Since I am not a net savvy guy and only just now entered this world I made a startling discovery. I have never read reviews beyond 3 to 4 Mumbai based newspapers ever and I thought that was it. On the net there are literally hundreds of reviews. When I went through them I was amazed at so many diverse points of views both in liking and disliking the film. Many of them have been much more intelligently written than the so-called names attached to popular newspapers. I am not talking about praise or criticism here; it’s just about their analytical power.
Everyone has a mind and every mind has an opinion and every opinion-maker strongly believes that he is right and the whole world is wrong, not realizing that probably each of all those other millions of minds will be thinking the same. I think this is the most beautiful part of life… that each of us creates a world of our own in our heads and when we seriously listen to another person it’s almost like visiting another world. When I read a nasty review or a glowing review many a times I get struck by how differently they viewed it from how I intended it. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said “there are no facts only interpretations”. I think this is very true of cinema.
In all my good, bad and ugly films I keep getting stumped when people who meet me over the years tell me the reasons why they liked something and why they didn’t, as in more often what I did not intend is what they took from the film. I saw “Ardhsatya” seven times. When I happened to meet Govind Nihalani years later and discussed the film with him, I was shocked to realize that what reasons he made it for was not what I liked it for. He made it for the father-son relationship and I saw it for Rama Shetty and for my curiosity of what happened inside a police station. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I always used to fast-forward the father-son scenes. But yes, there would be probably many others who would connect to that part of the film and the proof of that is the existence of Mr. Govind Nihalini himself. The fact that he thought like that is proof that there will be people who think like him.
In my growing years I was greatly influenced by Mr. Shyam Benegal’s Ankur, Nishant, Kalyug etc… Company is actually a rehash of Kalyug. Instead of politics in the Corporate world I dealt with politics in the underworld. But I very heavily borrowed from Kalyug. In my few interactions with him I have realized that he is an exceptionally knowledgeable and well-read and would understand the subject matter so well. So as a result he has a tendency to tell the story almost from a top angle whereas me I do it from a low angle. I like to be intimidated and awed by the characters and situations I am dealing in with a child-like fascination.
Coming back to the point of opinions now thanks to the net anyone can literally access anyone’s opinion across the globe. What more can a filmmaker ask for? People ask me whether I know what the audience wants. Let me tell you an observation I made on a recent visit to a DVD library near my house on Yaari road. I went to pick up a film, spent about 20 minutes in the store. While I was doing that various customers were coming in. 9 out of 10 of them were picking up films which for the life of me can’t imagine why anybody would want to see. So if my disconnect right under my nose on the street where I live in is so off the mark, on what basis can I even begin to think I know the audience of the country.
Let’s say there are 1500 titles in the store. If any of us spend one full day I doubt we will be able to decide more than 200 films what we have seen or what we want to see. Then what are the other 1300 films doing there? The fact that they have been made and put on the shelves is proof enough of the existence of the people who would watch them too.
Dhoom 2 is the biggest hit of last year. It reportedly collected 20 Crores in Maharashtra. On an average price of 100 rupees a ticket, 20 lakh people saw Dhoom 2. For a film like that I guess half of them would be repeat audience. So my question is if 10 lakh people in a population of 6 crores of Maharashtra can make the years biggest hit then what are the rest of 5 crores 90lakh people doing? Do they watch films or no? Is it the same people that watch Tare Zameen Par and Welcome or are they different? Anyways the point I am trying to make here is that you can’t generalize audience and as long as you can’t do that why think of the audience and delude yourself.
David Dhawan uses the term audience, Maniratnam uses, Sanjay Leela Bhansali uses; I use the term audience, like-wise various directors of various different styles and sensibilities. But how can those audiences be the same? The truth is that we all directors do what we as individuals like and tell ourselves that this is what the audience wants.
Film in the truest sense of the word is an expression of ones own personality. A filmmaker is not a primary artist in the sense of the word. The actor is acting, the writer is writing, the music director is composing etc… etc… but all these primary works are being processed in the directors mind to create a coherent whole, at least in his mind. So he might not be able to compose the music but we only get to hear what he likes to hear. We only get to see characters such as what he would like to show us, likewise all the other departments.
You go to a clothes store and you might not like many shirts but you will find something you like. The ones you don’t like are all bought by somebody else or the other. So I think at best for both, for the manufacturer which is the filmmaker and the retailer which is the theatre and the consumer which is the ticket buying audience, the one-to-one interaction and reaction are just about the only truth. Everything else is a matter of commerce.
My reactions to reactions:
1. Leave something for the audience to decipher?
Ans:- You missed the point.
2. Since when did Anita suddenly become family?
Ans: Since I decided.
3. We didn’t know who exactly the central character is among the two Nagres.
Ans: My answer was intended for the reviewer who thought there was one.
4. Beg to differ, sire.
Ans: Okay dokey!
5. Always your Eklavya.
Ans: I am impressed with your observations.
6. You never revealed the benefits of the plant in Sarkar Raj.
Ans: The film is not about the benefits. It’s about the interplay of various characters having their own motivations and agendas in the making of the plant.
7. Why are you so fascist in your decisions?
Ans: – I get a kingly kick.
8. I would say that RGV is not bettering himself.
Ans: That’s because I am already the best. Ha Ha! Just joking! On a serious note may be I am not. Ha Ha! Joking again!
9. Why did you leave out Tarun Adrarsh? Just because he gave a good review?
Ans: It’s not about good or bad. It’s about where I wish to make my point.
10. I think you like praise. You just have inferiority complex.
Ans: Okay dokey!
11. Love the 3 to 5 minutes single shot scene in Deyyam. Any insights into that!
Ans: I forgot.
12. You are being harsh when you say you copy.
Ans: I copy with joy and pride.