SHORT TAKES The surprise success of 6-5=2 once again proves that nothing can stop a good film from succeeding
It takes the success of just one film to annihilate popular norms and notions pundits have about audience perception. It also establishes a great leveller. The budget of a film could be in crores or mere lakhs but the paying public spend the same amount to buy a ticket and decide its fate. The surprise success of 6-5=2 has shocked the industry simply because nobody had said, ‘I told you’. It took me back to the Eighties when the most powerful form of publicity was word of mouth. The film was not on my weekly viewing agenda. There were no positive pre-release murmurs about the film nor were the posters inviting. My option was Dyavre directed by ‘Gadda’ Viji who had worked under Suri and Yograj Bhat. I trudged out totally disappointed that the director had missed a chance to make a meaningful film. I was not surprised when critics generously doled out stars hailing Dyavre as path breaking.
A couple of days later I was besieged by calls recommending 6-5=2 . Ramesh Arvind called from Chennai and wanted me to check out the film. Now here was a film bereft of known names be it cast or crew. Made on a shoestring budget and released after a struggle the first show had a scattering of viewers. None of the newspapers cared to review it nor did the makers hop from channel to channel blowing own trumpet. I went to a multiplex on Monday morning and barely managed to get a ticket. The hall was packed with students some viewing it a second time. The film, an intelligent amalgam of fact and fiction, friendship and fiends succeeds in keeping you riveted for around 110 minutes. There is just a hint of romance, no songs and in a nutshell the film is thrills sans frills. You laugh with the characters and share their claustrophobic fears even though they are in a vast forest. While the protagonists are mere humans the unseen antagonists send shivers down your spine. Yes, the film is inspired by The Blair Witch Project but at least the director has refrained from changing it to suit Indian sensibilities whatever that means! Another positive is that the budget or the lack of it has not affected the quality. There is a tendency to go overboard with sound effects in a horror film but here it’s minimal and the quality is first rate. The fact that no amount of publicity and positive reviews can save a bad film is proved by the failure of Dhyavre . The success of 6-5=2 reiterates the fact that nothing can stop a good film from succeeding.
Getting the mobile number of Ashok, the director of 6-5=2 proves to be an arduous task. He’s the typical film fanatic turned filmmaker. Hailing from a town near Mysore, his family was harried when the engineer drawing a handsome salary left his job with an international group to study script writing in Chennai. He did work under a few directors briefly before convincing a colleague to produce his film. Success has still not sunk in. He’s undergoing an internal turmoil about how to handle it. “It does bother me that my first film is inspired even though only in spirit,” says the shy debutante. “I want to make sure my next film inspires others.” Things have changed overnight. The unknown face who used to visit known names seeking help to release his film is now sought after. There are producers knocking on his door. It’s understandable because they perceive him to be a director who knows how to convert a few lakhs into crores. A lot of effort has gone into the making though. “We had to make plenty of trips to decide the unfriendly terrain and if the acting looks effortless it’s because we rehearsed for three months,” says Ashok. “I think it’s relatively easy to attain success. Maintaining it is more difficult. Sometimes confidence is mistaken for arrogance but my mother has told me not to change, come what may. I hope to listen to her,” says the mild mannered Ashok. Have Lucia and 6-5=2 ushered in a new wave? I hope so though the fear is they may spawn a slew of poor imitations. Hopefully they’ve ushered in an era where commerce is controlled by content, when the common viewer has proved more discerning than the maker.
S. SHIVA KUMAR