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How small became so big

How small became so big
31 Dec 2007, 0000 hrs IST,JYOTI SHARMA ,TNN

Size does matter! Ask the guy who first used this ‘memorable’ line in his ad copy to take a bow and fade into the night. Because one thing that nobody gave a whit about in circa 2007 was size.

And that great purveyor of everything that is in and that isn’t — Bollywood was a perfect example. Mainstream masala flicks, niche quality cinema, films with children as their leads, films with a budget less than what a star charges for cutting a ribbon… they all worked. Oh, there was but one condition attached: They had to be entertaining and they had to have a solid script. And invariably, the small guys turned out to be the big winners.

The report card
All those multi-crore, multi-star extravaganzas, which had scripts thinner than a wafer ended up on the dark side of the BO. Small became the new big as films like Bheja Fry, Taare Zameen Par, Jab We Met, Black Friday, Life in a… Metro and Johnny Gaddaar pipped such worthies as Laaga Chunari Mein Daag, Ramgopal Varma ki Aag, Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, Eklavya: The royal Guard, Salaam-e-Ishq, Nishabd and Aaja Nachle to the post.
The plethora of films in Team B, which came a cropper had all the trimmings – big star casts, backing of big banners, promo budgets that can feed a small African state for a year but they forgot the script somewhere midway.

Script’s the star
The people behind the films that worked are unanimous – it is all in the script, boss. The film that closed the year on a positive note, TZP, just repeated this statement. The star of the show, Aamir Khan, did not enter the film till after the intermission as an eight-year-old held the fort. At another time and space in Bollywood, it might have boomeranged, but not in 2007. “I decided to go by the script of Amol Gupte for TZP. It didn’t allow the teacher’s entry till interval and I decided to stay true to the script. Script is the star of my film,” says Aamir.
Sanjay Khanduri, the director of Ek Chalis Ki Last Local, explains, “We have limited budgets unlike big banners. So, obviously we have to focus on the script to ensure that the audience comes to watch the film.”

Neil Nitin Mukesh, who decided to forego the running-around-the-trees routine for the hard-as-nails Johnny Gaddaar this year, says, “People today are very aware and want to watch intelligent cinema. A filmmaker who is not confident about his script or his subject will not pass the scrutiny of either the media or the audience.”

Small is big
It was the small guy who ruled the roost. Not that the focus wasn’t on the big stars, but the small guys who populated the screen around them managed to share the credit. Vinay Pathak, who was the de facto star of Bheja Fry and got rave reviews in every film that he starred in, being a perfect example. The man explains it all by giving the example of cars. “At one point of time, India was happy with just Fiat and Ambassador. Today, there are 20 brands in the market and people know the tiniest detail about each. In other words, the consumer is getting savvier today and wants the best. So, whether it is a small film or a big actor, anybody who delivers, gets the mandate,” says Vinay.

Anurag Basu of Life in a… Metro, explains this trend thus: “People want to see themselves and their issues on the big screen. Rather than larger-than-life portrayals, they go for stuff they can relate to and actors who fit those characters.”

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