Masala Art: Kyun Genre Genre Karte Ho!!

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)



  1. Ihab
    September 8, 2011 at 3:50 PM

    @ Suprabh

    Thats an excellent comment right there. Agreed completely.

    @ Piyush

    I do think there is a little confusion. I will share my views in sometime.

  2. danish
    September 8, 2011 at 4:37 PM

    @dwnpiyush – we are close to 2012. its been 20 years. so which film do you think ppl remember fondly frm 1992. beta the biggest hit of the year, saleem langde pe mat ro, the arthouse classic or jo jeeta wahi sikandar, the middleclass’s fave movie?
    well the answer is beta, the multiple telecast of it across the channels and ratings.

    a smaller section of middleclass ment, who were between 14-30 when jo jeeta wahi sikandar released recall it more fondly, but televsion ratings suggest it isnt the most well remembered.

    as for my fave of the three, saleem langde pe mat ro, nobody wud even recall the name. so plz try to understand. forget 20, even 100 years later different ppl will remember fondly different films. the arty types, the amita mailks and rajendra yadavs and uma vasudev, the india habitat centre/prithvi theatre type would remember saleem langde…. the corpotrate yuppy type swud remember jo jeeta but majority would dstill lap up beta when ever ist telecast on tv. scases in point aan milo sajna (frm anothet 20 years back 1972) gets better tv ratings than ankur and koshish.

    @shilac – that still doesnt answer why cant we call dabangg a better film than taare/chak de? especially when more ppl bought tickets of dabangg?

    @bodyguard papa- ye kya baat huio. piyush sensible hai, hum kyaa aapko sensible nahin lagte??

    @serenzy – but wat makes u so sure that taare/chak de are better films than ready???? its just ur feeling. how many ppl share it30 cr??? thats still less than 75 cr who think dabangg is better. and 3 idiots doent become the besetest movie ever money wise. you have to make inflation adjustment (based on ticket price rise) and that makes sholay the best film ever in bollywood and there is no way you can prove otherwise.

  3. Serenzy
    September 8, 2011 at 7:21 PM


    but,how can sholay be once for all proven as the best movie ever made in bollywood only because it is the highest grossing film of all times???

    u cant equate a movies merits with the BO……..
    they can never be mixed together……

    a different list can be put up for highest grossing film of all times…..and a different list for ‘movies to watch brfore u die’ kind of list…..
    a movies BO performance cannot be the judge of the movies merits……

    surely,3I,ready,dabangg did superb business at the BO…….
    but just because of that,a ready cannot be a better movie then say a Taare Zameen Par………..
    now u will say why isnt ready better as it had more collections then TZP???

    now,that cant be explained properly…..there’s this inward feeling from the heart itself when u see a movie irrespective of its fate at the BO that -“wow,wat a movie…..!!!”

    when one likes a movie tooo much,does one see how did it perform at the BO…???

  4. rajesh
    September 8, 2011 at 7:55 PM

    “but just because of that,a ready cannot be a better movie then say a Taare Zameen Par………..”

    Hmmm, during my school days, in elementery mathematics, we were being taught bracket concept. The first case is say, “write in bracket the highest mountain peak in world.” Now, there will be only one correct answer of this and everbody will write the same answer if they are correct.
    Now, take the second case, “write in bracket the bset hill station in the world”. And, the chaptor tells that these type of qustions cant be answered as these are subjective matters.

    Regarding Ready and TZP, I liked none of these (YES, I didn’t like TZP), my wife liked Ready more than TZP.

  5. rajesh
    September 8, 2011 at 7:59 PM

    It is ‘best hill station’ not ‘bset hill station’ in my previous comment, edit is not working.

  6. danish
    September 8, 2011 at 8:53 PM

    @serenzy – because 10 cr ppl, almost 15% of the country’s population at that time voted for sholay by buyingg its ticket. thats never happened with any indian film. the second biiggest public endorsement of the quality of any indian film was hum aapke hain kaun. just a handful of ppl cant decide which is the best film.

    how do u define merit? is there a universal definition of merit?

    the liist of highest grossing film will automatically have the democratic public endorsement of their quality. the list of ‘movies to watach before you die’ would essentially be the opinion of one person (or at best a group of ppl, unless it was published after taking a comprehensive survey of the entire country, covering every individual)

    a movie’s footfall (not revenue) can be the only definitive universal judge of its quality. thats the only scientific truth.

    ready is without doubt a better film than a taare zameen par as close to 50 lakh ppl endorsed taare’s quality by buying its tickets while close to 1.20 cr ppl endorsed its quality by buying ready’s tickets.

    the “inward feeling from the heart” is different for different ppl. for me that happens when i watch tere naam. does that make it the greatest film ? no!

    when one likes a movie too much and doesnt care for its boxoffice performance.,, it becomes his/her favourite film, not the best/good film.

    exactly rajesh. but agin the best hill station, if it must be declared will have to be the one that maximum number of ppl write. same for films.

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