This might be a long article because so much is to be said so please do bear with it!
Getting this out of the way first;Blade Runner 2049 has to be one of the best sequels ever made which totally justifies its predecessor, smartly expands on its universe and also is a great Stand-Alone Movie!
Blade Runner 2049 is a sequel to Blade Runner 2019 which released 35 years ago. Although not well received at the time of its release, Ridley Scott’s Epic Sci-Fi movie turned out to be a timeless classic which influenced one whole Genre of the cinematic world.
Not only did it influence movies but as well as influenced many Manga , Anime and the themes that they follow. It was after Blade Runner that many of these started to use the theme of Humanity. For eg: Tokyo Ghoul is heavily inspired by the themes of Blade Runner. The manga beautifully captures on how far can Human Species push themselves to do the right and eventually when they give-up!
“‘Blade Runner’ is simply one of those cinematic drugs, that when I first saw it, I never saw the world the same way again,” said Guillermo del Toro who has helmed movies like Pacific Rim, Hell Boy Series, Blade 2; when describing why “Blade Runner” was one of his five favourite films of all-time.
I watched Blade Runner 2019 first when I was 14. I was just getting exposed to world cinema and all I wanted to do was watch good movies. When I looked up at ‘Blade Runner:2019’ and how people called it ‘THE BEST SCI-FI MOVIE OF ALL TIME’,I got curious and watched it. Being Brutally Honest, I found the movie to be boring and I did not understand the themes that were played in it , I thought the pacing was slow, nothing was really happening in the movie.
But there was something in that movie which pulled me again and I wanted to watch it, give it a go once again. I gave this movie another chance. It was 2-3 years after I first watched it. I revisited this movie again and this time I was blown away by this movie. I dont know how many people might have said this that they hated Blade Runner at first viewing and then loved it when they watched it again, it at least holds true in my case.
One of the major reasons for this to happen was that this time around, I understood the themes played in it. I understood the dynamics on why the movie was paced the way it was. I understood the conflict of the story on how human can Human Beings be and how Androids (read: Replicants) want to be a part of Human Civilization and have emotions.
Now coming to the point on how our Indian Cinema is not able to make an epic Sci-Fi movie which can stand the challenge of time and represent Indian Cinema at a global stage and maybe also inspire people getting into movie-making around the world!
The closest that Indian Cinema has got to making an epic movie on a large scalehas to be the “Baahubali” series. Yes, I liked the movie to a certain extent, I had rated it a B+ but in a very humble opinion, why the movie worked such wonders was purely on the basis of execution of a thin plotline. It was S.S Rajamouli’s vision that saved the movie big time. Yes, the performances were good ,the visuals were great (to a certain extent), the music clicked,etc. It definitely is a huge step up for Indian Cinema. It showed that you can invest a lot of time and money into a movie and you would get the returns, but when I look back at the movie, I dont learn anything new! There is nothing new in the script. Let me tell you the core of “Baahubali’; When the adpoted son is given the throne to rule a Kingdom, the elder brother gets jealous and kills his brother. Its now up to his son to avenge his father’s death and regain control over the Kingdom.
India’s biggest movie till date, when bisected, is a revenge story.
So why can’t Indian Cinema produce a movie like ‘Blade Runner’? Lets get into some points:
Preconceived Notion of Big Budget:
There is a preconceived notion in people’s mind that making an epic Blockbuster Sci-Fi movie will involve a lot of money. It is true that many blockbuster summer movies have Big Budgets, big sets, but it is also true that there are many low Budget Epics that stood the test of time and are still enjoyed by all.
Terminator was made on a budget of 6.4 Million Dollars in 1984. When adjusted for Inflation, it would have taken 14 million Dollars to make the same movie in 2017. 14 Million Dollars when converted into Indian Rupees is 91.7 crores.
A Movie like ‘THX 1138’ directed by George Lucas was made on a budget of meagre 777,777$ in 1971 and when adjusted for inflation, 4.4 million dollars!
Putting that into perspective, a movie like ‘Tubelight‘ was made on a Budget of 135 Crores.
Jab Harry Met Sejal was made on a budget of 80-85 crores.
Akshay Kumar’s epic disaster ‘Blue’ was made on a whooping budget of 100 crores!
Producers and distributors are shelling a whole lot of money on superstars movies’ and they deserve it because they have worked their way up there but the same people hesitate to shell out their money when a new concept is introduced (here: Sci-fi).
