To continue from where we left in the previous post. I started typing this as a comment for the previous post and realised it was becoming too big.
DDLJ works cuz it bridges two fantasies… of the old and the young… the older generation still want to have control of the young but they really don’t have completely… so it becomes a part of a fantasy, the gratification of which they seek on film…the politically correct fantasy of the younger generation is to have the best of both worlds… to go around the world with a hot chick, flirt with her, woo her in style and then win her in style… and the winning here is by winning over the whole family, convincing your parents about ur love is still a fantasy in many homes and GETTING THEIR PERMISSION (=WINNING AN ARGUMENT WITH AN OLDER GENERATION without offending their sensibilities) especially, that fantasy was lived out on screen too… not only did it woo the young and old thus, plus it also appealed to the feel good mood of the NRIs– they werent made to feel guilty of brain drain… but were given a warm understanding treatment… so what if you guys are abroad, you are still Hindustani… as they say, you can take the Indian out of India, but you can’t take the India out of the Indian! That NRI feel-good factor turned out to be the formula – pop patriotism – the secret of Hindi films in the world… to such an extent that today, a Shah Rukh Khan film’s overseas market potential is 50 crore!!
DDLJ thus set the formula that has been religiously followed for a decade… The Indian always remains an Indian in whatever part of the world.
Remember KKHH when Tina says: Main apne sanskar nahin bhooli (I haven’t forgotten my tradition) after singing Om Jai Jagdish hare!
Soon Ganga in Pardes, the Jana Gana Mana in K3G, the globalisation debate in Yaadien (and a dozen other films that din’t work) or even Chalte Chalte or Hum Tum recently where Greece is just another city, not too far away from home! Being away doesn’t mean away from home…
Swades is gonna tweak that NRI formula a bit… it will signal the Return of the NRI… Back home! Back to where they really belong… I have a feeling its gonna click cuz the mood is just right.
A decade ago, going abroad was a fantasy… Post 9/11, coming home to an extremely promising nation is the fantasy… and that fantasy is coming real too…
India is changing… Was out for lunch today at Spencers, Planet Yumm, it can compete with any international food mall… plus where else will you get a Tandoori Pizza Hut Pizza in the world for this price? Even earlier, during my morning assignment, was at the Abirami food mall… you guys should see the crowd to believe it… Everybody is eating out these days… even the guys who have only a 30-40 buck budget a day… India in the cities today is getting as good as the cities in the rest of the world… The villages are another story… but the audience that pays most for a mainstream SRK film comes from around the world today… not really just the villages… Even a rustic movie like Gadar made more money abroad than in India, despite doing extremely well in B & C centres.
Which is why filmmakers have been making movies on feel-good and fantasy.
Swades, like I said, will tweak the formula. And to continue why I think it will work, here it is.
India lives in its villages… the money for the box office might not come from there, but nothing touches a chord among us Indians (in the village, in the city and in the overseas markets) than the feeling of belonging to the soil… Lagaan is a sign of the success of that theory.
Swades will make the villager feel liberated… from their point of view, finally the snobs from the abroad are learning the lesson and heading back home and to their rescue…
Swades will make the ones in the Indian cities feel more proud of the country… those who havent got the opportunity to go abroad (with a lil help from the sour grapes theory) will only feel so good that they had never lost touch with their roots… Swades will be a vindication for their belief that we can make India shine! It will inspire people in the cities, whether they would do something about it or not is a different story, but inspire it will.
Swades will make the NRI who has half made up his mind to return home in the post 9/11 scenario think about his country. Whether it convinces him or not, it will play on his fantasy of returning home and contributing to the growth of the nation… even at just a fantasy level, it will work magic on the NRI… because after all these years as an NRI, every NRI would have began seeing things more objectively… an developing nation in India, the treatment they had received all these years in Amrika, the economy post 9/11, opportunities in India, improvement in the standard of living in India and the perks of coming back home — Family, Friends, Feel-good with a capital F!
I can’t wait to see what Ashutosh does with Swades!