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1
Aug

100 crore Club Demystified – Stop Fooling the Audience

“100 crore club” – the name sounds pretty cool and powerful but so sorry that there’s no real club where you can go and have loads of beer. You all must have heard this term again and again but do you understand its meaning. 100 cr is a mathematical number, so there must be some mathematics involved, right? In fact, do you even know that when you buy a INR300 ticket, how much does the producer get. Do you know that if a movie earns 100  crores and is made on a budget of 60 crores, it would suffer heavy losses if the only source of revenue is theatrical, as used to be in early days? I’m sure, most of you (including me before I entered this big bad Bollywood), think that a movie made on 60 crores earning 100 crores has made a 40 crores profit. Profit? It’s made a huge loss theatrically! Why not spend 5-10 min understanding what these figures are so that producers cannot fool the audience by abusing this 100 crore figure in different ways. We’ll also talk about some recent cases where a film earning 55 crores has been shown to reach 100 crores and how cunningly. Once you have the knowledge, you can laugh your heart out at the desperation of these producers when you see a full page ad on the newspaper with this 100 cr figure, a figure more attractive to many than that of Jolie’s.

Let us try to understand things through 1 ticket sales. Suppose you buy a ticket at INR180, there is an entertainment tax which is different for different states (check this out for the list – http://www.filmtvguildindia.org/entertainment_tax_in_various_states.html). Let us assume that the average entertainment tax is about 40% i.e. when you buy a INR180 movie ticket, about INR80 goes to the government.

  • Ticket Price: INR180 (GROSS COLLECTIONS if only 1 ticket sold)
  • Entertainment Tax: INR80 (considering an average Indian state)
  • Net Price: INR100 (NET COLLECTIONS)
  • Producer’s Share (after giving to exhibitors i.e. cinemas and to local distributors if released via independent distributors): INR45 approximately

You can simply extrapolate this scenario such that the net collections is INR100 crore. For such a case:

  • Gross Collections: INR180 crores
  • Net Collections: INR100 crores
  • Producer’s Share: INR45 crores

So now you can easily understand that if the film is made on a budget of 60 crores, it’s theatrically a disaster if it earns 100 crores net. However, there are other avenues especially satellite rights (for a film having net collections of 100 crores, generally the satellite rights are sold at about 35-45 crores which directly goes into the Producer’s pocket; don’t think that’s the case with small 6-8 crores hit films, it’s in the range of 7-12 crores only and if the film is not a hit, it can be in lacs as well) which make the entire deal a very profitable venture. Your knowledge is not foolproof yet and whatever you understood can have loopholes which cunning producers will use. Hence, let me try to fill in the gaps.

The very specific term for Net Collections is Net Domestic Theatrical Collections. This means that when one says net collections, it means net collections at the theaters in India only. Similar is the case for Gross Collections and Producer’s Share. Earnings are also from theaters outside the country. Adding the two collections, one uses terms like ‘Net Worldwide Theatrical Collections.” However, when one uses the word “Net Collections”, it only means “Net Domestic Theatrical Collections.”

After you’ve cleared your basic concepts, now it’s time to understand what the precise meaning of a ‘100 crore club’ film is. A film is in the ‘100 crore’ club if and only if the NET DOMESTIC THEATRICAL COLLECTION  is over and above INR100 crores – that’s it, nothing more, nothing less.

You can now understand how those full page film ads claiming huge collections are used to fool us. Do you remember seeing a ad with ‘100 crores’ written in big and bold font with an asterisk. At the bottom, it’s mentioned that it is Gross domestic theatrical collections. Now that you know the maths guys, what do you think would be the net collections for such a film? Just delete the average entertainment tax and you get 60 crores, a huge 40 crores less than the 100 crores! And how much is the Producer’s share – about 25-30 crores. Can you imagine how big a dud this film must have been for poor Producers if made on a high budget. Producers spend lacs of rupees to circulate such ads so that the junta believes that the film is a huge 100 crore type blockbuster and because most people go to watch a hit film, the revenue actually increases. A mirage is created which sometimes actually leads to water for producers but the worst part is that this is done by fooling. You can’t sue the producers because they clearly wrote it’s gross collections and they are not responsible to explain the meaning of it, right? So an ad can say – “XYZ film reaches 100 crores collections” and at the bottom you’ll have the meaning of the phrase – don’t forget to read it and in most cases (imagine only 17 films are in this club) see the level of desperation of some filmmakers. Well, to be fair to them, when you’re on the verge of becoming broke because of the money invested in your movie, no logic or reason seems to work and the desperation can be very well understood. It’s easy to blame but think of the guy who lost all his life’s earnings and even more. Anyways, that doesn’t justify deceit even though done tactfully and lawfully.

From abusing this 100 crores figure by camouflaging it with Gross Domestic Theatrical Collections, there are desperate producers who have also started using Gross Worldwide Theatrical Collections (firstly ‘worldwide’ and that too ‘gross’ not ‘net’, my God, give me a break) claiming that finally the film has touched the 100 crore mark. I was stunned at this blasphemy done for a film sometime back. Very soon, they will start including satellite rights, music rights, DVD rights etc. to claim this 100 crore figure. The only way to stop this moronic act is to educate the public on this so that they know which film is actually a hit and which is not. All of us watch thousands of movies in theaters but we have no idea where those 300 bucks we spend on purchasing a movie ticket goes. Now you know it and hopefully pretty clearly.

This tendency to show off will not end. When 100 crore club dies, some other term will be created and that will be abused till some other takes birth. However, the fact of the matter is that if you really want people to remember your film for decades, this 100 crore club should not be a goal at all. In fact, very few of the films in 100 crore club are films you’ll remember for decades. Let’s have a look.

