Short films served standalone in theatres are unlikely to find takers in the country, says filmmaker Zoya Akhtar, who has helmed a 25-minute movie, Bombay Talkies, a compilation of four short films celebrating 100 years of Indian cinema
Zoya, who has directed true-blue Bollywood movies like Luck By Chance and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara in the past, joined forces with talents like Karan Johar, Anurag Kashyap and Dibaker Banerjee to put together Bombay Talkies. It has four stories – all different in content and flavour. The movie is hitting theatres on May 3, but will its release open the doors for a theatrical culture for short films? “I don’t think that will ever happen,” Zoya maintained.
“There might have been three or four different filmmakers coming together, but as a theatrical concept, (individual) short films don’t work in India. Now you don’t need a theatrical release. With internet, digital platforms and film festivals, you have so much that you can do. But honestly, I don’t think shorts film will make a huge theatrical culture,” said Zoya in an interview.
Zoya is, however, more than anything else, proud that she got to collaborate with such experienced directors. “I am the youngest in this lot and I am proud to be sharing credits with them. They are three amazing filmmakers; so I am really proud. I am actually the least experienced in the lot,” she said, adding that Bombay Talkies is a good package.
For her part in Bombay Talkies, Zoya worked around a slim budget of Rs 1.5 crore. And she managed, even with an actor like Katrina Kaif in it. Did she have to make a lot of compromises? “Compromises here and there, but not really! I am lucky that I am with producers like Excel Entertainment. They were like, ‘do whatever, just stay in budget’. I liked it because it was a great exercise for me. I think it was a pretty good budget for a short film. I was lucky, and even Katrina didn’t charge me. She did it for free,” she added.
Daughter of gifted writers Javed Akhtar and Honey Irani, the talented filmmaker said the obsession with the Rs.100 crore was weird. Calling it ‘a bit vulgar’, she said, “I am very happy that movies are making that kind of money and I want the box office to keep growing. I want films to make more and more money. But what I find weird is how the audience is involved in the box office. I don’t understand how much money a film has made can make a news… It’s happens nowhere in the world except India!”
Zoya said the money a movie makes is inconsequential to the audiences. “I feel people don’t know what to write; so this is what they write. Why should people know how much Jet Airways makes in a year – you like the airline, you fly it! I also think the press has a huge part to play in it,” she added.