Oct 24, 2008

Entertainment - India;Screen Sparklers

Minakshi Saini

It’s that time of the year again, when several releases are lined up and people are busy planning what films to catch. However, this year, the buzz around the golden Diwali period seems a bit thanda. Of the four films releasing next week, none can be called blockbusters, certainly not in the same league as previous Diwali films like Om Shanti Om and Saawariya (2007) or Don and Jaan-e-Mann (2006). Diwali dhamaka
Golmaal Returns
Director: Rohit Shetty
Starring: Ajay Devgan, Tusshar Kapoor,
Arshad Warsi, Shreyas Talpade, Kareena Kapoor, Anjana Sukhani, Amrita Arora, Celina Jaitley

Director: Madhur Bhandarkar
Starring: Priyanka Chopra, Arjan Bajwa, Mugdha Godse,
Arbaaz Khan, Harsh Chhaya, Sameer Soni, Kangna Ranaut, Kitu Gidwani

Roadside Romeo
Director: Jugal Hansraj
Starring: Saif Ali Khan: voiceover of a dog (Romeo); Kareena Kapoor: voiceover of a dog (Laila); Javed
Jaffrey: voiceover of
a dog (Charlie Anna)

Director: Samir Karnik
Starring: Salman Khan, Sunny Deol, Bobby Deol, Mithun Chakraborty, Preity Zinta, Sohail Khan, Vatsal Sheth, Dino Morea, Amrita Arora, Riya Sen

Of this year’s four releases, Roadside Romeo (Oct 24) is riding the Indian animation wave; Fashion (Oct 29) has been in the news for controversies; Heroes (Oct 24) has seen low-key promotions; and Golmaal Returns (Oct 29) is banking on the success of the first film. A pretty mixed bag. Which is just why each may find its own audience.

Neat slots
There are no face-offs this time like previous years. The varied genres of animation, patriotism, drama and comedy should each draw a sizeable number of viewers.

An industry expert says, “Being a cartoon film, Roadside Romeo has a limited appeal and it’s releasing only in multiplexes. Heroes might have a wider appeal due to its multi-star cast. Fashion, with an A certificate, is likely to have more takers in the cities, and Golmaal Returns will look to repeat the original’s success.”

The films that have been generating hype over the past few months and were to hit theatres around Diwali, have now been delayed. These are Akshay Kumar’s Chandni Chowk to China, Shah Rukh Khan’s Billoo Barber, Salman Khan’s Yuvvraaj and the Abhishek Bachchan-Priyanka Chopra-starrer Dostana.

Surprise package
Trade analyst and film critic Rajeev Masand feels, “It’s unfortunate that all these big films missed the Diwali week. But as Diwali is meant for surprise gifts, we can expect one of these films — or maybe all of them — to be surprise packages that might work wonders for the industry.”

The industry needs such wonders desperately. After Singh is Kinng, no film has done very well. Drona, turned out to be a white elephant and Hello managed to just get by.

The lack of clutter should prove to be an advantage. Fashion and Golmaal Returns are the strongest contenders [as box-office toppers] as the subject interests the audience,” believes Saurabh Varma of Reliance Big Entertainment. “Also, Roadside Romeo has a bright chance.”

“Fashion and Golmaal
Returns will do better, with an 80 per cent occupancy”, predicts Deepak Taluja of Fun Cinemas. “Roadside Romeo and Heroes will have 40-50 per cent.”

“These films are more content-driven than star-driven,” points out Varma. If they work, it would be a triumph of substance over style.

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