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Posts from — June 2007

Marathi cinema back in black?

According to an Economic Times report, Marathi cinema is making a comeback reflected in the kind of theatres (multiplexes) and the types of films (greater variety) being made. However, the report also gave voice to sceptics such as veteran Marathi filmmaker Dr Jabbar Patel:

“Yes, it is encouraging that audiences are coming back but that is for an occasional successful film, not the majority releases. Last year, 70 Marathi films were made; how many recovered their costs? Films must make money at the box office, not through sale of DVD or telecast rights or the government’s grant-in-aid. Channel and DVD rights should provide the profits, not be the main stream of revenue” [Read more →]

June 30, 2007   No Comments  

Hollywood making inroads into India?

According to a CNN report (Hollywood bites into Bollywood’s audience), all is not well in the Indian film industry. The Mumbai film industry has not been able to repeat the success of 2006 and Spiderman 3 and Ocean’s 13 gave Hindi film releases quite a headache. According to the report:

A measure of Hollywood’s growing impact in India was seen when five Bollywood films released this month were trumped by “Ocean’s 13” with George Clooney again taking the lead in the latest in the series. [Read more →]

June 28, 2007   No Comments  

Speaking Through Riots and Rituals:Tamil Cinema Fans in India and Malaysia

It is not uncommon for fans of Tamil stars and superstars to indulge in religious rituals such as lighting camphor, breaking coconuts and pouring milk (over the cut outs of stars) on the eve of the inaugural screenings. The fans of MGR pioneered the act of subalterns speaking through such rituals. During 70s, I had seen MGR fans throwing coins and notes as offerings before the screen and doing elaborate poojas inside theatres. [Read more →]

June 20, 2007   1 Comment  

Cinema and Photography:Influencing Each Other?

It is a well known fact that the art of photography predates the art of cinema by several decades. It is also a well known fact that cinematography evolved from the art of photography. But it is not known to many that the art of photography has also been impacted greatly by the art of cinematography. Many photographers have been inspired by their favourite films and film masters. There is an exposition of the works of ten Magnum photographers who picked their lessons from cinema at the Cinematheque Francaise. I dealt with the case of Abbas, the Iran-born photographer with Magnum in my post at http://indiaphotoculture.blogspot.com/2007/06/cinema-and-photography-influencing-each_8486.html

June 10, 2007   No Comments  

How Big is Sivaji:The Boss?

Sivaji:The Boss, starred by Rajnikanth, is slated for release on 15th June. The film comes in two versions, Tamil and Telugu. It is seen by the trade pundits and the mainstream media as not yet another film. For the past several months, since the film project was launched, tamil newspapers and magazines had displayed unprecedented eagerness to write about the making of Sivaji, even as the readers were told ad nauseum that the project was meant to be secret and every care was being taken by the producer and the director to ensure that the details of the story and the pictures of the shooting did not reach the media and public. Despite the strictly enforced veil of secrecy, how these newspapers and magazines carried the still images and speculations about the story lines is anybody’s guess. These leaks in the media made many bloggers to wonder why the pictures and stories could not get official.

One dominant notion of the film concerns its economics. Here are some figures quoted widely on the economics of Sivaji. These are not accurate and legal figures, given the poor levels of transparency in the Indian film industry. According to The Economic Times, the total production cost of the film is near Rs. 80 crores (In Indian monetary value one crore equals 10 million and one lakh equals 100 thousands. Given the current US$/Rs. exchange rate of 40, this translates to US$ 20 million). The producer, AVM, the oldest south Indian studio based in Chennai, is believed to be closing in on a total sale figure of Rs.100 crores (US$ 25 million).

Tamil Nadu distribution rights are traditionally sold in terms of the territories such as Chennai, NSC (the northern districts), Coimbatore etc., It is reported that Mr Ramanathan of the Abirami Group of Theatres and Chairman of the Tamil Nadu Theatre Owners Association bought the rights for Chennai at a whopping 6.5 crores (US$ 1.62 million). This deal was supposedly inked, believe it not, with the buyer seeing only the album of still pictures of Sivaji and not the film. Says Ramanathan in an interview:”I have not even seen a single shot from the film. I saw the Sivaji album, in which there are about 1000 odd stills from the film. I�m (sic) amazed, as they are simply mind-boggling, They are colourful and our superstar looks awesome. Seeing the album my mind was made to purchase the film”.

Rajnikanth is reported to be richer by 20+ crores, at the minimum, plus a share in profits. This reportedly makes him the highest paid Indian actor. Compare this to the gender inequality marker, Rs.30 lakhs (US$ 75000), his heroine, Shreya, was reportedly paid.

Sivaji‘s release date has also been a matter of speculation in the Tamil press for several months. One reason cited for the delay is the decision of the producer to evade chances of pirates swooping on the film before its release. That decision entailed the making of the prints only at the Prasad Labs, Chennai, and not in many labs at a time. It is said that nearly 600 prints are in the pipeline but the lab can churn out only 30-40 prints a day. 75% of the earnings are projected to come from Tamil Nadu, Andhra and Kerala territories and the remaining from sale of overseas, audio and satellite rights. The release date of 15th June has been decided keeping this in view.

Incidently, Spiderman 3, which is doing the rounds in the Indian circuit has a print order of 580, the first for a Hollywood production in India.

There are also misgivings about the earning potential of Sivaji because of the likely impact of the Tamil Nadu government’s recent order restricting the price of tickets in theatres to Rs.50. According to them, Rajnikant’s last film, Chandramukhi, could not earn on a big scale despite the advantage of unrestricted ticket prices. Despite such guesses, the winner or losser is likely to be only Sivaji, the film and its real world personae, Rajnikanth. The trailers of Sivaji are now available on YouTube.

This post is meant to be a backgrounder for what my next post on Sivaji aims to connect. I would like to deal with the politics of the making of Sivaji and Adorno’s conception of the deceitful role of culture industry.

June 5, 2007   2 Comments  

Subaltern Gazing:Some Pointers to its Origin

Recently I posted my thoughts on how India missed the photography revolution in my other blog on photography and visual culture.

I think this missed opportunity had its effect on the ways visual cultural practices of Indians and India developed (or did not develop). As generations of ordinary Indians could not see through their own view finders during a good part of last century, compared to their counterparts in the developed world, I think their fields of views were mostly operationalised through the view finders (not just the optical ones, but the ideological and cultural ones as well) of Indian cinemas. [Read more →]

June 3, 2007   1 Comment