Marathi Film industry has no Stars only moons
A “Star” is a well-known, famous actor who can draw box office on his/ her shoulders. They are the ones who can secure heavy collections at the ticket window. The term may also apply to an actor or actress who is a marketable commodity, yes commodity, and can be used to guarantee success at THE BOX OFFICE.
Till 1910, actors were not given any credit, their names would never appear on silver screen or posters. The producers used to fear that if the actors gets popular their salaries would increase. The actors on the other hand would use dummy names. Florence Lawrence, popularly known as the “Biography Girl”, first used her real name in 1910 and is considered to be the first “Star”. It’s just that, The Stars then were called, “Picture Personalities”.
The concept of film promotion started and it ended up into giving out stories about these “personalities” to media, mainly magazines and newspapers in those days. In late 1920’s, the early days of Hollywood studios, a new trend started, placing the Star’s name in smaller font size above the title of the film. This resulted growth in the revenue. The “image makers” (today’s PRO’s) planted rumours, released real or fake information of the Stars to the media to create their glamorous persona’s; and the “Star system” came to life.
An actor with tremendous fame is a Star. Fame literally means recognition of highest order. “Fame” is a relational term, it heavily depends on others, common people. An actor can reach excellence, but possibly have no fame. Fame is similar to love, there is no specific reason why a person loves another, it is independent of any merits; the reasons are strange. An actor may be very good, of highest calibre, but may not have people talking about them, such actor has no fame they are NO STAR’s.
After 1980’s film producers and studios started using the stardoms of the Stars for publicity tactics. The Indian film industry has its own set of rules in this aspect. There are Stars and also Superstars who demand pay packages based on their box office appeal. A producer pays a premium to cast a Star over “just an actor” so that basic box office collections are guaranteed. Having a Star in your film can keep the producers at bay for at least the opening weekend. Come Monday it’s the fate of the film. If the film is good & liked by the people, it will have a good run. A good run can result in better revenue generation. In a nutshell, a Star can definitely give the film a head start and a better chance for the producers to make their money back and a good chance of even making heavy profits. Film making like any other business has one basic rule, the supplier (Producer in this case) has to fulfil the demand of the consumer. If the demand for your commodity is more, you’ll end up selling more, make more money. If the producers recover their investments, they’ll make another film and then, the Stars and also people like me would keep their jobs.
Marathi film industry has a glorious history, right from Phalke – father of Indian Cinema, Shantaram to Pendharkar. In the recent past, the industry has taken a huge leap in numbers. Marathi box office is growing every day, breaking records like never before and setting new benchmarks every quarter. When I sat down and looked back at last five years, I realized there have been super amazing films like Balak Palak, Lai Bhari, Classmates, Duniyadari and of course Katyar, Natasamrat and now Sairat to name a few.
There are many amazing actors involved in these films; many of them I have tremendous respect and love for. They have been critically as well as commercially successful, but the success has been so intermittent that the tag of “Star” cannot be actually endowed upon them. For them to be called a “Star”, it would require consistency in the success of their filmography. The success graph of their work appears like a roller coaster ride. There has not been any actor in our Marathi film industry, who can assure consistent super weekends, one topping the previous. The bitter truth of the matter is, the studios and producers, to safeguard their bottom-line, created the concept of “Star” and “Star System”, if an actor consistently fails at it, they fail the basic definition.
There could be several reasons, many unknown to make an actor into a Star; and similarly several reasons for them not to be one. Hindi film Stars do a limited number of films in a year; which creates a craving among audience for their offerings. Thus the audience eagerly waits for the Christmas to watch Aamir Khan’s film, Eid for Salman Khan’s film and so on. Such pattern does not exist in Marathi Film Industry; actors do not restrict themselves to a limited number, resulting in lesser curiosity among audience. Marathi actors have presence in films as well as television shows and plays; and now, I hear even the webisodes. This diminishes his/her quality of being exclusive. Such presence across various platforms would negatively affect the desire of audience for his/her films. This trend amongst some actors is slowly changing but the fruits are yet to ripe.
When a Marathi film is a hit, people love the character, they say their favourite actor’s dialogues at gatherings, dance to the chart-buster numbers copying the hero’s style and then, Bang… next film of the same actor comes and people refuse to recognize their fame. A Marathi film actor is a “Star” when a film makes them so. Unfortunately the love and fame rests with the “characters” they play, not with the actors themselves.
A Star has its own light. Moon has no light of its own; it shines by reflecting light. Marathi Film industry has no Stars only moons. I’m waiting for the day, when our very own home-grown Stars are born; Stars, that twinkle at night.
-Written By Om Raut (Director Writer – Lokmanya Ek Yugpurush)