How is Indian Cinema Evolving? Irrfan & Ritesh Batra Answer!

By Arun Fulara. Posted on July 16, 2015

While surfing the vast underbelly of Quora we came across this interesting question on the much debated state of Indian cinema and its future.

3 interesting responses stand out. While those by Irrfan Khan & Ritesh Batra are cautiously optimistic, the longer response by Biswapati Sarkar of TVF is negative in its outlook. While we have our own opinion on this (as i am sure, everyone else does too), here's what they had to say.

Irrfan Khan said

"It's changing every week, because of the audience.  The audience is now exposed to international cinema through DVDs. They are demanding change in the industry and there is a new generation of directors who are trying to bring subjects which are topical and contemporary. The films have started affecting life.  Earlier, the films were more about fluffy stories to make people laugh. That's a great change and it's a timeless audience. 
There's an audience that is growing every week by the numbers. They want to see an original voice, films that are of three-dimensional standard. That is what is changing in the Indian industry.
Also the number of theaters are growing. The number of releases every weekend in theaters are growing. It's a great time for Indian cinema."

This is what Ritesh Batra had to say;

"While we were making The Lunchbox and while I was writing it, I didn't think it would do well in India. I didn't think that Indian audiences would be receptive to a film without songs. But they were. That surprised us, even though we are from India."

And here's Biswapati Sarkar's response;

"It isn't.

We cannot count a handful of good Hindi films (definitely <10 every year) as evolution. For instance, I will have to choose between Queen and Haider as my favourite Hindi film this year. Compare that to the Hollywood films released in India this month: Fury, Nightcrawler, Interstellar, Big Hero 6, John Wick, Boyhood and Gone Girl.

Ok. Let's not talk about Hollywood. Let's talk about Indian Cinema in 2006-07. Here are some of my favourite films from that period: Rang de Basanti, Lage Raho Munnabhai, Omkara, Khosla ka Ghosla, Being Cyrus, Taxi No. 9211, Taare Zameen Par, Guru, Chak De India, Jab We Met, Bheja Fry, Johnny Gaddar, Cheeni Kam, Gandhi My Father and Manorama, 6 feet Under. If we have gone from there to here, then my personal opinion would be against the evolution of Indian cinema.

I feel Indian Cinema stopped innovating around 2009-2010. This can also be called the post Wanted-Dabangg era. Of course, a handful of films came out every year which were quite good. But when compared to the sheer volume of releases we have every year, the number is pretty disappointing, to say the least.

If you see the YouTube comments below the trailer of any new film, you'll seewell-educated, Internet-savvy urban people discussing whether the film will gross 100 crores or 200 crores. We are probably the only country where even fans gauge the success of a film by its box-office collections. That's our barometer for measuring the success of a film. Who remembers the box office collection of Mother India or Mughal-e-Azam or even Lagaan for that matter? So, even the audience hasn't evolved tremendously.

Even before a film's release, we know that this film will earn 200 crores. Quality does not matter. It is a product.

Again, I'm not against commercial films. I love commercial films. Cinema is probably the most expensive art form, so it better earn its money back. But why has commercial suddenly become so formulaic? Why has 'playing to the gallery' suddenly become so acceptable? Our biggest hits are South-Indian remakes, Korean remakes, Hollywood remakes or tribute films to DDLJ and K2H2. Apart from the songs and the action sequences, there doesn't seem much effort into making these films.

Even parallel cinema for the most part is boring. Making a serious film does not allow you the liberty to not entertain or engage the audience. Why is there such a heavy European influence on all art films? I cannot connect to most of the dark and deprived characters from these films just like I can't connect to the macho or fluffy characters from the commercial films.

There are numerous exceptions and there is hope in some form, definitely. But, in the last 5 years, we brought the 80's back all over again. And we should feel bad about it."


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