Small wonders

With emphasis on content, storytelling technique and performances, small
budget films are often more engrossing, writes Arpana

Beautifully told tales touching upon various human emotions hit the silver screen this year with movies like I AM, Chalo Dilli and Stanley Ka Dabba. But only a few did well as the audiences were either not aware or were hesitant about watching an unfamiliar cast or theme.

Ironically, these tales are often more engrossing compared to big-buck movies, mainly because the emphasis is more on content, storytelling technique and performances. Such films deserve a chance.

Amole Gupteís Stanley Ka Dabba was an interesting pick
Amole Gupteís Stanley Ka Dabba was an interesting pick
from everyday life about the delicate relationship between teachers and students

Onir delved into multiple topics like the plight of Kashmiri
Onir delved into multiple topics like the plight of Kashmiri 
Pandits, gay issues, paedophilia and single motherhood in his crowd-funded I AM

Chalo Dilli brought out an interesting contrast
Chalo Dilli
brought out an interesting contrast between the affluent and the middle class

"If small-budget films succeed, people will make more experimental cinema and have content-based scripts," says filmmaker Anurag Kashyap.

One such film with good performances was Chalo Dilli that brought out an interesting contrast between the affluent and the middle class. Lara Dutta, as hoity-toity investment banker Mihika Mukherjee, and Vinay Pathak, as unpolished small-time sari seller Manu Pathak, created the desired effect on screen. But Chalo Dilli, directed by Shashant Shah, couldnít attract enough footfalls to make it a hit. This was Laraís debut production venture for which she had teamed up with Big Daddy Productions and Eros International Media Ltd. Made on a budget of approximately Rs 5 crore, it reportedly managed to rake in above Rs 4 crore.

Another interesting tale that paled at the boxoffice was Stanley Ka Dabba, an interesting pick from everyday life about the delicate relationship between school teachers and students and how sometimes children are compelled to bear the boorishness of their peers.

The performances of Amole Gupte, who also wrote and directed it, as the teacher greedy for food and his son Partho Gupte as poor student Stanley added a nice flavour to the tiffin-box drama, but the lack of big names seems to have kept people away from the theatres. The film ended up pocketing just above Rs 5 crore.

Director Onir delved into multiple topics like the plight of Kashmiri pandits, gay issues, paedophilia and single motherhood in his crowd funded I AM. The few who saw the film could connect to the tales.

"Onirís approach towards Kashmiris, who were forced to leave the Valley, was very real and he was equally honest in bringing the pain and sufferings of Muslims living there. I loved the film and could easily associate with it as me and my family had faced the same problem. Despite being born there, we donít belong there anymore," Nidhi Kaul, a Kashmiri Pandit living in the Capital, said.

Even critics appreciated the film, but there were few who made the effort to see it. Kashyap, who acted in I AM, said, "I was not satisfied with the boxoffice report of I AM, but, yes, critically it has got really good response. But at the end of the day boxoffice does matter to every filmmaker".

The director-producer feels the makers should find ways to connect to the audience to make them aware of their product to get enough footfalls.

Pyaar Ka Punchnama was declared an average with an earning of about Rs 9 crore, while Kucch Luv Jaisaa was not a hit as it could manage to take home just about Rs 3 crore.

One of the few people who found luck at the boxoffice with their "chota packet" was Kiran Rao, who created a potpourri of different people from diverse backgrounds in Dhobi Ghat. Made with a budget of Rs 5 crore, it managed to garner about Rs 12 crore in the first week.

Director duo Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DKís Shor in the City were lucky too as their Rs 3 crore movie got a good response and raked in about Rs 4 crore. A good way to sell small films could be slashing the ticket prices. But right marketing is a long way off.

Rahul Bose, who features in a lot of offbeat films, blames big production houses for giving a step-motherly treatment to small films.

"A lot of big companies have a very dishonest approach to marketing small films. They donít want them to succeed. They donít really have the passion. They do it because they have to and they are really interested in big films," he said. "Traditionally, small films are made by big studios so they can bully the exhibitors if they donít get the theatres. They leverage the big films they are going to release on small films, so that they get show timings," he added. ó IANS





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