If it was generally spring for the Hindi film industry in the year gone by instead of ringing in the New Year on high hopes, it has begun on a somewhat sad note with almost all the new releases turning turtle at the box office, the biggest dud being Vishal Bhardwaj’s Matru ki Bijli ka Mandola giving rise to the general belief that over-confidence seldom works at the box office, and it is only a handful that sustain the initial promise. Thus far except for Table No. 21, the others Rajdhani Express, Dehradun Diary, Mumbai Mirror, Inkaar, too, have failed to find acceptance with the paying public. Like from Bhardwaj, a lot more was expected from Sudhir Mishra’s take on sexual harassment at workplace with his ‘muse’ Chitrangada Singh and talented but flop as a leading man, Arjun Rampal.
It is generally believed, “If winter comes, can spring be far behind,” as poet PB Shelley wrote in Ode to the West Wind. The industry rode high and mighty on fluke factor in the year gone by, but how long can destiny’s most-favoured current ring leader Salman Khan survive on atrocities hurled at the audience. Okay, Ek Tha Tiger (Rs 187 cr) at least had some story and finesse, but Dabangg 2 (136 cr as of now)? The same to a certain extent can be said about Akshay Kumar and his home production Khiladi 786. How both of them not only survived the first-day-first-show, but went on to become big hits is a mystery even the trade pundits have failed to analyse.
Anyway, both Ek Tha Tiger and Dabangg2 have been declared blockbusters of 2012, followed by smash hits like Agneepath, Kahaani, Vicky Donor, Rowdy Rathore, Barfi and Jab Tak Hai Jaan; superhits Houseful2, Talaash, Bol Bachchan, English Vinglish, Raaz 3, Cocktail, Ishaqzade, OMG (want to know why?); hits Jism 2, Son of Sardar, Paan Singh Tomar, Jannat 2, Tere Naaal Love Ho Gaya. Amongst the run were also Ferrari Ki Sawaari and Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu and Gangs of Wasseypur 1 and Heroine. The disaster list of 2012 releases also had expected bombshells like Players, Agent Vinod, Tezz, Department, Shoot At Sight, Joker, Chakrayuh, Rush. For once, or maybe after a long time, stars like Akshay Kumar, Saif Ali Khan, Amitabh Bachchan did not fall below their existing box office ratings.
However, the 100-cr puzzle defies even the mathematicians. Or what makes or mars it? Does 100-crore, or even 150 or 200-crore box office returns really mean anything? What about the cost of production, including the star fees and technicians’ payment? On the basis of the good-old cow still giving milk several times during a day, the industry know-all are relying heavily on high-profile disaster-prone like the Abbas-Mastan’s Race 2 multi-crore sequel to their earlier 2008-hit Race (heavily inspired by Hollywood’s 1998 Goodbye Lover) with a substantial change in cast: Deepika Padukone and Jaquiline Fernandes replacing Bipasha Basu, Katrina Kaif; John Abraham for that superb but jobless actor, Akshaye Khanna and Samira Reddy giving way to Ameesha Patel as Anil Kapoor’s side kick.
Again riding on the wings of lady luck, Sajid Khan’s remake of the 70s hit, Himmatwalla costarring Jeetendra and Sridevi with Ajay Devgn and newcomer Tamannaah is another expected money spinner as also Amitabh Bachchan’s destiny-turner Zanjeer with South-star Ram Charan Teja with Priyanka Chopra coming in for Jaya Bachchan; Sunjay Dutt for Pran and Prakash Raj for Ajit helmed by Apporva Lakhia (of Ek Ajnabee, Shootout at Lokhandwala, Mission Istanbul fame). Whether in the aftermath of lukewarm RaOne and Jab Tak Hain Jaan it could be a turbulent journey for Shah Rukh Khan later in the year with Chennai Express directed by Rohit Shetty. Then there would be arch rival Salman Khan hoping for jai mata di for two more releases, Mental (earlier announced as Sher Khan) directed by youngest kith Sohail Khan and producer Sajid Nadiadwala’s yet unnamed directorial debut.
This by no means is the end of the other 100-plus crore junkets, led by Rakesh Roshan’s sequel to his earlier two hits, Krrish 3 with son Hrithik Roshan in the august company of Priyanka Chopra, Vivek Oberoi and Kangana Ranaut; and Yash Raj Films’ Dhoom 3 with Aamir Khan leading the villainous act and Abhishek Bachchan and Uday Chopra on the trail. Katrina Kaif and Jackie Shroff are amongst the backup cast directed by Vijay Krishna Acharya better known as lyricist, dialogue and scriptwriter for a number of hits, including the Dhoom franchise.
Hoping 2013 will be a greater money spinner than the coffer-filling 2012, their attempts will also reap a rich harvest with remakes, sequels, prequels, including Ekta Kapoor’s Shootout at Wadala (a prequel to Apoorva Lakhia -directed 2007 Shootout at Lokhandwala based on the real-life underworld-police encounter which was based on a book Dongri to Dubai by Husain Zaidi) with Sanjay Gupta calling the shots from his own script enacted by John Abraham, Anil Kapoor, Kangana Raunat, Manoj Bajpai and the ‘paplu’ Tushar Kapoor. She is also producing a similar sequel to her Once Upon a Time in Bombay (Milan Luthria directed the first) with 2 added with a renewed cast consisting of Akshay Kumar, Sonakshi Sinha, Imran Khan and Sonali Bendre. Akshay will be playing Dawood Ibrahim done in the original by Emraan Hashmi.
Also in the running for a win at the cash collection centres will be Abhisekh Kapoor’s adaptation of Chetan Bhagat’s The 3 Mistakes of My Life called Kai Po Che (3 newcomers); Neeraj Pandey’s Special Chabbis, a heist drama concerning income tax raids starring Akshay Kumar and Kajal Agarwal); Rohan Shetty’s Nautanki Saala (a remake of French hit After You with Ayushman Khurana of Vicky Donor fame with newcomers Pooja Salvi, Evelyn Sharma) Abhinav Kashyap’s Besharam (Ranbir Kapoor, newcomer Pallavi Sharda, and veterans Rishi and Neetu; Raj Kumar Santoshi’s return from hibernation Phata Poster Nikhla Hero (Shahid Kapoor-Ileana D’Cruz); Rajkumar Gupta’s Ghanchakar (Emraan Hashmi-Vidya Balan) and; Ayan Mukherjee’s Yeh Jawani Hai Diwani under Karan Johar’s Dharma Production banner with Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone.
Also vying for box-office favours will be Deepa Mehta’s Canadian-American adaptation of Salman Rushdie’s contemporary classic Midnight’s Children; Sunjay Dutt-starrer Anand Kumar-directed Zila Gaziabad; Rakesysh Omprakash Mehra’s biopic Bhaag Milkha Bhaag with Farhan Akhtar and Sonam Kapoor; Anthony D’Souza’s Boss, a remake of South hit Pokkiri Raja co-starring Akshay Kumar and Aditi Rao; Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Bullet Raja with Saif Ali Khan, Sonakshi Sinha; Sanjay Leela Bansali’s Ram Leela with Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone; and Prakash Jha’s political drama Satyagrah with Amitabh Bachchan again leading the cast with Ajay Devgn and Kareena Kapoor.
The list is far from comprehensive as Bollywood is capable of throwing up surprises. Intended hits turning turtle and less talked about create a big BANG BANG as Siddharth Anand’s return to limelight could be with the official remake of Tom Cruise-Cameron Diaz’s Knight and Day.
By Suresh Kohli