Battle of the biggies this week...

By Subhash K. Jha,

BewafaaMumbai, Feb 23 (IANS) Bollywood is all set for the release of the year's first multi-starrer this week.

"Bewafaa" is crucial for many careers, most of all director Dharmesh Darshan who after the initial spurt of successes like "Raja Hindustani" and "Dhadkan" has been lying low with two thundering flops "Mela" and "Han Maine Bhi Pyar Kiya".

Darshan needs a hit badly. But so does Anil Kapoor, "Bewafaa" producer Boney Kapoor's brother, who hasn't seen a hit in ages.

The film also stars Darshan's favourite leading man Akshay Kumar. Can Akshay countermand the spell of ill luck in the director and producer's life?

That's not all. "Bewafaa" gives Manoj Bajpai and Shamita Shetty the chance to play villain and vamp. And Sushmita Sen gets to play Anil Kapoor's dead wife, her first traditional wife's role.

But the film is most critical to Kareena Kapoor. In the central role she stars as Sushmita's sibling who must marry her widowed brother-in-law.

"Bewafaa" is a remake of B.R. Chopra's 1960s' hit "Gumrah", though that is something the film's makers seem to be trying hard to suppress.

While the year has started with two unusual successes "Page 3" and "Black", thereby disproving the common belief that films released at the year's beginning are losers, "Bewafaa" could prove to be the first conventional hit of the year.

Or so the industry would like to believe.

Not much is expected from next Friday's other release "Chand Sa Roshan Chehra", mainly because teenybopper love stories with newcomers in the lead just don't have a market anymore.

The film introduces a new romantic pair, Samir Aftab and Tamanna. But the prerequisite of a love story - a sound music score - seems to be absent in "Chand Sa Roshan Chehra".

Another newcomer, and this one well connected, is being launched this week.

Manisha Koirala's brother Siddharth makes his long-delayed debut in "Fun Can Be Dangerous Sometimes".

Seemingly specific to the sleaze market, it seems an unworthy debut for a Koirala. Moreover, after the failure of sister Manisha's cheesy "Chahat Ek Nasha" last week can Siddharth get audiences interested in the sleaze thing this week?

Clearly, the big one this time is "Bewafaa". The rest of the releases are at best satellites hovering around to get in a murmur edgewise. Will Akshay Kumar's ongoing luck and Kareena's newly discovered success after "Aitraaz" and "Hulchul" rub off on this rehash of a popular film?

"Bewafaa" does feature the rare and prestigious voice of Lata Mangeshkar. She has proved lucky for both "Veer-Zara" and "Page 3" where she sang last year. Will she prove third-time lucky for "Bewafaa" too?