Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Passion for Cinema on Shashitabh

Akshay Manwani has written a great piece called "Amitabh Bachchan - A Look at the Personalities behind the Persona" over at Passion for Cinema. In addition to looking at important directors, writers, and heroines, there's a very insightful discussion on what made Shashi Kapoor his perfect co-star. I totally agree with the author that part of what makes the Shashitabh chemistry work is that while other co-stars might have seemed to be in competition with the Big B, Shashi simply balanced him without being steamrolled. Maybe that's because they were different enough in strengths and styles that they couldn't really compete with each other, but each was talented and confident enough not to shrink from the challenge of combining their differences? Hmm.... It's an interesting read; I'd love a series of essays like this on various figures in the industry to see how they interrelate and how different types of influence or power have intersected with different talents, particularly since we always hear how tightly knit the film world is.

6 comments:

meena said...

Beth, I hope you have seen my fav shashitabh movie - 'Do aur Do paanch'?

Beth said...

Definitely! It's a good one1 :)

bollyviewer said...

The writer has neglected the most important factor in the Angry Young Man phenomenon - the audience! If it hadnt been for their adulation, all that filmi-goodness would have been wasted. The rising unemployment, political unrest and decline of the post-Independence optimism in 70s India, all contributed to the popularity of the AYM. AB just happened to be the fresh face (as a result of his earlier flops, he wasnt associated with any genre/role) of anger - something his more popular filmi-colleagues couldnt emulate so successfully (for e.g., Rajesh Khanna was associated with romance, Dharmendra with idealism and truth). And all those "memorable" dialogues and AYM persona didnt give rise to much filmi-fun in the late 80s! Which brings me to the subject on which I would like some intelligent insight - why were the late 80s soooooo bad in Hindi films?!! True, all the big stars were ageing, but the same directors who made good films, the same music directors who made lovely music in the 70s made such terrible films in late 80s!

gebruss said...

Of course, I can't answer the why question, I know far too little about the Industry for that; but I spend a lot of my early Hindi movie-watching days wondering why people thought that the late 80s (and early 90s) were such a horrible time. Well, the movies didn't seem all that great to me, but they didn't seem that bad either. That was before I discovered older movies, and I all of a sudden realised just how tired a lot the plots were, and how you could tell the same story with a lot less violence (and especially violence against women).

What also came to mind is that I watched Clerk this weekend, which seems to take all the stuff that was odd in Roti, Kapada aur Makaan and amplify it, leaving out most of the things that worked, especially the relations between friends and family members which seemed difficult but real; and most of the shades of grey. Everything seems to have become a cipher (and you can't see a thing because stuff keeps dangling before the camera, but maybe that's just me who finds this irritating).

Sorry about the long ramblings.

Crazy on Bollywood said...

Even today i love to see Sashitabh movie.

rajesh said...

Mid 80's and early 90's had bad movies for a single reason; TARGET AUDIENCE WAS MISSING. That is, video piracy, doordarshan opening second channel, increasing entertainment options thru several serials, multiple movies per week AND COLOR television programming; all took the slices away collectively from captive cinema goers. Cinema tickets in big cities like Delhi cost rs 6 (1989)for the most expensive balcony. And that too went empty when Upper and Middle class found comfort in their Living rooms. The only captive audience that continued going to cinema halls were people without any options ie, rickshaw pullers and coolies (no tv at home). Hence movies were made to their taste, sense and sensibilities, since they contributed 60% of the revenue AND decided a movie's FATE.

The next obvious question is: who is the target audience for bollywood TODAY? In other words, who makes that marginal difference between a movie's FAILURE AND SUCCESS: the answer is NORTH INDIAN NRI'S (read Punjabis and Gujratis; because they constitute 90% of the Bollywood movie population in UK, North America).

Therefore, you have every other actor (and Actress trying Sikh turban to humble themselves and bring target audience to pay $12 for a ticket rather than rs 40). NRI revenue is 30-40% for a movie today.

Hope this helps.