200 crore club

  1. 3 Idiots in year 2009 (206 crores – net domestic theatrical collections )

100 crore club (figures are approximate as they’re taken from the web; also, those films are deleted where there’s an ambiguity whether it had just crossed or just missed the 100 cr mark)

2012 Ek Tha Tiger 186
2013 Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani 178
2012 Dabangg 2 155
2011 Bodyguard 141
2010 Dabangg 140
2012 Rowdy Rathore 133
2012 Barfi! 122
2011 Ready 121
2012 Jab Tak Hai Jaan 121
2012 Agneepath 120
2008 Ghajini 115
2011 Ra.One 115
2011 Don 2 115
2012 Housefull 2 112
2010 Golmaal 3 108
2011 Bol Bachchan 104

Ask few of your friends and most of them will name only a few films which they think are unforgettable:

  1. 3 Idiots
  2. Barfi (except the 7 min of copied scenes)
  3. Ghajini (unforgettable to some because of the intriguing short term memory loss thing)

So among the 17 films (16 in 100 cr and 1 in 200 cr), only 3 i.e. only 18% films are memorable. That means 82% of the films are just one time watch and have almost no recall value. Does that mean that the trick to make a memorable cult film is to make sure that it doesn’t enter the 100 crore club? Seems silly but worth a thought. And yes, let us not forget that we, the public, are responsible for making films with no recall value the biggest hits in Indian cinema. The onus lies on us as much it does on the filmmakers to create quality stuff.

To be fair to the proponents of this club, we need to see a side of the picture we seem to neglect all the time. When a film earns 100 crores, thousands of families directly and indirectly associated with this project-based income generating film industry, can have a better livelihood, give better education to their children, have better health facilities and also have a better lifestyle. So let us pray that more and more films earn 100 crores and more, but hope that they not just have solid entertainment value but also solid content.

Waiting for the 1st 300 crore film: would Hirani-Aamir’s P.K. be the first one in this club?

23
Jun

“I’m in Love”

Remember the moment when you were in your teens and your friend came up to you with a wide grin on his/her face and broke out this beautiful news – “I’m in love!” You then wanted to know everything that happened before those three golden words “I love you” were spoken – when they met first, how was the first impression, have they touched each other, kissed each other yet, is the person hot, caring, lovable, talkative, well behaved etc. Your friend is so much in ecstasy that you too are engulfed by that happy zone. All the romantic films come to your mind and you start seeing them always together. I don’t know about others but when my best friend had told me about his affair, apart from the similar questions, I was also very seriously concerned about what problems might arise in their marriage. I strongly believed that if you say “I love you” to someone, you just need to get married, that’s it, period! I was in my early teens but that’s the way I thought, thanks to the values imbibed in me by classic Hindi movies. Point to be noted is that they don’t tell you what happened after the hero-heroine gets  married.

I don’t even need to tell you what happened to both of them. Obviously they did not get married to each other. My filmy values which matter-ed so much to me started breaking into molecules, atoms, electrons, protons, neutrons and then to quarks. Rarely saw people getting married to their first love or first ‘serious’ love if you want me to put it that way. No, I’m saying there are no love marriages. I’m just saying that people ‘generally’ get married to their (n)th love which exists when they are at a marriageable age rather than being with their 1st serious love till the marriageable age and then getting married. What’s wrong in that? Nothing man, absolutely nothing. It’s just something I noticed. Initially I felt this to be morally (or filmy) wrong but with time, I completely stopped judging people based on this. Now come on, you’ll have to include almost the entire Universe if you judge on this topic of getting married to the 1st serious love!

Nonetheless, the filmy love values still exist and few of my very close friends have actually just married their first serious love. DDLJ zindabad!

So over the years, this one thing has changed in me so much that I really dread any friend telling me – “You know what, I’m in love.” What was once an exciting moment has become a cynical one. While he/she praises the lover with all the heart – hot, lovable, caring – I only hear words – ugly, moron, selfish – coming out from my friend’s mouth after a few months affair. Also the typical line from both the parties – “I gave so much selfless love. That is my problem. I’m so much into a relationship that I forget to care about myself but only selflessly care about the other person. But that a#@@#le, ras##@, moron/bi@#h, did not deserve my love at all.” After the break-up, most friends would console you by saying that the other person did not deserve you, you deserve better and you shouldn’t have been so nice and all. However, it is difficult for me to tell these lies (in most cases these are lies and on top of that you don’t know the other parties’ version of the break-up at all) because even before knowing that person, I knew this is what is going to happen and this is what my friend would tell me. Whatever be the case, he/she is my friend who is truly in great pain and I need to console in some way but in what way which is truthful and also useful. Difficult to decipher the code, really.

In the US, over 50% of the marriages end in divorce (over 5% in India – don’t even dare to think it’s not an awesome thing about our country, it’s exceptional and praise worthy irrespective of good or bad reasons for it). There was a research where newly wed brides and grooms in the US were asked as to what they think is their probability of divorce. You guessed it right, EVERYONE said zero percent. However, obviously over 50% of them got divorced. Stats speaketh for all but we believe we are different but those researched via which the data was deduced also believed the same. Similarly almost every “I’m in love” ends in “I hate that bas@@#d/b@#$h”.

All this brings me to the moral dilemma when my friend tells me that he/she is in love – should I ask him/her not to go ahead in love because eventually it won’t work and break-up is certain? My realistic data analyzing IIT engineer mind tells me to go ahead and stop him/her from falling more in love. However, then my positive mind asks me to stop because there are a few people who are different. What should be done? What is my responsibility because I know that heart break for my friend would be utterly painful and may be too devastating for him/her to handle? But what if there isn’t a break-up? Stats say there is a high probability. But what if?

