With An Audience Like This

37 Comments

How many times has it happened that you sit down to watch a Hindi movie, find the first half entertaining and then slam your head as the plot degenerates into infantility? Yes I know that there are movies where this head slamming starts from the first scene itself but I am sure you get my point.

So the question is why do Bollywood directors lose the plot? It’s not as if the story is original in the first place. If you are copying your story from a decent English/regional movie, then why do you exert your creativity just on the ending—why not just copy everything?

Case in point: Deewangi. You get inspiration from a wickedly smart movie : “Primal Fear”…well and good…but then why oh why do you for the last hour tack on a Hindi filmi love story that totally ruins the effect ?

Well dear reader, I have found the answer.

These kind of endings are precisely what the general audience wants.

I refer you to this illuminating bit of prose from Rediff. In it Rediff asked their erudite readers which film’s endings they would like to change.

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

Naveen Sajjan: I really want to change the climax of Sadma. After Kamal Haasan’s care and concern for Sridevi throughout the film, he does not get credit for it. [When the mentally challenged Sridevi recovers, she cannot remember Haasan and the love and care he showered upon her to cure her].

Are you kidding me? People actually find Sadma’s riveting last few minutes as the part they would most like to change ? And after this, how can we blame movie directors for underestimating the audience’s intelligence?

Nothing about Sadma should be changed not the ending and neither the scenes of Silk Smitha.

SJ: There should be a change in my favorite movie Kaante. The audience liked the first part very much but second part was too verbose. Also, I believe there should have been a twist in the end. Instead of Kumar Gaurav taking the pie, it should have been Amitabh Bachchan. He should have run away with the money.

Too verbose? Gawd. Its a copy of a classic where the USP was the taut exchanges between the protagonists. Precisely the part this man found objectionable. He liked the part where they throw the Pakistani from the rooftop, the part where they blazed away with semi-automatics on the roof of a building in LA, where they walked in synchronized slow motion awash in sepia tones and danced in a drunken orgy the night before the heist. Again all this was okey. What was not okay was the crackling exchange of dialogues, the raw sense of fear and betrayal and the climactic Mexican shootout—–none of it original but nonetheless well-executed by Sanjay Gupta.

And in case the wise viewer did not understand, Kumar Gaurav does not get away with the pie, as the camera pans away there is a police chopper on top of him and a posse of police cars further down the highway.

Runa Roy: The ending of Tere Naam was too sad. Whenever I watch the movie, I feel depressed. Salman Khan has acted amazingly, but the way he escapes at the end to meet his love is not believable.

When Bhoomika Chawla goes to meet him in the mental asylum, she should find that he is cured, and her love has changed him and he has become a good man. They should live happily ever after.

A happy ending always leaves the audience happy. A movie should be inspiration for the younger generations. This ending would inspire the youth that true love can change an individual like Radhe.

Somebody please tell Runa Roy and her ilk that “our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought” and since life does not always have happy endings, movies (if they are to mirror life) should not always have them too.

Think of this. Romeo and Juliet walking away into the sunset, Karna living a retired life in the Bahamas, Achilles wearing specially fitted shoes in his old age, Estrella and Pip living happily ever after (one of the endings actually toyed around by Charles Dickens) along with a happily married and rehabilitated Miss Havisham, Jai and Veeru growing old by the fire while the Thakur twirls his prosthetic arms—-wouldn’t the world just be lovely !

People like Radhe can be reformed with “true love”. True. And so can the terrorists (of course Radhe wasn’t one) –just send them a teddy bear and a Hallmark musical greeting card. Sounds ridiculous? Not to some of the people who comment here and elsewhere.
Jaswinder Singh: I was not happy with the end of Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, and the explanation given by Aishwarya Rai to chose her husband (Ajay Devgan) instead of her boyfriend (Salman Khan).She left Salman because she had lived with Ajay and he turned out to be a nice guy. Does that make Salman any bad? What if she had another guy in her life who was better than her current husband? Would she leave her husband for him as well?

