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Is The Star Driven Model Failing?

With the recent release (and subsequent failure) of Mohenjo Daro, Disney has officially stalled its India operations. They were, until recently working with UTV in India. The partnership worked well, till it didn’t. The movies started flopping one after the other, and Mohenjo Daro is a colossal addition to the list. The movie has raked in losses to the tune of 90 crores plus.

But why was the cost of production so high in the first place? Agreed, it was a period film, which requires elaborate sets and high production value, but it is said that Hrithik was paid a whopping 20 crores for the film. These 20 crores bloated the budget of the film. And UTV bought this film for roughly 95 crores. Obviously the movie had an uphill battle to climb. It might still be able to recoup some of its losses, but rest assured, this film will go in the annals of film history as one of the biggest failures.

And this film isn’t the first one. Last year, Bombay Velvet met with the same fate. A lot of this has to be attributed to our propensity to pay actors way above what they deserve. Sure, having a Salman in your film ensures bums on seats in a theatre, but a Hrithik, who comes with a similar price tag, does not guarantee instant success.The problem is the remuneration of these stars. And more importantly, the remuneration of their support staff. Everyone, from their managers to their personal assistants, to their make up artistes to their drivers are paid for by the producers. A producer recently claimed that the remuneration of a certain star’s driver was, in total, more than what was paid to the scriptwriter of the film. The result? Mediocre cinema. Which is now falling flat.

The problem is the remuneration of these stars. And more importantly, the remuneration of their support staff. Everyone, from their managers to their personal assistants, to their make up artistes to their drivers are paid for by the producers. A producer recently claimed that the remuneration of a certain star’s driver was, in total, more than what was paid to the scriptwriter of the film. The result? Mediocre cinema. Which is now falling flat.
This is the very reason why the Bhatts continue to make profits, even out of their biggest flops. The budgets are strictly contained, and a lot of money is made from the music rights and the digital rights of the film. New directors helm most of these movies, and hence the cost of production is marginal.

Stars need to be put in check. The larger than life star of yesteryears has now given way to a newer generation of realistic heroes (Nawazuddin, Irrfan, Rajkumar Rao). The films which have these men in the lead, have a far lesser chance of failing, as the stakes are always low. Sure, a Raman Raghav won’t break the records of a Dabangg, but any movie, which can be considered good, and yet make a profit, is a success in today’s day and age.