Excel Entertainment - Raees After 15 Years Of DCH Cinema
Thursday 19 January 2017 12.00 IST
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The industry is going through a major downturn with corporate money drying up and most films going on the floors are not getting the budgets they would like. There are many reasons giving for this but eventually its down to content and how a section of the industry moved away from the Hindi roots to this so called new age cinema which we call Dil Chahta Hai cinema. For one because this film started it despite not being liked and secondly a section of the industry wanted to make and believed in it but only god knows why as the results were never there. A couple of weeks back we wrote about Disney India (LINK) who tended to support this cinema with most of their films but whenever they went to rooted Hindi cinema with the story telling that the audience understood they delivered a Rowdy Rathore, Chennai Express and Dangal but sadly it was a few and far between.


Last week we wrote about the fiasco of Dil Chahta Hai (2001) (LINK) which started this cinema which a section of the industry loved but the audience did not care for so if one of the biggest supporters of this cinema Disney India are written about then the actual biggest advocates Excel Entertainment have to be written about and more so it will explain why this cinema just does not have a chance. Also what happens is that if there is some support for this new age cinema it is in the internet world as people do send mails saying these films are good but that is opinion while where watching is concerned which is box office plus television it tells a totally different story be it Dil Chahta Hai, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara or Barfi!. Its a case of being talked about but not really watched.



Nothing helps better to explain the failure of this cinema and its story telling style which has been probably picked up from everywhere in the World barring our own cinema than the filmography of Excel Entertainment. Disney India supported this cinema but at least they had a good outing occasionally like Rowdy Rathore, Chennai Express and Dangal which the audiences loved but Excel Entertainment were made of sterner stuff and did not flinch once and stuck to the new age cinema until now with Raees. 


Excel Entertainment has sixteen films in their filmography to date and all belong to the same cinema. The films are Dil Chahta Hai, Lakshya, Don, Honeymoon Travels, Rock On, Luck By Chance, Karthik Calling Karthik, Game, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Don 2, Talaash, Fukrey, Dil Dhadakne Do, Bangistan, Baar Baar Dekho and Rock On 2 and some of these films are HITS but even those HITS are under performers as they were expected to do better. It is important to note that out of these fifteen films, six are with Aamir Khan, Shahrukh Khan and Hrithik Roshan and this is what says it all as what are the numbers for the films with these big stars. Don 2 with Shahrukh Khan is the highest grosser at just 106 crore nett out of these films and it came in the same year as a much disliked Shahrukh Khan film Ra.One which did 114 crore nett and rated double of Don 2 on television. If that is not under performance then what is as Ra.One was better from every angle though even Ra.One was not appreciated..


Don 2 was a sequel of Don (2006) which was a remake of the 1978 Don film starring Amitabh Bachchan, Zeenat Aman and Pran. This weird thinking cinema is even reflected in Don (2006). Don in 1978 did very well, it was not a huge grosser or anything but was made in a restricted production budget (70 lakhs) which enabled very good profits for all. The restricted budget meant that Don (1978) could have been improved on as you have a winning story and now you have the budget also. This would not be a case with a Sholay (1975) as that is hard if not impossible to improve on. So Don is a good choice for a remake but it takes some creative mind to kill off the biggest reason why Don (1978) did so well and that was the simpleton who has to replace criminal. That character was the rooted Indian one and was killed off in Don (2006) which meant biggest plus gone so box office was never going to fly.


Those are the two Shahrukh Khan films then there is Lakshya with Hrithik Roshan coming after the huge success of Koi Mil Gaya which was an urban drama with a war setting and the results were simply bad. Then there is Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara with Hrithik Roshan and Katrina Kaif which a section of the audience watched but the other rejected it outright but a 90 crore nett total for a film with Hrithik Roshan and Katrina Kaif means its just the stars and the film itself added nothing as for these stars together in 2011 this total should come eyes closed. How many people can relate with people trekking around Europe and singing songs in foreign languages in India, the film was supposed to be an emotional drama and they say emotions are universal and its true but not when the characters are not relatable. The film was a total disaster on television.


Then there is Aamir Khan with Dil Chahta Hai and Talaash. Enough has been said about Dil Chahta Hai (LINK) and Talaash is probably the only poor Aamir Khan film in a decade simply because nothing is in the film, it looks like a remake of some B grade European thriller. The film grossed 92 crore nett which is again only the actor taking it there as film has only negative points. But Aamir Khan was not left alone with just two films. He was made to be a voice over of a dog in Dil Dhadakne Do which is crazy and where do these creative ideas come from? Aamir Khan may have a relationship with the makers but why be a voice over of a dog. The Hindi translation for dog is slang which led to the North Indian multiplex audience laughing for the wrong reasons every time Aamir Khan spoke as they knew it was him with the face of the dog. Again it was an emotional family drama but with a family which was not relatable so how can the film work on an emotional level. Also its not about the family being rich or from high socoiety which makes it not relatable. Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham in 2001 also had a rich family but the characters were relatable which led to the emotions working in a big way. Actually it comes down to presentation. On a side note even if that huge blockbuster had a voice over by a dog it would have had a different result. 


These sort of results with big actors say there is something wrong. Its not actually Excel Entertainment but the cinema that is being made and they have stuck to it though it can't even get results with the biggest stars (The biggest star Salman Khan is not in any of the films but its doubtful if even he could have made a difference to the results if the films remained the same). The stars are also at fault here for making bad choices but they have got away with it as they had other films to back these bad ones. Even Excel Entertainment deserve credit as producers because they off loaded all these films to corporates though that was made easy having big stars but the prices meant that the corporates were always going to lose somewhere unless these films became SUPER HITS as thats what is expected from Aamir Khan, Shahrukh Khan and Hrithik Roshan as a minimum. Also it made it easier for Excel to offload their smaller films as it enabled them to sell them in a package with the big star ones.


All the films made by Excel Entertainment till date can be called Hindi films as they are in that language but they are miles from being real Hindi films which appeal to real India. Then you have stories of young stars like Ranbir Kapoor, Ranveer Singh and Varun Dhawan doing the director of Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and Dil Dhadakne Do's next which is scary as these boys have potential but it can't be fulfilled if your doing the wrong cinema that has no potential today or going forward. Of course we can be wrong and this film may not be that Dil Chahta Hai cinema and then its a different story but all you can go by is the track record. 


But there is always HOPE and here it is Raees which looks a real Hindi film from the promos, its a first for Excel Entertainment. The film looks rooted and the characters seem more relatable to the Indian audience. When we see the promo the doubts come as we know the history of Excel Entertainment so despite a good theatrical you think the Dil Chahta Hai cinema will be there somewhere though the hope is that its not. The difference is that the public does not know the history of Excel Entertainment and they are seeing the trailers worth only which will make them come out but if that so called new age cinema is there distorting the film they will find out fast enough.


If Disney India look back they will know today where they have gone wrong but its possibly too late there and here with Excel Entertainment it would be good to see Raees work in a big way as that will help showing the way forward. But for Raees to work it has to be a real Hindi film as if its the Dil Chahta Hai type then it's all just about how far can Shahrukh Khan star power take it and big numbers just don't happen on star power alone as can be seen with the results of Dil Chahta Hai, Lakshya, Don, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Don 2 and Talaash.


It is important going forward that cinema which is not going to work is left alone and this can only happen if studios understand the audience. The corporates are almost gone or not paying big money which made box office irrelevant for producers in terms of risk so the industry can now only survive on results, either box office or television but preferably both and these big results can only come with rooted Hindi cinema. Once in a while the Dil Chahta Hai cinema will also work like Barfi! (2012) but that is the exception not the rule.



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