Okay Jaswinder, here’s the logic. On one hand you have a man– Salman Khan who kills endangered species, runs over pavement dwellers, beats up women, cheats left and right and who in this movie is a habitual farter (not merely flirter) and also talks to dead people. On the other hand, you have a guy with poor dental hygiene. Now tell me what choice does a girl have?

I am not even trying to explain to you the difference between the “love that seeks to possess” and the “love whose fruition is sacrifice” cause just between the two of us, that’s a whole lot of baloney.

Priyanka Oza: The film which should have ended differently is Fida starring Kareena Kapoor, Shahid Kapur and Fardeen Khan.

The film was fantastic and kept us glued to our seats but the ending was so disappointing that all the fun and suspense was snatched away. I think either Shahid or Fardeen should have died in the end, not all three of them.

Yes I agree. They should not have killed all 3 of them. They should have just killed Kareena (I would have applauded them for that) and shown Fardeen and Shahid Kapoor engaging in hot man sex and recording it on a cameraphone. Now that’s one amazing ending that would have made me fida.

Here’s the last one—another crib about “Tere Naam”.

Hyder Khan: I would have changed the story of Tere Naam. The movie is cool in the beginning but ends so tragically that it almost bores me. I would have changed the scene when Bhoomika came to meet Salman in the ashram and was going away after seeing him sleeping. When Salman starts yelling for her, I would have let Bhoomika turn to look at him for the last time and be delighted that he remembers her. Then, she should go running towards him.

Salman should come out of the ashram and beat the hell out of those goons who sent him there in the first place.

Oh lord ! They should just get this guy Hyder Khan and make him direct an alternate ending to the DVD release of Tere Naam.

Its amazing that there is a significant section of the audience that actually wants the comfortable predictability of the formula ending—-the bashing of the goons and the running of the heroine towards the hero. And of all the people who wanted Tere Naam to end differently, not one said anything about Salman Khan’s atrocious wig. Not one.

Reminds me of Mrinal Sen’s “Akash Kusum” (Bengali) where Soumitro Chatterjee, after his company selling galvanometers goes belly up , can no longer keep up the pretense of being rich and so bids farewell from afar to Aparna Sen. A beautiful, poignant ending.

But in the Hindi copy “Manzil” , Amitabh Bachchan (who plays the character essayed by Soumitro Chatterjee) is shown reading a fat book helpfully titled “Physics” and thus armed with a grasp of the basic principles repairs his galvanometers, sells them, becomes rich and then gets the girl.

I wondered then why Basu Chatterjee ruined the touching ending of the original.

Now I understand.

[PS. Read this “interesting” review of Manzil here. An extract: “The film is probably one of Amitabh’s best (building galvanometers, reading physics book, sales / repair man)” ]

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37 thoughts on “With An Audience Like This

  1. I wonder, if Sholay was made today, by Bolly/Holly-wood, perhaps they would leave some room to make a sequel. Now all we can hope for is a remake. But how about a prequel? Now that’s an idea. Bring in Bobby Deol and Abhishek Bachchan and Esha Deol. Did Amjad Khan have a known progeny? Rope him/her in too!

    I’m sure that’ll sell. Don’t you think so? What does the board of directors think? Will it? Won’t it? Perhaps we can make up for it by selling some screen-space to Manikchand Gutkhas. Can’t really show Thakur drinking Coca-Cola in Ramgarh. Or is that another idea??

    Whatever it is!

  2. @rupak–sholay is actually being ‘remade’. i’m not entirely sure about the rest of the xast (bachhan junior features somewhere, i think) but Gabbar Singh is played by *anticipatory drumroll…* AMITABH BACHHAN!!!

    erm.

    @arnab–ei lokgulo insecure mentally lazy IDIOTS! and tumi please mail check koro.

  3. Ramgopal Verma is remaking Sholay, and yep, Amitabh is playing Gabbar and Abhishek is playing Veeru… Jai is being played by Mohit Ahlawat (James fame). Sambha is being played by Suneil Shetty and Mohanlal is playing Thakur. I guess all of this is pretty well known by now, but I nearly fell off when I heard somewhere that Katrina Kaif is playing Radha!!! I just hope that Ramu doesnt introduce a hot exotic song with Katrina dancing in the rain in her white saree…

    Also, I am surprised that someone actually found Fida to be fantastic! Apart from Manzil, which movie’s ending would you like to change Greatbong?

