New Delhi, Oct 26 (IANS) Comedies didn't bring much joy to the box-office this year, but all eyes are now set on "Golmaal Returns" with the hope to renew faith in the genre and infuse some cheer in the festive season which has been dampened by the global economic meltdown.
The year 2008 has so far proved to be tragic for makers of comedy films. While action films like "Race" and "Jannat" have been hits, only a couple of comedy films have made their mark this year.
Unexpectedly serious, issue-based films like "Black and White", "Shaurya" and "Aamir" found eager audiences. But nobody seems to even remember the names of comedies that are being released regularly and vanishing into nothingness, barring romantic comedies like "Singh is Kinng".
The big dampeners include big ticket films like "Krazzy 4" with Irrfan Khan, Rajpal Yadav, Arshad Warsi, Suresh Menon, Juhi Chawla plus item numbers by Shahrukh Khan, Hritik Roshan and Rakhi Sawant that bombed at the box office as well as paid heavy compensation for lifting music.
Even the new king of comedies, Priyadarshan, gave a cropper in the form of "Mere Baap Pehle Aap" having a star cast of Akshaye Khanna, Paresh Rawal, Om Puri and Genelia D'Souza.
The last big hits in the comedy genre were Priyadarshan's "Bhool Bhulaiya", Anees Bazmi's "Welcome", Sajid Khan's "Heyy Baby", Sanjay Dutt's "Munnabhai M.B.B.S.", "Hera Pheri" and the no-star comedies "Bheja Fry" and "Golmaal".
This Diwali, Rohit Shetty has fashioned a sequel of his previous hit "Golmaal" and put in some sizzling glamourous shots of leading lady Kareena Kapoor. Here is hoping that he has kept the humour clean and simple.
"Golmaal Returns" will hit the box-office along with "Fashion", making this Diwali's box-office clash a tussle between saucy actresses. Madhur Bhandarkar's "Fashion" is the story of three models played by Priyanka Chopra, Kangana Ranaut and Mugdha Godse.
Lately, audiences have been very unkind to comic capers leaden with sexual overtones.
"Slapstick, mindless humour will not work anymore. Intelligent comedy, one that will make audiences laugh, but also think, is the order of the day," says producer Vipul Shah.
Shah's film "Singh is Kinng", a romantic action-comedy starring actor Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif, raked in a record profit at the box office. Shah said his film worked because the comedy was clean and simple.
"We have seen in the past that comedies do work at the box office, but the genre of that comedy is changing," said Siddarth Roy Kapur of UTV. "Audiences are no longer willing to laugh along with us if the script doesn't make sense."
UTV's latest release "Welcome to Sajjanpur", a film revolving around an educated protagonist who offers to write letters for the illiterate people of Sajjanpur village, received positive response from audience.
"I don't like mindless comedy. My comedy is verbal comedy, not slapstick, and I hope audiences appreciate that kind of humour," director Shyam Benegal said of "Welcome to Sajjanpur".
According to trade analayst Taran Adarsh, Bollywood churns out at least 20 comedies a year, some of them with a big star cast, but not all find success at the box office.
"Audiences have learnt to separate the wheat from the chaff. Just because you insert a few laughs, doesn't mean you have a successful film on hand," Adarsh said.
In the past, there have been instances when economic downturns have done wonders for the box-office. Some of Hollywood's biggest movies came during market slumps.
The fact that everyone's looking for a laugh to unwind and get rid of personal and professional woes may translate into a jackpot for comedies at the box-office.