Earlier I was extremely protective about my loved ones, my sisters, parents, girlfriend, my younger cousin brothers and sisters, close friends so much so that I used to get over-protective which would sometimes even result in fights. Can’t go into much detail but lately I’ve realized that everybody has their share of failures, pain and struggles which I can’t take away from them. Or may be I shouldn’t take away the pain which is a great teacher. And love, above all, is the greatest teacher. What if it’s only for a few months, during those months at least, it will be pure love. Why can’t love be only for a few moments, why does it have to last a lifetime to be called true love? I don’t have answers to these questions but the one answer I’ve got can be again summarized in a filmy dialogue which my friend Nitin Sharma used to frequently repeat – “Insaan ko zindagi mein kam se kam ek baar pyaar zaroor karna chahiye. Pyaar insaan ko achcha bana deta hai.” So go ahead, fall in love, love the journey, who the hell knows the destination, cheers!

With ‘Love’,

Red!

19
Jun

Ever Heard This Before – “I’ve many great story ideas”

One of my acquaintances long time back said – “I’ve an awesome idea for a film, it’ll be a huge blockbuster for sure but people just don’t value real talent. They’re just making crap movies, huh.” He actually narrated me the idea and it was really good. He also described to me a couple of scenes based on that idea and they were also superb. I was impressed. After that, I kept on meeting several people in my life who shared the same view point that they were potentially great writers because they had great ideas. At one point I actually believed that almost the entire world thinks that they’ve great story ideas, at least each one of them around me. And without a speck of doubt, most of them actually had great ideas which they thought, and so did I back then, that those great ideas could me made into great movie scripts, novels or full length play scripts. However, I was so wrong.

In 2009, I read  a book on writing Screenplay by a master teacher. I learnt there how having one great idea is not sufficient to write a movie script. I actually sat with 2 of my creative friends Matte and Nikhil for several weeks, more than 8hrs daily to come up with about 15 good ideas. We finally chose one good idea and then developed it so that it could be made into a screenplay. After setting some ground rules of creative insights,discussions and conflicts, we actually made it like it like a celebration by cutting a red ribbon, having meetha and all that before starting off. After that, the weeks were really tiresome and sometimes frustrating but the entire exercise worked really well. Below is a picture of three of us cutting the ribbon before entering the room in which we were to sit for several weeks till we finalized upon a really great idea and then developed it into a proper story which could be then developed into a screenplay. This pic makes me nostalgic, really!

2009 Idea Generating Session

I finally went on write the screenplay and dialogues of that film (Time Nahin Hai). Last year I completed the final (from my side) draft of the script. It went through full fledged changes some 15 times, though the primary plot , the main idea, remained the same. No, I do not intend to say that I worked for 3 long years to complete it because there was a long period when I did not touch it and was working on another movie (www.withlovedelhi.com) which happened just after I had written probably the 6th draft of the screenplay. It is fashionable and sounds intriguing to know that a film has been written in 3 years or 10 years but trust me, if you count the hours and divide it by 8 (for one working day), you would be shocked to know the actual time spent. However, yes, I did spend some 12-13 months in total when I was actually engrossed in researching, writing, correcting, getting feedback, then again correcting and finally deciding that this is it. You have to decide otherwise there’s no end to improvement. I finally completed the script last October and in December managed to give it (the entire screenplay) to a huge filmstar (plus a great actor – sad that I need to add this in Bollywood) to have a read. To my delight, the feedback on the script was very good. Coming from a seasoned and an exceptional actor, I was floating like a balloon in the air. However, somehow the things didn’t work out on other aspects and he could not work as an actor on the project. So the film now is in a hanging state till it gets another filmstar ready to give a green signal not just to the script but also to acting in it. That’s how it works here, scripts rarely decide whether a film will be made, but a filmstar does. That’s another story altogether though.

Anyways, coming back to the topic. Now that I’ve written a full length feature film and over 15 feature films’ stories, I realize one thing about that ‘I’ve a great idea’ kind of thought. In most of the cases when people claim to have a great idea, they actually do have a great idea. However, in almost all the cases, that great idea would be interesting for the audience or the reader only for about 10-20% of the total time. For example, people who have a great idea for a film, can use that idea to make about 10-20min of the 2hrs film, rest of the film can’t even be written with that one great idea. If a person hasn’t ever written a full length and detailed novel, film screenplay or play script, it will be very difficult for him to understand that it’s an illusion that his great idea can help him write a great script or novel.

People may argue that every great film or novel can be summarized in 2-3 simple lines, sometimes only one. Yes, that’s true but they cannot be written with only those 2-3 lines. You need to make a structure of the script, imagine all important plot points and key scenes and then start writing the script. That involves, not one great idea, but at least 15-20 good ideas as well to keep the novel or script interesting. Not that a good idea is useless but it’s not enough if you’re not making a short film or an advertisement. So if are really serious about being a good writer which you think you are, go ahead and actually write a full length and detailed novel or script, not just one idea. Till the time you’ve done that, it’s just arrogance and plain stupidity to think that you’re even a potential writer (forget the adjective ‘good’ or ‘great’) or to ridicule writers who actually write instead of just intellectualizing. As someone said “One idea on paper is worth a million in the head.” It’s high time you wear Nike shoes and “Just Do it”. I always say this and will repeat again “Be a good writer on the paper, not in your head.”

Writing is blissful and if proper effort is put, I firmly believe that anybody, yes anybody, can be a good writer with time. As parents used to say till late 90s – “Chitthi likhte rehna beta“, so keep writing till the end!

With Love,

Red!

