Shamitabh and the Revival of Good Old Fashioned Cinema Style

  | January 07, 2015 17:29 IST (New Delhi)
Shamitabh Trailer Launch

Dhanush, Akshara Haasan and Amitabh Bachchan at the launch of Shamitabh's trailer

The first trailer of upcoming film Shamitabh was launched in the style of the grand premieres of old

Old is gold, and in the case of cinema, old was flashy and impossibly glamorous. The star-studded premieres of the Bollywood of the '70s (much like the Hollywood of '50s) were larger-than-life occasions in which nobody expected actors to behave like ordinary people. Instead, they were expected to conduct themselves as celebrities, walking the red carpet in their finest clothes and baubles as their fans hooted and and flashbulbs popped.

Now, the spectacle has been reduced to simple cut-out screenings attended by the film's cast, crew and their family and friends. The stars show up in the dead of the night, dressed casually, and pose briefly for photographers outside the cinema. Fan presence is limited. The multiplex culture has demystified celebrity. When it comes down to brass tacks, the stars are just like the rest of us.

However, there's been a recent and rather quiet revival of the good old days in Bollywood, albeit on a smaller scale. On January 6, director R Balki launched the first trailer of his upcoming film Shamitabh in the style of the grand premieres of old. The film's lead actors - megastar Amitabh Bachchan, Tamil superstar Dhanush and debutante Akshara Haasan - were met with cheering crowds.

This image was posted by Amitabh Bachchan on his blog.

Big B wrote on his blog, "It was like the good ol' days, at premiers and public appearances. Never expected such crowds and such love."

He also tweeted:

It helped that Big B and Dhanush were in character, dressed in three-piece suits, complete with an opera-style tail coat and pocket watch. Akshara, glamorous in an LBD by Bebe, acquitted herself with honours.

The setting of the launch of the trailer was a one-way ticket back to the Bollywood of the '70s. Mumbai's Eros theatre was decorated just like in the old days, with a huge cut-out of Mr Bachchan and the poster featuring Dhanush perched on top of the building, with the film's name Shamitabh written across it in a vintage font. The theatre building was also specially lit up for the do.

This image was posted by Amitabh Bachchan on his blog.

Mr Bachchan further wrote, "The iconic EROS cinema in the middle of all the bustle of South Mumbai, a place so revered and still is, where we would travel all the way from North, from the suburbs to see movies here; until the multiplex explosion took place. But today done up like the times of those grand premiers, only today it is a trailer release."

However, Mr Bachchan is not the only one who misses the charm of the old days. Bollywood actor Saif Ali Khan also tried to recreate a retro-style premiere with his last release Happy Ending, co-starring actors Govinda and Ileana D'Cruz.

The actor hosted a premiere-like event in Delhi a day before the film released on November 21, 2014. The premiere, which featured a red carpet and blinding paparazzi flashes, was attended by the film's cast and close friends. (In Pics - Ileana D'Cruz, Saif Ali Khan at Happy Ending Premiere)

Before the event, Saif had said, "There are no premieres. It's become a cut-out event." When asked what could be the reason behind this, the witty actor said, "I don't know what happened. I think it's because of the mafia, because earlier people used to celebrate and then they used to get calls like 'Give me your money', so people said, 'OK no premiere'."

Two years ago, the premiere of Yash Chopra's swan song Jab Tak Hain Jaan also reached out to a spectacular but faded past. On November 12, 2012, the cast of the film - Shah Rukh Khan, Katrina Kaif and Anushka Sharma - were joined by a positive galaxy of stars including Mr Bachchan, Salman Khan, Rani Mukerji, Aamir Khan, Aishawarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan, at a grand premiere which also honoured the late director who died just weeks before.

The sheer opulence and magnitude of the event left everyone in -and outside - the film fraternity awestruck. The premiere of Jab Tak Hain Jaan became a one-of-its-kind event. On celluloid, a similar milieu was showcased by filmmaker Farah Khan in her 2007 film Om Shanti Om. The film, which featured actors Shah Rukh Khan and then-debutante Deepika Padukone, channeled old Bollywood and included a film premiere in which Deepika exits a car and walks a red carpet as fans crowd around on either side.

The first part of the film was set in the Bollywood of the '70s and Shah Rukh's first on-screen meeting with Deepika was, in fact, one of those moments when a lucky fan could meet his "dreamy girl".

The credit roll of the film was like a tribute to the premiere tradition of the '70s, as the cast and crew were shown arriving in their spectacular vehicles, dressed splendidly as they walked the red carpet and into a theatre.

Luckily for all those of us too young to remember the grand premieres that used to be, the mini-revival of old Bollywood promises a taste of the storied glamour of that era.