Former NDTV south editor article on GabbarSingh
According to `Business Standard’, as on June 1, `Gabbar Singh’ (Telugu remake of Dabangg) grossed Rs.128 crores in box office collections taking it closer to Dabangg’s Rs.173 crores. This makes the remake catapult into the all-time five grossers. That’s the power of mass-masala fares and box-office magic which eludes realistic cinema. I have always had a liking for this kind of escapist cinema despite my occasional tantrums. And it doesn’t matter whether we like the movie or not, the audience poll says it all. That seals it. So, it was with `Dookudu’ or `Raccha’ or movies like `Kick’.
I am ever curious about the commercial cinema fans who flock to such fare and how it translates economically. When I watch a movie, I keep my thinking hat aside, my `Satyajit Ray’ mind at home and enjoy the flow looking at the commercial sensibilities. Yes, there are occasions we love art cinema and good classy films like `Ala Modalaindi’ but cinema is a mass medium, not an art exhibition for connoisseurs.(Read Director Nandini Reddy’s post : Now I know what a dream run means !)
Unlike any other art, cinema is the only medium that doesn’t require the patron to be literate. You don’t have to be a cinema-literate as in book-literate or an art-literate or a gold-literate to buy or consume cinema. You just need a funny bone and a pulse to enjoy. Those who criticise a movie is good or bad should do keeping in mind the mass-reach of this medium – every day, 3.2 crore Indians watch cinema, pay Rs.28 per ticket on an average, and forget their foibles and problems in the three hours of watching a movie. The only time they take a break is during the Intermission time – which was first introduced in the world in the 1920s and then after the movie ends. As long as the content is non-offensive, non-sectarian and non-preachy and off-beat, a movie should get most likes.
Why am I making a mountain of this molehill of a datapoint on `Gabbar Singh’? Because I am irked by Outlook magazine’s collector’s edition of 100 years of Indian Cinema. But for making a fleeting reference to Telugu movies, there is no special mention of Tollywood or its enterprising breed. For them, Telugus are also part of `Madrasis’. If Bollywood regained its lustre over the last few years at the BO, thank the Tollywood and the Kollywood filmmakers for lending their scripts and even talent for making blockbusters out of superhits in South Indian vernaculars. Salman Khan to Aamir Khan, Akshay Kumar to John Abraham, everybody is borrowing brilliance from Tollywood or Kollywood (Tamil film industry). To under-recognise their contribution in commercial cinema is to do gross injustice to Tollywood’s contribution.
Earlier, I wrote a post on why Tollywood is better than Bollywood – I will expand on that a bit later. Right now, Telugu fans should rejoice that a regional movie has tasted resounding success crossing $22 Million at the Box Office. A guy like Salman Khan paid advance of Rs.50 lakhs for incorporating the famous `Anthakshari’ comedy sequence of `Gabbar Singh’ into `Dabangg-2. The power of ideas. The power of Tollywood. More power to you.
`Outlook’ should realise that watching a movie is not the same as going to Cannes film festival and get plaudits from pundits who make movies for themselves. Satyajit Ray films are a class apart always, no doubt, but let’s not forget that throughout his career, Ray didn’t get funding from anybody but the State Government. Cinema sense and sensibilities are two very different things. And movies like `Gabbar Singh’ have proved yet again what Box Office power can be unleashed by making sensible movies for the masses. Here’s a toast to all those entertaining filmmakers of Tollywood – let your outlook not change even if mainstream media is not looking your way.
*****Former NDTV south editor T sudhir article on GabbarSingh