A mixed bag of results
On the Hindi front, the first half of 2004 saw controversies and more flops than hits. Innocent charmers made it good while the seasoned ones failed to impress. ZIYA US SALAM gives a round-up.
The corny, successful comedy, "Masti,".
TWO CONTROVERSIES: One dogged M. F. Husain's second shot at celluloid glory, the other helped a film on two women, which did more harm than good to the cause it ostensibly espoused.
Two hits: Two Khans striking it rich, one for the first time as a solo hero, the other doing what has come naturally to him for the decade or so.
Two women making headlines for entirely different reasons, one with her uninhibited and unabashed flesh show, the other, a seasoned artiste leaving her mark in a couple of films but failing to find the mark at the box office.
Two members of the Deol clan made news too: The senior for keeping off screen, the other for keeping viewers off it.
"Khakee"... it failed to fulfil expectations.
The two Bachchans put in more than a special appearance in ordinary films. The junior's search for elusive glory continued with two more flops. The senior one tried harder: There were two films in January, three in June. The result was not much better though.
Yes, it has been like that for the first half of 2004, livened up by Kunal Kohli's surprise hit, "Hum Tum," which had the scarcely bankable star though a hugely dependable actor, Saif Ali Khan as the solo hero, and Indra Kumar's a shade corny if successful comedy, "Masti."
It was made a bit duller by films like "Muskaan" which negated Gracy Singh's attempt to go hep or Udita Goswami's debut misnomer "Paap" or the hugely disappointing "Rudraksh" where neither science nor mythology could help Mani Shankar's film. Just like Mani Ratnam's "Yuva" or Sudhir Misra's "Chameli."
Not to forget the controversy-riddled "Girlfriend" where Karan Razdan made as many enemies among women as the male protestors he might have imagined with a deliberately lopsided film; or the much more subtly delightful "Meenaxi" where Tabu proved it was possible to be beautiful without being `bold.' Incidentally, she had earlier brought life to Lady Macbeth in "Maqbool." Both Razdan's and Husain's films faced opposition, "Girlfriend" from those who thought same-sex affiliation on screen is actually a celebration of the act, "Meenaxi" for wrong usage of sacred verses. While Razdan benefited as his immensely dislikeable film made likeable collections, Husain withdrew his film from the theatres.
"Maqbool" did fairly well at the box-office.
But the real headline grabber has not been Saif with his restrained performance as the lone hero of "Ek Hasina Thi" and the more successful charmer of "Hum Tum." Or Shah Rukh's yet another college boy act in "Main Hoon Naa." Or even Amitabh Bachchan who saw three releases in three weeks, probably for the first time since the late 1970s "Govind Nihalani's "Dev", Farhan Akhtar's "Lakshya" and Milan Luthria's "Deewaar." Or for that matter Nana Patekar who found his range after quite some time with "Ab Tak Chhappan."
The stunners have not been individuals but films like "Hawas," "Tum" and "Murder," each one of them entering a woman's bedroom beyond matrimony, with mixed results though.
Meghna Naidu, whose sole claim to fame has been a song, played the adulteress with abandon in "Hawas."
This copy of "Unfaithful" stuck faithfully to the original, got a good initial before losing out to the more sophisticated wares of "Murder," which ironically was the film to infuse new life into Bollywood this year.
Mallika Sherawat, its heroine, went bare backed, had a shower and lazed around the beach. All this with Emraan Hashmi's beguiling lover and behind Ashmit Patel's busy hubby.
The hit film,"Murder."
The masses liked what they saw, the film with provocative, if tuneful songs like "Kabhi Mere Saath Raat Guzar" raked it rich at the box office, leading to rumours about the heroine being approached for a blow-up by Playboy.
No such luck visited a more seasoned Manisha Koirala when she did the bed-beyond-your own man's act in "Tum."
Aruna Raje's film attracted more people before the release of the film with its well `fleshed out' characters than after the release. Much like Priyanka Chopra's desperate, and perfectly avoidable act in "Kismat." The film failed at the box office, and Chopra's bare-dare act attracted only as much attention as yesterday's leftovers.
If adultery was a safer bet at the box office over the past six months, there was no such luck for the ever faithful, ever dutiful guys. Rajkumar Santoshi's much-anticipated "Khakee" opened to good response but the collections petered out. No welcome was extended to Bobby Deol's "Bardaasht," where the masses failed to tolerate a film one thought Bollywood had stopped making 20 years ago. Even if Nana Patekar's "Ab Tak Chhappan" went better, Shatrughan Sinha's comeback, "Aan" was nothing short of a disaster, actually a deceit.
"Aan" did not add to his respect and his old fans went back bitterly disappointed at seeing their hero play a poor second fiddle to Akshay Kumar, the man who played a cop in both "Khakee" and "Aan" with relish. His "Police Force," however, lacked punch and power and went unnoticed.
Manoj Bajpai played a cop in "Jaago," but had to persuade the audiences to stay awake throughout this sorry tale of child rape.
The best cop film this year though has been "Dev" where veterans Amitabh Bachchan and Om Puri brought out the best in each other. It did not help the film though at the box office.
So, even as the bare-all brigade went home happy, and there were takers for the innocent charms in films like "Hum Tum" and "Main Hoon Na," the men, all armoured, all guns blazing in "Dev" or "Deewaar" or Hrithik Roshan's patriotic saga, "Lakshya," went down without so much as a decent fight. But then that is box office.
PS: Bipasha Basu came all covered from top to the tip of her otherwise well-exhibited toes in "Ishq Hai Tumse." The masses could not recognise her, the film, released as the first offering of 2004 flopped.
Send this article to Friends by