If the social media network that allows for unbridled (almost) freedom of expression, has become a potent tool in the marketing of a film, it is also a big factor in its failure. Last week’s release, Bombay Velvet crashed and burned in a blaze of social media fire.
From viewers posting nasty comments, to the Twitter fight between director Anurag Kashyap and his former mentor Ram Gopal Varma (RGV tweeted, “A director standing by his film rejected by the audience is like him telling a girl “I love myself and I don’t care if you don’t love me”), to spirited defence by a couple of his admirers, Bombay Velvet got the full treatment.
Unable to ignore the noise around the film, and some gleeful bashing by the web world, Anurag Kashyap wrote on Facebook, that the response to the film did not depress him. “It’s time to close the book and move on. It’s been a journey, as if one life is over with Bombay Velvet. A lot of people do not connect with it and a small number of people did. Maybe when the shock of the narrative wears down, you will revisit it in the calm of your homes and will get into it. Maybe our experimenting with the narrative didn’t work for most but I firmly believe in the film. This is the film I wanted to make and I am glad I got to make it. I am very happy that all those who have been part of this journey firmly stand with it. No I am not depressed or hiding, this has taught us a lot and is my absolute personal favourite, there have been no regrets whatsoever. Let my silence not worry any of you. I am solid, we are solid. The applause or brickbats do not matter, what matters is who is standing in the arena. It’s us who go out there and risk it, it’s us who choose not to take the easy route, it’s us who stand tall when they let the lions loose on us, we are and will be the gladiators, let’s just keep playing the sport... let’s continue reinventing, let’s give everything our best. And like Schwarznegger said, I WILL BE BACK..”
This note, perceived as delusional or arrogant or both, has triggered another storm – some admiration, some derision. Whatever it may be, it takes guts to get up after this hard a fall and start walking again. Maybe what brought Kashyap down was his ambition. When he started getting talked about in the media – and he does know how to work this circus like an expert ringmaster—it was because he was seen as a rebel standing up to the might of the big film companies making crowd-pleasing entertainers. The films he made, as director, producer or presenter reached the film festival and award circuit. For some time, Kashyap was a parallel movie moghul. It’s not as if his small films were money-spinners, but he was still appreciated. When he made a film with stars and attempted to break into the big league, that’s when he set himself up for a big slide. If he is able to come back, and on his own terms, he will be invincible.