17
Jun

Weather Cribbers

I’ve met several ‘Weather Cribbers’ so to say:
– In summer, their main topic of cribbing would be heat and sweat and will wait for rains
– In rainy season, it would be water logging, dampness and road blocks and will wait for winter
– In winter, it would be about such low temperature, sardi-khansi, fog and no sun and will wait for clear weather in summer again

Weather is not a problem, our attitudes are. Reminds me of the parable of a poor stonecutter who was fed up of cutting stones under the hot and powerful sun. He prayed to God to make him the splendid ruler, the Sun itself. God granted him his wish. While he was enjoying being the Sun, vaporizing even the seas and the oceans, one day clouds came all over the skies and blocked Sun’s entry to the Earth. It kept pouring on the Earth and brought back all oceans and seas alive. Sun wished he be made cloud and his wish was granted. Pouring rain all over the Earth and creating floods, it realized that it cannot do anything to the majestic rocks of the mountains which stood as they were. He wished to be turned into a huge and strong rocky mountain which he did turn into. While everything was going fine, one day a stonecutter came to the mountain and started hammering away at the rocks. You guessed it right, he finally wished to become a stonecutter and became one!

Cribbers and thankless people will always crib irrespective of situations. I’ve believed in some people nobody believed in at that time. Even after giving them something really substantial enough for a lifetime, which nobody had ever given or might give in many years to come, these thankless individuals just hates, hurts and talks bad. And they are skilled at rationalizing why doing that is completely justified. On the other hand, there are people to whom I’ve given just a little love or helped them on not so substantial issue, but they’ve so much gratitude, not just to express but to actually feel. Just like cribbers, people who have gratitude will always express gratefulness even during very painful circumstances. You also must have met people in your life who belong to these two categories but we all obviously would want to be like the latter and be with the latter.

So when you see Mumbai roads blocked due to heavy downpour today, you know what to wish for – not for summer or winter – but for the fresh and healthy fruits and vegetables. We can be so much thankful for the rain because eventually that’s where the eternal nectar water come from, that’s what is responsible for all we eat and that is the prime necessity of those who feed all of us – the farmers! Let’s be thankful for all the rain and we’ll have enough reason to be thankful for the heat in summers and the cold in the winters, because then we will learn to be thankful, a characteristic which is totally independent of situations. Situations are rarely responsible for our pain or happiness, we definitely are! Stay blessed!

With Love,

Red!

15
Jun

Writing Blog in the ishtyle of Amitabh Bachchan, my Guru Dronacharya

Do you know that probably Mr. Amitabh Bachchan is the only man who has been writing his blog every single day, without exception, for last 1886 days. I know you’re dividing that by 365 so let me do the maths for you. It’s about 5 years and 2 months! I always believe that anybody who does something other than what he has to do for survival or basic well being, and does it regularly for years and years, has an amazing amount of self-discipline. I’m talking about self-discipline, not discipline. Most of those who go to a job are fairly disciplined – they wake up on time, reach office on time, work those 8 or 12 or sometimes 24hrs and then go to office again whether they like it or not for almost 35-40 years! That requires a remarkable amount of discipline but that is something one ‘has’ to do, there’s no option. Among these, there are men and women who apart from their core job, go on a jog every morning, play a musical instrument daily, dance everyday, paint frequently, write something regularly or do something healthy or creative or something passionate for decades without having to do it for survival. That shows extreme levels of self-discipline. And without exception, they have discipline as well and are more disciplined than most others.

Amit ji is one of them. This writing blog thing daily is not even needed to prove how he’s ‘self-discipline personified’. Somebody said that the way you’re in one thing, you’re in most. And if you follow him closely, you’ll find that in every aspect of his life, he’s disciplined from the d to the d! He should be called The Big DD :).

I’m a huge fan of Amit ji. Before coming to Mumbai, for years, his pictures were pasted on the Deewar just in front of my computer/working table so that subconsciously I could get inspired. The day before we were shifting permanently to Mumbai to dedicate my life entirely and unconditionally to acting and films, I asked my eldest sister Seema to click the pictures and my pic with my Dronacharya and she obliged (press Ctrl+Left Click to open the enlarged version of the pictures in a new tab).

Yes, there are pictures of Arnold and Filmfare award winners too but my Bachchan sahab, who I refer to as my Guru Dronacharya, simply stands out!

What makes me write about him today are the emotions that surfaced after watching an interview of his on turning 70. It is such a privilege to be able to listen to such a legend about his journey. Thank you so much Mr. Rajdeep Sardesai. Here you go if you want to watch this video too.

There’s so much you can learn from just this interview. In his chat, he talks about his blogs as well. I thought I also like writing. In fact, I’ve stayed almost 6 months alone, writing almost all the time. Sometimes weeks would pass by with myself not even opening my mouth more than a few times. I’m an introvert though not totally (don’t know who is) and find it as my basic strength. While many would have succumbed to such a ‘maun-vrat‘ type situation, I was happy writing and re-writing a screenplay. Apart from writing stories and scripts, I love writing my blog too. However, when I checked I was appalled at my frequency. I have written 5 posts in 2010 (when I started writing), 5 in 2011, 3 in 2012 and none in 2013 till 15th June! No, I’m not planning to copy Big B from now on (not that it is easy, it’s a humungous task but that apart) because there’s a huge difference between copying and getting inspired. I believe one should never ever copy anybody, not even the greatest but obviously get inspired to make the best out of who he or she is.

So I have decided to write here more frequently. Hence, instead of procrastinating, I just went ahead and wrote my blog today itself. Many more to come, stay tuned to the Red Blog!

With Love,

Red!