  4. hehe, inane observation :
    runtime of Primal Fear : 129 minutes
    runtime of Deewangee : 2 hrs, 45 mins.
    They had to do something with the extra 36 minutes I suppose πŸ˜€

    Brilliantly funny post by the way πŸ˜€

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  6. @Rupak: Yes this talk of remaking Sholay has been going on for some time. Amjad Khan does have a known progeny—Shahdab Khan whose claim to fame was as the “hero” opposite Rani Mukherjee in her first movie–“Raja Ki Aayegi Baraat” where he first rapes her and is then told by the judge to marry her….thus foretelling actual events that would happen some years later.

    @Preona: Antop Hill? Ohhh that bizzare murder mystery.

    @Rimi: Yes idiots they are.

    @Nirav: Which ending would I chase? Well that makes an interesting blog post but the first name that comes to mind is “Dil To Pagal Hain”.

    @Babelfish: Point. One big thing is the assumption that Hindi movies have to be 3 hours long and an English movie is like 1 hr 45 mins..so the rest has to be bhoosa.

    @Srin: True. Dickens leaves it open ended. But they talk about remaining “friends”—a possibility which in itself has a whiff of tragedy about it because Pip as we know has always been besotted with Estrella.

    What Dickens does not show is that they DO get together….which is something I am sure the Hindi movie audience would not have liked. They would have preferred her to “run into Pip’s arms” while Lata Mangeskar warbles in the background “La la la la la la” and Subhash Ghai’s signature comes on the screen along with his motto:

    “Do not fall in love, rise in love”

  7. ha Ha!!

    This was a good post man – I was really amused by the postings on rediff as well – I wonder what does the indian audience want really!!

    Excellent write up – u from MD? Me too πŸ™‚

    Suyog

  8. GB,
    Interesting post. rediff.com readers may not represent a cross section of Indian society, but your point is a good one – the audience gets what it wants (and deserves!). However, there is a chicken and egg question here – do the audiences want the song-and-dance-3-hr-film routine and hence filmmakers provide it or is the viewer used to the 3-hr-song-and-dance and hence is conditioned to want it ? A similar vicious circle of dumbing down can be seen in the mainstream media in the US (and increasingly, if you go by TOI, in India). However, I think there is hope for Bollywood – I just watched “My Wife’s Murder” on DVD and methinks we may be getting somewhere.

    BTW, IMHO and FWIW, your best post by far is “Hottie Hottie Bong Bong” – which I have disseminated far and wide, to much mirth from all and sundry, bong and non-bong.

    Keep writing,
    Ujjwal

  9. Got to your post from desipundit. You have a very valid point. Methinks Indian audience is too conditioned to a formula and thus wants everything similar. It’s like going to a restaurant and always ordering the same dish as you know you like it.

  10. ‘dus’ was partly copied from ‘the usual suspects’, only difference is in dus, good guy wins. What makes ‘the usual suspects’ great is the fact that bad guy wins. They copied everything but the best part

  11. Mr Greatbong,

    I think you are taking the cliched path of ‘success getting to head’. The appreciations you receive for writing great posts are giving you latitude to write illogical stuff.

    For example the analysis of the comment by Jaswinder Singh on the movie “Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam”, the guy wrote that Salman Khan was not bad in *that* movie and you came up with Salman Khan’s real life to rip apart his reasoning.I am sorry, but I thought you were discussing characters in the *movie* not real life of actors.If Salman Khan cheated in real life, will make him cheat in all his movies as well ? And just when you had nothing substantial to write you chose to hide under those words from “Merriam Webster’s”.

    There should be some ethics in wirting a satirical piece or analysis.

    I know you won’t like mine this comment, probably delete it or may be your admirers will diss me but I believe in giving the due, either appreciation or criticism.

    Have a good day !

