New age Indian cinema: a game of star or game of script?

Mumbai, Oct 13 (IANS) With failure of some much-anticipated films at the box office and unexpected success of some small-budget films, the tussle between the power of star and story continues, and at the 19th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival with Star, three industry experts shared their views on the changing game of new age cinema in India.

The jury members of the ‘Dimensions Mumbai’ section – film director Kabir Khan, actors Dulquer Salmaan and Tilottoma Shome, who watched 17 selected short films of youngsters of age between 18-25, found potential in the budding filmmakers.

Asked about their opinion on the prominent problem of the new age film business, Kabir told IANS: “I think there is a dearth of good scriptwriters and that is the biggest problem right now in our film industry. As we all know and keep saying that script is the backbone of the film, then we also have to protect the interest of script writing. We have to nurture talents and dedicate more resources for the script. Then, it makes sense to play with forms and techniques.”

While he believes that studios and production houses should mentor more young scriptwriters because translating the idea into a script is an art, he also called for a bigger chunk of the budget to be allotted to scriptwriters.

“I think scriptwriters are the most underpaid community in the film business. We can see how producers are happily spending money on the production cost, post-production and doing everything to make a good looking film, but why can’t we pay writers?”

“You know, even the performance of an actor depends on the script, then why can’t we give our writer encouragement and good economic deal?” he asked

Seconding his point, the award-winning Tilotoma said: ” I do not think that a flawed script can be covered up by good performace. If the character I am playing is not well written, as a performer, how much can I add up to that?”

Kabir said: “I have seen how, in a film, director and stars grab all the limelight and the effort of the writer is rarely celebrated. Therefore, many scriptwriters are turning into film directors. but it is might not be necessary that a great script writer can make a great film director, so at the end of the day, a bad film comes out of a good script! Sad na?”

However, Dulquer believes that any credit, whether it is the good direction, story or performance, depends on how everyone’s effort culminates in the final product and how that creates an impact on the audience.

“I think the impact of the film in audience’s mind overpower all the nuances that we are talking aboutaat times, I feel like people are giving too much credit to my performance or the story whereas for me as a performer, I put equal dedication to every film. I am sure every filmmaker is putting equal effort to make a film, no one wants to make a bad film, right?” said the “O Kadhal Kanmani” actor.

Considering the fact that this year most of the star-studded films have failed at the box office, is this a clear indication that the segregation between good films with good actors, and big budget films with average story-telling is coming back?

To this, Tilotoma said: “Well, I refuse to be a cynical person to say that I am not getting a good script and therefore not acting in more number of films. Calling a script – good or bad really depending on your frame of mind, it is subjective.

“I am sure some people are writing good stories, all they have to do, is to come out to the right platform so that we can make films and share with the world.”

But Dulquer, emphasizing the film business’ unpredictable nature, said: “I see no reason to criticize so much on how Bollywood has suffered this year, this is really a transforming phase where audience has got a choice to choose between enjoy the experience of watching cinema in theatre and watching them digitally.

“The former cannot be replaced. I think the process of experimenting with stories are constant, unfortunately, this year, most of them fell apart. But good stories are surely there… bad phase cannot last longer, success is just one step away.”

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