But here is the thing, if a movie is good, it is going to get its due. A creative mind of an artist should not be bogged down by budgets. There has to be some kind of faith and backing so that writers could come up with a great story knowing that they have got support.
A movie like ‘Judwaa 2′ has grossed nearly 100crore nett box-office in one week flat. *Sad Violin plays in the background*
The audiences are basically divided into two categories: The mass, and the class.
One of the reasons why ‘Judwaa 2’ was such a hit at the box-office was because of the mass audience. The occupancy of the movie was insane at the single screens right from the go and eventually the word of mouth kicked in resulting into huge numbers. WOM does not really play a huge factor in massy movies but now-a-days the trend seems to be changing a lot.
Class Audience or often referred as ‘Multiplex audience’ go to watch a movie only if they feel that the content is good. Word of Mouth plays a major role in content driven movies more than in massy commercial movies. The best recent examples being ‘Newton’, Shubh Mangal Savdhaan’ and ‘Bareilly ki Barfi’
Sci-fi Movies around the world are made for massy audience but somehow India has a reverse trend going on.
Leaving ‘Krrish 3’ aside, other Indian Sci-Fi was not lapped up by the Indian Masses. Ra.One, A Flying Jatt, Raabta and even an ambitious Bombay Velvet was outright rejected by the mass.
‘Baahubali’ is a good example on how you can get both, the mass and the class into theatres with your content which has an universal appeal. Rajamouli should be applauded just because of the fact his vision was able to bring in audience in large numbers.
Not only the producers but the actors and directors also hesitate in making a content driven Sci-Fi movie. A major factor for this reason has to do with how Indian sci-fi movies, especially Bollywood, have performed.
Lets take a look at few movies;
Toofan: a bollywood fantasy movie starring Amitabh Bachchan was released in 1989. Although the movie opened fairly well, it outright crashed the following week. The recall Value of the movie is also quite poor and is one of the major disappointments of Big B’s Career.
Drona: A bollywood fantasy movie starring Abhishek Bachchan and Priyanka Chopra in the lead. Won’t get much into this but I would just like to state that this movie has a dismal 2.1 rating on IMDB.
Tarzan the wonder Car: A young man converts his father’s old car into an amazing wonder car named Tarzan. The car comes alive as it is possessed by his father’s spirit. Soon, it also starts killing his father’s murderers. Although not very similar but a car killing people somewhat resembles to the infamous Stephen King Directed movie “Maximum Overdrive”. Although a guilty pleasure for me, the movie had an underwhelming box-office run. The movie had more ‘cringe’ moments than wow moments.
Ra.One: An over-ambitious movie starring Shah-Rukh-Khan as G.One along with Arjun Rampal as Ra.One (present only in the final act of the movie). The movie had an interesting premise that of a video game antagonist coming to life and killing its creator which leads to the protagonist of the video game to come to life and take place of his owner in order to fight Ra.One and save the world. So, where did it go wrong? A big Budget, A superstar, an interesting premise, then what happened to a potential game changer? The answer is its execution! Over the top acting, Melo-dramatic sequences, unwanted songs, weak direction and everything else. The movie underperformed although it took a flying start at the box-office thanks to the negative word of mouth earning roughly around 110-115 crores on a budget of 110 crores!
Krrish 3: Okay, what on the earth were everyone smoking while filming this? I loved Koi Mil Gaya (aka ET) and Krrish, but this? The core of this movie is: Nothing. Its just a hot dude flying here and there (yes, flying) and randomly fighting bad guys and there is this one big bad guy who wants to (hold your breathe) RULE THE WORLD. Awful Music, cringe-worthy dialogues; there is a dialogue in the movie towards the end which goes like “Krrish ek soch hai, jisse koi bhi Kaal nahi maar sakta. Jab tak hum main se koi ek zinda hai, tab tak krrish humare saath hai”. *sits in a corner and cringes for life* The movie collected from around 190-250 crore at the box-office. (Nobody is sure about the real box-office numbers, they are as mysterious as the Bermuda triangle) The collections are good only because the movie was released during a festive period. Otherwise the movie is bad, very bad!
A Flying Jatt: So, the protagonist gets back to his home, see’s a celebration of some sort at his residence, gets out of his house and everybody in the god-damn residence starts to sing and dance. This movie was a painful watch. Bad acting, trying to give out a social message of keeping India clean (swacch bharat abhiyan) in a superhero movie and random songs, I will just stop there. The movie was a box-office flop earning around 37 crores on a budget of 45 crores.