  12. Hmm… and how about asking Rimi Sen to do a Draupadi at the end of Hungama?

    Ok, jokes apart, good job. But then, again, you can realise that this movie is copied from another because you have seen both, and have analysed both. For a person who sees the Indian version for the first time, he/she will have to figure out alternatives from whatever his stock of movie endings is. But yes, your point about the sweetest songs telling the saddest thoughts is true. Otherwise the charm is lost.

  13. Okay Jaswinder, here’s the logic. On one hand you have a man– Salman Khan who kills endangered species, runs over pavement dwellers, beats up women, cheats left and right and who in this movie is a habitual farter (not merely flirter) and also talks to dead people. On the other hand, you have a guy with poor dental hygiene. Now tell me what choice does a girl have?

    lolzzzzzzzzzzz tht was funnny…

    great blog u got there

    keep writing πŸ™‚

  14. I watched Swades twice. Initially the director had released the movie with two different endings both of which I watched (rather experimental). The first one was pretty open-ended. Sharukh goes off in his car and leaves the heroine standing alone. In the second one, he comes back to India to live happily ever after with her. I am told that in the final version of the movie the second ending was used. What does that say about our taste in movies?

  15. My favourite bizarre ending from a Hindi movie: Saajan. Here’s this girl who is in love with this guy, she does the usual routine of singing soppy songs with him and all, but the minute she comes to know that his friend is the dude whose poetry makes her heart go dhak dhak, she leaves the first man, touchingly clings to the poet chappie’s (crippled) legs and whines ‘Tumne mujhe pehle kyun nahi bataya ki tumhi mere Saagar ho?’. By this logic, I should go marry J K Rowling.

  16. i just ADORE some people commenting here. people who call you Mister Greatbong, for instance. or who choose to interpret a possible typo as your attempts at jor-jobordosti coining new nouns. these people make my day! πŸ˜€

  17. @Anon: If you have had your mother’s milk come out I say.

    @Supremus: Yes we all wonder really.

    @Mezba: True. But I have a confession—I also order the same dish at a restaurant ! But I like my endings hatke.

    @Shankar: Right on ! And do see Chocolate and its absurd ending.

    @varkey: πŸ™‚

    @Sudipta: And the ending the audience figures out seems to be the most hackneyed formulaic one.

    @Divya: Thanks

    @Rita: Not very high I am afraid.

    @Mmap: Oh the entire premise of Saajan is laughable—the fact that Madhuri falls in love with a poet…and she could not care a damn as to who the poet actually is—even if it was Gulshan Grover she still would have gone with him.

    But Saajan isnt about the plot—its the music..

    @Rimi: :-))…..what can I say ! It takes all kinds to make the world.

    Now saving the best for the last:

    Anon:
    what kind of fatality is infantality? if you have a blog does that confer a right to invent noun forms where none exist?

    Firstly if you look real close you will see that I spelt the word as “infantility” and not as “infantality”. So no typo. And honest to God I did not change anything…

    Secondly, did I invent “infantility”? It seems not…at least Webster, who incidentally does not run a blog, says so

    So in conclusion, if you are so desperate to find a fault why dont you look over the post(s) more closely—I can assure you there are many. However pointing out an error that does not exist makes you look like a, for the want of a better word, idiot. Which I am sure you are not.

    Hopefully.

    @Mr Green: Success? Head? Let me assure you I have got neither success nor head. πŸ˜‰

    Now I understand your point and I apologize for this dastardly act of commission…I shall be more careful while being “sarcastic” in the future.

    And since you seem to be unable to understand Mr Green, the previous 2 paras were “sarcastic”.

  18. And since you seem to be unable to understand Mr Green, the previous 2 paras were “sarcastic”.

    Smashing rejoinder. The wittiest repartee. Oh! what a comment. I’m blown to pieces.

    Yes ..again sarcasm.

  19. =)) Fardeen and Shahid “engaging in hot man sex and recording it on a cameraphone.” =)) I can’t stop laughing at that.

    Wait, I think something’s wrong with my memory, because Fardeen did not die in Fida. Shahid and Kareena died and Fardeen returned the money and went abroad. Again. I think. Or not.

