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No Aamir Khan?

Dhobi GhatRecently I had a meeting with a gentleman from the Mumbai advertising world. The conversation veered to contemporary Indian cinema. He had seen Peepli Live on television the previous day and so had I. He spoke of his experience in rural India and how true to life Anusha Rizvi had made her film. “There are more than a handful films like this made every year in India- but how many does one actually get to see? If it weren’t for Aamir Khan as a producer, would such a film reach us?” A completely valid thought.

But it was his next comment that stayed with me. “What does one do if one doesn’t have an Aamir Khan?”

Join the leagues of filmmakers who have given up on their film midway? or those who have finished it and sealed it in cans? or those who blunder through the chain of events that may break one? Or try and be your own Aamir Khan?

A friend of mine who’s first feature film became an unexpected super hit in Bollywood said that a producer|director relationship is like a marriage – you stick through it for the sake of the film. You cant run away from each other.ย In private if you ask him about his producers’ role in making the film – he’d tell you that he “made the film DESPITE them!”

At the other end of the spectrum, there is a producer like the legendary K.Ravindranathan Nair of General Pictures who is famous for never using a single penny from the earnings of his films. Instead he used the money to build facilities for the general public ! Filmmaking artists like G. Aravindan could create their art due to his support & patronage. But that is one rare example.

This Producer|Director love-hate relationship that is at the root of more films than we know about – be it David Lean or Akira Kurosawa! Perhaps it has to do with the commercial-creative nature of the medium. The ย push & pull which leaves both parties hankering for more and getting less.

Many cases end up on the sour/bitter side with people revealing the worst in themselves! In my dictionary, the dream producer would really believe, fully back a project and do their job for the film’s best and deliver the film to its audience. Sounds fairly simple? But those are the truly rare ones.ย  Such people do exist and the world is a better place because of them. ๐Ÿ™‚

As for Aamir Khan, I understand the producer in him is carving yet another new path – giving Kiran Rao’s serious arthouse film DHOBI GHAT , a full-on commercial release (domestic, international, dubbed – the works!).ย  A risk it is – one that needs guts to take.ย  Me like! ๐Ÿ™‚

Abou Ben Adam, May his tribe INCREASE!

For details checkย  here.

Comments: 28

  • Vignesh January 16, 201111:19 pm

    watched Dhobi Ghat last oct @ BFI LFF… superb movie… would recommend it to every one who is thirsty for ‘thinking’ cinema…
    @chechi – good post ๐Ÿ™‚

  • JIJO January 17, 201112:31 am

    Hello ma’m,

    There was a project announced by REVATHY ma’m for which you have written the script. saw the news that you’ll start filming in December 2010, but nothing has been known post the announcement.
    What is the status of the project ma’m?? just curious to know.

  • Jay January 17, 201110:00 am

    As one of my film maker friend put it, Amir khan may be the first film maker in India who have made money out of themes surrounding Farmer suicides ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Rajesh January 17, 20113:56 pm

    Very true. Producers like Amir Khan might be rare. We do have one in Tamil industry, Shankar. Look at the off beat projects he beleived in – Kaadhal, Kalloori, Veyil, Eram..
    I would still say Amir Khan is more safe as a producer. Most Hindi film viewers from the upper middle & upper class are ready to go and watch provided Amir’s name is somewhere there. A feat he achieved since Lagaan.
    Shankar doesnt have that kind of a security, but the movies and artistes he support are brilliant.

  • Asish Menon January 18, 20114:29 am

    Having reigned the industry in various roles, the actors/directors can be better producers than a stranger who wears the cap with some AML or other interests. That was why Aamir, Shankar or RGV could do such experiments.

    Malayalam idols [Prithvi/Santosh Sivan, Siddique, Dir.Renjith..] are also following this trend and it appears good for the industry. We cannot deny the value that public entrust on a brand. But to maintain the brand as a selling point further, they need to earn faith with a unique/distinct narrative.

      • Asish Menon January 21, 201112:23 am

        Yes, I agree about the personal risk, Anjali. Even if someone who wants to launder money volunteers to make a movie[imagining a situation of least risk], it is unfortunate that the so called ‘star’ promotion is needed for a movie to reach theatres/and people. As you had mentioned in an earlier post [ref. Manish Acharya] many passionate directors have spent their hard earned money to materialize their dreams.

