Dynamite comes in small packages and so do dividends. And guess who is taking note? The Bollywood biggie.
In these dark times when money is scarce, the one ray of hope is how well smallbudget films have done.
The box-office tally on seven small films released in 2008 is Rs 60 crore. It's hardly surprising then that Shah Rukh Khan (Red Chillies), Aamir Khan (Aamir Khan Productions) and Suniel Shetty (Popkorn Entertainment) want their production houses to woo not the whale but the minnow
Media stocks have sunk to an all-time low and trade tattle has it that every big film corporation is tightening its purse strings.
However, there are production houses to run, salaries to pay. "And we can't afford to twiddle our thumbs," says a corporate source.
So an alternative economic system has fallen into place. The superstars (Khan, Kapoor, Khanna, Bachchan and Kumar) have outpriced themselves so corporate houses are now turning to talented-but-affordable names like Sushant Singh, Rajat Kapoor, Vinay Pathak, Rahul Bose, Ranvir Sheorey, Sharman Joshi and Shreyas Talpade.
"For the moment the shoe is clearly on the other foot,"’ says Sunil Doshi of Alliance Media and Entertainment, whose company cracked the financial formula for small films with Bheja Fry and Mixed Doubles.
"Alliance has always been committed to the cause of the small but meaningful films. We are currently finishing Aamras, with a new director Rupali Chatterjee (daughter of veteran director Basu Chatterjee), and there are three more films in different stages of production."
Film-makers like Mahesh Bhatt and Pritish Nandy have effectively used the formula of scale to get results and recognition.
And UTV's Spotboy is currently writing a new chapter in the same space. This year, Spotboy has shone along with Aamir, Mumbai Meri Jaan, A Wednesday and Welcome to Sajjanpur.
Perpect Picture Company's Khuda Ke Liye too has been a runaway success. "In all these instances the script has been king," says Bhatt, who maintains that success is guaranteed if you peddle good content with able marketing.
Trade pundits point out that while small-budget films (Basu Chatterjee, Gulzar, Shyam Benegal) have always been around, what is new here is the role played by the corporations.
A great script, a controlled budget and aggressive marketing and distribution makes for a winning combination. For instance, Welcome to Sajjanpur, a rural comedy by Shyam Benegal, was marketed like any other big film and garnered upscale multiplex audiences.
And A Wednesday is being held up as the best example in recent times of a small film that has rocked the box-office. This Naseeruddin Shah-Anupam Kher film made on a budget of Rs 3.5 crore (without print and publicity) is expected to fetch its makers close to Rs 14 crore.
The forthcoming films in this genre are Oye Lucky Lucky Oye, Mumbai Chakachak, Dil Kabaddi, Raat Gayi Baat Gayi, Meerabai Not Out and Sorry Bhai. "There was a special focus this year to produce films that have great scripts irrespective of size,"’ says Siddharth Roy Kapur of UTV Motion Pictures.
"To achieve what we have achieved this year one has had to focus on making great films, not just great 'projects'. The first challenge is to control the budget, and then, it is an equally onerous task to market and distribute these films. One must show confidence in the content. The way we marketed Sajjanpur surprised a lot of people because we were as aggressive as we were for Jodha Akbar or Race."
7 months ago