'If we don't wake up and try all out to give audiences good content, they will move towards a new kind of cinema. We will become like Europe.'
Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! had to face competition at the box office from Fast and Furious 7, which its director Dibakar Banerjee says is not a good sign for Indian cinema.
"Fast and Furious 7 gave us tough competition which only goes to show how slowly Indian films are losing their ground in India and if we don't wake up and try all out to give them (audiences) good content, they will move towards a new kind of cinema. We will become like Europe."
The director believes the lure of a big budget franchise is always strong, but a loyal audience can help one withstand that.
"There is always love for big, bad movie full of thrills and chills, but if you build up your own brand and sustain a relationship with a loyal audience," he says, "then you can withstand it. I am a living example of that... There is no reason why I should survive in Bollywood."
"I am surviving because I have built an audience. Today a Byomkesh can be made because of Khosla ka Ghosla, Love Sex Aur Dhokha, Shanghai, Dev D, Gangs of Wasseypur, Peepli [Live] and Kahaani. These films are getting an audience and that's what needs to be done."
Despite its period setting and the amount of research that went into creating the Calcutta of 1940s, Byomkesh, Banerjee says, was made on a much less budget than a typical Bollywood film.
"It was less expensive than a typical Hindi movie. We are hoping to break even by the second week. We did not put out a lot of posters and most of the marketing was done digitally. It is one of the best reviewed films on IMDB and audience reviews are leading over critics."
As someone who constantly experiments with his films, Banerjee is hopeful that Byomkesh will create a space for itself in the audience.
"I am going through that stage where I am letting this film live through. You get to know the real value of a film after six months. I don't lie, I don't pretend. If that has a value, then Byomkesh will also have a life," he says.
His movies, he says, mostly generate a strong reaction initially, be it Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! or Shanghai, but then viewers like something that is "familiar yet unfamiliar."
"A new set of people are going to watch Byomkesh this week and we will get to know their reaction. It is a family film, something that can be watched with children," says Banerjee, adding, "I have been to theatres to gauge viewers's response and I am happy they are enjoying it. I have used the familiar and mixed it with something new."
"It was a gamble, but it was a calculated one," he adds. "The taste of the Indian movie watching public has to be changed and that can be done only by giving them something new. I have been trying to do that since my first film Khosla Ka Ghosla."
Image: Sushant Singh Rajput and Anand Tiwari in Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!