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Vicky Donor And The New Age Of Indian Cinema – How To Make It Click?

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It’s official. Vicky Donor is a MASSIVE hit and yet another signal that a new age of Indian cinema is gradually setting in. John Abraham, one of the producers and distributors (under the banner of John Abraham Entertainment) of the movie is laughing all the way to the bank. For a movie made on a shoestring budget of $1 million, it has already grossed $5 million in the 15 days since its release, garnering a profit of 400%. Now, that’s a result that John probably has never experienced before with any of his own films.

A quick swoop of the major multiplexes in our vicinity brought to light the fact that the movie, now in it’s third week, is still running to almost 65% occupancy on weekdays and 85% on weekends. Major multiplexes still have about 6-7 shows running per day, which is an exemplary feat for any Bollywood movie, particularly when it lacks any big name star-power. In 2011, it was the Aamir Khan produced Delhi Belly (which was also shot completely in Delhi) which won the hearts of the audiences and in 2012 it is Vicky Donor. The success of these movies truly makes us believe that we are seeing the onset of a new age of Indian cinema, one that is young, fresh and offbeat.

So the big question really is, “How to make low-budget movies like Vicky Donor click with the audiences?“. Lets have a look at the top four reasons

Find an offbeat topic

The easiest way to get noticed with a movie that lacks a big budget and star-power is to base the context of the film around a low-key and offbeat subject. That is however easier said than done, since offbeat topics have never been experimented with before. They need to be handled with care and require a lot of attention to detail. In the case of Vicky Donor, the story highlights the topic of infertility. It is true that couples in cities are finding it hard to have kids, because of a highly stressful life and no work-life balance. In a society that is still largely male-centered, overworked and wealthy men often harm their reproductive capabilities due work-related stress that affects their sperm count.

Sperm donation to assist in reproduction is a phenomenon that is highly developed in the USA and other western countries (payments are made via cheques or bank transfers). However in India it is still considered taboo as highlighted in the movie. The reality is that topics which still have a social stigma associated with them, do tend to find favor with the audiences more easily. People are aware of these facts, however hesitant to acknowledge them. Hence such offbeat topics almost always strike a chord and leave an impact. However bear in mind, they need to be handled very sensitively, while at the same time not so seriously as well.

Choose your characters wisely

Vicky Donor has at it’s center a Punjabi household, based in Delhi. The film has done a fantastic job of giving its main characters a larger than life outlook. The characters bring out the quips of typical Punjabi households, the bashfulness, the fondness for street food such as “Chole Kulche” and “Golgappe” etc. While the main character of Ayushman Khurana (aka Vicky) is certainly highlighted, you know you have a home run on the characterization, when the side-kicks shine as well and leave you appreciating the story even more.

The character of Vicky’s Grandmother, an elderly punjabi woman, Vicky’s mother and Annu Kapoor are very well scripted, spiced with natural Punjabi traits and beautifully executed. Vicky Donor’s “drinking mom” is a hit among fans. This was the general consensus among entertainment news channels post the success of the movie.

Definitely, make it funny

Hassi to Phassi” (if she laughs she digging it), is a popular Bollywood colloquialism that highlights the power of good comedy. Even the most difficult subject can be maneuvered well if it tickles the funny bone. In the case of Vicky Donor, the spontaneous humor is nicely blended in with the sensitivity of the topic providing the entertainment you look for when you buy a ticket to watch a movie.

Two characters who stand out with their comic performances in the movie are Vicky’s grandmother (played by veteran actress Kamlesh Gill) and Dr. Chadha (played by Annu Kapoor). The film tickles your funny bone, however not in a damn slapstick, nonsensical manner like what you see in the typical Sajid Khan flicks (which are simply awful).

Finally, create some foot-tapping music

Can any Bollywood movie be complete without music? Music and music sales can greatly influence the success of a movie many weeks before its official release. However sometimes, a single track is enough (aka DK Bose Band Baaja Baraat) and it doesn’t need to have a song and dance sequence at all. Vicky Donor has great music, but more like a Hollywood or Aamir Khan flick, it’s part of the background score. The music blends into the movie nicely, without taking the focus away from the story. Songs like “Paani Da Rang” were run away hits, because of the genre of music it ascribed to, Punjabi IndiPop.

The success of Vicky Donor comes as a refreshing change from the standard crop of Hindi movies. However, to truly herald the onset of a new age of Indian cinema, Bollywood requires more ambitious film makers, experimenting with such off-beat topics. The Indian Cinema viewer still values class and appreciates small budget films which touch a chord, rather than big budget whimpers, which solely ride on marketing.