cinemascope : Pawas Neer

Pawas Neer

is a copy editor with a top media organisation. When he is not busy pouring his own thoughts on paper or cutting others’ work to size, he loves to write poetry, work on his unfinished first novel or explore new travel destinations (not necessarily in that order).

(in times when the popular cinema in India digresses far away from being into the art of story telling and depends solely on the charisma of the stars to become corporate projects at most, neer explores blatantly what has never been answered.)

Kabali and Sultan are the biggest films of this year. They are breaking collection records and fans are still lining up to see them. They are blockbusters. Salman Khan is a superstar. Rajinikanth, for the lack of a bigger adjective, is God.

But these are not great films. At best, they are mediocre.

A movie’s box office collection can never be an indicator of the quality of the film. (Just take a look at some recent films that have made it to the 100-crore club.)

In a recent interview, veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah talked about and lamented the mediocrity that has seeped into our films. He said the decline began in the 70s with the late Rajesh Khanna – the first superstar of Hindi cinema. Of course, Khanna's family and legions of fans cried foul. Shah had to apologise.

But there is no doubt that our cinema, which was known for featuring poignant stories in the 50s and 60s, has now turned into pitiful excuses for song-and-dance or action routines.

There was a time when actors played characters. Now they are just superstars, playing themselves irrespective of what or who they are in the film. Being an actor and a star has become two entirely different things.

Churning out substandard movies that play to the gallery is the new ambition. An argument often given in defense of such films is that this is what people want to see. Of course, we love our filmy songs and cheer as our hero beats the sh*t out of the bad guy. But we also love good cinema. The audience also loves great characters.

Superstars bring big openings. Big openings make for great earnings. But, great earnings don't make good cinema.

Films like Queen, Piku and Bajiro Mastani prove that good stories and great characters still make for successful films. Imagine if we can combine the stardom and charisma of our superstars with some great characters, how great the result will be. And this what we what people want to see.

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