        VK Prakash [i was fortunate to assist him in a movie] is such a passionate director. Read about P Balachandran directing a movie on poet kunhiraman nair. I adore Balettan as a knowledgeable nice person – wish his movie will reach the mass.

        There was an interview with Aamir/Kiran Rao duo in CNN IBN yesterday – he says, as a producer or actor he often protect his director from going wrong – can make out how influential he might be in the sets.

  • Vibin January 18, 201110:20 am

    I think currently many movies are coming based on the real scenarios surrounding us. We feel the character is within us or we know that character. The one in kerala cafe done by you is such a case. I really felt I have seen people like that but how many notice it. Like renjit said in mamooties best actor we need to have the skill to notice and study about things going around us. Peepli live is born out of this only.

  • akhilsathyan January 22, 201111:10 am

    Well ! We dont need “Aamir khans” if the movies have some good stuff ! Itโ€™s a fact that the film may bag some initial interest if the producer title-field is filled with a celebrity name like Aamir,Shankar,Prakash Raj,etc but it’s of no use if the movie is a crap..

    Movies like Dev D,Subramanyapuram,Traffic (malayalam),etc never had any Aamir khan material !! Still they reached n touched us..

    Eventually it’s the movie that counts…not the celebrities with producer cap…ooops..i mean โ€˜producer Bagโ€™ !! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • akhilsathyan January 22, 20112:05 pm

        I meant Aamir’s fame has helped the movie aside ‘the supportive producer’ effect ! The same will happen if Shahrukh Khan produces a peopli live kinda movie !!
        Apparently it will make ‘masala loving fans’ watch some realistic movies !!

        Obviously a producer should have the supportive mentality..that’s a mandatory rule !

        However; being a directors son, I know many producers who lack the involvement but end up in huge profit only because of that movie’s ‘creative merit’ ! So…
        anyway !!! think am coming to your points at last..so..hmm..argument is closed ๐Ÿ˜›

  • Satheesh d January 22, 20111:10 pm

    I have a slightly different opinion. I dont think Aamir is that good supportive producer. Most of his productions succeed because of 2 reasons his brand name and his superior marketing skill.Taare Zameen par had controversy as he over interfiered in director’s role in former causing the director Amol Gupte to back out.and in peepli live too he had conflicts with director regarding film previews causing director to back herself from promotions in usa. So just by success, we cant say he is a fine producer. A good producer is one who values director as captain rather than dominating everyone. Only my personal view, it may not be convincing for others.

  • akhilsathyan January 23, 20119:34 am

    We cant blindly judge Aamir like that…Whatever it be ..he respected Anusha’s script or “liked it” at least ; which made him produce that movie !

    I salute that “sense” which many others lack !!

      • akhilsathyan January 24, 20113:29 pm

        Thanks for the link Ma’m..Loved the following line !

        “The producer is like the conductor of an orchestra. Maybe he can’t play every instrument, but he knows what every instrument should sound like !”


  • akhilsathyan January 24, 20117:39 am

    Read newspaper tday and founf something related to the topic !

    “Aamir has been selected as one of the Jury member of Berlin Film festival” :-B

  • Satheesh D January 25, 201112:33 pm

    Another aspect is that, in malayalam only experienced film makers get a good producer. Others have to do film with inexperienced producers who doesnt know how to market the film to target audience. I loved film athmakadha. I regretted not seeing it in theatres. I didnt knew it had such a graceful story. It was marketed as a blind man’s life. The actual story had more depth in it. I am sure, it had more value than many of its contemporaries. I believe many of the so called established art directors doesnt dare to touch the current issues. Rather they dwell in fictions(not even real stories) , of pre-indepence era,which doesnt give anything to audience other than yawning. Its true that we got to see fine acting, but what does audience get. Why should we audience have to and suffer such wastages. Films with a message or which are thought provoking must be made. I feel you would make one like that. I think it is high time you make another movie. You should utilise the hype happy journey had created. Think different and wishing you all success.

  • Anzeem January 30, 201112:06 pm

    Hats off 2 Aamir khan…. Aamir strikes again as a producer after peepli live… I didnt expect this type of movie from a debut director(lady)… Her narration of such a complex story is awesome.. The actors done a very good job especially pratiek and aamir… Our industry also need such talented ladies….

