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Who Let The Flops Out?

Friday, April 15, 2011
Deepa Gahlot

It’s always amusing to see what excuses come up when a film flops. If it’s not a festival or a cricket match, then it’s the weather, exams, vacations or, inadequate  promotion. For  Game and Thank You, which had everything going for them, the lack of promotion excuse does not work. Both were pushed and marketed aggressively, and were expected to be hits.

The actors were giving interviews on how great the films were (and better judgment was expected from Irrfan Khan), the promos were all over, and there must be no moviegoer in the country who did not have every detail about the films. Today, every film opens with tremendous pre-release hype, and God help it if it can’t live up to it. The rejection of the film is swift and brutal. Within seconds of the first show, Twitter and Facebook can kill any film that word-of-mouth may have spared.

It’s a strange kind of trap. There must be filmmakers (and the rare actor) who just want to release their films with minimum fuss and let their work do the talking. However, with so many print publications and their supplements, websites and TV channels looking for film based material to stuff in, it has become mandatory for producers, director, actors, composers and anyone remotely quotable associated with a film to have a mike shoved under their chins and be barraged with questions. It is inevitable that they put their foot (feet?) into their mouths while bragging about their ‘masterpieces’.

Earlier, people used to see the ‘Coming Soon’ ads in the papers and wait for films by their favourite directors and stars, today they are deluged by the ‘buzz’. They see on TV songs shot specially at exotic locations to make promos look good,  stars appear on popular TV shows to promote their new films; audiences watch ‘Making of’ shows on TV in which everyone brags about how great a film they have made and how different it is from the usual Bollywood product.

They show some clips and songs, do some mutual backslapping and try to look all excited and nervous. If they are good actors they succeed, or their excitement looks phoney.

One can, of course, see it from the stars’ point of view. There are just so many really good projects going around, so unless they are Aamir Khan they can’t sit around twiddling their thumbs waiting for the perfect role. And if they do take on what is offered to them, they are obliged to defend it and plug it for all they are worth. So, the same quotes, the same pictures, the same sound bytes are recycled for days on end—till the curiosity is whipped up to a frenzy, or all the mystery about a film is destroyed.

It is sad to see egos deflate so publicly every Friday. And nobody can take failure—especially when a few days earlier, they were all over the media and on top of the world! Journos can also be as cruel to flop directors and stars as they are obsequious to successful ones. Invariably the question “why didn’t the film work?” will be asked and all but the most sensible and mature will first deny that the film was a flop and then find someone or something to blame.

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