Genre is not the word. Entertainment is. Connect is. The audience will reject a movie that fails to fulfill either the entertainment thing, or the connect thing-
You cannot define a movie as masala or art- all movies are piece of art- they may be good to some- bad to some- I don’t understand this fondness to put words and definitions to abstract and subjective things-
All movies are commercial ventures (except student films and some documentaries I guess). All of them are intended to make money. So, the terminology of a film being commercial and non-commercial is baseless. The movies termed as ‘non-commercial’ are usually low budget ones, intending to reach a limited audience (due to various reasons ranging from the subject of the film to the star-cast to the distribution acceptance)
“Genre is a class or category of artistic endeavor having a particular form, content, technique, or the like”
Coming to the question that made me curious. Is there a successful genre? A safe genre? One that guarantees success? I would say no…
Over the years we have seen all kinds of movies work and make tons of money. This is specially true for the west, where even the obscure movies find takers and do tons of business. These views have an underlying assumption (which I believe to be true), that audiences everywhere in the world are the same- they will like a film only when it engages them (of course different movies have different ways of engaging the audience)- it is same for the people in India (due to different sensibilities only the ways to engage the audience differs).
The most striking example to elucidate the point is of course, Taare Zameen Pe and Welcome releasing on the same day and doing great business. Two most common reactions to this statement would be-
1. Aamir is a huge star- a mark of quality, trust and belief in the audience.
2. Welcome was a safe genre- MASALA (every-time I read this word, a imagine of the writer salivating and licking his/her lips comes to my mind- weird thing- but it make me laugh so I don’t try to suppress it)
The answer to the TZP/Welcome success story is that both movies were loved because both managed to engaged and entertain the audience- of course the method both adopted were diverse- And of course the wider audience trusts the ‘Welcome’ method more readily than the ‘TZP’ method- And why is that- because the ‘TZP’ method is the tough to implement- and if not done correctly can lead the audience to depression/irritation/remorse/anger- While welcome had elements that had seen a lot of success before- so initial trust was easily gained- So am I contradicting my earlier point that there is nothing as a safe genre? No I am not-
While the so called commercial movies are deemed as safe bets at the box office (Ready and Bodyguard are according to many here the safest way to make money)- these come with very high stakes attached- Ready needed to do 95 Cr nett just to break even- In this age of connectivity, word of mouth spreads like wildfire- And it is these costs attached that make such genres unsafe- Frankly there is nothing worse than watching a movie that is doing everything to entertain- but is still unable to do it)
On the other hand the so called ‘non-commercial’ ventures have to bear with the gradual acceptance of the subject and the movie- Their costs attached are low, but they see lesser initial rush- they need to connect else they don’t manage to pull audiences in- TZP saw a dull opening as compared to Welcome; even SRK’s Chak De opened to dull houses- isn’t SRK a huge star? Isn’t YRF banner the biggest in India? The thing is that there was a lack of trust associated with the genre- when this trust was gained- there was no stopping this movie-
So the bottom-line is- TZP and Welcome, both were successful in engaging the audience- and hence were commercially successful too- And that all genres have equal chance of success (only thing is that their route to success is different)