21
Dec

Delhi Gang Rape – be sensitive, do not satisfy your ego by ‘grouping’, do something, pray!

It’s been a few days of reading about the barbaric act done by 6 vultures in a moving bus in Delhi in spite of the fact that the girl was with a male friend. While the guy tried saving the girl, the 6 barbarians beat him up as well. Nobody has the courage to go into the details of what was done to the girl as just a thought of it sends an excruciating pain down the spine, think about someone who actually had to go through it. The entire country is doing their bit praying for the girl’s wellness and putting their bit to bring some reforms in the society, be it by writing, reading, going on a march, joining a protest and above all feeling for the cause. Cynics will always shout at whatever you do and point out an alternative that you could have done but did not do, their entire self-confidence comes from making other people feel guilty that they’re not doing enough but they themselves will do nothing at all for the cause except blaming everyone else they did not do enough. Chuck the cynics, I think everyone except them have felt the pain, felt disgusted and in their own small or big way put in an effort to bring about a change.

I’ve lived in Delhi for almost a decade and even done my 4 years engineering from IIT Delhi which is in Hauz Khas, South Delhi – the incident happened in South Delhi and since I’ve lived there, this  brings images of the roads there and the buses running and something happening inside them, cannot even begin to imagine that this actually happened. After I passed out, I used to live in Kalkaji, again in South Delhi, before permanently shifting to Andheri, Mumbai in Feb this year. In fact, I’ve lived in 5 states for few months (6 at least) or a few years – Jharkhand, West Bengal, Bihar, Delhi and Maharashtra. Every state has some things which is much better than the other state and some things that are much worse than the other. It is with extreme shame that I tell that there are many people who take so much pride and share so much happiness if something bad happens in some state in his/her own country. I found many people on bbm, abusing Delhi for being the rape capital of the country; some people were happy that their families don’t live there. Delhites strongly protested this and started talking bad about Mumbai. Then when one of the accused was caught from Bihar, Delhites started blaming it on Biharis. Two accused were caught from UP and Bihairs started accusing UPites. Just 2min back, I got a bbm text by a guy that “Dear Delhi, you might be having large lanes, huge roads, less traffic….but at least we respect women and they’re safe here. Regards, Mumbai”. Where is any concern for the girl who’s suffering, the topic is entirely turned towards proving that you’re better just because you belong a particular place which did not face such incident. The point is not that you’re accusing and abusing an entire state but the point is that you’re not even an iota concerned about the barbaric rape of the poor girl, you are just using this opportunity to satisfy your ego by putting down some state’s people, hence, proving in your tiny loser’s mind that you’re bigger and better.

And then there are some girls who used this as an opportunity to prove the sick opinion of all men being bastards. Sorry for being rude but if all men are bastards, your father is a bastard and you are daughter of a bastard. Perfectly logical but every such girls’ fathers and brothers are exceptions to the bastard rule. If being a chauvinist is sick, how can being a feminist be fine, ‘principally’ both are the same –  you need to respect every gender not just your own. If you cannot respect men how can you expect the same from them. By hating the sick and illogical guys who disrespect all girls, haven’t you become exactly sick and illogical like them by disrespecting all guys? And can’t you see that there was a guy with the girl who tried whatever he could to protect her. Well, why am I reasoning on such insensitive approach towards an entire gender? I should just shake my head and pray that they get some wisdom in their distorted minds.

Whenever something bad happens, we try to group the accused in some way or other to a group in which we do not belong and then blame the group and feel good about ourselves and then we leave the fight for the main issue. So when you live in a housing society, you take pride that something bad happened in another society; when something sick happens in another district, you’re happy blaming that district because you’re in better one; when something pathetic happens in some state, you feel that high abusing that state and when something sickening happens in another country, you take pride of your Indian culture and have no feeling for the bad that happened there. Most of the times the group is made out of caste, religion, gender and what not. But we’re just not ready to focus on the issue.

At the cost of sounding theoretical, I would like to say that we are all human beings, God did not create countries, districts, states, religions or any such thing. Yes, grouping is fine if it helps facilitate advancement and management in some way or other but belittling other ‘groups’ is just so mean. Every great man or woman who has walked this planet had pride on his/her ‘group’, whatever be it, but was also ‘above’ that group and loved the entire humanity irrespective of groups. Yes, we all create groups, commit mistakes, small or big, but then the best thing is to understand, repent and then mend our ways. However, when such acts happen which shakes the entire nation, can we not be concerned about groups “Men”, “Delhites”, Biharis”, “UPites” and be concerned about the issue. And do not forget that you’ll yourself one day fall into this ‘group trap’ when you’re on the other side of the table, may be then you’ll learn to appreciate the fatality of the dumb and selfish theory of grouping. And if we still want to group, there are only 2 groups that we should form – good and evil!

The fight should be between “good” and “evil”. Lord Rama fought for the ‘good’ and against the ‘evil’, he didn’t fight against a group which worships Lord Shiva instead of Lord Vishnu or a Sri Lankan versus an Ayodhian. Can we just fight for the ‘good’ and against the ‘evil’? The ‘good’ here is that we need to instill in minds of the people in the society to respect each other; women should also be taught, we all know that many bahus are burnt by mother-in-laws who don’t rape only and only because they can’t otherwise they would have. So respect is to be learnt by everyone, not just by men and respect should be for everyone not just for women, it’s impossible to compartmentalize respect only for a particular group, doesn’t work like that. Also, the country’s laws need to be stricter for rape cases because there will always be some people who have sick minds and the only deterrent can be fear and nothing else. You cannot teach a vulture to respect a saint’s body, it will eat all of it. I’m not just talking about respecting girls but respecting people in general because it’s just not possible that you seriously hate men and respect girls, that doesn’t happen. If you’re a hater that will come today or tomorrow in every area of your life. Somebody rightly said – “Do not hate, not even the bad” because “You become what you hate”. Easy said than done, absolutely agree, but at least have the ‘basic’ respect for each other. Sant Kabir rightly said – “पोथी पढ़ी-पढ़ी  जग  मुआ, पंडित भया  ना  कोय, ढाई आखर प्रेम के, पढ़े सो पंडित होए”. That’s probably the wholesome approach towards such incidents – spreading love, loving human beings irrespective of ‘groups’ and teaching kids to love and respect humanity as a whole because a wholesome change can only occur through kids via teachings at schools, homes and societies.

