Lull phase to end with race to box-office!

By Priyanka Khanna

New Delhi, March 16 (IANS) With the Hindi film industry's proverbial showman, Subhash Ghai, failing to whip up a winner with his latest foray into serious cinema, Bollywood is pinning its hopes on the upcoming string of releases to end the dull phase.

Ghai's "Black & White", based on communalism, could not set the cash registers ringing but the continued run of Ashutosh Gowarikar's "Jodhaa Akbar" brought solace to exhibitors and distributors even as it completed its fourth week at the turnstiles.

Traditionally, the month of March is a lean period as it coincides with school and college examinations across the country. As movie watching is largely a family outing in India, filmmakers are weary of releasing films in this period.

India's film industry is known to churn out the maximum number of films annually with even Hollywood studios failing to match productivity. On an average, 1,000 films are released each year under recognised banners.

A week without a release is a rarity and the week that went by was one of the rare few. Hrithik Roshan, Aishwarya Rai-starrer "Jodhaa Akbhar" benefited immensely from the lack of competition at the turnstiles.

But the lull cannot last long. Starting with "Race", which is filmmaker duo Abbas-Mustan's long-awaited return to the genre of suspense thrillers, a good number of small and big films are jostling in the wings.

"Race" by Tips Music Films and UTV Motion Pictures is slated for release Friday. The much-in-news Saif Ali Khan leads the star cast with Akshaye Khanna, Bipasha Basu, Katrina Kaif, Anil Kapoor and Sameera Reddy completing the high-on-glamour quotient list.

With the much-publicised romance between Saif and Kareena Kapoor hogging nearly all film magazines, the actor is hot. Tattooing Kareena's name on his wrist has nearly made him India's answer to Hollywood's A-list actors.

In addition, he has carefully branded himself a guitarist and a rock star making him a favourite with the young audience. In spite of the years showing on him, Saif's positioning and packaging in "Race" is bound to draw college-goers. As is well known, youth are the best advocates for any film. Once they throng the theatres, courtesy Saif and if they like the film, then "Race" will be a hit.

The film's music by director Pritam Chakraborty has been ruling the charts and the sleek promos and film marketing will guarantee a big bang opening. All the women in the film look great and Akshaye and Anil can be relied on for delivering the goods on the acting front.

After a long gap, Bollywood would be releasing an action film. Action director Allan Amin is said to have done a good job.

"Race" will also get two relatively uncluttered weeks to rake in the moolah before it starts to rain films at the box-office. According to trade weekly, the week following the release of "Race" has only one release - "One Two Three".

The month of April will bring an interesting mix of releases and one of the most notable will be a film made in Pakistan - "Khuda Ke Liye". April will have a brush with Shah Rukh Khan as he appears in two successive releases - "Shaurya" and "Krazzy 4".

While King Khan is the narrator in "Shaurya", he has done a hip item number in "Krazzy 4".

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