Dil Chahta Hai was a film released in 2001 and was a mediocre success at the box office (loosing in all circuits barring Mumbai and South. Delhi / UP just about covered). The fiasco with this film was not the box office but how a section of the industry followed the story telling style and narrative of this film despite rejection so instead of the tradition rooted desi Hindi film, this western style urban (so called cool) film which was not relatable to most was being attempted by many. Most of these films fell flat on their faces barring a few exceptions but even here the appreciation and recovery was not so high that so many had to be made week in week out. The corporates were just coming to India when the film released and they backed this cinema allowing it to be made as independent distributors were never going to touch unless at very low prices which held no attraction to producers as then the losses will be in their books. Even Dil Chahta Hai had MG's cut on release by many distributors and this was despite it having stars like Aamir Khan and Preity Zinta.
Around 4-5 years back this Dil Chahta Hai cinema was still in control as far as budgets were concerned and the losses were not back breaking but in the last few years these so called urban cool niche films are budgeted so high that they have to be liked by the majority to cover and that is where 20 or 30 crore and even 40 and 50 crore losses led to the corporates pulling the plug on Hindi cinema. What is hard to understand is why a section of the industry went this was, was it because of the corporate world backing who were mainly Hollywood studios and maybe this more western cinema appealed to them and they thought it was the way forward (though obviously wrongly) at the expense of the real Hindi cinema or was it that the media ranted and raved about Dil Chahta Hai and some believed there was something in this and don't want to miss the bus.
The same ranting and raving had happened many times before but generally for small films. But in 1989, a film named Parinda released and the media just went bonkers over it although it was like a leftover NFDC film and a sleep fest which the audiences rightly rejected. The difference Parinda had a from an NFDC film was a cast and a budget so the media basically got to see an art film with better production values and a cast but you can't fool the audience. If its a sleep fest then you will get results of a sleep fest. The other filmmakers ignored the fuss and went on with business as usual and rightly so. The team of Parinda obviously though different and probably thought they were unlucky in some way and the media was correct and made a bigger budgeted 1942 - A Love Story (1994) and here at least the songs were not forced like a Parinda and Tax Exemption in Maharashtra meant some numbers but still an inevitable flop.
If a Parinda can be ignored and seen for what it is then surely a Dil Chahta Hai can also for a better industry. There can be two reasons for this, one is that in 2001 there were younger film makers and they were inexperienced like their counterparts in 1989 or it was the coming of multiplexes which they thought were more likely to accept western type cinema rather than the more desi Hindi cinema. The first reason you cant do anything about but second one is just common sense, cinemas are changing but its still the same people going to those cinemas or has this multiplex audience just come out of thin air. The misjudgment was probably because all multiplexes were in metros and up market areas and that was probably seen as multiplex cinema when actually it was South Mumbai or South Delhi cinema. A point to note is that a Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham which released a few months after Dil Chahta Hai did more than double the numbers in these same multiplexes. But what happens then filmmakers who believe in Dil Chahta Hai cinema put it down to huge cast but in those days the numbers were not about 3 days or 7 days where a cast can do the job but about 10-12 weeks and films did not run that long just on cast.
The film industry is probably the only one across the world which has held out from the challenge from Hollywood but now in India its only regional cinema for which Hollywood holds no fear while for Hindi films many filmmakers have to look at the calendar for Hollywood releases as someone of them can actually take out the Dil Chahta Hai type Hindi films at the box office. This was unthinkable earlier as Hindi films ruled but now many films are just Hindi in language whereas treatment is foreign. Regional cinema has no such issues and so there is no outside threat.
The funniest thing is that you get to read reports in newspapers that how great a Dil Chahta Hai remake or sequel will be which is just crazy. The film had Aamir Khan as main lead and lesser actors like Saif Ali Khan and Akshaye Khan, these two can today be replaced by superstars Salman Khan and Shahrukh Khan and the results would not be better. Dil Chahta Hai got 1 crore footfalls at the time and even with the three Khans you are not getting much more than 1.5 crore because its still not going to work outside the few cities that it did in 2001 even though expectations will be for the highest ever (at least highest in multiplex era)
Just for the record putting aside the box office failure in most parts, the bigger failure as a film for Dil Chahta Hai was post release which makes it clear for all. In the decade of its release, repeat runs were still happening though business was not like earlier. In 2006, Dil Chahta Hai had a repeat run at just 12 theatres across India through the year and Gadar also released in 2001 had repeat run in 205 theatres and this is not counting very small centres where repeats are tough to track. This shows the insane gap five years after release and if we go to 2011 then the trp rating of a screening of Dil Chahta Hai was 0.18 and Gadar was 75% higher in one screening and 65% higher in another while Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham was 55% higher in one 60% higher in another and 70% in another. Not only where the blockbusters of 2001 screened more times but each time rated far higher and this was ten years after release. So after ten years the actual results were no different but the a section of the industry was going totally into Dil Chahta Hai type cinema. Something had to give and it did
Last week there was report how Disney India came unstuck with this Dil Chahta Hai cinema (Link). But even bigger advocates of Dil Chahta Hai cinema are Excel Entertainment the makers of Dil Chahta Hai where practically all there films belong to this cinema even when its an action film like Don. Obviously there is a change now as results with Dil Chahta Hai cinema were bad and now there is Raees which looks a mass film and no doubt the trailer is pretty good.
But it is a film from Excel Entertainment and they are pulling away from their normal cinema obviously for better box office and thats why doubts come. In 1974 there was a film released named Geeta Mera Naam (Sunil Dutt, Sadhana, Feroz Khan) and the film had a caption "Its a R.K. Nayyars conception of a super hit film" whatever that was supposed to mean. But credit to the maker the film may not have been a super hit but it was hit in many circuits. So when the promo of Raees which is actually good but that caption came to mind as is this an Excel Entertainment conception of a Hindi mass film or is it a real Hindi mass film. If its the latter then there will be no stopping it but if its the former then ??
Actually this is a different subject so more on Excel Entertainment and Raees next Thursday.