Why there is a paucity of Directors and Screenwriters like Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Christopher Nolan and Tarantino in Indian cinema?
If you are a fan of Indian cinema then the same question would certainly bug you the way it does to me! Does the Indian cinema lack the potential that could match the panache of the above-mentioned names? Is there really a dearth of creative directors in the Indian cinema?
There could be a lot of satisfactory answers to these questions, although, there could be many perspectives to it I admit.
Indian cinema supporters would argue that Hollywood is able to transcend story-telling by stumping you with spectacles and we cannot compete with the films that are made with $350 million budgets and create spectacles of that stature. But does the lack of funds and technologies simply means a straightaway compromise with the creativity and the substance? Well, Indian films like Masaan, Ankhon Dekhi and The Lunch Box defy such arguments.
Here we count the reasons why Indian cinema lacks exceptional directors……….
When we talk about directors like Christopher Nolan, Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg or creative screenwriters like Quentin Tarantino, David Fincher and Coen Brothers we are trying to club filmmakers that have had a career spanning over 20 years and they have had a plenty of time to develop the Midas touch. Having said that, this clearly means that for an Indian filmmaker to be of such stature, he/she should have started in late 80’s or 90’s.
Although it would be unfair to say that Indian cinema never produced exceptional directors in past few decades. The likes of Satyajit Ray, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Shyam Benegal and Yash Chopra are undoubtedly the pillars of the Indian cinema that we witness today.
Moreover, if we take a look at the recent decades, there have been creative directors like Mani Ratnam with movies like Bombay, Ramgopal Verma with Satya and Company, Shekhar Kapur with Bandit Queen and Mr India and Sanjay Leela Bhansali with Black and Devdas have had a good 10-year-old stretch.
With time, some promising new talents like Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee, Neeraj Pandey have appeared who have a distinct vision towards their films, but only time will tell how it pans for them.
CHANGE OF PERCEPTION
Evidently, the list of visionary directors changes with time. The best example to argue the point is the case with M. Night Shyamalan. With the release of the cult classic The Sixth Sense, many said that he was the next Spielberg. But a series calamitous movies like The Village, The Happening and After Earth washed him off everybody’s list of visionaries.
Even if we take a shrewd look at the career of Francis Ford Coppola, he could never surpass his own classic series The Godfather. It has been over 40 years, and only his Apocalypse Now could come close to the classic.
It won’t be wrong to say that an Indian director wouldn’t get as much as chances M. Night Shyamalan and Francis Ford Coppola got. In India, the margin of error is very small for the directors. Merely one or two misses at the box office could wreck you as a director in Indian cinema.
The type of audience plays an important role in deciding how a movie would perform. In Hollywood, be it Christopher Nolan or Quentin Tarantino, their films will surely have a set of audience who readily accept the innovation of these artists. The audiences welcome something new and out of the league with open arms.
So the question arises, Is the Indian audience ready to accept things that are out of the box?
Sadly, the answer is NO. It has been seen in the past that movies with exceptionally appealing plots and tremendous direction do not get appropriate support from the Indian audiences. Movies like Ship of Theseus, Black Friday, Gulaal, I Am Kalam, A Wednesday etc never got their share of appreciation from the audience which clearly shows that the Indian audiences are not yet ready for spectacles like Inception and Pulp Fiction.
Even popular Indian actor Aamir Khan who has been a part of some exceptional films in the past feels the same……..
INDIAN CINEMA : A PRODUCER’S BACKYARD
It would not be unfair to say that directors in Bollywood sometimes don’t really have the space to think freely. Sadly, in India, cinema is not the director’s medium, but it’s a producer’s medium. Unlike Hollywood, in India, the fate of the movie majorly depends on upon the producing studios and not with the abilities of the directors.
There are fantastic directors like Sriram Raghvan who cannot release a film on their own and require a producing studio to release the film on their behalf. This is because, in India, it is the brand of the studio that attracts the audiences, not the director.
Most talented directors get trapped in such vicious cycles and then a guy like Tigmanshu Dhulia, who has made movies like Haasil and Paan Singh Tomar has to compromise with the likes of Bullet Raja.
Sadly, Indian cinema is indeed a PRODUCER’S BACKYARD!
What do you think is stopping creative directors in Indian cinema to come up and shine? Do mention in the comments section.