The fate of Jab Harry Met Sejal has seen another one of those European directors hit the pits. Not that it was not coming, there was an article written here in March (The European Directors Not Quite Out Yet) which pretty much spelled it out and it has gone pretty much to plan, actually its worse than we had expected. Now the article would probably read (European Directors Very Close To An End) as Zoya Akhtar still has a chance with a cast film with Ranveer Singh who is doing pretty well and Alia Bhatt doing extremely well but a European director has the capability to change this equation fast as Shahid Kapoor, Ranbir Kapoor and even Shahrukh Khan have found out to their cost. Even Salman Khan is not spared when Kabir Khan goes to his roots in Tubelight.
It is shocking that we can see this from the outside that it is coming but the industry can't. Ranbir Kapoor has made five films with these directors (2 with Imitiaz Ali, 2 with Anurag Basu and 1 with Anurag Kashyap) and the one that got away somehow was Barfi! but then flukes will happen. Ranbir Kapor was a genuine potential superstar, a talent which comes in generations but these euro directors have put him in a position that it will take years to recover. Then a Shahrukh Khan actually works with an Imtiaz Ali, its bad enough having a film with Gauri Shinde who would also fall in the bracket of a Euro director but not an A lister as the likes of Imtiaz Ali, Vishal Bharadwaj and company. But Dear Zindagi was a guest role so you get away with it but in a full fledged with one of these directors you can't really get away with. Lets say that Jab Harry Met Sejal was loved by the five metro audience it may have reached 150 crore nett but is that good enough for a Shahrukh Khan film. Dilwale did 140 crore nett a few years back.
The first point is that there is demographics of the box office at work and these directors can only appeal to five cities and even in those five cities it is mainly the English speaking audience who might bear their films. Secondly the most important reason why we call them European directors is the story telling and narrative of their films. The technique of direction changes over the years but you can't change the story telling style as the audience is used to this for years. They may be attempting to change Indian cinema but that will never happen as only the audience can do that. Instead of following the ways of a Raj Kapoor, Yash Chopra or Raj Khosla is term of how a story is presented to the audience they are looking towards European cinema which they believe is the way forward only for the audience to give the middle figure nearly every time.
The A listers in this Euro director list are Vishal Bharadwaj, Anurag Basu, Imtiaz Ali, Dibaker Banerjee, Zoya Aktar and Anurag Kashyap. There are so many of these but these are A listers as they have managed to get mini stars and stars to work in their films while Imtiaz Ali even managed to get a superstar but to no avail. These stars have suffered huge career setbacks most of the time they worked with a euro director and now it may (will is correct word but you never discount that 1-2% chance of a Barfi! happening) be the turn of Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt with Gully Boy if and when that film happens. The actors get away with if you are coming off commercial hits but if they expected hit fails and then you have a Euro director for your next then you need god on your side. This is why Padmavati is a must for Ranveer Singh as after Bekifre you can't afford a tanker when your next is a Zoya Akhtar film.
Earlier there was the Hollywood bug with directors like Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Ram Gopal Verma and Sanjay Gupta who racked up the flops like there was no tomorrow but that was a bug where only these lot and a few others were infected. Today the European thing is rampant more like a disease as its not just the names above but many others also going the same way. It remains to be seen where it goes as its reached a level where even Shahrukh Khan has made a film with one of these directors which is never going to give superstar numbers. Either these directors will have to change ways or make very small films because if our bigger films are going niche then it will be shut up shop time will be close.