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  1. #1
    Kal Ho Na Ho
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    India & Cambodia

    Default 'Akshay hot air, Sallu, SRK better'

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    Shailendra Singh, producer of the National Award-winning Kanchivaram, tears into starry hype and starry fees.

    What brought you to Delhi?

    My peace initiative in Kargil, of course, and my new venture in stand-up gigs. I知 expecting a return of Rs 10 crore on that, and I知 going to invest Rs 2-3 crore in the next three years. Stand-up comedy is serious business for me. It was four years ago too, when I recommended it to Star Plus, and they took it and made it into Laughter Challenge. I lost an opportunity with them, but it痴 okay. I waited for that to mature and came back to the idea. This time, it痴 in six languages English, Punjabi, Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi and Bengali. It痴 simple, low on investment and a great product. People want uncomplicated entertainment, they don稚 want to get confused. I think cinema is cheating them, they don稚 want to spend 250 bucks and get a shit looking film.

    Why is North India so interesting to producers now?

    Bombay痴 packed. There are nine press conferences in Bombay every day, with a Salman and a Shahid and an Asha Bhonsle standing there. The media there doesn稚 even care now. Delhi doesn稚 have celebs you have politicians and fashion designers. So put 弾m (actors) on a flight and take them to the city, and boom.
    Ludhiana, Chandigarh, Lucknow that is the future. UP is the largest player for Manmohan Singh, not just for you and me. It痴 population-based the consumer exists, it痴 all about technology reaching them. The one thing I understand is the consumer. That痴 why, in motion pictures, I致e stuck to what I know best content. It just reinforces my belief that in cinema, content is king. Packaging cannot rule. Bollywood had 300 releases this year, and 292 flops. Promos show songs why? Where痴 the story, where痴 the dialogue promo?

    So the consumer痴 evolved to the point where they don稚 want just 奏he song?
    Of course. It痴 250 bucks for a ticket, some cola, popcorn. What do you spend 10 dollars for? Timepass? Some average looking product? Value for money is going to get even sharper now. The North is huge it has six states. And now, due to telephony and the media, the level of understanding has grown. The spending power was always there. People just didn稚 know how to spend their money. Now, they致e understood that it痴 not about saving. Abhi ke liye jiyo, f*** tomorrow, man.

    The food and beverages offtake in the North is huge, and its 65 per cent of the money. The interval has gone up from five minutes to 24 minutes, and they don稚 play trailers in intervals now so that people can go and eat.

    The common belief is that since all you get is the first weekend, in 僧ultiplex cinema, you have to make a movie with stars to get the audiences.

    I don稚 think so. I think the star who has the most false packaging is Akshay Kumar. He痴 my best friend, but I知 saying it on record. It was my biggest mistake Jaaneman, with Akshay and Salman, got a 22 per cent opening. There was no reason for that. It was well-shot, great music, the works. The star doesn稚 get the opening. The consumer has matured to the point where he knows what content he has an appetite for. Akshay doesn稚 get an opening. Tasveer 8x10 was fine. I got a 12 per cent opening. Akshay doesn稚 have a fan following. It痴 all media-created. They can get written about, but they can稚 get people to watch their films. After Kanchivaram痴 success, I believe in content. Akshay without content is nothing, just hot air.

    Has Kambakkht Ishq proved it?
    Everything is proving it. He just surrounds himself with talent. When he succeeds, he says it痴 him, when he doesn稚, he blames it on his support cast. His first movie with the 鼠ucky Katrina didn稚 run for a day. He doesn稚 have the aura. Aamir has it, Shah Rukh has it, he doesn稚.

    And Salman?
    No. He痴 lost his equity over the years. But he痴 fun, he痴 my best friend, I love him, and he痴 in he has a blast, he doesn稚 care. I think his fans also believe in that, and they live his lifestyle more than his cinema.

    Was Nagesh (Kukunoor) a factor in the failure of 8x10?

    No. He痴 making brilliant films for me... Aashayein, Yeh Honsla and he was super in Dor, in Iqbal. He also has his space. But he also trusted Akshay. It痴 happened before with another director Madhur (Bhandarkar) made a film called Aan Men At Work with Akshay. That flopped too. The media gives Akshay the license to remain A-list when the ROI (return on investment) doesn稚 permit that.

    What do you think of Aamir and Shah Rukh痴 films?

    They make their mistakes too, but their success is greater than their mistakes. They don稚 cheat the customer. Akshay is a buddy, he値l kill me for this, but there it is.

    There痴 something called the right price. You have a cup of tea at a five-star for 400 bucks because of the ambient music and the surroundings, but the cup of tea is worth 40 bucks. Akshay is a good talent, but he has to know his price. You can稚 charge 50 crores and not get an opening.

    Priyadarshan (the director of Kanchivaram) has said on record that Shailendra Singh forced him to make the movie. He had this film for nine years and no producer backed it. But the corporatisation of Bollywood won稚 last long if the prices are not right. On the past few weekends, Bollywood痴 collectively lost Rs 350 crores. Aagey Se Right, ShortKut, Luck even Kaminey, after being successful, is a loss for UTV. Ghajini is the most hyped movie of recent times on the stock market, UTV showed a loss of Rs 9 crores on it.

    On what do you blame this?

    Hype. Aamir Khan! Ghajini! By the time Blue releases, it値l be purple. The price is not right. Even George Clooney, when he charges a lot for a film, takes a stake in it. The whole unit of Kanchivaram did the film for free. They said, if you make money, you give it to us. And everybody痴 benefitted. What does Akshay have? 1000 crores? He always says I don稚 care for awards, but he値l never get one. You can pull a bluff once, not 10 times. SRK is so candid about it he痴 said, a movie with me, if it crosses 40 crores, it痴 going to go into a loss. He makes all his money from endorsements and dancing at weddings, cinema is for the creativity.

    Is that why the big stars are all turning producers these days?

    I think they池e being wise. Saif is being wise. George Clooney, Brad Pitt, everybody痴 done it. Because you reach a point where you can稚 cut you price any longer. You池e a superstar, you charge 20 crores, 30 crores, right? But every movie can稚 afford that. Akshay hasn稚 got this yet. When you want creativity to be at the helm, you must take a stake in the film, and not charge the cinema. Bollywood is the only business in the universe that has a 90 per cent failure rate and is still running.



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