NO BRAIN SCANNER CAN ENSURE A FILM’S SUCCESS

A film is a play of light and sound. A filmmaker converts money into light and sound in the hope that it will bring more money so that he can make more light and sound. In the silent era, expression was the only language of the film. With the introduction of sound, films became more expressive. The story is an integral part of film making. Every story is unique in the details of its telling. A story, it is suggested, “must be sufficiently complex and subtle to engage attention, achieve suspense and surprise, and excite emotion, but not so complex and subtle that the unity, clarity, and coherence of its parts are lost.” Some filmmakers believe that simple language conveys best. Every filmmaker wants to make a successful film. Davis Dean Simonton’s tips for successful films include: Do an adaptation; if it is a true story or biopic, twist it a little bit. Base the films on a serious drama or a great romance. Happy-ending films are safer propositions. It is better if the director or the original author is not involved in writing the screenplay. Make sure the film has good music. Feel the pulse of the people while planning the publicity of the film. Film reviews and the time of the release of the film are crucial for the success of films. The cognitive studies suggest that the audience-engagement factor with the screen matters for the success of a film. The film is a success if it makes it more difficult for us to take our eyes away from the screen. The researchers used sophisticated tools to deconstruct 150 successful films, made during 1935-2005, shot by shot. The studies suggest that the “sequences of shots selected by director, cinematographer, and film editor have gradually merged over the years with the natural pattern of human attention.” The researchers, however, are not saying that filmmakers have to craft their movies to match this natural pattern. They say that this art form has gone through a kind of natural selection. “The rhythm of shot sequences in a film is designed to drive the rhythm of attention and information uptake in the viewer.” A successful filmmaker tries to mix art and business in the right proportion. Too cerebral filmmakers sometimes fail to do so. A successful filmmaker knows that film is more than a matter of light and sound. It partly explains why some recent films, despite brilliant technical finesse, are not successful. No brain scanner can find the pulse of the people, and no mathematical model can ensure a film’s success. The best bet every Friday was and still is ‘cross your fingers and hope for the best’. The film Rajneeti is a combination of Mahabharat, Godfather, and also somewhat biopic. It has great drama, popular actors, a reasonably structured director, backed by well-handled publicity. The film has combined the “largeness of the epic” with the “definiteness of the drama” in realistic proportions. I don’t know if the frames of the film simulated the brain’s natural pattern. But I know that the film has been able to engage viewers’ attention.