Genres galore at Indian marquees ...

By Priyanka Khanna, Indo-Asian News Service

imageNew Delhi, Sep 24 (IANS) From good-old rip-offs of Hollywood action thrillers to a tongue-in-cheek satire on modern India. From an offbeat film on female bonding to remakes of olden classics and a re-look at the institution of marriage - myriad genres are jostling for space on the Indian marquees.

Even as "Shiva", a revamped version of Ram Gopal Varma's first hit film, sank without a whimper at the box-office, this Friday yet another action drama - "Rocky" - opened to bad reviews.

The film stars Zayed Khan in the lead role as the rebel. Minissha Lamba, who gave a subtle and much-appreciated performance in her debut film "Yahaan", slips into role of an arm candy. Other actors include Isha Sharwani of "Kisna" fame. Critics have slammed the film and the performances.

While debutante director Saket Chaudhary seemed to have a winner in his hands with "Pyaar Ke Side-Effects", starring Mallika Sherawat and Rahul Bose, doing good business in multiplexes, "Khosla Ka Ghosla" is expected to meet it head-on at the turnstiles.

The latter is a touching fable of the trials of middle-class denizens told light-heartedly. With Anupam Kher leading a bunch of good performers that includes Boman Irani, the film is unlikely to set cash registers ringing but will surely find many buyers for its satellite rights.

Then there was "Bas Ek Pal", a film by upcoming director Onir that tried to tell complex tales of complex relations through actors like Sanjay Suri, Juhi Chawla, Urmila Matondkar, Jimmy Shergilland Rehaan Engineer.

On Friday, the film met with competition from "Dor" by Nagesh Kukunoor, who is probably one of the only offbeat filmmakers to have tasted commercial success. Kukunoor has critics swooning over his latest work and is surely going to derail "Bas Ek Pal".

True to its promos, the film is an absolute visual pleasure and cerebral treat. Women dominate the screenplay this time around and the two leading ladies - Gul Panag and Ayesha Takia - have delivered the goods well.

The men in the film include Shreyas Talpade, who slips into the role of a happy-go-lucky village lad with ease. He erases all memories of his verbal and hearing impaired, gifted cricketer of "Iqbal". Girish Karnad is the other attraction of the film.

Predictably, the film is not going to be a huge draw at the box-office but given the fact that most film reviews comes from sources other than the marquees nowadays, it is likely to once again affirm that quality cinema is very much in vogue in India.

Just a couple of years ago, a predicament like the present one was highly desirable but completely unattainable. The dream merchants of Hindi mainstream industry were known to be notorious for following trends.

They would have loved to continue churning out formulae-ridden films, but fortunately for viewers, there is no single trend they can follow anymore. The audiences are getting increasingly unpredictable.

On one hand they reject big-budget, starry gloss but still patronise a run-of-the-mill marital saga like "Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna".

Just when people claimed comedy is in, viewers did not give much attention to hurriedly put together good proposals like "Anthony Kaun Hai". The film was not even noticed though it was the first outing of Sanjay Dutt and Arshad Warsi together after the phenomenal success of "Munnabhai M.B.B.S".

"Now that the audience is in a mellow, welcoming mood, this is the time to welcome new talent with fresh ideas into the industry, not just those who are experts at stealing from untraceable sources. This is the time to come up with experimental films and push the envelope," say trade watchers.

Taran Adarsh, editor Trade Guide, says: "Whatever money is to be made at the cinema halls has to be raked in the first couple of days after release. Round-the-clock entertainment on television, rampant piracy of films and exorbitant ticket rates at movieplexes are impediments if a film carries negative reports. Also, with multiple films every week, it's truly the survival of the fittest."

He added: "Big-budget films with solid content are still the biggest money churners. The volume of business has increased by leaps and bounds, but for big-budget films only. Medium and small-budget films need to be extraordinary to survive."

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With no set trend to follow, dream merchants of Bollywood and are pulling out old and new tricks from the bag to attract the elusive audiences. They are turning to god for more than mere conciliation if the next two big releases are an indicator.

Mythological film "Jai Santoshi Ma" which was earlier titled "Phir Jagaiye Apna Vishwaas" is a remake of an old classic. A product of Percept Picture Company, the film is directed by Ahmed Siddiqui.

A whole lot of money is at stake but the film has no big acting names. The cast includes Nushrat Bharucha, Rakesh Bapat, Lalit Tiwari and Anisha Hinduja.

The music will be the key defining factor for the film's success. Singers include Sonu Nigam, Alka Yagnik, Vijay Prasad, Usha Mangeshkar, Suresh Wadkar, Hari Om Sharan, N.C. Karunya, Shaunak Abhisekhi and most importantly Lata Mangeshkar. All directed by Anu Malik.

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An animated mythological film is likely to hit the marquees Friday. Titled "Krishna...Aayo Natkhat Nandalal", the film is a 3D animation movie.

News reports say "Krishna" will be released all over the world with 150 prints. The Aman Khan film has been in the making for two years and cost about Rs.950 million.

The animated musical feature film "Krishna" tells the story of Lord Krishna's birth, his childhood spent in Vrindavan, near Agra, and his slaying of Kansa, the evil ruler of Mathura. The film features various adventures of his childhood.

Producer Amit Shethia has reportedly announced a sequel of the film. "Looking at the response from distributors, exhibitors and sponsors, I am certainly making its sequel 'Krishna 2'," he was quoted as saying.

Sequels and remakes are clearly the leading trend that filmmakers are harping on lately.