It burns my heart when Salman Khan movies make 300 crores at the box office. Though there is no official way to arrive at or even cross check the figure, even if you adjust the figure downwards by a third, it still is a significant amount of money. There is something about Friday and Saturday nights. It is amazing how people line up outside clubs and bars and expensive restaurants only to burn a deep hole in your pocket. I keep on thinking how people believe that life revolves around weekends. How everything about weekends is all so planned, maybe weeks in advance sometimes. It is really beyond my understanding how we earn only to spend lavishly around the weekend. Not everything we make, but a good part of it.
I don’t think that stupid movies or bars or expensive restaurants make any real difference. Yes they provide employment and small business should thrive. But what change are you really bringing? If you are a restaurant owner, you are catering to say a part of a city or maybe the entire city if you are really good. That too would not have been possible a decade ago in the absence of Zomato. Most of the restaurants do not serve anything different because they fear a ton of ways in which they will lose customers. So they follow the stereotypes. All they can concentrate on is ambience to attract customers. And all we have is a new place to eat old-style food. There are really very few places that have the balls to serve something original. Where the chef matters.
I can go on to say the same about movies. There are really very few movies that dare to do differently. I remember how Ranbir Kapoor had said before the release of Barfi! that they are targeting Rs. 300 crores worth box office collections back in 2012. When the movie was up in most theatres, it had made around Rs. 95 crores before losing traction. The total collection of a movie as amazing as Gangs of Wasseypur, both parts, is not more than Rs. 52 crores. Both parts released in 2012. Paan Singh Tomar, Rs. 39 crores. Let us now come to mainstream bollywood, 2012 again. Housefull 2 makes Rs. 186 crores; Rowdy Rathore Rs. 206 crores; Bol Bachchan Rs. 190 crores, and Salman Bhai’s Dabangg 2 makes a whopping Rs. 250 crores! Appalling!
Why does this happen. My explanation to this goes something like this . We work around the week and literally slog our behinds. We try to be productive for those 5 days a week so that we get to enjoy our weekends. My only problem is, why can entertainment be mature or well thought? Well, most of us don’t want to watch anything intense or do something boring. That is exactly how our week is. So we look for outlets that do not have so much meaning. I don’t think that the Indian audience is less mature or we do not understand the difference between good and bad cinema. We are the leading minds around the world. But we still want to consume stupid entertainment. In order to buy a Sultan movie ticket worth one grand each for your family, you really need to be rich. And to be that rich, you need to be smart, atleast at something. But we still will not prefer Anurag Kashyap over Suraj Barjatia. Because we don’t want to be productive in those two days. And so this unproductive, stupid entertainment industry that shadows the unconventional meaningful kind, is a major reason we want to stay productive through the week. So we have money enough to burn holes in our pockets. I otherwise do not see any reason why stupid movies thrive in India. Or restaurants for that matter.
Secretly, I really hope my theory is not right and that we get good content from Bollywood. Some of my most favourite movies are American and Indian movies show up really at the bottom of the list. They lack instigation. They do not force you to use your head. I hope that starts happening soon!