All of these and many others put their name and reputation on the line during the making of the film. His movies were sold with his name, not who starred in the movie. You knew who was making the film and you expected accordingly. For example, BR Chopra made socially relevant films for that time and yet touched on subjects that any other producer would consider risky.
His Dhool Ka Phool is about a single boy abandoned and raised by a Muslim, who shouts, Tu hindu banega na muslim banega .. insan ki aulad hai insaan banega. A film dealing with these issues was unimaginable in those days, but it was a fact of life. Chopra’s Gumrah, where a married woman drifts away, was way ahead of its time, but it was a hit and has inspired many more films on similar themes.
His hammer and sickle flag indicates that Mehboob Khan worked with his left hand. He made films of social relevance. Mother India was a remake of his previous film Aurat. It was about a poor lonely woman struggling to raise her children, oppressed and exploited by the wealthy upper class.
Manmohan Desai followed his formula of delivering pure entertainment with films like Naseeb and Amar Akbar Anthony. There was no room for logic or admiration in his films but his audience would leave a theater completely happy.
V. Shantaram believed in promoting Indian values and culture in such a way that it did not come across as preachy. For example, Navrang talks about a man who is not happy with his wife because she is not what he had in mind as a life partner, he wants the woman of his imagination.
And of course, Raj Kapoor portrayed true and pure love through all his films. All these and other producers had faith in their films. It wasn’t just about making money, it was about achieving success through people’s approval of the work done. His faith usually paid off and he continued to make films.
A filmmaker was involved in all aspects of filmmaking, particularly creative, recording and storytelling sessions, and was omnipresent on set during filming. He really deserved to be called a filmmaker.
However, the producers spent more time in their musical meetings than their writers. If the script was the body, then the music was the soul of that body. It’s a wonder his songs still rule the AIR today! Yes, and the worst test of a producer was when he was dealing with a financier, sometimes several of them, to raise funds and complete his film.
Filmmaking was a full-time passion back then, business and livelihood all rolled into one. The producers had, in most cases, no other business. He ran his office like any other businessman.
Yes, and a normal production office was staffed with minimal staff, a typist-telephone operator, a laborer and a part-time bookkeeper. They didn’t need a battery of busy-looking CEOs or executives. Shoes were not allowed in many film production offices. Everyone had to take off their shoes because the place was sacred.
The term multi-starrer was not in vogue in those days and many filmmakers unknowingly made films with more than one star. If a story needed it, it was done. The term multi-starrer came into vogue much later in the 1970s, when multiple stars were taken, notably with Amitabh Bachchan, and other stars as well.
He soon realized that no star, no matter how big, could direct a film alone. A film script had to be built around several actors. It is a fact that even the promo trailers of the upcoming movies attracted more audience than a single movie nowadays! It was common practice to play trailers of yet-to-be-released films before the main feature began, and people made sure to get to the theater at the right time.
Of course, not all movies were played in those days. But the effort was to see everyone. Today, when one watches the films of that era, the box office flops also seem watchable. There is no comparison to how films were conceived and produced then and now, but comparisons are made nonetheless.
As for those banners and producers, whose films were eagerly awaited, that is not the case now. Not long ago, few banners expected a film with a time price that deserved recognition. One is of course Yash Raj Films (run by Aditya Chopra), the other Nadiadwala Neth (Sajid Nadiadwala whose entire family including grandparents and uncles have been in the film business) and then Dharma Productions (Karan Johar).
Even these producers have not performed in the recent past and Yash Raj’s latest release Shamshera can be added to the list.
These three producers have inherited cinema from the greats and have successfully carried their banners. However, that is not the point of what they produce. Probably because now they do several productions at the same time.
When it comes to reliable directors, you don’t even need five fingers to count them. Raju Hirani and Rohit Shetty top the list, though Rohit has done a bad movie like Sooryavanshi. Then there is Sanjay Leela Bhansali who loves to do different kinds of costume dramas.
There are stars that lead in a different direction. There is also a couple who think they know better than any director and drive in the back seat, meaning the job of directing the director! It can best be described as the imagination of a star. Actors like Raj Kapoor, V. Shantaram, Guru Dutt and Manoj Kumar have doubled as directors in the past.
And if a producer used to face multiple stars in one film, today’s scene is quite the opposite. Many producers are chasing a star and it’s not box office success that makes a star, it’s the media! When you look at a movie’s credit titles, it lists at least half a dozen names as producers. So who is the real producer? Who controls the film?
Maybe one thought the movie, the other could bring a star, maybe the other could have bought a 10 percent stake, and knows how to get the movie to theaters. Most of these cases have one thing in common and that is that none of them know about cinema, the business or the economics of cinema.
They believe that one star is enough to make and sell a movie. The star they carry is more than all the other expenses they have incurred to make the film. Let me give a recent example. Our movie Shabaash Mithu released a few weeks ago. A film about cricket legend Mithali Raj, who never let the nation down on the field. Unfortunately, the biopic not only disappoints the audience but also the cricketing legend.
And how much did the actress ask for: 12 million rupees. Plus 20% profit sharing! The film didn’t even cross the Rs 1 crore mark in its opening weekend and the actress has just added another flop to her list. On what basis does such an artist ask?
Then there is the superstar who earns more than Rs 100 crore, which even his last three releases could not earn. Another male action star commands Rs 30 crore per film but his last three films have grossed a total of Rs 27 crore! If a producer pays so much and suffers, it is understandable, but despite so many consequences, how do other producers approach the same stars?
This is just an example. There are a number of filmmakers who can only be described as would-be predators or glamorous achievers. What was the top price for a superstar in the superstar era? The Big Star fee was equivalent to recovering a C*++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++RT*. Bombay c*++++++++++++++++++++++++++++rt*ta major c*++++++++++++++ + + ++++++++++++++++++rt*t was. Amitabh Bachchan’s films prevailed over his peers until his producers got greedy!
Time for Mumbai filmmakers to come off their Baahubali hangover. They should stop all biopics; You can easily pay and collect the rights, but the execution is not so easy, and most of all, learn the economics of filmmaking first.