The pandemic hasn’t been very kind to Bollywood. It has exposed its rampant nepotism, its insularity and often even its callousness. So, what will save the industry and can it be turned around when this pandemic ends? Here are some people who I believe can turn the tide.
Ekta Kapoor: The former queen of soap has relaunched herself as the queen of two-tiered entertainment through the OTT app ALTBalaji.
Applause Entertainment: Sameer Nair’s experience at Star TV and Balaji Entertainment has helped in the revival of Applause, which has now become the home of the perfect mix of classy and trashy—its USP: efficient adaptations of foreign shows.
Zoya Akhtar: The world is now ready for her storytelling that spans cinema, OTT series and short films. When she launched the fierce and feminist Tiger Baby Films, she created a home for the collaborative narrative that also promises to look society straight in the face.
The Risk Takers
Punit Goenka: The CEO of Zee Entertainment Enterprises took Salman Khan, with bags under his eyes and his creaking bones, to a whole new level with Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai.
Aamir Khan: What Goenka did was what Aamir Khan had suggested in 2009 for the release of 3 Idiots. He was the first star to involve himself in the complete production, distribution and marketing of his movie.
Akshay Kumar: Before he was laid low by Covid, the actor had shot two films, Bell Bottom and Bachchan Pandey, flying the teams to Glasgow and Jaisalmer, respectively, to complete both films in record time. With his hard-won skills of action, comedy and drama as well as a knack for staying close to the powers-that-be, he looks set to last a long time.
Salman Khan: The unchanging Khan has discovered a formula which may have diminishing returns, but his films have enough of the familiar to strike a chord. Add to that his self-appointed messiah streak, and this Khan franchise looks likely to go on.
Aditya Chopra: He may have missed the bus on OTT, but the reclusive head of Yash Raj Films is still a progressive filmmaker, a promoter of much-needed new talent and a producer who is not afraid of lavishing big budgets on big stars.
Ronnie Screwvala: Bought out by Disney, he started a new life as founder of the not-for-profit Swades Foundation and the e-learning app UpGrad, but the cinematic gene is too deeply embedded. Now, his RSVP Movies almost always hit the mark, whether it is Uri: The Surgical Strike or Raat Akeli Hai.
Amazon Prime:Tandav and its reaction from the republic of the offended made it extra careful but whether it is the dark Paatal Lok, the frothy Four More Shots Please!, the dramatic Mirzapur or just the stellar The Family Man, the Amazon team has created series with legs. Add to that their sharp focus on regional films, and this is a platform shaping tastes in all kinds of consumption.
PVR Ltd: Will theatres become the shop windows for online entertainment? The burden of this future falls on the very able shoulders of one man who controls 65 per cent of all multiplex screens in India, PVR Ltd Chairman Ajay Bijli. How he reinvents the theatrical model in a movie-mad, post-pandemic nation is going to be closely tracked.
The Super Agents
Prabhat Choudhary: He is the go-to man when the brand narrative goes wrong for a star or a movie. And the narrative has gone wrong for Bollywood. Head of the communication agency Spice and digital marketing firm Entropy, he is Bollywood’s Prashant Kishor—whether it was turning around Brand Hrithik or launching starlings like Sara Ali Khan.
Reshma Shetty: She’s the woman behind Matrix, a talent agency. She turned around Salman Khan’s career and though she lost him to his agency, everyone from Alia Bhatt to Varun Dhawan looks to her for advice.