The ‘she’ here is both your daughter and the box-office! Unlike the era of black and white films, when the composition of the cinema audience was loaded overwhelmingly in favour of men, these days the box-office does not smile if women don’t shriek in ecstasy!
One may moan the complete absence of ‘substance’ in today’s films, but the fact of the matter is that it is actually the ‘substance’ that stands for the most pronounced change that has come about in film-making in India.
Agreed, with ‘substance’ the high-brow circles generally mean the profundity of a thought and not any thought per se. But in a world where most self-proclaimed afficionados of cinema make statements like, “we are getting better with technique but not with scripts”, it would only be prudent to leave something as subjective as ‘substance’ for a later time. [Note: The uninitiated may take note of the fact that ‘script writing’ too is a technical aspect of film-making.]
Quite obviously, the change in substance or content has been forced upon film-makers by the rapid changes in today’s society. The audience has changed and so has the content that appeals to today’s audience. Nation-building through armed forces and good social conduct, sadly, do not rank too highly in the aspiration charts of today’s youth. Today’s youth does not want to stand with and for the society; it wants to stand out in a big society. It wants to be everything that the general society is not. It wants everything that the general society can and would ever be.
Everything that the earlier screen or ‘societal’ hero was meant to do has either already been achieved or is not to be done by a hero anymore. Not through earlier methods anyway. Today’s hero is not expected to take the society along. He is, in fact, supposed to stand out and form a fantasy society of his own. All surrounding ills of the two eras being a constant.
Little wonder then, the role models too ought to stand for those aspirations. A six-feet plus, good-looking, dare-devil police inspector with a beautiful wife and a still-interested scorching-hot ex-classmate is not enough for becoming a role model. For, the role model is the man whom the former guy is chasing. For, the role model is a chimera. National boundaries, human limitations and regular world do not interest him. He is a stand-out – whom the society has heard of, is in awe of and is pitted against. He’s the rebel that most of us are not good enough to be. And what does he do? Well, he puts his body and mind to good effect to make a statement. Sounds good? It did to youth all across the nation; and in the US and UK too.
My hero has to be better than my boyfriend and brother …
Let’s face it; none of my friends will swoon over a screen-sized paunch! There are enough open pores and bad teeth in real life. My hero has to be better than my boy friend and brother. When I pay for the cinema ticket, I pay for aesthetic appeal and visual pleasure too. Father figures, sugar daddies do not turn me on. Brash, super-confident, rich, macho, good looker, muscle-packed guy with melting puppy dog gaze…..that is what I want to escape with and be courted by ..in reel–if not real–life. I’ll have to wake up after three hours anyway, right?
– (27 / female) Principal Correspondent of a leading financial daily
So what’s new? Even Shammi Kapoor was a standout, an enchanting ‘Junglee’. Yes he was and that’s why he was so successful. But would he be just as successful now? Not with that kind of body weight, dancing limitations and sameness of the look. Blasphemous? Not because the aforementioned was not a statement on him; it was a statement on today’s benchmarks. Such are the demands of today’s cinema-going youth that even Amitabh would’ve struggled to be what he is if he were to begin his journey now.
A mere addition of glamour cannot stand for dilution of substance. Seen without any prejudice, it speaks of a pursuit of excellence. Just as our parents talk of a healthy mind in a healthy body, our children are teaching us the worth of dressing up even organic food! Yes, a good thought that is also a visual delight is today’s call.
Middle class or salaried people seldom become the world’s idol. You may be from Jharkhand, but if you have hair of a rock star, you are a rock star. Just as you can be from Mumbai and still be an Ajit Agarkar. And that, again, is what the point is. Talent in the field of your choice has now become either a given or, quite ironically, a valuable added asset!
That’s not what separates yours truly from Hrithik’s character in D:2. Or else girls would have been ripping their tops off at a mere sight of Om Puri. That is not to say that today’s role model does not have talent. It’s just that he stands for things that go beyond talent. Today a child has a ‘been there done that’ feel right from her childhood. If she is not taken on a journey that is beyond even her wildest dreams, she will remain unimpressed. And yes, even if she’s impressed, she would not take him to her parents!
We have theater and TV for the rest
Why is Hrithik Roshan paid 36 Crores for a three-film deal? Simply because he can earn it back for the investors – by virtue of being a true-blue movie star.
A true-blue movie star is a film actor who is seldom seen anywhere except in movies. Not in real life, not on TV, not in theater and certainly not in our family or social circles. Whatever be the truth behind the scenes, but on screen and in collective imagination of the audience, he or she stands for everything that we and our society are not and will never be.
“A star is someone who evokes emotion even after he has stopped emoting” – Satyajit Ray had once remarked. That is the difference between an actor and a star. That X-amount more. Shows in the remuneration.