I have just become one film old. If you ever aspired to be a film maker, I think making a feature film is the ultimate objective for most. I always thought how different it would feel having seen your own creation on the big screen. But to my utter dismay, nothing has changed. Its still the same old strange feeling, despite film being received well by the audience. It feels good when people say good things about the film. It equally feels bad when someone speaks poorly. But its fine. Every film has its audience and fortunately, the number appreciating our film is higher.
Fourth day into the week of release, I’m satisfied by the response of the audience but the number is not big enough to meet the costs as per the exhibitors. Some are very supportive but most of them have been the real pain. They can bear the costs of running a bollywood dud with less than five people in the theatre but when it comes to our film or for that matter any film from some independent producer, they start cribbing and try to negotiate the rent. At several centres, they have reduced the shows despite 30 to 40% occupancy in every show citing that their costs are not being met. Most exhibitors are controlled by distributors or their booking agents who thrive on the rental business, who try to cover their bollywood losses from the independent film makers or producers who approach them for screening.
I wonder sometimes if it’s a conspiracy against small film makers, to not allow them to challenge their age old strong hold on the trade. After all, we have released the film without going to any distributor. We registered ourselves as distributor for that matter and with the help of a friend in distribution business, got the screens. Since our friend is powerful, he got us the screens but not their confidence. While some other bollywood films were running empty shows, Bhobhar ran with decent occupancies, but this was not enough to give confidence to the age old sharks in business. One centre removed the show after the last one was 50% full. We are still fighting to keep our heads above the water. We may lose the battle but not the war, and not the hope, because there are still many people who support good cinema and they will prevail, we will prevail.
In some regions, we got good support from the exhibitor but the audience was just not right. Despite heavy publicity in the region, the turnout was extremely poor. We learnt the fact the hard way that only Salman sells in the region. May be this was our fault to not realize that. But we are now grown up. To be one film old really means growing up in this trade. But surprises is the name of the game. We are ready for them now. It has been a coming of age journey for us. Producing the film and then distributing it has been a very enjoyable process.
We have lost money but not our courage. With Bhobhar, we are happy that we have completed the full life cycle of a film, right from conceiving it to taking it to the theatres. We didn’t have money power or contacts in the industry so we were prepared for the worst. Still there were some good friends who supported us and we kept on moving ahead. Now the film has been released. Experiences have been mixed as people in this trade deal with you based on what you have to offer. This is the norm. Fair enough. We too are growing up. We still feel the pinch of being independent, being small but I think thats the way to grow up. In our next project, we will be much better prepared for things. I have already started work on my own script that I wrote two years back. Next project is on. We are looking for a producer but we will choose him. Because he has to be the one who can match our conviction and has the courage to stand by us till the last show lasts in theatres.
Director of the recently released Rajasthani film Bhobhar, Gajendra S. Shrotriya is an engineering graduate, an MBA in finance and has been in business for last fifteen years. For last four years, he has been making short films, some of which like Picnic and I’m Sorry have been screened and appreciated at several international film festivals. Bhobhar is his first feature film. Film making is his passion and he relinquished a cushy position in his well established construction business four years back to pursue his passion.