x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Why old is gold in Bollywood

It's revival time for Bollywood's defunct filmmaking banners.

@caption:Cast of From Sydney with Love.
@caption:Cast of From Sydney with Love.

Exorbitant budgets, corporatisation of the filmmaking process and the rise of new, "costly" stars pushed Bollywood's old production houses into oblivion. But some dormant and some defunct production banners such as Shakti Films and Pramod Films are coming back to life and they are banking on the evergreen genre of love to start afresh.

The director Prateek Chakraborty is reviving his grandfather Pramod's Pramod Films with From Sydney With Love, released on Friday in India, while Shakti Samantha's Aradhana Films will start a new innings with the release of Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai on August 3.

Both are love stories - a genre that can never bore the audience, says the director Ashim Samanta, the son of the late filmmaker Shakti Samanta.

"Emotions don't change, only the presentation of love changes. Love was there 5,000 years back, and love will remain even after 100 years. What changes is the way in which it is shown in each film. Our film Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai is on today's line and captures the attitude of youngsters," Ashim says.

He is betting 120 million Indian rupees (Dh8m) on the film that launches his son Aditya as an actor and says his home banner was not in hibernation. It was the industry's changing ways that kept him away.

"We just made fewer films. We made TV serials, and we last made a film [Don Muthu Swami] in 2008. It didn't do too well, that's why everyone feels we haven't made anything. We have been actively involved in TV.

"My father didn't want me to do TV. But filmmaking became an exorbitantly risky field, the distribution patterns changed, the corporatisation changed the game, actors started producing their own films, there was hardly space for small films with new faces. Stars charge so much, and they do only one or two films in a year," says the filmmaker.

Meanwhile, Chakraborty has set out to revive the family banner and plans to make "sensible films".

"We always focus on telling the stories the way it should be told. Our banner has earned goodwill over the period of 50 years and I want to live on those principles and make films that have long-lasting impact and make sense," the 31-year-old director says.

"I want Pramod Films to be an active banner. Now out of sight is out of mind. The film industry has a short-term memory and it is necessary to remain in action," he adds.

The last release for Moti Sagar Productions, a part of Ramanand Sagar's Sagar Arts, was the 2007 National Award-winning film 1971, which was directed by Amrit Sagar. After five years, it is set for a revival with the fun-filled saga Rabba Main Kya Karoon.

Bollywood's famous studio Bombay Talkies Limited, which is said to have produced 102 feature films since 1934, is also reportedly set to rise from the ashes after lying defunct for 58 years.

Two films - Zakhmi and an as-yet-untitled film - are said to be in the making under the supervision of Abhay Kumar, the grandson of Rajnarayan Dube, the main financier of Bombay Talkies.

The famous Prakash Mehra Productions is also bouncing back thanks to Amit Mehra, the son of the late filmmaker Prakash Mehra. He is set to produce and direct the remake of his father's Zanjeer under the banner.

Raj Kapoor's RK Films might soon find a new lease of life, courtesy of his star grandson Ranbir Kapoor.

"There has been a lot of progress in our plans to revive the RK banner. We have zeroed in on some scripts," Ranbir says.

"The Kapoor family has been in the film industry for the past 80 years, starting from my great-grandfather Prithviraj Kapoor, to me and my cousins [Karisma and Kareena]. I hope we continue to contribute to cinema in the same way," he says.

In the meantime, Fardeen Khan is set to be making efforts towards reviving his late father Feroz Khan's banner, FK International, and Sunny Deol is resurrecting Vijeta Films with a Ghayal remake.

Will these banners pass the tests and tastes of audiences today? Watch this space.