New Delhi, Oct 18: Unconventional dramas and atypical love sagas from new-age directors are providing tough competition to larger-than-life heroes at the box-office.
At a time when typical masala movies like "Besharam" and "Once Upon A Time in Mumbai Dobaara" failed to entice moviegoers, unconventional stories like "Ship of Theseus" and "The Lunchbox" triumphed.
The new wave cinema is co-existing with typical commercial masala movies, says actor R. Madhavan, who successfully straddles both the worlds.
"We have not given audiences these kinds of films, but the Indian audience is extremely intelligent. They are mature and capable of handling anything. At a time when 'Dabangg' became a hit, 'Tanu Weds Manu' was a hit as well. These are great signs," Madhavan told IANS.
The success of atypical movies is testimony to the fact that they are no longer just the flavour of film festivals but are commercially viable too.
Made on a meagre budget of Rs.2.5 crore, Anand Gandhi's directorial debut "Ship of Theseus" managed to win the hearts of many, while Ritish Batra's "The Lunchbox", an unconventional love story, appealed to the viewers so much that the film, said to be made for approximately Rs.10 crore, collected Rs.1.25 crore on its opening day.
Trade analyst Komal Nahta gives credit to various platforms to showcase creativity.
"Cinemas, multiplexes and business models are changing. All kinds of films run because there are small-capacity multiplexes and 1,000 people are not needed to fill up a show," Nahta told IANS.
He also credits the audiences.
"The audience wants to see good films. That is what makes them do well. People are opening out because of various changing forms of distribution.
"There is room for 'Rowdy Rathore' alongside 'Ram-Leela'...alongside 'The Lunchbox'," Nahta noted.
Debutant director Faraz Haider, maker of well-received war comedy "War Chhod Na Yaar", said the magic lies in the rareness of ideas.
"For a first time director, it is very tough to get a producer and actors. The basic thing is to have a unique idea. If you have a unique idea, then everyone will entertain you. The idea has to be different," he said.
Many feel that 2006 release "Khosla Ka Ghosla" well made and well-acted satirical comedy paved the way for such movies.
Later, Anurag Kashyp gave a fillip to the trend when he presented Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay's "Devdas" in a bolder form as "Dev D". The experiment paid him rich dividends at the box office.
After the success of the tragic love story presented with a new treatment, many-followed suit.
For instance, Habib Faisal struck the right chord with his middle-class drama "Do Dooni Chaar", Abhishek Chaubey took a successful bold step with "Ishqiya", which showed the female protagonist in a never seen before avatar, and Vikramaditya Motwane carved a niche with "Udaan", a film about a troubled father-son relationship.
Kiran Rao too proved her point with "Dhobi Ghat", a film made for a niche audience.
"The climate is getting favourable. Somewhere, Anurag's films and their acceptance by a normal audience has given rise to a fearless breed of filmmakers," said director Hansal Mehta, who has got a thumbs up from the critics for his film "Shahid", a biopic on slain lawyer and social activist Shahid Azmi.
"The fact that Anurag has become a producer has helped many producers take on such films as well," the filmmaker added.
Some of the filmmakers who are striving to take the trend forward include "Rajjo" director Vishwas Patil, debutant director Soumik Sen who has helmed "Gulab Gang" and Abhishek Chaubey, the man behind "Dedh Ishqiya".
(Anjuri Nayar can be contacted at email@example.com)