Bollywood is fast becoming an industry which churns out maximum movies a year. With each passing year, the number of Hindi films has increased tremendously. This year itself, we witnessed several movies clashing at the box office. Except for movies like ‘Baahubali 2’ and ‘Tubelight’, practically every Friday was flooded with more than one release, in fact, taking the count to almost 4 movies on a single Friday. This is really not helping the industry if you consider it from a larger perspective. Especially small-budget movies, high on content, have to make do with little or almost negligible screen space when clashing with a biggie particularly.
Let’s take the example of last Friday’s releases, Shah Rukh Khan and Anushka Sharma-starrer ‘Jab Harry Met Sejal’ and Pankaj Tripathi, Akshay Oberoi, Ragini Khanna-starrer ‘Gurgaon’. Two contrasting movies with drastically different concepts, story-line and budgets clashed at the box office. One, which boasted of a filmmaker synonymous for making beautiful romantic movies, spearheaded by one of the biggest superstars of the country and an A-list actress, while the other movie, boasted of a cinematographer-turned-director, with an ensemble cast comprising of stellar performers, recognised more for their supporting yet strong characters in movies. So, when these two movies clashed, none considered it to be a clash because none really considered the latter one to be in the race, so the only name on almost every moviegoer’s mind was ‘Jab Harry Met Sejal’.
Mounted on a lavish budget, the movie’s marketing strategy was one-of-its-kind and it created an immense buzz for the audiences to book advance tickets in abundance. I remember having checked on BookMyShow 3 days ago and the Friday bookings were almost housefull. Imagine, a Friday showing housefull 3 days before the release date! This is the level of mass hysteria the movie created on the viewers’ mind. But, when the movie finally released, all hopes were crashed. Because people went with extremely high expectations and the movie couldn’t quite qualify to be the kind of romantic film you would expect from a filmmaker like Imtiaz Ali. Then, the negative word-of-mouth publicity began and all that I could see around me were people discussing about the pros and cons of the movie, where the latter clearly overpowered over the former.
So, as people are busy discussing how the movie hasn’t quite met their expectations, it’s saddening to see nobody discuss or pay any heed whatsoever to the other quiet release ‘Gurgaon’. Made with a very small budget by a debutant director named Shankar Raman, the story of the film is set in the infamous city of Gurgaon, and explores the dark relationships between a family which results in bloodshed and murders. When you have a concept as gory as this, you know for a fact that your viewer-base is going to drop because the larger chunk of the audience prefers masala entertainers and not gory subjects to watch inside a cinema hall. But, this is still a smaller issue. The larger issue we are facing is how big movies are completely overshadowing smaller movies.
Despite the fact that ‘Jab Harry Met Sejal’ earned poor critical reviews and ‘Gurgaon’ earned better critical reviews, people are still mulling over their disappointments with the Shah Rukh Khan and Anushka Sharma-starrer. Instead, why not give ‘Gurgaon’ a chance? It may have almost quarter the number of screens as ‘Jab Harry Met Sejal’, but it would benefit the industry and the small-budget films too at large, if people start giving them the respect they deserve.
Citing the examples of some releases like ‘Hindi Medium’ and ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’, high on content, these movies grew on the audiences slowly and steadily, and emerged to be successful at the box office. While, both of these films had known actors, ‘Gurgaon’ doesn’t even have that factor to rely upon. So, it’s purely content here that needs to do the talking. However, the sad part is nobody is even talking or considering the movie on their watch list. How are relatively new filmmakers with no financial assistance supposed to make movies then, if their movies are not going to be even acknowledged? It’s indeed shameful that the industry has only been functioning on the shoulders of the biggies while the real small-town heroes are only left with dreams in their eyes.
It’s high time we, the audiences, start giving a chance to the lesser-known movies to grow and relish on good quality content and stellar performances in the comfort of a good cinema hall.