Dangal has made Rs2,000 crores, an unheard of and unimaginable number in Bollywood so far. And while Aamir Khan has walked away with the credit for its success, the man who is actually the brain and vision behind it, director Nitesh Tiwari, has remained in the background.
His career is somewhat unusual. From being on the creative side of the advertising world, his entrance into Bollywood was through children’s movies. He directed Chillar Party, which was produced by Salman Khan. And then Nitesh made Bhoothnath Returns with Amitabh Bachchan.
But with Dangal, he has now firmly made himself into the filmmaker of the moment. He should therefore have his pick of stars whatever he chose to make next, right? Well, not really. Nitesh’s next movie was going to be a biopic again like Dangal. This one was to be based on a book written by a man in his 20s who braved family resistance to become a very successful entrepreneur.
Reportedly, the actor that Nitesh had in mind to play the role was Varun Dhawan. When the rumours were floating around, an online move webzine tried to confirm it with the director who said he wished for it to be true. But then came news that Varun had decided to not do the movie. And the reason was quite strange: he felt that he was not personally evolved to do such roles.
Varun had also rejected biopics in the past too. A lack of evolution is an excuse that doesn’t make too much sense. He had after all acted in Badlapur, which was a difficult and intense character to pull off, and he showed that he could do it. But since then he has trodden on safe territory doing out and out commercial roles.
So chances are it is not that Varun is not evolved enough, he wants to remain in his comfort zone for the moment. And to refuse the director of Dangal indicates just how cautious he is in getting out of it.
Though there is also another factor in all this. While directors who work with Aamir pull of box office miracles, they have rarely been able to replicate it with other stars. So, by opting not to do the movie, Varun might have thought it was not much of a loss.
Vikas Bahl had been one of the most sought after directors in Bollywood after he made Queen, a movie which went on to be a blockbuster despite having no big male stars. It was a funny and well-crafted story about a woman who goes on a solo vacation to get over the pain of her fiance running away just before they are to marry.
After Queen, Bahl made Shandaar which bombed at the box office. But the memory of Queen was still there and it was a given that he would not be short of work. Plus he had a production company along with some of the other new-age filmmakers like Anurag Kashyap.
But over the last few months, Bahl’s fortunes seem to have crumbled. He had a sexual harassment charge against him by a girl who had been working for his production company. She accused him of making unwanted advances when drunk during a work related to trip in Goa.
Little was heard about it after the initial splash that the news made. But now it seems that there are repercussions. Apparently, he had wanted Hrithik Roshan to act in a movie of his, a biopic of a mathematician, and the star reportedly declined the offer. There are rumours that it might have to do with the allegations. There are, however, also other reports that suggest Hrithik wanted to act in Krrish 4 instead, which is a home production.
Ever since Kangana Ranaut, when invited to his talk show, told Karan Johar that he was a flag-bearer of nepotism in Bollywood, it is as if a can of worms had been opened. All the young successful film stars, almost overwhelmingly from powerful Bollywood families, have at one time or the other tried to deride Kangana or defended their presence in movies.
Kangana has found large support in the online social networking crowd but in the industry itself, she has cut something of a lone figure. That is also because there are so few self-made stars there.
The one man who could actually have taken a stand was Shah Rukh Khan, because he can claim to have attained superstardom without any family connections unlike Salman or Aamir. Since he is promoting his movie When Harry Met Sejal and is accessible to the media, he was asked by a news agency about his take on the nepotism debate. And his answer was non-committal. He said he doesn’t understand the issue at all because he came from Delhi to Mumbai at the age of 25 and found complete acceptance.
It would have been surprising if Shah Rukh had given any other answer. Because even though he is self made, he has been intimately close to all the film families of Bollywood. And then there is the question of his own children now growing up and soon being of the age when they can join the film world as actors.
There has been no let-up in the absurdities of the Central Board of Film Certification, more popularly termed as the Censor Board, which gives ratings that say whether a movie is fit for children or adults.
Their target at present is Babumoshai Bandookbaaz, which stars Nawazuddin Siddiqui. When the movie was sent to the Censors, they apparently demanded 48 cuts in it. Even by their standards, this seemed over the top. Nawazuddin, when asked to comment, said that if all the changes were to be implemented then it would turn it into a short film. And these cuts were demanded after giving the movie an ‘A’ certificate, which means only adults could see it anyway.
When the director of the movie went to plead with the Board’s controversial chief, Pahlaj Nihalani, he apparently said that if it came to them again in the revising committee they would make even more of cuts.
In recent times, filmmakers do have recourse to appeal to an unrelated third party to get their movie passed without the bizarre cuts of the Board, but even so, it is a hassle involving additional time and energy.
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