BHUBANESWAR : Economy has taken over art as far as Indian films are concerned. It's more about six packs and `100 crore today than the storyline, said speakers while debating the topic 'Writing for a visual medium' on the second and concluding day of Odisha Literary Festival, 2014.
Chairing the session, filmmaker Nilamadhab Panda said new age scriptwriters in Bollywood are scared to write a good story fearing their work would not fetch good money. In fact, this fear psychosis is crippling creativity.
"It is mostly about the business dynamics ...will a story click in the entertainment market and take the fastest route to the `100 crore club or not," he said, adding people are now being forced to watch a movie. "A big banner film releases in 4,000 theatres and Bollywood crazy viewers have no other option, but to watch it as there is no better alternative available," Panda said.
Joining the discussion, novelist and diplomat Vikas Swarup said, unlike the West where story for a film is considered supreme, in India, the story comes last as far as filmmaking is concerned. "Take the example of the latest release 'Happy New Year', it had no story, but it was a massive hit. Films like these have no repeat value. We know that people have watched 'Sholay' at least 100 times, but today no one will watch new releases more than once. It is through aggressive marketing that people are being attracted to theatres but after that, filmmakers and distributors are not bothered if their film is appreciated by the audience or not," he said.
Television personality and poet, Lavlin Thadani, however, blamed the audience for the dismal state of affairs with regard to writing for the visual medium. "We as audience do not think before watching a film. We see whatever is shown to us. This inertia of watching anything and everything that Bollywood offers is a deep-rooted conditioning. This is why producers, filmmakers and distributors are dictating the market now," she said adding that it is the art that should dictate instead.
Swarup blamed it on the reading habits of people. He said the common man is now mostly reading books that are easily adapted into films. "No one is bothered about a good story. In fact, books are being written with the purpose of converting those into films because that means big business. It's a vicious cycle that needs to be converted to a virtuous cycle through good writing."
Stating that India is a land of billion stories, Swarup said it is an irony that no one is ready to tell these stories.
Panda felt Bollywood also lacks good cinema criticism today. "Here too, business has crept in affecting the quality of writing for films."
Both Thadani and Swarup said another problem area in screenplay is the line of difference drawn between art and commercial cinema, over the years. "Writing for art cinema is any day better than commercial cinema, but people do not watch them as art films do not engage. It has to be a marriage of a good story and an interesting portrayal of the story," concluded Thadani.