The unprecedented success of the recent films like the Allu Arjun-starrer ‘Pushpa: The Rise’, S.S. Rajamouli’s magnum opus, ‘RRR’, ‘K.G.F.: Chapter Two’ has once again given rise to the debate surrounding the tussle between Bollywood and the regional industries of Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam and Kannada down south.
But in essence, this will only push Bollywood to go back to the table and work hard with determination to come out stronger and eventually push the envelope for Indian cinema as a whole, in the words of filmmaker Basil Joseph, who became a breakout star director with his superhero film, ‘Minnal Murali’, which starred Tovino Thomas as the lead.
In a tete-a-tete with IANS, Basil spoke about the new dawn that awaits Indian cinema, the learnings from ‘Minnal Murali’, the new opportunities for filmmakers from south, courtesy the worldwide exhibition power of the OTT platform and change in undercurrents of storytelling sensibilities of south Indian filmmakers and talents.
The Indian film industry is reaching new heights with south Indian content breaking into new territories, not just in India but also globally. This gives a string of opportunities to storytellers, who have a penchant for path-breaking stories and treatments.
Basil shares, “We can now think more globally because of the OTT. Earlier, the makers used to think from a very confined perspective of catering to a particular set of regional audiences.”
He continues, “But, looking at the success that the south Indian content has amassed, it has given the makers the confidence to cut through physical boundaries. Our stories are going international and now are being looked at from a very broad vantage point. We think and conceive our ideas more responsibly. The subjects and the emotions are getting more universal.”
He adds that “this will give rise to more quality content” as it will be a constructive process.
“In a positive sense, the pressure of making quality content will rest heavily on filmmakers’ shoulders,” he backs his opinion with a strong reason.
And the pressure is already turning the raw coal in diamonds of stories that are precisely cut with the sharp vision of filmmakers whose storytelling sensibilities have evolved humongously.
“The storytelling sensibilities of the South Indian film industry as a whole has evolved a lot,” Basil furthers his point.
He draws parallels with Korean cinema, which saw a similar shift many years back, saying: “I find it very interesting because the same thing happened with the Korean film industry at one point. The Korean film industry started doling out more universal content and see where it took them, the Oscar win with ‘The Parasite’. This evolution of sorts of the south Indian film industries will also result in enhancing the landscape of Indian cinema,”
Talking about the learnings from his superhero film, he says, “The success of ‘Minnal Murli’ taught us that we don’t need to hold back in terms of budgets or scale just because we are a small industry. If we have a story to tell, we shall go all out and play it to the gallery of the audience. If the content is engaging and good, the audience will appreciate it.”
But what he cherishes the most is his new found perspective for dealing with on set problems in a different manner.
He adds, “It also taught us that creative solutions arise from challenging situations. Making a film is also about dealing with challenges creatively. It also gave me more confidence to try my hands at universal content with a bigger scale and margin in my future projects. It’s all about telling local stories in an international manner.”
South Indian films come with an element of grandeur. One may wonder as to how this would reflect on the medium of OTT given the grandeur is essentially suited for a big screen experience. Basil has a rather interesting answer up his sleeve.
He says, “The grandeur will be there both on OTT and the big. For instance, ‘Minnal Murali’ was made for the big screen but we eventually released it on Netflix, which is a streaming platform. But the impact was nowhere lost in this process.”
He sharpens his point further, “There will be balance between both OTT and cinema, only the content will reign supreme. So, I think that the films with a lot of grandeur will be making an impact on the streaming platforms just like we see outside of India that films of very big scale release on OTT and do very well.”
The debate surrounding the Bollywood and the south Indian film industries might have gained the ground of late but like a true artiste, Basil stands up for his fellow artistes and technicians from Bollywood. He has a firm belief that although not in a good form currently, Bollywood will soon bounce back with an unstoppable force.
He states, “In the last few years the South Indian industry has delivered really good content which has worked across India, something that can be really motivating for Bollywood as well. We cannot completely sideline Bollywood because we have really good artistes and technicians working in Bollywood.”
“I feel we need to see every movie as an Indian movie sans any demarcation of south Indian, Hindi cinema or regional cinema”, he signs off.