My eldest sister lives in Gurgaon with her husband and a cute little daughter. My Uncle passed away last year in an accident and my aunt also lives in Gurgaon with her cute son and very intelligent daughter who studies in XIth and dreams of cracking IIT. My Phua lives with Phuphaji and two sons in Noida. My Chacha-Chachi with her son lives in Janakpuri and many cousins, relatives and closest of friends with their families live in Delhi/NCR. I’m concerned about such incidents happening so regularly in Delhi but that doesn’t mean if tomorrow such barbaric acts happen in Assam or Baghdad, I will not feel sensitive about the issue and satisfy my ego by saying that I belong to a better state/country or be shamelessly insensitive and selfish by saying that I hate that place and am happy none of MY friends or relatives live there. Let us have some respect for the humanity as a whole for both men and women and let us educate people. Though there are exceptions, but generally uneducated people commit these heinous crimes and for sure, they have had hardly any female friends ever. Even if education is less, it’s very important to befriend females so that you understand that girls are more than mere bodies. If you do not interact, you do not know and you’ve your own imaginary notion and lack of respect for girls. Everyone has a mother but somehow that isn’t enough. Let us fight against ‘evil’ not against some ‘group’ be it based on gender or state and let us promote the ‘good’ by educating people, influencing people around us with respect to regards for each other.

For the last few days, I have been reading about the case and when I got a message that the girl died, it felt as if somebody took my heartbeat away. I’m sure everybody felt the same. When I read that it was a rumor and that she was still alive and fighting, it felt as if some close friend who died had come back. We all must have had tears in our eyes, anger in our mind for the incident and we are all praying for the girl to survive and come out of the physical and mental torture that was inflicted upon her. Prayers are very powerful. Since childhood my father used to say – “Pehle ke zamane mein ek rishi aashirvaad ya shaap de dete the to ho jaata tha lekin aaj itne pahuchelog nahin hote, lekin agar bahut saare log achcha ya bura soche tumhare baare mein to wo ho jaata hai”. Incidentally, a few days back when I was chatting with my parents on Skype while they were in Houston spending their time at my elder and my favorite sister’s house with their favorite damaad, a dabangg granddaughter and shy grandson, he repeated the same statement with the same conviction. Beyond any doubt, I believe, this to be true. Apart from doing our bit in a small or a big way, apart from fighting for a strict law against rape, and apart from respecting every other human being for doing whatever he/she is doing howsoever small, let us pray for the girl. Let us spend few minutes closing our eyes, seeing her in the hospital recovering from the physical and mental abuse! The doctors have reported that they’re shocked seeing her indomitable fighting spirit and hope that she’ll recover soon. Let’s add power to her fight by praying from deep within our heart. May the power be with her and with all of us, stay blessed!

30
Nov

Talaash Review

Was waiting for this movie for over half a year now. Why? Because there is an immense amount of trust in Aamir Khan’s choice of films, in spite of the fact that I don’t love all his films, case in point being Ghajini. I very firmly believe that one should be a die-hard fan which I am of Aamir Khan, but one should never be a blind fan, which I am not of anyone at all. When you become blind, make a person your idol, suddenly you lose your reasoning and get into the ‘convincing yourself and others’ mode that whatever he does is good, in fact great. That’s the story of most of the fans and that is what makes such blind fans special but sadly that is also what makes celebrities not change their bad quality if it is working. Greatness lies in being able to convince a person who’s not a blind fan that he doesn’t even need to convince you of his greatness, it just flows via osmosis.

Hence, before I proceed further, let me admit that I’ve just come after watching alone the first day first show of Talaash and all I hear around me are sounds of wheels, air, birds, the sound of my feet, the sound of my car opening, seat belt tying, closing the door, wheels kissing the road and everything that I have never heard before. Without needing to convince, I’m convinced that this film is a masterpiece, the effect it has on me is intriguing to say the least. Even after an hour passing by, I’ve not been able to settle down and become the same old Ashish Lal. No, I am not saying that it will have the same effect on everyone but I’m not talking on behalf of everyone, I am and I can, only talk about my feelings and that I am doing with utmost honesty. Before I sound too awed by the film, let me try to do write my thoughts about the various aspect of this film.

