It's 'Elaan' and 'Insaan' this week...

By Subhash K. Jha, IANS

imageMumbai, Jan 12 (IANS) Are one-word titles the norm this year? After "Amu", "Vaada" and "Rog" in the first week of 2005, it's "Elaan" and "Insaan" this week.

But the two releases have a lot more in common than their similar-sounding titles. Both of them bring forward a gallery of action heroes battling the baddies with a blitzkrieg of hi-tech weaponry.

Cast-wise Vikram Bhatt's "Elaan" is at a disadvantage. His leading men - John Abraham, Arjun Rampal and Rahul Khanna - aren't quite what you'd call big box office baits.

Arjun gave an impressive performance in "Vaada" last week. Both Amisha Patel and Arjun desperately need a hit. "Elaan" could be that one film.

John Abraham had a roaring success, "Dhoom" in the action genre last year. So do John and the action genre go together? We shall know soon enough.

For Vikram Bhatt, reeling under the impact of the miserable failure of his ambitious Amitabh Bachchan-John Abraham-Bipasha Basu starrer "Aetbaar" last year, "Elaan" is a crucial test of his ability to deliver a winner at the box office. He does a John Woo in "Elaan" and hopes to get away with it.

"Elaan" is a real test for Mithun Chakraborty. The 1970s star of such successful potboilers as "Pyar Jhukta Nahin" and "Disco Dancer" has been struggling with a career ever since he shifted base from Mumbai to Ooty.

In the last five years, Mithun's presence in 'c' grade no-brainers all but killed his career in Bollywood.

Bhatt has repackaged Mithun as the arch-villain in "Elaan". The director hopes to resurrect Mithun's career with this film. Whether the gambit works or not, the actor is already on the comeback trail with a star-turn in Buddhadeb Dasgupta's new Bengali film "Kaalpurush".

Rahul Khanna's career also hinges on "Elaan".

The other actioner this week, "Insaan", hardly has any careers hanging on it. Neither Ajay Devgan nor Akshay Kumar needs a boost at the box office. The combination seen in Kuku Kohli's "Suhaag" and also in Raj Santoshi's "Khakee" is bound to bring the audiences in.

"Yeah, we did 'Suhaag' together many years ago. Then last year we came together in Raj Santoshi's 'Khakee', though we didn't have too many scenes together. Ajay is fun to work with...

"I've a gut feeling 'Insaan' will make back its money and then a neat profit. It's what I'd call a foolproof actioner," promises Akshay who has had a terrific 2004.

"'Insaan' is my first release this year and therefore very important for me."

The film is produced by Santoshi and directed by one of his former assistants, S. Subhash. This is Akshay's second film with Santoshi. He's already working in another project with Santoshi called "Family", which the filmmaker is directing.

"We've developed a terrific rapport over the last two years. I needed creative people like Raj Santoshi in my career," says Akshay.

The rapport factor is uppermost in the two releases this week. Both the films are predominantly about male bonding and macho machinations, though Lara Dutta does have a substantial role in "Elaan". She says her action-oriented role in "Elaan" is almost like Angelina Jolie's Lara Croft.

As for Esha Deol who co-stars with Akshay Kumar for the first time in "Insaan", she proved lucky for herself and the action genre in "Dhoom".

Can she kick up a storm in "Insaan"? There's no song like "Dhoom machale dhoom" this time to prop up Esha's newly acquired come-hither image.