  • Anzeem January 31, 20116:51 am

    Hello ma’m,
    What is next project?

  • Ben February 8, 201112:12 am

    Look forward to the Anjali – Revathy film.

    I completely agree with Anjali.. that there are no independant producers in Kerala. However, I’m starting to beleive this scenario is changing & Kerala will see new producers & investors soon (the two being different roles). Now, the reason why Kerala does not have a pool of investors, technicians, producers & talents, in my opinion, is the sheer selfishness of the veterens of yesteryears. With some of the best cinemas that came from Kerala & some of the best actors, musicians, directors, producers (remember India’s 1st 3D was from Kerala. India’s 1st Panavison was from Kerala), how is it that Kerala did not produce master talents? Selfishness, the old, gate keeper mentality!

    Turn around & look at the Tamilians! Every other film has a new director, writer, singer, musician, actor…. Its a party out there! And their mentors promote their younger, budding talents. The Shankars & the Maniratnams & the Rahmans all unequivocally fund & develop their budding talents. They have a film school almost on every corner & I would say at the very least 50% of those schools do a great job in delivery.

    In all these years Kerala does not have a single Film school worthy of attending… I know, Sibi Malayail now has Neo… but wow it took all these years? At one point Priyadarsan had upto 10 assistant directors on set… where are they??? How come not 1 made it to an independant release? I know I know, Siddiqe, Lal, Renjith, Lal jose… but that’s it?? finitto??? That’s all the tealents Kerala could produce??? Laughable! Turn the TV channels & see all those kids roaring with brilliance, when the platform is wide open for them!

    However, I hope film makers like Anjali (whose blog this is that I am lecturing on!), try & break certain moulds… “Traffic”, “Cocktail” etc certainly proved that. It is not about using new actors at all that I am referring to. I am referring to basics like having a locked in shooting script before the film goes on floor! Like having a business plan, like getting some professional materials in scheduling, orgsanizing the production team… overall making the film making process a lot more “effecient” & save some money for the investors & establish trust so that many wealthy film enthusiasts would consider investing in Malayalam films.

    I would actually go a step further by saying that Malayalam film makers must try & get out of this “small territory” mentality too. C’mon, even Neil Armstrong met a Malayalee on the moon! There has been no better time in global cinema where we can take a regional film on a global scale.. (but that is just my thinking)

    Star actors are always needed as they are the ones that push the industry forward, lets not deny that. If you are a fresh film maker with no resume then do you expect the investor to throw his money for a fresher? I wouldn’t. Instead he would now look at the team & if that team has a star cast, now the investor feels safer. However, an established film maker can certainly make some courageous decisions. For example, Aashique Abu roped in a Rock band “Avial” for his Salt ‘N Pepper production. Simple, small change…

    Ok, for anything more I need to get paid! If you came this far, I must thank you for reading ๐Ÿ™‚ On another note…. what do you say should the industry punish a downloader or must they innovate & find a way to monetize downloading???

    Cheers to all…

  • Anzeem February 11, 20119:53 pm

    Hai ma’am,
    Its very glad 2 hear ur new project with mammukka directed by b.unnikrishnan…. All the very best 4 the project…..

  • Ben February 12, 201111:31 pm

    Aha!!! Mammookka project in the offing huh!! Hmmm, good! Me too, the concept of punshing millions of downloaders is such a waste of time isn’t it! The fact that they (we :p) download clearly indicates they want to see the film! Besides, legalising download will easily put the pirates out of business too!! Mr. Shekhar Kapoor is a major proponent of evolving the business side of films & he has been talking a lot about the subject… The world is changing people, Egypt! What a brilliant moment that happened in our generation! And what excites me most is that they show cased the perfect example of “Gandhigiri” ~ Stay happy ๐Ÿ™‚

  • mariam February 27, 20119:21 am

    Hello Ma’am. I am looking towards doing an internship with you. I am 21 year old girl from Kerala. I am focussed and hardworking and I am planning to join a film school abroad very soon. But prior to that I wanted to have some work experience with you. If not for anything else, Kindly let me be your Personnel Assitant. Thank You.

  • Asish Menon February 27, 20112:55 pm

    Loved Dhobi Ghat. Many touching moments like Yasmin letters/videos. Didn’t find lagging a second. Hats off KR and AK.

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