I took part in the NDTV debate and realized we were not talking about the same things. The medium and the technology may be the same, but the culture, both of viewing and of creating are completely different. Our films satisfy a completely different need from our audiences, Over the last 50 years they have developed into a completely different culture than the West. It had become fashionable to compare the two and also fashionable to revile Indian Cinema in the context of the west .. till ..
till the corporate world woke up to the immense potential of advertising, value creation and profits in the entertainment business. People that used to pooh pooh Indian Cinema are the very people that now beg Sharukh Khan to advertise their products, offering him almost 2 crores for a days work.
So now the corporate world has stepped in and claim that they are going to change the nature of film making in India. What are they going to change ? They should pause and take stock of the past performances. 95% of all the big hits in India were made by directors that were their own producers, or the producer/actor/director were from the same family. And other than the years where Salim Javed enjoyed huge popularity, most great directors wrote or co wrote their own scripts.
What is at issue is – whether Cinema, at it’s heart, is an art, or a commercial enterprise. Raj Kapoor, Bimal Roy, Mehboob Khan, Vijay Andand etc were huge individualists. Individualism and Independance are key to all art. Even Hollywood in the 70’s the 80″s was propelled by hugely individualistic directors that stood against the studio system. Today it is tough to tell who directed the latest blockbuster !
So which way do we want Indian Cinema to go. Through individualism or towards collective decision making, where the voices of the marketing managers are the loudest. That is what is happening in Hollywood right now. A director is more a hired gun.