salman Khan’s Being Human etc. are all cases in point.
The producers and directors of yesteryears have been reduced today to just ‘yes-men’ of actors and actresses. Their fall from figures of authority – which emanated from their higher claim to creativity – has been phenomenal. From being men who commanded the utter servility of actors and actresses in their creative enterprises, they have become the followers of stars and starlets. Due to the infusion of black money in the film industry and the invasion of higher technologies, the concept of movies being reflections of personal creativity has progressively disappeared. Now actors and actresses rule the roost.
The 1990s heralded the debut of multinational companies in India. This was when Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge was released and with just one stroke the longstanding tradition of timeless romance in Indian cinema was shifted suddenly to London. That was the era when Europe and America turned to India to tap its humungous market and contests like Miss World started being organised in India. This was also the era when cable television began growing in India and the scripts of movies started to be fashioned keeping not just the Indian viewers but also the people of Indian origin residing in foreign countries. Consequently, the first thing in Indian cinema that was sacrificed at the altar of globalisation was the script. Movies began to lose their creative side and at this juncture the idea of a sympathetic and sensitive director lost its relevance.
One of the factors that has taken the wind out of the sails of Indian cinema directors and producers is the underworld. Ever since the underworld started investing in Bollywood, there has come up a strong nexus between actors and the mafia.
The director has to do what the actor wants. Amitabh Bachchan, the Big B of Bollywood, was the first to articulate future relations between liberalisation and the film industry and launched Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Limited (ABCL). This was a ‘recast’ Amitabh Bachchan in an all new role. This was the phase in Indian cinema when the actors became
directors, a trend that continues unabated even now. Shahrukh’s Red Chillies, Pooja Bhatt’s own production house, Aamir Khan’s production enterprise, Salman Khan’s Being Human etc. are all cases in point. These actors invest their own money, act in their own movies and get it directed by a friend or kin or even direct a movie themselves. Bollywood has turned into a pure family private limited company. If an actor ropes in a professional director and has himself invested in the movie, then in that case it is not hard to imagine as to whose writ will reign supreme _ the director has to do what the actor wants.
Another factor that has taken the wind out of the sails of Indian cinema directors and producers is the underworld. Ever since the underworld started investing in Bollywood, there has come up a strong nexus between actors and the mafia.The nexus is so strong that famous actors and actresses have been seen attending a certain don’s festivities and birthday parties in Dubai. The producers and directors were the ones who lost their own turf. The famous Rajiv Rai had to even leave the country. Rakesh Roshan just escaped an attempt on his life though Gulshan Kumar was not so fortunate. Why could such a below average artist like Monica Bedi get a beeline of producers to sign her against the leading stars?
K. Asif took almost 16 years to make the timeless hit, Mughal-e-Azam. Priyadarshan was also known as a good director of this era. He took at least a year to conceive and complete a movie. Gardish and Kala Paani are some of his best movies which he took his own time to conceive, and then make. But of late he has started churning out two to five movies a year and all of them resemble each other. What is to be made out of this transition? Will this be termed as the result of market pressure or the greed of market-oriented artistes who have made money-making their sole creed?
Owing to the profitability of movie ventures, corporate houses – domestic and foreign – along with international film companies have jumped into the Bollywood fray. Sahara, Reliance, Fox, Sony Pictures and Warner Brothers cast their longing eyes on the Indian movie market. For such and many more enterprises, movies have become just commercial products while their creative aspect has taken a backseat. Movies have become products to be marketed for the sheer motive of making profits. They acquire the music rights, distribution rights and make huge sums. These corporate houses just want the directors to produce films, as it were, on the black T-model assembly line production formula of Ford where similar products are churned out in large numbers on the same assembly line in very little time and a product’s numbers are more important than variety and choice. Obviously, no director worth his salt can be
expected to come out with truly entertaining or truly creative movies.