By Subhash K. Jha, IndiaFM
If the truth can be told about 2007, then, let's begin with saying that it wasn't a bad year at the box-office at all. There were biggies and semi-biggies knocking at the turnstiles beginning with Guru, Mani Ratnam's bio-pic based on the life and times of a Gujarati textile businessman who climbs all the way to the top of the tycoon's tower. A well-carved performance by Abhishek and the Abhishek-Aishwarya alliance helped cement the film's fate. There was nothing synthetic about this polyester yarn…
Next came Madhur Bhandarkar's Traffic Signal. Though this story of street people caught on candid camera wasn't another Page 3 in the director's life, it left the producers smiling. Debutant director Reema Kagti's Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd was the first real surprise success of the year. No one thought that this quirky comedy about an assorted bunch of honeymooners would even get an opening. Honeymoon Travels with endearing performances by an enchanting ensemble cast especially K. K. Menon and Raima Sen, rocked. It proved to be a lucrative beginning for Farhan Akhtar as a producer.
Vipul Shah's Namastey London, a feisty funny and feelingly rendered portrait of NRI blues with shades of Manoj Kumar's Purab Aur Paschim, was the next big one for 2007 and the first of Akshay's four hits during the year. Next was Anurag Basu's Life In A Metro. Though not quite the follow-up to Gangster, it had outstanding performances by Irrfan Khan, Konkona Sen and was also Shilpa Shetty's career best performance. And a rather unorthodox musical score and music placement, a trendsetter of sorts. After Metro, came Apoorva Lakhia's Shootout At Lokhandwala, a gritty hard-nosed look at a real-life cops-terrorists shoot-out which showed Lakhia's command over the language of violence and redemption. Again, a path breaking stuff. Himesh Reshammiya's acting debut Aap Ka Surroor was easily the surprise success of the year. If music is the food of love, then this was junk food at its 'junkiest'.
David Dhawan's Partner in mid-2007 was a Salman-Govinda farce fest with nothing new. But this chemistry clicked big time. The audiences just couldn't get enough of this Hitch remake. Partner was amongst the biggest moolah-rakers of the year, thus confirming the fact that the audiences in 2007 just wanted to laugh with the movies. Shimit Amin's Chak De India was amongst the few serious-toned films of the year with the message (female identity, Muslim identity, media identity) just flowing out in an entertaining stream. Wow's the word!
Akshay Kumar hit No.2 Heyy Babyy followed Chak De …. into the theatres. Sajid Khan's directorial debut worked wonders at the box-office. In a year where rip-offs were rare (the best films of the year from Chak De India to Saawariya to Taare Zameen Par were originals), Sajid happily adapted Three Men And A Baby. And no… Vidya Balan was certainly not the baby of the show.
Eid this year brought loads of luck for the prolific Priyadarshan. He scored a hit in the Hindi remake of the Malayalam blockbuster Chandramukhi. Oh yes, Imtiaz Ali's Jab We Met which came jab Kareena and Shahid parted. But who cares? Audiences don't go to see Page 3 gossip come to life. They want their money's worth. Jab We Met was classy paisa vasool from the first frame to the last.
Diwali had its dhamaka when Farah Khan, the only female director with a hit in 2007, delivered SRK's second hit of the year with Om Shanti Om, a film that was all about films, fads, fashions, farce rebirth and a recycled Karz. The year-end audiences proved the trade pundits wrong by making hits out of two films on the same Friday. But of course Anees Bazmi's Welcome was a far bigger hit than Aamir Khan's Taare Zameen Par.
You can't compare the sales of a pav-bhaji at a roadside stall with a cuisine dinner at a 5-star hotel! Can you?