Bollywood hopes for rain of hits in April ...

By Priyanka Khanna, Indo-Asian News Service

imageNew Delhi, (IANS) A two-week run by comic caper "Malamaal Weekly" on the heels of hit film "Rang De Basanti" has provided a much-needed respite to Hindi cinema even as the trade enters a crucial phase in April.

After a slow beginning in the first quarter - a perennial annual feature, the trade is looking forward to making merry from April to June when schools and colleges in most parts of the country close for summer vacations.

A surfeit of films is ready to hit the celluloid screen in the coming months. INOX programmes manager Arun Sharma says April has six major film releases confirmed and that there are 11 films still awaiting release.

This is an annual feature - filmmakers time releases to coincide with students being relatively free, trade watchers say.

Analyst Taran Adarsh said: "Over the years, the months of April, May and June have witnessed a plethora of movies vying for audience attention. The trend was no different in the 1970s. It continued in the 1980s and the 1990s. This year is no exception either."

Of late, the film industry had been badly hit by flops. The lone hit - "Rang De Basanti" - painted a miserable hit-to-flop ratio from a business point of view.

In addition, last week's "Umar" And "Banana Brothers" sank without a trace. Though the audience was game for watching character actors hog the limelight in "Malamaal Weekly", they did not patronise "Umar" with veterans - Kader Khan, Prem Chopra, Satish Kaushik - in pivotal roles and "Banana Brothers" with Anupam Kher, Gulshan Grover and Johnny Lever.

Adarsh added: "Practically, every film - big or small - has an 'all India open' status today. Translated into simple terms, it means that the films are lying unsold for practically every territory.

"The distributors are in no mood to acquire the rights - partly because market conditions are awful and partly because they've burnt their fingers with the past few releases. Producers have been forced to distribute films themselves due to a genuine dearth of buyers. The arithmetic of film-making is in a shambles."

The cold wave is blowing over the overseas markets and music territory as well, making the coming months all the more crucial for Bollywood.


A lot rides on the Mukta Arts' production "Shaadi Se Pehle" that is slated for release on April 6. The film marks the return of director Satish Kaushik with hot-and-happening stars like Akshaye Khanna, Mallika Sherawat and Ayesha Takia.

The comedy about one man stuck between two sensuous young ladies also stars Sunil Shetty, Aftab Shivdasani, Anupam Kher, Gulshan Grover and Rajpal Yadav. Himesh Reshammiya is once again the man behind the music.

Mukta Arts has put a reasonable amount of money behind the film's promotion, which is sure to fetch good openings. Mallika's presence in the film is another big draw.


For discerning viewers, April brings a treat in the form of director Pankaj Parashar's "Banaras - A Mystic Love Story" with an ensemble star cast of Urmila Matondkar as Shwetambari, Ashmit Patel as Sohan, Naseruddin Shah as Babaji, Dimple Kapadia as Gayatri Devi and Raj Babbar as Mahendranath.

Though the film has all the elements of a typical Bollywood drama like a saleable star and good music, it is in essence created for a world audience.

Shwetambari, a bright young daughter of Brahmin parents, studies science at a local university in Banaras. Soham, a low-caste mystic and a protégé of Babaji, teaches music at the university.

When the two fall in love, all hell breaks loose. Her parents are not able to ignore the social strictures, forcing Shwetambari to leave the town she loves. In despair and hopelessness she turns inwards to look for answers.

Strong content with some glitzy razzmatazz from the film world could be just what the country's alternative cinema needs as a boost.

The film has been written by L.C. Singh and Javed Siddiqui and produced by Setu Creations. Himesh has this film's music too.

This will be the second release in as many weeks for Naseeruddin and yesteryear screen goddess Dimple. It comes at a time when they are raking in rave reviews for portraying unconventional roles in "Being Cyrus" that released Friday.

"Banaras..." may not be as maverick as "Being Cyrus" that stars Saif Ali Khan in a pivotal role, but it is aiming at more or less a similar niche audience.


April will be a big month for Salman Khan fans, whose numbers seem to swell with every conviction against him, as his first film for 2006 hits the marquees. The star with a penchant for trouble will be seen in "Saaawan - The Love Season" by producer-director Sawan Kumar.

A well-known director in 70s and the 80s, Sawan gave Salman a super-hit film in the form of "Sanam Bewafa" in 1991 but since then he has been waiting for a hit.

"Saaawan - The Love Season" reunites him with Salman after a decade. The film also stars the same lead pair of his last film "Dil Pardesi Ho Gaya", Kapil Jhaveri and Saloni Awasthi, with music by Aadesh Srivastava and lyrics by Sawan Kumar himself.

The promos do not seem too promising for metropolitan denizens but the film could be well be the answer for small town theatre owners' prayers.

The month will also mark the release of "Aryan - Unbreakable" that stars Salman's brother Sohail Khan in the lead role. The female lead is essayed by Aishwarya Rai look-alike Sneha Ullal who was launched by Salman in "Lucky - No Time for Love" right after his stormy relationship with Aishwarya ended.

Former cricketer Kapil Dev has a cameo in the film. The music by Anand Raj
Anand, particularly a hip-hop dance number, is catching on.


Other big films slated for April release are "Hum Ko Deewana Kar Gaye" starring Akshay Kumar with Bipasha Basu and Katrina Kaif, "Dick And Harry" with Dino Morea, Jimmy Shergill, Celina Jaitley and Anuj Sawhney and Ram Gopal Varma's "Boo - Darna Zaroori Hai".

A Factory product, the later is a sequel to the episodic horror film "Darna Mana Hai" and has been directed by Jijy Philip, Prawaal Raman, Ram Gopal and J.D. Chak.

The impressive star cast includes Amitabh Bachchan, Riteish Deshmukh, Anil Kapoor, Mallika Sherawat, Randeep Hooda, Zakir Hussain, Manoj Pahwa, Sunil Shetty, Sonali Kulkarni, Rajpal Yadav, Arjun Rampal, Bipasha Basu, Makrand Deshpande, Isha Koppikar and Shweta Prasad, making it definitely worth a dekko in April.