Harper's Bazaar March 2016 - Page 191

(From top) A still from Titli because somebody dies in it.” According to Grover the ‘indie’ tag helps such films as it becomes a cool (2014); the poster of the film marketing buzzword, but he feels India is still many years away from a genuine indie culture of strongly Court (2014); a still from Court. individualistic films made and distributed through independent channels. Killa’s Avinash Arun shares a similar sentiment, and is a bit let down by the fact that the people who produce these supposed indie films don’t really have the passion to make those kind of films. The low budget, he says, is basically an excuse for a film to be branded as indie. He feels there is a certain challenge as an artist to belt out stories that But it’s not all bad, and there may be hope for these smaller resonate with quality and artistry, as opposed to a films, even if they are all branded as ‘indie’. Junglee Pictures’s commercial film that more or less presents itself as a Somen Mishra, who often observes box office numbers, It’s easy to see why indie hagiography of the star on screen. says the rise of indie works for modern audiences as well, is actually a misnomer The biggest problem for the current crop of these because they love it when they’re offered a film that has a for offbeat. The hard filmmakers is the utter lack of distribution and exhibition story and aesthetics different from the usual commercial space for films that have done well in the festival and truth is that the indie blockbuster’s loud shenanigans. international markets. Even if a film wins a few awards at Masaan’s Ghaywan, too, is optimistic, though cautiously bubble has been the international circuit, there are few avenues to market so. “It’s a happier time to be in,” he says. “We have films cannibalising itself. the film for desi audiences. And most of our movie theater that are working wonderfully at the box office because of chains focus on big commercial films that can guarantee their stories, and writers are becoming the heroes alongside a turnout. Which is why a Bajarangi Bhaijaan gets 200 stars. Films aimed purely at the first three days of a release— times the number of screens as a Masaan. ignoring plot, script, and craft, and only led by a star engine and the other shenanigans—are not doing too well.” The big kicker here is that though Masaan won at Cannes, it even bagged a few trophies at the mainstream Filmfare Awards. A sign of a more progressive time? Maybe. But Ghaywan’s still concerned with a public obsession with the box office collections. “The most damaging change,” he says, “is the shift in the perception of merit of a film. Box office collections have suddenly gained prominence in assessing a film. Earlier, it was only the trade pundits. But what is appalling is that it has now shifted to critics, media and audiences too. Fans have started putting box office collections in their names onTwitter. I am very worried about this.” Just a numbers game, or will the spark of indie films of 2015 turn into a bonfire of change? n 191