I: I is a 2015 Indian Tamil-language romantic thriller film written and directed by Shankar. No way was this movie as bad as other’s mentioned here. It was a box-office success as well but the movie was major let down. The trailers and songs promised more than what was eventually delivered. One thing to take away from the movie was Vikram’s performance but then again, the wafer-thin plotline let the movie down.
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Love Story 2050 (whats up with the torn costumes?), Mr X, Creature 3D (hahaha), Action Replayy, Blue, all of these movies belong this category which has lead the Bollywood Industry to think twice before committing to a Sci-Fi story.
Good Indian Sci-Fi Movies:
Mr India: Undeniably, this is the movie which brought the Sci-Fi movie trend to Indian Cinema or atleast to Bollywood. Collecting around 12 crores (equivalent to 101 crores as of 2016) this movie has become a cult classic and it has all the rights of being so. Great Performances, Universal Appeal, good recall value and the music worked big time for the movie.
PK: Rajkumar Hirani is known for directing blockbuster movies and PK was no different. The story focuses upon an alien coming to earth for his research but eventually losing his ‘Locket’ to theft due to which he is stranded on earth. The story takes quite a few turns before advancing towards its main plot, i.e., superstition and religious dogmas. Although the movie’s runtime was lengthy, the plot rarely lost its steam. A captivating performance by the cast, specially Aamir Khan, kept the audience hooked to their seats. It is one of those movies that gives the audience something to think about even after you have left the Cinema Hall . The movie made on a budget of 85-90 crore, earned Rs 740 crore worldwide.
Enthiran or Robot: Shankar’s Enthiran was a huge step up for the Indian Cinema in terms of scale of a movie. It was costliest Indian movie made at that time and it showed how to use a big budget rightfully. Shankar has always stated out this fact time and again that he likes to use the big budgets that his movies get to the maximum potential. A superstar like Rajinikanth, Shankar’s vision, A.R Rahman’s music came together to make a great movie. Made on a budget of 132 crores, the movie grossed around 292 crores worldwide.
Baahubali Series: Although I criticized this movie before in this very post, one cannot deny the fact that this S.S Rajamouli epic is an important milestone in the Indian Film Industry. Visually Appealing, Strong Performances, SS Rajamouli on the director’s chair and KK Senthil’s cinematography to go along with M.M. Keeravani’s composition; the franchise had a budget of around 430 crores (combined), grossed around 2450 crores worldwide. That’s a lot of money!
Eega or Makkhi: Can S.S Rajamouli do any wrong? No! Written by K.V Vijayendra Prasad, Eega, at its core was again a revenge story but in an interesting premise. Nani is murdered by a wealthy businessman named Sudeep, who is attracted to Bindu and considers Nani a rival. Nani reincarnates as a housefly and tries to protect Bindu while avenging his death. Made on a tight budget of somewhere around 35-40 crores, the movie more than tripled its income grossing around 125-130 crores at the boxoffice.
Anticipated Movies that could turn the tide around.
2.0: A sequel to S.Shankar’s Enthiran, 2.0 sees the return of Rajnikanth as a Robot and the antagonist is played by our very own Khiladi, Akshay Kumar, who is on a roll at the box-office these days. The movie is expected to be a huge money-spinner worldwide and it may even give Baahubali: The Beginning a run for its money. The movie is scheduled to release on January 25th 2018.
Chanda Mama Door ke: With a talented Star cast of Sushant Singh Rajput and R.Madhavan on board, the movie is going to be the first ever Indian Science Fiction Space Movie. With expectations sky high, this Sanjay Puran Singh Chauhan directed film traces the journey of India’s space programme and culminates with India’s first astronaut landing on the moon in 2017–18.
To conclude with, Indian Cinema can do much better than what they are doing right now. Maybe a strong source material can influence someone to make something like Blade Runner (Blade runner is adapted from 1968 Philip K Dick’s Science Fiction novel ‘Do Androids dream of Electric Sheep’) Its not that our country does not have Science Fiction oriented materials. Satyajit Rai himself has penned down so many beautiful Sci-Fi Stories; Professor Shonku being one of them. Samit Basu,a novelist, has made his name in the Sci-Fi Genre.
Its about time when Film-makers across the country step their game up and bring in a movie so good that it puts India on the global map as a major International Market!
Thanks For reading! Do comment below which is your favourite Science Fiction movie of all time. And also, feel free to discuss anything and everything about Blade Runner: 2049.