Performances:

  • Aamir Khan: As I’ve mentioned above that though I’m a die-hard fan of him, I’m not a “blind” fan. Aamir is one of those few stars who put their heart and soul into the film. He puts in a lot of effort in his performance. However, there was one thing which I was not ‘critical’ about but very ‘sad’ about in case of Aamir and that is – his effort showed in few scenes in almost all his films making the performance look not very convincing in those few scenes. Obviously this happened mostly only in few scenes of his films but it invariably did. The effortlessness required in a performance lacked in those scenes. Well, before another fan bhai (just like guru bhai) of his try abusing me, let me tell you that even that kind of performance was way better than most actors in our country (except a few like Bachchan saab, Naseer saab etc.) but here my benchmark is the best in the world like Sean Penn, Al Pacino or Anthony Hopkins as I believe Aamir Khan has the potential to rise to such levels. I’m elated to say that in Talaash, Aamir Khan has given his best performance yet with utmost effortlessness throughout the film; his performance every iota of the second of the film is a class act. It won’t be wrong to say that the distance between his performance and most other stars in this country is at least a few lights years. Aamir Khan saab, you make me proud to be a part of this Hindi film industry, howsoever small presently, may the force be with you!
  • Rani Mukherjee: First things first, there was supposedly zero make-up in the film, zero means absolutely zero. Rani, you look stunning without make-up, you look sexy, hot, beautiful and attractive, make-up doesn’t deserve you at all! In fact, there is an amazing raw sex appeal when girls wear a true confidence and no make-up; no make-up can ever get skin deep, it will always remain shallow and fake. Rani’s performance is flawless, you feel her pain and her happiness alike.
  • Kareena Kapoor: In this film, she’s just perfect to the T and simply steals the show in the end, what more to say of the Queen of Pataudi.
  • All others actors were just fine, all credit to Reema Kagti and her team.

Writing: Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti has done something never done before in Bollywood, these ladies will rule the roost, more power to the women in the industry. We need many more intellectual women here to maintain a balance between the Yin and the Yang otherwise Yang will always give one side of the duality and the Yin side will never be seen. The sensitivity with which a woman treats a subject or life for that matter, can’t be touched upon by a man. The writing is extremely intense yet sensitive, only possible by the Yin. Go ladies go, there’s more to films and life than looking good and being appreciated for matching earrings and shoes. More power to the woman of substance. Harlan Ellison said “Thank your readers and the critics who praise you, and then ignore them. Write for the most intelligent, wittiest, wisest audience in the universe: Write to please yourself.” Hence, if I’m unjustly praising you too much, just ignore :).

Direction: I take a bow Reema Kagti, you are exceptional, waiting to see many more fab piece of art in future. A director should be credited for everything – performances of the lead actors to the junior artists in the background, the lights to the camera angles and from music to the footsteps sound, just everything. And everything was just fantastic. In today’s India where everyone including the masses, is bent down upon item numbers, glamour, kissing scenes, unrealistic action, style whether required or not, fake and overacting performances, comedy even if not needed, and fitting to the adage – “we’re only here to entertain” excuse for so many illogical and dumb sequences in films and sometimes the entire films, here you come as a whiff of fresh air where each and every shot that is put is required beyond a speck of doubt. Being illogical and unconvincing in films has almost become a necessity and to the west, that shows our dull mindset because films are mirror of the society. You make us proud by making something which is sensible, logical, intellectual and still gripping, intriguing, engaging and entertaining because entertainment doesn’t always mean being dumb and illogical and gyrating to vulgar item numbers.

I’ve been a percussionist and played some 7 instruments while at IIT Delhi in various competitions from drums, congo, bongo to tabla, pakhawaj, dholak and all. We were told of one thing – the singer is the hero, you’re successful if nobody notices you and you just gel and become one with the song. If someone notices you, it means that you’ve done something wrong. Going by a similar logic, all other aspects like cinematography, editing, bgm etc. were just fine because I never ever noticed them and that’s how they should be ideally. Yes, let me clear that there can be exceptions but then haven’t you heard “Exception proves the rule”.

I know you must be thinking that I am completely moved by this movie and am praising it a way too much but it comes out of true effect this film had on me and not because I’m a blind supporter of someone. My first film WITH LOVE, DELHI! (www.withlovedelhi.com) as lead made on crowd funding by three of us couldn’t even get a fair chance due to immense lack of publicity budget by the end of the crowd funding process (not that if we had publicity budget, it would have been a hit but at least it would have got a fair chance) and since then the struggle – financially and emotionally – has been intense. It feels like I am walking completely alone on this path with nobody anywhere in sight! Films like these which move you from within because of its brilliancy just goes on to establish the fact even more firmly that it’s only films that I’m passionate about and not anything else in life – not money, not attraction, not power, not fame but that passionate feeling deep within that comes when you get associated with a fine piece of cinema, nothing else to me gives a high more than this! Thank you Reema, Zoya, Aamir and all for inspiring people like me who have left everything after reaching a high point in their field (I’m just a young IIT Delhi grad, I’ve met IIT-IIM guys 40year olds owning Merc before and having kids and then leaving to become an Asst Director to earn 10k as starting salary) to struggle from scratch like any other Joe. No, this film was not a directly inspiring film like 3 Idiots but it inspires me even more and people like me who are struggling in this Big Bad Bollywood with utmost honesty and sincerity!

Our time will come, our Talaash will also successfully end one day…and then a new Talaash will begin…and then another….I want to die with one Talaash not getting over just because I died! it’s only Talaash for something which moves all of us everyday. May everyone’s every Talaash be over successfully except the last one, stay blessed!

14
Jul

मेरी प्यारी मंजिल

मेरी प्यारी मंजिल,
हर सुबह उठ वही सपना देखता हूँ,
फिर कुछ मील उस ओर चलता हूँ;
कल सुबह फिर वही सपना देखूंगा मैं,
मंजिल कब तक दूर रह पाओगी तुम,
बाँहों में तुम्हे जल्द ही भरूँगा मैं।
तुम्हारा ही लाल 🙂

15
Dec

Dreams do come true!

