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One week into the year and it is time to talk business again. The first three months see a series of important releases, that can well indicate how 2007 will shape up for our film industry.
Last year, in fact, there weren’t too many important releases in the first quarter, except Family, Zinda, Taxi No 9211, Rang De Basanti and Malamaal Weekly.
The last two did superb business and Taxi… was average. However, some small films like Being Cyrus made profits.
This year starts with a bang:
January has Mani Ratnam’s Guru (Abhishek Bachchan-Aishwarya Rai), Nikhil Advani’s Salaam-e-Ishq (Salman Khan, Priyanka Chopra, John Abraham, Anil Kapoor, Govinda), Ahmed Khan’s Fool ’n’ Final (Sunny Deol, Viveik Oberoi).
February sees Reema Kagti’s Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Limited (Boman Irani, Kay Kay Menon, Raima Sen, Ameesha Patel), Madhur Bhandarkar’s Traffic Signal (Kunal Khemmu and Neetu Chandra), Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s Eklavya-The Royal Guard (Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjay Dutt, Saif Ali Khan, Sharmila Tagore), Balakrishnan’s Cheeni Kum (Bachchan and Tabu), Ram Gopal Varma’s Nishabd (Bachchan and Jiah Khan).
March will see Vipul Shah’s Namastey London (Akshay Kumar, Katrina Kaif and Rishi Kapoor), Milan Luthria’s Hat Trick (Kunal Kapoor, Nana Patekar and Paresh Rawal) among others.
Add to this English films with Bollywood artists like Jag Mundhra’s Provoked (Aishwarya Rai) and Mira Nair’s The Namesake (Tabu and Irrfan Khan) scheduled to release in February and March respectively.
A good mix
We have a good blend of biggies and experimental projects. On one hand there is the much-hyped Eklavya (Rs 42 crore), Salaam-e-Ishq (Rs 40 crore) and Namastey London (Rs 30 crore),
And on the other hand there are the small budget experimental films like Traffic Signal (Rs 4.50 crore), Honeymoon… and Cheeni Kum. Industry sources are raving about Guru (reportedly based on late industrialist Dhirubhai Ambani’s life), which will also be an acid test for the Abhishek-Aishwarya chemistry.
Talk of subjects, Chopra’s Eklavya has none other than Big B playing the title role of a royal guard of a Rajput family. RGV’s Nishabd is the love story between a 60-year-old man and an 18-year-old girl.
The money riding on this period is around Rs 150 crore, which is more than last year’s Rs 100 crore. Usually, in March, there are hardly any releases because of examinations but things have changed, says Bhandarkar, “We can take a risk because there is an audience to watch movies even during this time.”
Victory for variety
The year 2006 was a victory of subjects and variety and this year will be an acid test, as to how the good work is kept up. Trade expert Taran Adarsh feels the first three months will be crucial. “It is also crucial because 2006 was an awakening period and all the films made then would release now and some in the first three months,” says Adarsh.
Bhandarkar feels that the mixed bag should spell magic for the industry this year too. Hold your breath and wait for more dhamakas this year.
Bollywood looks for success in romance
MUMBAI (Reuters) - From the love affair of a 16th century Mughal emperor to the flashy passions of disco-hopping modern couples, romance is the flavor of the year for Bollywood.
The industry -- the biggest in the world in terms of ticket sales and volumes -- hopes a string of romantic and comic films, as well as some action drama, will yield another year of bumper of box office hits after last year's success.
But since 2006 generated such a windfall for Bollywood, which operates on low margins, filmmakers and trade analysts are guarded about the possibility of an encore.
"It will be very difficult to match last year's success," said Komal Nahta, editor of Bollywood trade magazine "Film Information."
Even the director of last year's biggest hit is skeptical.
"What Bollywood saw in 2006 is something that happens once in 15 years," said Sanjay Gadhvi, director of "Dhoom-2" (Blast-2), a cat-and-mouse game of a thief and a diligent cop.
"This year it might just not be as good as last year."
In 2006, Bollywood told stories of flying superheros, adorable thugs, suave thieves, the doomed love of a terrorist and the tragic coming of age of a group of youths, among other tales which audiences lapped up.
SIXTEENTH CENTURY ROMANCE
Of the 10 big-budget films due in 2007, six are love stories or romantic comedies.
The grandest is "Akbar-Jodha" about the romance between 16th century Mughal emperor Akbar and his Hindu wife Jodhabai.
The period film stars Hrithik Roshan and former Miss World Aishwarya Rai, two of Bollywood's hottest names.
Other big production romances include "Ta Ra Rum Pum" starring Bollywood heart throbs Saif Ali Khan and Rani Mukherjee, "Salaam-e-Ishq" (Salute Love), about six couples and their dysfunctional relationship, "Saawariya" (Sweetheart), "Jhoom Barabar Jhoom" (Carry On Dancing) and "Chooriyan" (Bangles).
On the cards are some action thrillers as well, and a few slice-of-life stories, including "Tare Zameen Par" (Stars on the Ground), revolving around a dyslexic child and starring Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan.
Bollywood's biggest star Amitabh Bachchan has two films -- "Eklavya," a period drama, and "RGV Ke Sholay" (Embers), a remake of a 1975 bandit film in which he starred.
Another much-hyped film starring Shah Rukh Khan is expected to open later this year. "Chak de India" will see Bollywood's most bankable star as a hockey player-turned-coach.
With so much on offer, Bollywood's dream merchants are busy doing what they do best: spinning dreams, with half an eye on the bottom line.
"The audience today is evolved, discerning and hungry for all kinds of cinema," said filmmaker Homi Adjania. "We are heading in the right direction."