“I Am Trying To Assemble 300 Small Time Filmmakers Under 1 umbrella (Read Association) To Be Headed By Veteran Filmmaker Pahlaj Nihlani.” – Suneel Kumar
Suneel Kumar maybe a small time filmmaker who has made mostly “B” & “C” grade films. But he has no qualms on being labelled as a “B” & “C” grade filmmaker as he strongly feels that it is the so called “B” & “C” grade films that are largely successful at the box office turnstiles, so what if they run successfully in “B” & “c” grade centres only, the smaller pockets of the distribution sectors of the interior territories. Besides these small films fetch enough coins at the box office turnstiles which feeds 100’s of families of the technical crews. But Suneel Kumar also laments the fact that the small films do not get their due recognition in all aspects & respects. Not only this there is not even a single umbrella (Read Association) protection to safeguard their varied interests.
So what according to you are the main grievances of the small time filmmakers?
The main grievances of us, small time filmmakers is that there is no one to listen to us. There is not even one umbrella (Read Association) to voice our opinions, no one to take heed of our problems, our difficulties in varied aspects & respects.
To give you a specific example. You see I have made many low budget films. And all of them were released in the single theaters of Mumbai circuits as well as the other circuits @ the All India Level. In the earlier times all the distributors used to take a keen interest in picking up such projects on outright basis at a good price. Then came the trend of releasing them on a joint profit sharing basis with Minimum Guarantee (MG). And now the tables have turned completely as now the distributors, sometimes in connivance with the exhibitors too, have started the trend of releasing the film only at our expense. So now we small time filmmakers have to shell out an additional budget of publicity (materials cost too), promotions and even the theater hire charges (Read Exhibitors) and to top it we do not even get any revenue from the music rights & the satellite rights as the doors of this 2 avenues are closed for us forever. Today the situation has become such that if the making cost is 5 lacs, we end up spending another 5 lacs on other miscellaneous expenses that I have just mentioned above. And after all this we consider ourself lucky if we end up making a marginal profit of just 1 lakh. And if our film becomes a runaway hit, which is very rare nowadays, than that proves to be a Bumper Bonus, almost akin to a Double Bonanza for us. Not only this now we also have to deal with the changing censor guidelines from time to time.
And pray what is that?
Oh! That is one more ailing situation that we small time filmmakers have to face. As the morality conscious Central Board Of Film Certification (CBFC) feels itself so duty bound that it keeps changing its censor guidelines, to protect public morality, from time to time sometimes without even any prior intimation. And needless to say the CBFC members are very harsh with us small time filmmakers.
I will cite a latest example. My recently released film was ‘Yeh Figure Hai’. And the film’s title goes with its theme. But the censor board had asked me to chop off all the semi clad shots of a female figure. Then you tell me what would have remained in the finally chopped off movie. I really had a trying time in convincing them not to mar my film in this distorted fashion. Now what are these guidelines wherein a so called male nudity (Read semi – nude) in a recently released film is passed without even batting an eyelid and for a semi – clad female nudity a lot of hullabaloo and even societal eyebrows are raised. And in the end it is the cine goers who feel cheated as they cannot enjoy the semi – clad nudity scenario either on the big screen as the censors chop off their visual delight and they can’t do so by feasting their eyes on the wall posters or even the filmy trade magazines as the Information & Broadcasting ministry has decided to slam it with hammer & tongs.
Are small time filmmakers facing any other problems?
Earlier we used to give manual prints of our films processed in a film laboratory. But now with the advent of the digitized release through UFO, Cube, UMW, K. Sera Sera et al we are facing more problems. Earlier the manual print cost was more but now we find that releasing the film through this above mentioned digitised medium is exorbitant. Not to forget about their high handed tantrums & the non – preferential treatment that they mete out to us over big films.
Anything more that you would like to add on?
Oh! Yes of course, the latest ordinance passed by the Government (Read The Information & Broadcasting Ministry). As now they have become the watchdogs over the semi – nude advertisement that we release in Filmy trade Magazines to promote our films nay to lure the cine goers to the cinema halls which used to boost the collections on the box office turnstiles. So what are we supposed to do as we are trapped from both sides (Read CBFC & I & B Ministry) with no way to escape from any loopholes whatsoever.
So are the small time filmmakers taking any steps to wriggle out of these dire situations that they are facing from all sides?
Yes! Of course we are striving very hard to improve our precarious situation. On a close knit survey I discovered that there are almost 300 small time filmmakers who are suffering including me. I am making all the efforts to assemble all of them under 1 umbrella (Read Association) hopefully & probably to be headed by none other than veteran filmmaker Pahlaj Nihlani, who is now also the new chair person of the Central Board 0f Film Certification. I am sure that under his tutelage & expertise oriented guidance we will surely & definitely solve all our ailing problems galore.
Lets hope for the best and now tell us are you contented with your filmic journey as a small time filmmaker so far?
For that you have to travel with me in the time frame of the year 1991. Almost a runaway lad had arrived & landed in the Bollywoodian capital with starry dreams in his eyes. He struggled a lot and was soon to be clubbed as an extra in crowded sequences, sensing danger he fled and started his struggle all over again, this time as a filmmaker and very soon he gained prominence as a small time filmmaker. So the small time filmmaker that’s me had finally arrived by making his own gem of 2 small screen serials and a few small time big screen films in Hindi, Bhojpuri, chattisgarhi et al. So yes the answer is an emphatic YES I am fully & totally satisfied with my filmic journey as a small time filmmaker. Period!