Today is an emotional day for me. Even though not coming from a rich, political or filmy background, the dream to enter Bollywood as a Lead Actor has finally come true! It has been possible due to support of so many people and obviously the key guys are – Matte and Manav – without whom this would have never been possible! We 3 don’t have any Godfather, we’re Godfathers to each other for entry into Bollywood :).Just reached Delhi from Mumbai. My Mummy-Papa also reached Delhi today coming all the way from Asansol, West Bengal, to watch their son on the silver screen. My best friend Sanjay flew from Bangalore to watch 1st day 1st show with us. Just came home in a taxi from airport with the two most caring, best friends and the most loving human beings anybody can know – Sanjay Shukla and Ashutosh Matela. Poor Manav couldn’t come as life is too hectic these days and he had to be there to manage things in Mumbai – sadly his tickets had to be cancelled. Hugged him while catching an auto to the airport in Mumbai and said “Kuch bhi ho film ka fate Manav, hit ya flop, humne kar dikhaya, cheers to that spirit!”. You could see the emotions in his eyes, all the struggles and pain of 1.5years could be seen getting washed away by the sense of achievement!

Am blessed to have such wonderful people around. On Facebook, hundreds of people are literally praying for us. You can feel their excitement and emotions when they wish you luck. Right now, while I write this, my eyes get wet – I’ve got calls from friends with whom I’ve never chatted for a decade saying that “I’m proud of you Ashish”. Several comments expressing their pride and inspiration are so heartwarming that words succumb while trying hard to express the feelings. I don’t know whether I’m worthy of all that or not but I know one thing that even if I’m not right now, I’ll be and will eventually not let anyone down. So much love to someone who’s hardly known to the world feels magical. It’s not just words and emotions, even financially, about 70middle class people have shelled out their hard earned incomes and savings (from individual contribution of 25k to 22lacs) for our dreams and then cynics say people are selfish, no they aren’t, there are enough large hearted people in this beautiful world! I can’t begin to explain how priceless this feeling is. I can’t even begin to explain how much your support means to me – I can’t write more than a thank you or a few more words but the feelings of thankfulness and love are infinite. I really wish and pray that I don’t let you down when you watch WITH LOVE, DELHI! today.

When you begin with a big dream, it’s so exciting and it seems once you reach it, the entire world will change. However, to reach to a big dream, it takes so much effort, pain and time that you are more in a controlled state by that time than in a crazy excited state. That’s what is the condition right now – I’m not on the top of the world, I’m calm, a little excited, a little stressed, a little peaceful and very emotional. I don’t know whether public will like this film or not, whether the critics will praise or criticize it or whether it will be a hit or a flop – I’m too close to the film to objectively judge these aspects, especially after having seen the film scores of time. If the film is a hit, well then, I’ll be a celebrity signing bigger films after films and moving towards my bigger dreams in life. If the film is a flop, I very well know myself – I’ll be tensed for a few days, very tensed, won’t be able to sleep for several nights, all the while trying to figure out what went wrong and then within a couple of weeks, I’ll on ready to walk, ready to run and at a pace which will get me where I want to in the time I want to. Nothing is impossible, that’s a phrase my Mummy-Papa gave me to my subconscious, not million dollars, not political or celebrity mileage but a thought which has the power to take me way ahead of many who have all these. Several times I say this but would repeat it once again, lines from one of my favourite movies Shawshank Redemption – “Red, hope is a good thing, may be the best of things, and no good thing ever dies!” Whether you noticed it or not, this is actually said to me “Red” :). Struggles never end nor do I want them to, all the sense of achievement and the learning is because we had to struggle a hell lot, those who did not have to struggle did not learn as much for sure. I’m sure of one thing – I’ll never ever find a “reason” for not achieving my dreams, I’ll always and ruthlessly label all of those so called “reasons” as “excuses” and when you do that, you always move on till you achieve your dreams! Keep dreaming, keep achieving, cheers!

Eagerly waiting to watch myself and our labour of love for the 1st time on the silver screen with my friends and family, with all those who love me unconditionally. Bless all!

WITH LOVE,
      RED!

 

7
Dec

Theatrical Trailer and Songs of WITH LOVE, DELHI!

Making a theatrical trailer, especially for a thriller, is no easy job. The primary reason why I would want to watch a movie is because of the theatrical trailer, more than the publicity and more than the stars involved. This makes editing a trailer all the more difficult. In 2 min flat you need to grab attention of the viewers who are overloaded with trailers and promos on TV and internet. Hope we’ve been able to come close to making an engaging trailer – we’ve got tremendous positive feedback on this trailer, hope you like it too. Here it goes:

Then comes the value of songs. Obviously, India is a “musical” country – whereas many people just criticize the song and dance sequences in our film, I think they’re beautiful and they make us unique. One 5min song can cover a thousand scenes. Obviously when songs are stuffed for no reason then it doesn’t make any sense. We decided on not being illogical and hence had only 2 songs in our 97min slick film – one background song and the other a promotional music video.

Here goes our promotional music video sung by the superstar singer Shaan and Sarika. This is a 3D Live Animation Music Video and anybody who understands the detailing and the work involved in making such a video would know its worth. It is a matter of courage for the Director, Ashutosh Matela, to even think of making such a video. Yes, it’s pretty costly video and it took 8months of intensive work by Matte and his huge team to make this possible. Hope you like it.

Here goes the video of the background song – Catch Me If U Can. This rock song has been sung by the ultimate rockstar Suraj Jagan who had sung superhits like Give me some sunshine (3 Idiots), Zehreley Zehreley (Rock On!!), Jaa Chudail (Delhi-Belly) and so on and so forth. Catch the video here.

However, the above video is only for partial song. The guitar parts in the song which really sets the tone for rock music is missing in the video. Here goes the complete audio of the song beautifully composed by the Music Director Sanjoy Chowdhury. Lyrics for both the songs have been written by Amitabh Varma who had written beautiful lyrics for songs like Alvida Alvida (Life in a Metro) etc.

 

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