Can Bollywood still triumph this year?
Extending numerological superstitions to taglines of film titles may well be the newest trend in the tinsel town, given the superb box office opening garnered by latest Hindi film – “Aap Kaa Surroor: The Moviee”.
The film introducing irrepressible singer-composer Himesh Reshammiya as lead actor released Friday to an opening that was at par with the biggest openers of 2006 like “Krrish” and “Dhoom 2″.
For the Hindi film trade that has been facing a crisis with big budget, mega hyped and heavily promoted films sinking at the box-office with unnerving regularity, the stupendous and unexpected opening has sent hopes soaring.
The composer of super hit numbers like “Aaashiq banaya…”, “Jhalak dikhlaja” and many others that chiefly fuse pop and techno, Reshammiya’s acting debut has clearly taken Bollywood by surprise.
Characterised and often mocked and criticised for his vocals that have a distinctively nasal twang that he defends by terming them as high pitch and his forever capped and unshaven look, Reshammiya seems to have got himself a strong following of urban and suburban youth a la Salman Khan.
Marketing himself as an outsider who made it big, he has been taking all ridicule in his stride and even has an animated version of himself coming up. If “Aap Kaa Surroor: The Moviee” continues its great start at the box office, it will surely rock the star system of Bollywood.
The film starring Mallika Sherawat and newcomer Hansika Motwani has the singer-composer playing himself mostly. It has all the masala elements thrown in to make it appealing to masses.
It is not the best on story, technical or musical fronts but rests squarely on packaging of Reshammiya as a hero.
The triumph of a new banner in the wake of box-office drubbing of two high-profile Yash Raj Films (YRF) “Jhoom Barabar Jhoom” and “Ta Ra Rum Pum” would reaffirm that no one knows what will work or which trend to follow.
Critics moan that YRF, Bollywood’s biggest banner, has long stopped making quality films. It has been taking the audience for granted, promoting camps in the industry, packaging egos as entertainment.
But this year audiences have given them a good fright. The biggest hit of the year so far is “Bheja Fry”, a film costing Rs.6 million going on to make about Rs.120 million. “Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd” collected about Rs.80 million and “The Namesake” also raked in approximately Rs.50 million.
Among the big-budget films, Mani Ratnam reaffirmed faith in his genius with the seemingly commercially non-viable “Guru” garnering Rs.300 million.
Other decent performers were “Shootout At Lokhandwala”, still running in theatres, and “Namastey London” that fared decently by earning more than Rs.150 million.
The duds of the year include “Salaam-e-Ishq”, “Eklavya: The Royal Guard”, “Big Brother”, “Provoked”, “Life Mein Kabhi Kabhi”, “Shakalaka Boom Boom”, “Just Married”, “Water” and “Yatra”.
“Tara Rum Pum” raked in more than Rs.150 million in two weeks, but has been unable to rake in the moolah from the single screens. At best it can be described as an average hit. But nothing could prepare for what was in store for “Jhoom Barabar Jhoom”.
The movie pitted as YRF’s super hit of the year had no substance. It is struggling to find its feet after its June 15 release. The film is no match to the Rajnikant-starrer Tamil film, “Sivaji: The Boss”, which is racing towards Rs.1 billion mark in the first two weeks and is expected to pocket another Rs.500 million.
The other big money-churner on the Indian marquees was “Spider-Man-3″ smashing all previous records for Hollywood films in the country. Grossing Rs.640 million in India, it was released in four Indian languages that gave it unprecedented reach.
But after the dry spell in the first half, the monsoon for Bollywood is expected to arrive now with upcoming movies.
Says director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra: “After 2006 viewers were expecting more from 2007. Maybe predictable cinema has not cut ice with the audience but it’s not as if we haven’t had hits. The creative seed sowed last year will bear fruit soon.”
Optimism in Bollywood has not died down.
“Even though many films have not done well during the first half, the rest of the year has tremendous potential as there is a good line-up of films,” says trade analyst Taran Adarsh.
“Financially, Bollywood will be in a good position as there are many promising films yet to come, which will make profits,” he added.
YRF will return to try their luck once again with Shah Rukh Khan-starrer “Chak De India”, Madhuri Dixit’s comeback film “Aaja Nachle” and Pradeep Sarkar’s “Laga Chunari Mein Daag”. Expect more of allegations of the big banner twisting multiplex arms to extract higher ticket revenues.
Then there is Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s “Saawariya”, the most awaited Indian film made by a Hollywood studio. The film marking the debut of Anil Kapoor’s daughter Sonam and Rishi Kapoor’s son Ranbir will be released across the world simultaneously.
The other long-delayed Hollywood-Bollywood collaboration, “Marigold” will also finally release this year. The film stars Salman Khan opposite international star Ali Larter. Willard Carroll directs it.
Other films to watch out for include Anil Kapoor’s “Gandhi My Father”, Abbas-Mastan’s “Naqaab”, David Dhawan’s comeback with Salman and Govinda in “Partner” and Sajid Khan’s directorial debut “Heyy Babyy” with Akshay Kumar in lead.
Among the most anticipated are Ashutosh Gowarikar’s period drama “Jodha Akbar” with Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai and Farah Khan’s “Om Shanti Om” with Shah Rukh and Deepika Padukone.
Though there is much in store, “Sivaji” success is unlikely to be surpassed. At most, Bollywood could attempt to overshadow the wall-crawler from New York.