It's a double feature sleaze fest this week

By Subhash K. Jha, IANS

imageMumbai, Feb 9 (IANS) So it's blue after "Black"! Even as the nation swoons at the new threshold of excellence created by Sanjay Leela Bhansali's film, the turnstiles get ready for titillation this week with "Sheesha" and "Chahat Ek Nasha".

Neha Dhupia who rose to 'flame' last year with the 'bold-and-desirable' role of Julie in Deepak Shivdasani's eponymous film is back in "Sheesha" doing the 'fallen' woman's act all over again.

But is the audience prepared for the Fallen even as Bollywood prepares for Ketan Mehta's historic "The Rising"?

According to reports from trade circles, Neha has gone many steps ahead of "Julie" in "Sheesha". Drooling distributors have paid handsome sums of money to producer Guddu Dhanoa for the privilege of screening this cheesecake-fest. Director Ashu Trikha had earlier directed Arjun Rampal and Diya Mirza in "Deewaanapan". Maybe he needed a change of pace.

The critical question after the release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's ode to aestheticism is: does the audience want to watch naked flesh after having watched a film that goes straight to the soul?

"Sheesha" is critical for its leading lady. Like Mallika Sherawat after "Murder", Neha Dhupia needs to build on her initial success in the sleaze circuit. For company she has model-turned-actor Sonu Sood who made his debut as Bhagat Singh in 2002 but got noticed recently as Abhishek Bachchan's brother in Mani Ratnam's "Yuva".

Sood is counting on "Sheesha" to take him forward. "Contrary to popular belief, Sheesha isn't a sleazy or cheesy film. I'd never be part of anything like that. I've a decent career in the south. I just need that one hit in Mumbai."

Would "Sheesha" do the trick for Sood? It has another lurid film "Chahat Ek Nasha" for company. Last year, director Jai Prakash had released "Market" about the life of prostitutes. He encores the star cast of Manisha Koirala and Aryan Vaid.

Secretly, the entire film industry wonders what Manisha Koirala is doing in such low-brow sleaze-fests after being the glorious diva in Mani Ratnam's "Bombay" and Sanjay Leela Bhansali's "Khamoshi: The Musical".

Says a saddened filmmaker, "She's the most tragic emblem of Bollywood's downside. Ruined by her lifestyle and wrong choices."

Interestingly, both the releases this week are heroine-centric sojourns into sleaziness. After watching Rani Mukherjee blow the screen apart in "Black" last week, it remains to be seen how far the audience warms up to Manisha Koirala and Preeti Jhangiani playing Madonna and Britney Spears in "Chahat", or Neha Dhupia as the unrobed femme-fatale in "Sheesha".