  20. Hail to the Great Bong!!!
    By the way….Rediff continues o publish more of such “audience opinions”. Check out the latest ones.
    Samples:

    1. SILSILA : Shashi Kapoor returns from the dead – he had actually not died! Sigh, if only the director could think like Ekta Kapoor.

    2. JO JEETA WOHI SIKANDER – “Amit Somkuwar: I would like to change the ending of Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar. The end would be that Aamir Khan loses the race and becomes disillusioned with cycling. He feels that in spite of his hard work, nothing happened. He completes his schooling, and since he is good at nothing, he opens a cycle shop.

    He hates cycles but still he does it to earn a living. By then, he gets married to Ayesha Jhulka.

    Then one day, a polio-affected student comes to buy a cycle from his shop, and he sees the harship the kid goes through to learn cycling. He gets inspired by this, and decides to become a champion racer.

    To add drama, we could make his wife pregnant during the big race.

    He becomes a champion by winning the Tour de France where Deepak Tijori (his old rival) is also competing!

    AWESOME !!!! Maybe the film should be named EK SIKANDER IN PARIS

    3. QSQT : Shreya Chakrabarty: I would like to change Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak. Aamir Khan and Juhi Chawla should not have died at the end. Both of their families should have realised their mistake of maintaining an enmity for a long-lost cause and should have taken the children home. Happy endings to love stories make them better…..
    He He….Romeo and Juliet don’t die….50% of all Hindi films can therefore be obliterated. Thank God !!!

    Good time pass….

    Carry on the good work

  21. I demand that your blog title contain the term NSFW in capitals. Also, have it as part of your blog background image. Kind of like a statutory warning on cigarette packs.

    Everyone in the office stared at me like I was crazy, and its all your fault, GB.

  22. Hi Arnab

    I am an IIMC alumna and actually visited your blog for a current post on the cellular. I wont comment on that but just wd like to say thx.

    Now being a totally vella peron from the time being I perused further and found this post. No offence meant to any of you guys who went “ohmygawd” on reading the viewers choice of changed storylines, I personally wdnt have changed any of those scenes, but, i noticed that most of the changes were from sad to happy (put crudely). I usually prefer a main hoon na or a manmohan desai or a govinda-david dhawan movie when I’m feeling low/ am tired just out of a dreadful day at office or have faced a personal hit. Much as I love Ray, Kurosawa etc. That’s the reason why a Mithun film will do business no matter how much the elite trash him.

    So thats all there is to it we want our windows of escape. Movies being one of the most common will defly have such viewers. in fact I think it’s a compliment that those scenes were asked to be changed it means they had the depth to move the person, they made her/him sad enough to want to change it.

    yup random thoughts from me too.

    ~shilpa

  23. i discovered your blog only today and have been reading the bollywood section since i also like movies a lot. however, i havent seen much of them in the last few years. But i whole heartedly agree with you that its the audience which should be blamed. hum dil de chuke sanam would not have been such an impact (even after the over dramatisation) had it not been for the last minute twist. sadma would have been a dud if you didnt leave the theatres feeling sad for kamal hasan. Frankly, i hate people who made raja hindustani, dhadkan, mohabattein etc a hit. i could not stand those movies. and we long for those movies where everything is artificial, from characters, to sets, even body parts.

  24. Just remembered one thing about Deewangi. I had gone to watch that movie with a friend and after a few moments i told him that it was based on primal fear. we kept on watching but at intermission the movie reached the climax of primal fear. i surprisingly told my friend that this was where primal fear ended and we are only at the intermission. Mt friend came up with an absolute gem.

    ” dost, jahan par english film khatam hoti hai, wahin se hindi film shuru hoti hai”

  25. ha ha..
    nice post man..
    i recently saw Omkara..
    and a colleague of mine was like “dude… wat a sad and shitty ending… the director shud’ve just killed langda tyagi after clearing all confusion so that omkara and dolly cud live happily ever after”!!
    Shakespeare wud have turned in his grave had the movie been made that way.. imagine a happy ending to a shakespearean Tragedy!!

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