'Dil Mange More' releasing on the 31st...

By Subhash K. Jha, IANS

imageMumbai, Dec 29 (IANS) This Friday, "Dil Mange More" gets the privilege of being the last one out for the year.

The closing Fridays of the year are traditionally considered brisk-business time by Bollywood. In the past five or six years, Suneel Darshan's "Jaanwar", N. Chandra's "Style", Raj Kumar Hirani's "Munnabhai M.B.B.S." were all released during the festive Christmas-going-on-New-Year season.

"Dil Mange More", a romantic fable, is crucial for many careers. Producer Nitin Manmohan burnt his fingers badly earlier during the year with the expensive "Rudraksh". He desperately needs a hit.

So does director Ananth Mahadevan, whose directorial debut "Dil Vil Pyar Vyar", two years ago didn't quite set the box office on fire. This time he has played it safe by signing the young-and-upcoming Shahid Kapur.

But how safe is Shahid after "Fida" where he played an innocent character in a dark and foreboding thriller with Kareena Kapoor? The film bombed and reversed a large part of the headway Shahid made with his debut "Ishq Vishq".

"Dil Mange More" casts Shahid Kapur with three leading ladies. While Ayesha Takia and Tulip Joshi have already been seen in "Taarzan: The Wonder Car" and "Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai" respectively, the much written-about Soha Ali Khan gets her launch in "Dil Mange More".

Will she make the impact that her pedigree suggests? Or is being Sharmila Tagore's daughter and Saif Ali Khan's kid sister just not qualification enough?

2004 hasn't seen any star-kids make their debut. Soha is the first one off the block. And also the first Khan female. Will she prove as lucky as the male Khans?

Interestingly, "Dil Mange More" isn't the first film to pitch one man against three ladies.

Decades ago Dev Anand co-starred with Nanda, Kalpana Kartik (who later became his wife) and Simi Garewal in "Teen Deviyan". He also had three leading ladies Vyjayanthimala, Tanuja and Helen in "Jewel Thief".

But in recent times we haven't really had a comedy about a hero caught among three women. How would the audience react to a romantic comedy featuring the youngest kid on the block?

And would the year close positively with a final hurrah? It's being released as a solo release. "Dil Mange More" has no excuse to flop.