Two reasons parallel cinema doesn't earn 100 crores!
Bollywood’s latest craze with movies that earn 100 crores in record breaking time, is both amusing and somewhat alarming. It has given birth to a new category of people (or rather a new caste system in India) in which people live in the elite club and can achieve their unrealistic dreams. What happens to other side of the silver lining? The people that can't achieve those dreams? Because of this 100 crore divide, movie makers have started to judge talent and success based on this parameter and parallel cinema is slowly disappearing. Parallel cinema was born from the intent to connect people with reality, make them realize that problems existed in our lives and that we didn't focus on solutions, we wouldn't have a sustainable future.
Since box-office is king, these movies don't get to have their spot under the sun! Let's take a look at two reasons for them being unable to earn the big bucks:
Firstly, they lack ensemble casts. The advent of numerous channels, the consumerist culture and the expansion of urban India has given birth to urban-centric audiences. The cinema which once portrayed class struggles and protests against hypocrisy, has given way to more ‘entertaining’ cinema. Only movies that are multi-starrers or have an ensemble cast (a wide array of people) can provide that wholesome entertainment that parallel cinema can't. Parallel cinema doesn't have those kind of budgets to cast multi-starrers. The script isn't appealing to the lenders or producers. Parallel cinema is what you call "mercy cinema" - the type of cinema that is made with small budgets so that production houses come off as socially responsible. They aren't made with the intent of earning money. Or they are called "complaint box cinema". Many of these films are first and foremost against feudalism, corruption, nepotism, patriarchy and religious intolerance. More radical, politically-engaged ones handle with modernization and class warfare and regularly lean towards the left of center. Where is the glitz? Where is the glam? Nothing to laugh at or tap your foot to.
Secondly, they don't get enough screens. For example, to earn 100 crores, you need to charge 250 per ticket. You will need an attendance of 40 lakh people. If you can get somewhat 200 screens, you'll need 20,000 people per screen. 20,000 people translates into 5000 people for 4 times daily. That's if it's running full-house in all theaters. A medium sized theater has 500 seats. For this, you will need a well-crafted publicity plan. This publicity plan will help you in booking overseas theaters/movie-halls. The production and equipment costs, licenses, clearances by relevant authorities for shooting permits, financial resources to pay entire team involved in the process (this also includes the team involved with marketing and promotion), would all be factors one should work on keeping the film project in mind. Subjects of Parallel cinema can't afford such costs. Also, with the fate of big films such as Drona, Veer, Guzaarish and Ra.One flopping at box office, the fate of parallel films looks allthemore dismal. But while nobody expects big cinema to die out, there is growing concern over the fate of serious films.
We are a generation that is enamored of the "movie theater experience". We will continue to keep cinema on life-support for a time, because it evokes feelings of escapism and fantasy. So, what parallel cinema can do is tap onto this need by hiring directors that are willing to experiment and venture out into those un-chartered territories but also have the charm of these mainstream movies with ensemble casts.