A debate at St Xavier’s College, Kolkata, on Saturday evening weighed in on whether content or the lack of it, was responsible for the apparent decline of Bollywood.
The motion was: “This House believes that we are witnessing Euthanasia of Bollywood.”
The event: Fr Joris Memorial Nihil Ultra Trophy National Debate, presented by the St Xavier’s College (Kolkata) Alumni Association in association with CDC and partnered by The Telegraph.
Among the speakers were some known names from the industry here, in Mumbai and down South. The debate was moderated by Kunal Sarkar, cardiac surgeon and president of the Calcutta Debating Circle.
Bollywood was defended by filmmakers Sudhir Mishra, Rahul Rawail, Madhur Bhandarkar and Nikkhil Advani and producer Amit Khanna.
Film critic Saibal Chatterjee, who opened the debate, said the audience had evolved in the wake of the home confinement because of the pandemic.
Film editor A. Sreekar Prasad, also speaking for the motion, said: “In the last 10 to 15 years, we see Hindi cinema has been mostly catering to a very urban population, So over a period of time the whole disconnect was happening.”
Filmmaker Shaji N. Khatun pulled no punches: “I am still doubtful whether the Bollywood films have got depth.”
Music producer Subhasree Thanikachalam, too, felt Bollywood had got disconnected from its roots.
Xaverian and filmmaker Ashoke Vishwanathan pondered why Bollywood was not being able to “come out of the rut”.
But Bollywood had its backers, too.
Film producer Amit Khanna said: “Bollywood had the best year last year. The vision which has been conjured that there has been some kind of creative atrophy in Bollywood itself is unfounded.”
Feted filmmaker Sudhir Mishra said: “The bigger films for a while may have flopped. But you must have seen the box office advance for a film like Pathaan.”
Filmmaker Rahul Rawail said box office collections may have made some people believe south Indian films were bigger.
Madhur Bhandarkar, who has delivered several Bollywood hits over the years, said: “It is not necessary after the pandemic all the movies across India have to be hit.”
Filmmaker Nikkhil Advani spied a Bollywood turnaround. “On January 25, a film is releasing which has got 2.1 lakh advance footfalls.” Pathaan.
The audience, comprising students, former students, teachers and many others, did not seem too convinced by the Bollywood story.
The motion was carried.
“The debate was the biggest in the city not only because of the unprecedented footfall, or the emotive motion, but because of the stellar lineup of speakers,” said Firdausul Hasan honorary secretary, St Xavier’s College Kolkata Alumni Association.
Principal Fr Dominic Savio said: “Debate and discourses highlighting different viewpoints are always welcome.”