09 August 2006

Lakshmi vs Saraswathi

Looking at title one would feel that this post about rivalry between two goddess ??. Actually its about tradeoff between Lakshmi and Sarawathi in different context. I never intended to write a post about this topic. But discussions in my previous post(corporate) made me to write one about this.

3-4 years back Sharukh Khan(SRK) in an interview was asked about his expectation of his home production. He replied "As a filmmaker I expect both Lakshmi and Saraswathi for my movie i.e. both Box Office Success and Critical Acclaim :)".

So in context of movies

  • Lakshmi = Box Office Success: Movie recovering its production cost.
  • Saraswathi = Critical Acclaim: Movie obtaining appreciation from critics about its content, screenplay etc.

Lets discuss about this in detail.


So what factors make movie a commercial success

  • Starcast: Presence of superstar make a lot of difference. Audiences will be waiting for movie of a superstar movies for months, which ensures good opening for movie. Many people are waiting for KANK which is to be released on August 11.
  • Good Songs: Songs are responsible for creating audience interest about movie before release. KANK songs are good example for this. Many are curious to see movie, how songs Mitwa, where's the party tonite are picturised. Emraan Hashmi is a lucky actor when it comes to songs. He usually gets songs (Murder, Zeher, Gangster) unlike his contemporaries.
  • Marketing: Hype creation before release is important. New marketing mediums are ringtones, wallpapers etc.
  • Entertainment for Lowest Common Denominator: David Dhawan movie are more famous for this.
  • Pakistan Bashing: 3-4 years back this was major success formula. After mumbai blasts this formula may be tried again.
  • Steamy Scenes: $#@*
  • Controversary: Usually contoversary gives free publicity to movie. Recent example for this is Fanaa.

So movies which had only box office success without much crtical acclaim K3G, Raja Hindustani.

whats required for a movie to obtain Critical Acclaim

  • Fresh Storyline: This is uncommon in Bollywood.
  • Good Screenplay: Rang De Basanti's main USP was screenplay.
  • Good Production Value: Nice locations, Sets, Costumes, Cinematography, Special Effects.
  • Superlative Performance by Actors: Actors who go under skin of the character are appreciated by critics.
  • Songs which are part of screenplay:

Movies which had only critical acclaim were Swades, Lakshya, Yuva ...

In Bollywood movies attaining both Lakshmi and Saraswathi are very rare. Some of such rare movies are Lagaan, Black.
- Lagaan was a period movie based on theme winning of an underdog. Critics appreciated its screeplay and production values. General public liked nail biting cricket match in movie. It was a hit all over India.
- Black was based on the life of Helen Keller. Critics appreciated the movie but dismissed it as multiplex classic. However movie was across the board hit.

Lets take recent releases as examples.
- Krrish. Eventhough it grossed 69 crores in 7days, movie lacked in deparments of screenplay and music, therefore wasn't so much appreciated by critics. But movie is so much successful that the marketing strategy of Krrish has become a case study in top Indian B-schools.
- Omkara. Appreciated by critics. But not doing well at ticket windows, since its not everyone's idea of entertainment.

If there is a conflict between lakshmi and saraswathi what should a film maker prioritize ??

What i feel is packaging (yashraj films are master in this department) of movie is really important with decent storyline, good songs and more stuffs for entertainment. so lakshmi should be primary and saraswathi secondary. Generally a filmmaker is as good as box office performance of his last film. No one remembers a critical acclaimed movie which was unsucessful at box office. People remember Lagaan and Black because they were successful at box office.

But box office is unpredictable. People's idea of entertainment changes from time to time. Rakesh Roshan is one of the few filmmakers who understands the undpredictable box office. Recently there was an article in Times Rakesh Roshan: Bollywood's own Superman. In article its mentioned that Rakesh has defied all labels, improved with each passing project and today understands what will work and what won't at the 'unpredictable box-office'.

To conclude I enjoyed writing blog post about this topic. you would have also enjoyed reading it. But your opinion might be different. Feel free to post it as comments.


  1. u r a real movie buff :)

  2. Anonymous11:50 AM

    Too good!!
    I think you shud make the filmmakers read this :)

  3. Good one.

    Though I will not look for 'Critical acclaim' aspects in a movie, good to read about it in your post. I think film is for pure entertainment and nothing else. Most of the critically acclaimed movies never make it to the theatres, at least in Kannada Film Industry.

  4. Gud one !!! Shande.. as harish said u are really a movie buff... i think www.indiafm.com survives mainly because of your visits i guess....

  5. @nanuseena
    whats link between indiafm and my post?