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|June 25, 2001||
Ever since Lagaan and Gadar - Ek Prem Katha the two films released last week, there has been constant speculation as to which of the two would steal the thunder at the ticket counters Ė Aamir Khanís extravagant Lagaan or Sunny Deolís Partition drama Gadar - Ek Prem Katha.
Seven days later, the verdict seems to be rather clear.
Both the films have done exceedingly well at the BO. But, quite obviously, the surprise packet between the two has been the Zee production, Gadar - Ek Prem Katha.
In most places in Northern India, the film seems to have created such a phenomenal impact that there has been an excessive demand for screening extra shows. In some places in Punjab, screenings begin from as early as six am in the mornings!
As well-known filmmaker Rajiv Rai puts it, "The film has completely wiped out Lagaan in the Northern belt. I was speaking to the distributor from Delhi and he said that he had never seen such a mammoth crowd ever before. In fact, he asked me, 'I wonder where all these people are coming from'. The response to Gadar - Ek Prem Katha has been overwhelming."
The success of Gadar comes as a surprise primarily because it had nothing going in its favour, especially when pitted against the much-acclaimed and much-publicised Lagaan. The film was sold to distributors for a far higher price than Lagaan.
And then, leading hero Sunny Deol has had a spate of flops behind him -- his star status was itself in jeopardy. The music of the film also hadnít really rocked the charts -- it paled in comparison with A R Rahmanís spectacular score in Aamirís home production.
Even post-release, most critics preferred to sideline the film in the midst of the unprecedented hype that surrounded Lagaan.
And still, despite all the odds, Gadar - Ek Prem Katha has scored. In North India, it has completely overpowered Lagaan. In the rest of the country, it is on par with its contemporary. That, in itself, is no mean achievement.
According to industry folk, the reason behind the stupendous success of Gadar - Ek Prem Katha is the feeling of patriotism that the film evokes in a rather boorish manner. "The fact that a single Sunny Deol battles Pakistanis on his own has appealed immensely to the masses," says well-known producer Boney Kapoor.
In the film, Sunnyís vehement verbal tirade against the neighbouring country has been received with thunderous applause from all quarters.
By saying that Gadar - Ek Prem Katha has taken the BO by storm, one is certainly not underestimating the roaring success of Lagaan. The Aamir Khan venture will probably go down in history as one of his best efforts.
His gamble has certainly paid off, what with the movie doing exceedingly well at the BO in all the major cities.
However, being an Aamir Khan film and with the kind of promotion and publicity that the film garnered even before its release, one did expect a favourable response. Besides, in the overseas market, Lagaan has definitely created a bigger impact.
For Gadar - Ek Prem Katha, it has been a different story. Between the two films, it was certainly the underdog. Thatís why the filmís success is so stupefying.
As trade analyst Taran Adarsh, editor of Trade Guide, says, ďBoth the films are major hits but in the North, itís Gadar - Ek Prem Katha all the way. What works for Gadar - Ek Prem Katha is that it has a very strong script and the people of Punjab can identify with it. And of course the Sunny factor.
"But what is making the people go back to the theatres for this film are the confrontation scenes between Amrish Puri and Sunny Deol. I loved Gadar. I think it is a brilliant, captivating film -- even though it has one or two fllaws.. on the whole, it makes for great impact.
"Lagaan, too, is a very well made and a polished film, though the length is a problem, according to me. Whenever two big films release together, they eat into each otherís business. And, in this case, Gadar has definitely won the race."
The controversies around the film post-release have only helped the movie arouse more curiosity. Some days ago, in Bhopal, the screening of the film was stopped due to local protests. And now, prominent citizens in Lucknow have also demanded a ban on the film, claiming that it hurts the sentiments of the minority community.
For the leading hero of Gadar - Ek Prem Katha, Sunny Deol, this is more than just a professional triumph. The Deols have been busy celebrating all of last week.
On last Friday itself, Gadar - Ek Prem Katha was declared a huge hit. And just a day later, younger brother Bobby turned proud papa of a baby boy.
All through the last seven days, the Deol household has been flooded with congratulatory calls, both for Sunny as well as Bobby.
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