All hype but no substance

I distinctly remember I was in my early teens and had just taken to watching Hollywood movies in big way. Steve McQueen, Robert Shaw, Clint Eastwood etc we’re making big impression on me. In such excitement, an NRI filmmaker decided to make blockbuster movie by bringing Hollywood stars to India to collaborate with Indian stars. The end result was “Shalimar” filmed on grand scale and starred Hollywood biggies such as Rex Harrison, Sylvia Miles, John Saxon and Indian superstars like Dharmendra and Zeenat Aman. In spite of medley cast, hype about international production values and good music that generated lot of initial euphoria, the movie proved to be a dud and flopped miserably at the box office. Before this, showman Raj Kapoor’s dream project “Mera Naam Joker” with international star cast, great music and 3 hours plus running time, proved to be a big time failure that in a way finished the career of Raj Kapoor, the star actor. Of course, he bounced back 3 years later with Bobby that launched his younger son Rishi Kapoor and classic beauty Dimple Kapadia, but the failure of Mera Naam Joker shattered him from which he couldn’t really recover. Another example that readily comes to mind is that of “Shaan”. After Sholay’s unprecedented success, the onus was on Ramesh Sippy to use a larger canvas to make even a bigger blockbuster. However, Shaan failed miserably at the box office and Ramesh Sippy could never regain his past glory in spite of some decent movies later on. The history of Bollywood is replete with such instances that created big time pre release hype, but proved dud when released in theatres. While some of them were unfortunate to have failed at the time of original release, the case in point being Mera Naam Joker, which today is treated as an all time cult classic, most of these flopped because they failed having concentrated only on gloss and not on content. Ultimately, content is king as validated by recent success of low key movies such as Badhai Ho and Andhadhun. The inspiration for this blog also came from a recent dud – “Thugs of Hindoostan” with which two megastars of Bollywood seemed to have met their Waterloo.

3 thoughts on “All hype but no substance

  1. I agree totally about Shalimar being a flop. This was probably 1979/80 or thereabouts. I was posted in a hick town somewhere in Lower Assam. TV had not yet reached that part of the country. A few bachelor friends and I, also a bachelor, had a few drinks and went to see this movie after dinner. As far as I recall we all fell asleep before the interval…

    Mera Naam Joker was even older, 1971 /72. Saw it while I was still in college. Most of the songs went on to become big hits at the time. Part of it dealt with the infatuation of a young teenage boy Rishi for Simi an grown up woman. The permanent gain from the movie was the Russian word Dasvidaniya, meaning Goodbye, added to the vocabulary of all Indians who saw the movie. I believe the movie did well in Russia too where Raj Kapoor already enjoyed a large fan following owing to the song Mera Joota Hai Japani… Mera Lal Topi Russi… 😀


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