A social-media post from the late and much missed Irrfan Khan’s son Babil has made Manisha Koirala sit up and think.
Says Babil, “My father gave his life trying to elevate the art of acting in the adverse conditions of noughties Bollywood and alas, for almost all of his journey, was defeated at the box office by hunks with six pack abs delivering theatrical one-liners and defying the laws of physics and reality, photoshopped item songs, just blatant sexism and same-old conventional representations of patriarchy.”
Manisha Koirala who during her days of glory did substantial commercial films like Mani Ratnam’s Bombay, Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Khamoshi: The Musical and Mansoor Ali Khan’s Akele Hum Akele Tum , feels the time has come to revise the language and patriarchal status of commercial Hindi cinema.
Says Manisha, “ More than half the budget of those big blockbuster commercial film goes into paying the hero.When you go to see the film you wonder where all the money went because it isn’t visible on screen. Then you get the answer. The money went into the hero’s bank account. The film is made from the money that remains after the hero is paid.It is insane! We have to change this.”
Manisha feels the Covid lockdown is an opportune time to think about repositioning the film’s budget. “The leading men must lower their fees drastically for our film industry to survive the post-Covid slump. Use the budget of a film to make good films. It is the only way we can overcome the recession.”
Manisha feels there is less squandering of resources on the OTT platform. “The actors are paid what they deserve and the majority of the budget goes into production. That’s the way it ought to be.An actor like Irrfan fought against the excesses of mainstream cinema throughout his career. We owe it to him to make films that are not about crashing cars and snazzy item songs but have something to say about life as we know it.”