Dec 29, 2008

Entertainment - Bollywood readies healthy melange of films in 2009

New Delhi, Dec 28 (IANS) As 2008 ended up resembling a typical potboiler for the Hindi film industry, complete with highs, lows, suspense and a happy ending, the year ahead promises a healthy mix of movies hitting the screens.

Bollywood, which acts as a money-spinner for India's entire $10.8 billion entertainment and media industry, worked hard to outgrow its decades-old image of churning out formulaic, song-and-dance fare.

More and more actors, production and corporate houses ventured into new territories and learnt the importance of a sound storyline overriding all else. And just when the global meltdown threatened to cast its shadow over the otherwise recession-proof entertainment trade, the industry's three biggest stars delivered performances that were poles apart from their previous works.

Living up to the massive hype generated by its otherwise reclusive superstar Aamir Khan, 'Ghajini' has registered 100 percent openings. Just a week ago, megastar Shah Rukh Khan had similarly pulled a rabbit out of the hat with his earthy portrayal of a commoner in 'Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi'.

The other release of the week is 'Jumbo', that boasts of voiceover by Akshay Kumar. For the actor who delivered the biggest hit of 2008 - 'Singh Is Kinng', the remake of a Korean film was his career's first. 'Jumbo' has found favour with its target audience and may be a joyful sendoff to year 2008.

Though the hit-to-flop ratio remained unchanged from the last few years, a marked increase was seen in the number of small to medium-budget films hitting the marquees.

Though many genuine good cinematic offerings failed to set the cash registers ringing in 2008, films like 'Aamir' and 'A Wednesday' managed to retain faith of corporate houses which will see them through 2009.

Even exhibitors and distributors, who have always sworn by big-budget, mega-starrers, are beginning to favour small and medium-budget films because big films are so overpriced that even super-duper successes are not able to give returns on investments.

As a result, get set to see more of reasonably-budgeted films in year 2009 and darlings of the box-office - Akshay Kumar and Shah Rukh Khan - will be back on the big screen in the first quarter itself.

In fact, Akshay holds the unique distinction of being part of the last big film of 2008 - 'Singh Is Kinng' and the first major release of 2009 - 'Chandni Chowk To China'.

As the lead opposite Deepika Padukone in Hollywood co-production, Akshay will be seen in the action-comedy that releases in second week of January. The film may have a highly predictable storyline, but promises huge dosages of comedy, great music and breathtaking locales.

This year's other successful box-office drawer, Emraan Hashmi who delivered hit film 'Jannat', will be back on the Bollywood boulevard with screen-scorcher Kangana Ranaut in 'Raaz - The Mystery Continues'.

Some interesting small-budget films will also be unveiled around the same time. These include 'Horn Ok Pleass' with Nana Patekar in the lead and Konkana Sen Sharma-starrer 'The President is Coming'.

Filmmaker-cum-actor Farhan Akhtar will wear the grease paint again for his sister Zoya's directorial debut 'Luck by Chance', which is also slated for release in January. 'Slumdog Millionaire', which has become the toast of the festival circuit overseas, will finally be releasing in India alongside.

Soon after, Shah Rukh frenzy will take over again as he plays himself in Priyadarshan's 'Billu Barber'. The film features critically acclaimed actor Irrfan Khan in the lead.

All in all, it seems like 2009 will begin on a very eventful note.

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