Celebrating others’ failure

Some industry people don’t hesitate to uncork champagne bottles the minute a rival flounders

My heart reached my mouth when the terror attacks happened on Wednesday. Ironically Neeraj Pandey’s acclaimed terror film is called A Wednesday. Poor Subhash Ghai was under a different kind of attack. Now where did that come from? Parts of Bollywood began celebrating the failure of his latest film even before it was properly in the theatre. So what happens to all the hard work that Mr Ghai and his team put in? The care taken to mix just the right notes?Or the subtle changes in the topography where each change reflects a certain state of mind?

Nuances and subtleties have become passé now. It’s about the cinema of hanging out with the guys (two of the big hits Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na and Rock On were about that). Or it’s all about the cinema of letting it all hang out (Fashion, Dostana). We strive to swear by the cinema of subtleties. But what happened to Vinay Pathak’s Dasvidaniyan? We want super-heroes flying through the air, not a grown-up veteran actor being bullied and beaten up by his siblings. Anil Kapoor in Yuvvraaj looks so harassed and vulnerable you wonder if there’s a direct link between being a good guy and playing them.

It’s those little gestures that give your good breeding away. If you visit the Bachchans you’d know one or the other member of the family sees you out, and not just to the door. But to the front gate right to your car. Anil Kapoor comes to your car too. And if you are on out of towner he insists that his driver take you to wherever you go next. That Anil and Ghai have remained friends and creative associates for longer than any other actor-director team shows that once in a while the business of friendship does merge with the pleasure of professionalism in our industry.

Most ‘friendships’ in the entertainment business end once the tie-up gets unproductive Two years ago every actor wanted to work with JP Dutta. Today, they’re all gone. The worst hit was filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali. What happened to him after the release of Saawariya could only be described as the before-andafter effect. I saw and heard colleagues bitching him out at the premiere of the movie. Then I saw some of them going up to Sanjay to congratulate him for what a film he had made.

But the damage is not irreversible. You really can’t keep a good man down. No wonder Karan Johar, Yash Chopra and now Sanjay Leela Bhansali have decided never to have a premiere.
They say Guru Dutt’s Kaagaz Ke Phool had flopped on the day of the first preview. Those close to Dutt came out shaking their heads and saying, It won’t work.

It did. Today, Kaagaz Ke Phool is recognised as an all-time classic. But its failure broke Guru Dutt’s morale. Ghai is shaken but not stirred. But the attitude of negativity can never go out of fashion. The industry loves to celebrate failure. There was a time when certain producers were known to uncork champagne bottles the minute a rival floundered. It looks like that golden era is back. Cheers to that.

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