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December 28, 1999


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Komal Nahta

Jaanwar That fortune favours the brave was evident once again, when Suneel Darshan's Jaanwar hit the screen on December 24. Notwithstanding the fact that Christmas vacations had started across the country, Suneel did take a huge risk by releasing his film during Ramzan, the month during which the Muslim population abstains from visiting movie theatres. For years, producers have avoided releasing their films during this period because Muslims constitute a large chunk of their audience.

Jaanwar beat that prediction when it opened to good houses almost all over India. This was quite unexpected, if one were to go by the fact that the film was released in a month known to be dull.

Certain factors worked in Jaanwar's favour. One, the songs of the film had become popular in the past month. Two, its promotional trailers were quite effective. Besides, they gave an insight into the flavour of the film, which is really very important because it gives the audience an idea of what to expect from the film when it is released.

Another producer who benefited by taking a brave stand recently was Vashu Bhagnani. He released Biwi No 1 when the cricket World Cup, in which India was participating, was on. For years now, producers have avoided releasing their films when a major cricket competition is in progress. Vashu dared to be different and reaped the advantage when Biwi No 1 opened to full houses.

Moral of the story: Myths can sometimes be exploded to one's advantage.

Pukar Boney's loss, Suneel's gain
About two months ago, it was producer Boney Kapoor who was contemplating releasing Pukar during Ramzan. A distinct advantage was the fact that there wouldn't be too many releases around that time and, hence, not much competition. But Boney had second thoughts and opted for a safer release on February 4. Boney's loss is, in a way, Suneel Darshan's gain!

Akshay's marketability

Will the partial success of Jaanwar improve Akshay Kumar's standing in the industry? I personally don't think so. Akshay has delivered so many disasters in a row that it will take several successes if he is to reopen his innings. One Jaanwar cannot negate the harm done to his career by the series of flops.

And whom should Akshay blame for the pitiable state in which he finds himself today? Only himself! His choice of films was wrong. At a time when he should have taken care about whom he was working with, Akshay chose to be surrounded by yes-men who didn't allow him to see beyond himself.

Dulhan doesn't attract audiences
Deepti Bhatnagar B Subhash's long overdue film, Dulhan Banoo Mein Teri, had an apology of a release on Friday, December 24. In Bombay, it is being screened in just two theatres and, despite the super-limited release, the collections are far from satisfactory.

Obviously, the poor takings -- barely 30 per cent -- are due to the lack of face value. Faraaz Khan and Deepti Bhatnagar are no star names and even though Deepti has put in a good performance, that alone cannot bring in the audiences.

Despite of the fact that there are some well-handled scenes in the film, the entire drama looks unbelievable. Little wonder then that B Subhash, the maker of such films as Disco Dancer, struggled to find buyers for his film this time. He finally had to release the film on his own account and at his own risk. Admission rates in Bombay, as in other major cities, are so high that it becomes impossible for such non-star cast films to attract audiences.

Ajay Devgan wins legal battle
Ajay Devgan Ajay Devgan has won! On December 23, the Madras high court granted him permission to shoot Raju Chacha in Ooty, where he has constructed a huge set costing several crores.

The authorities had -- after the set was constructed and before the shooting could commence -- objected to the construction of the set on environmental grounds. This, after Ajay had obtained the requisite permissions before beginning work on the set.

Ajay appealed and a division bench quashed the district forest officer's order rescinding the earlier order which granted Ajay permission to erect a set in the area.

What's in store?

What will the millennium bring? That's the question uppermost in the minds of everyone in the industry.

The question assumes added significance because the last year of this millennium has been far from satisfactory, what with major films failing miserably. What's most shocking, though, is the fact that fewer films are proving to be universal hits.

Does this indicate that tastes are beginning to differ in various parts of the country or does it imply that our film-makers are unable to get hold of stories that have universal appeal? Films that doing well overseas and in Bombay are flopping in northern India. Other films which are doing well in north India are rejected in metropolitan cities like Bombay.

A film like Jaanwar opened to very good houses in places other than Bombay and Delhi. In these two cities, the first day's collections were 65 per cent as against 90 per cent in other areas.

Sarfarosh and Hum Aapke Dil Mein Rehte Hain were universal successes. But then they weren't hits everywhere, in the sense that they didn't more than double the investments of their distributors.

Kamal's Hey Ram
Hey Ram A reader wanted to know why I have not included Kamal Haasan's Hey Ram in my list of films due for release in January 2000. Well, there are two reasons: for one, the film is scheduled for release on February 18. Secondly, the films listed are a reflection of what's hot in the trade. Kamal's film was not as hot as those mentioned in my earlier column, which in no way means that the film will not do well. Kamal's film may do better than all of the films I mentioned, or it may not.

What a boring way to end the millennium!

The last Friday of the millennium will also be the most boring one for the industry. Not a single film is slated for release on that day (Friday, December 31). It's not as if the millennium celebrations are an issue with producers. The most probable reason would be Ramzan.

A look at the week

Rating Film Production House Verdict Position Last Week
1 Hum Saath-Saath Hain Rajshri Hit 1
2 Jaanwar Shree Krishna Intl Average (Above average in Hindi belt) New
3 Vaastav Adishakti Above average
(Hit in Maharashtra)
4 Taal Mukta Arts Above average
(Flop in parts)
5 Deep Blue Sea Warner Above average 5
6 Khoobsurat Jhamu Sugandh Flop 7
7 King Cobra Star Entertainment Average New
8 Thakshak Udbhav Flop 8
9 Tabaahi AMGF Flop 9
10 Dahek M J Films Disaster 6

Komal Nahta edits the popular trade magazine, Film Information.

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