Bollywood film exhibitors worried about low-key March

Mumbai, Feb 22 (IANS) Exhibitors of Bollywood movies are worried that there are no movies lined up for release in March after the Hrithik Roshan-Aishwarya Rai starrer "Jodhaa Akbar" to keep the box-office buoyant.

While "Jodhaa Akbar" is expected to sail smoothly for at least another three weeks, only two movies are due for release next month - Mukta Searchlight Films' "Black & White" and Tips Films' "Race". Major movies are usually not released in March due to the board exams.

Though producer-director Subhash Ghai once had the reputation of being a box-office wizard, trade circles are surprisingly not very enthusiastic about his latest venture "Black & White", which is slated for a March 7 release.

This is despite the fact that Ghai has returned to direction after a gap of four years with this movie. However, Ghai himself is optimistic about its box-office prospects because he says he has made the movie "from the heart".

At the movie's launch, Ghai had said: "It is different from all the other movies I have produced and directed. The subject inspired me so much that I decided to direct it myself. It is my most challenging project."

Trade circles, on the other hand, have projected the movie as only a small film because Ghai has handled a subject that is not commercially inspiring. Ghai showcases Hindu-Muslim communal harmony through the drama of love and hatred between two protagonists belonging to two different religions.

The movie has Anil Kapoor in the role of a professor with Shefali Shah and debutant actor Anurag Sinha, a graduate from the reputed Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune, in other key roles.

In contrast to the subdued theme of "Black & White", "Race", directed by successful director duo Abbas and Mastan, has suspense and intrigue with oodles of fast-paced action. The movie, with Saif Ali Khan, Bobby Deol, Akshaye Khanna, Bipasha Basu, Sameera Reddy and Anil Kapoor in the cast, is due for release March 21.

Whatever its box-office prospects might be, the movie's producers Kumar and Ramesh Taurani of Tips Industries Ltd. have already earned a fair profit by selling it to UTV for reportedly Rs.500 million.

Shot extensively in Dubai and Durban, "Race" is essentially a suspense thriller - a genre the director duo thrives on.

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