Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Bollywood: 2011 to End on a High?

Big-budget blockbusters, low-budget Indies, films with women in the lead and films made with critics in mind, this year Bollywood holds nothing back to promise us one of the biggest and most entertaining years yet.

For all the talk of how some of the new age films are leaps and bounds ahead of multi-crore blockbusters, the fact still remains that these big-budget films fill the Box Office coffers. Of course on occasions a low-budget film like Tere Bin Laden or a Love, Sex Aur Dhoka will do well at the Box Office, but the real money still comes from these so called biggies.

The first half of this year has been a mixed bag of sorts with some films doing really well and some much anticipated films doing badly. Films like No One Killed Jessica with two actresses in the lead broke all norms and raked in Rs. 40 crore while the much anticipated film Dhobi Ghat starring Aamir Khan failed miserably.

But as we enter the business part of the year, we can look forward to some big films coming our way.

The first to watch out for is Zoya Akhtar’s Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara starring Hrithik Roshan, Farhan Akhtar, Abhay Deol, Katrina Kaif and Kalki Koechlin. It is the story of three best friends who set out on a bachelor trip to Spain where they rediscover life and deal with their own problems. Katrina’s character is said to inspire them to live their lives to the fullest and have fun while it lasts. This brings back the fond memories of the all-boys film Dil Chahta Hai. This seems like an interesting film, especially from the urban multiplex audience perspective. This might just turn out to be Zoya’s Dil Chahta Hai.

Next up is Imtiaz Ali’s Rockstar starring the current heartthrob Ranbir Kapoor, debutant Nargis Fakhri and Aditi Rao Hydari. Rock Star is about a young super-successful musician who doesn’t believe in love but is advised to fall in love to enrich the expanse of musical experience and become emotionally richer. He does allow himself to fall in love but finds it impossible to fall out of love when asked to do so. With two of the most talented names coming together for a film, it is hardly surprising that the expectations are already sky-high. With maestro A. R. Rahman providing the music score, there is a lot to look for in this film. But it isn’t only the film that is in the spotlight, rumours are flying in B-Town linking Ranbir with Nargis. We will have to wait and see how true these rumours are, but in the meanwhile we can safely say that this film is going to be huge.

Releasing on Eid is Salman Khan’s My Love Story also starring Kareena Kapoor and is a remake of a Telugu film Bodyguard. The story revolves around young Lovely Singh (Salman), who has a very strange habit that is he adulates anyone with a trace of heroism. Whenever he develops an admiration towards a person, he prefers to move with that person as a sort of bodyguard. Salman Khan usually carries a film on his courage of conviction rather than any element related to the film. His fans would definitely patronise this film but the success depends on how forgiving audiences are at the given point in time. His last film Dabanng is one such example where the film was a massive hit only because of Salman’s star power rather than it being a good film. So let’s wait and see how good this might be.

Sriram Raghavan’s Agent Vinod is one which I can’t wait to watch. Starring Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor as his girlfriend it is being said that this film is similar to that of James Bond and I’m sure it will be another one of Sriram’s film noirs ala Johnny Gaddar and Ek Haseena Thi.

Another film am looking forward to is Karan Johar’s remake of the 90’s classic Agneepath. The original was an instant classic and Amitabh Bachhan’s character of Vijay Dinanath Chahaun, the vengeful underworld don, has gone down in the history books as one of the most memorable characters in Bollywood history. The remake has been in the news ever since Hrithik Roshan was announced as the lead, since it was expected that Amitabh’s son Abhishek Bachhan would be the one to emulate his father. Another surprise has been the exclusion of Mithun Chakraborty’s memorable character of Krishnan Iyer MA in the remake. Johar has promised that the remake will be big and on an international stage with shooting all around the globe.  Interesting though it might sound, we will have to wait and watch how well the remake lives up to the original’s cult status.

Last and probably this year’s most awaited film is Anubhav Sinha’s Ra. One starring some of the biggest names in the industry with the likes of Sharukh Khan, Arjun Rampal and Kareena Kapoor in the lead. Sharukh plays the protagonist G. One and Arjun plays the villain. Since Shankar’s sci-fi film Robot was a massive hit, the standards for this film have been raised several notches up. This has the potential to be the biggest hit of this year and the buzz around the film is bound to lure the audiences to screens. Lets hope that Shahrukh's most ambitious project yet isn't like Akshay Kumar's Chaandni Chowk to China.

Happy watching!!

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

From 'Heroine' to 'Actress'

The phrase ‘women-centric films in Bollywood’ suggests films focusing on the issues faced by women in today’s society. Never will you find an Indian actress wielding guns and kicking ass. They are more likely to be portrayed as a helpless mother, devoted wife, over-caring sister, daughter or a vamp. But it looks likes the times they are a changing.

Women-centric films have always been able to target only a very niche audience. Though they have brought women into the spotlight and got critical acclaim, they haven’t been commercial hits. Films like Fiza (2000), Chandni Bar (2001), Chameli (2003), Satta (2003), Dor (2006) and Corporate (2006) were a critical success but a dud at Box office.

If you look back in history, Bollywood has always been a domain ruled by male actors. All the major hits and commercial successes have had a superstar actor in the lead. The three Khans namely Aamir Khan, Sharukh Khan and Salman Khan are credited with bringing Bollywood to where it is today. Many films with one of them in the lead have worked on their star power alone. Such a thing can never happen with an Indian actress. Producer Ekta Kapoor summed this up in an interview when she said: “In cinema, it’s the males you idolize and the females you fantasize about.”

The films responsible for the change...

But now directors like Vishal Bharadwaj and newcomers Alankrita Shrivastava and Rajkumar Gupta are trying to break the mould and present women in a more realistic and unconventional way. Gupta’s film ‘No One Killed Jessica’ breaks the norm by casting two actresses in the lead rather than a leading male actor. Starring Vidya Balan and Rani Mukherji, the film created a buzz as it was inspired by the 1999 murder of model Jessica Lall.

Films as they say are a reflection of real life. Women in India and around the world are redefining their status and role in society and that is being reflected in Hindi cinema. Women are no longer the shy or sensitive sorts who hide behind the veil, but very much on par with men. Power is slowly being balanced in today’s world and it is becoming evident with these films.

It is so refreshing to see the change in the way women are being portrayed on the screen. 
In the 80's and 90's there were some really perverse depictions of women, objectifying them to the core and making them appear like air heads. But Aisha proved that today’s female characters can be strong minded and contain substance, which is probably why the word ‘heroine’ is gradually being replaced by ‘actress'.

Other films like Bharadwaj’s ‘7 Khoon Maaf’ and Alankrita’s ‘Turning 30’ have women in important lead parts and ‘Aisha’, a modern adaptation of the 1815 British novel Emma by Jane Austen is the best example. It was well received by the audience. These films are also raking in the moolah which will only encourage the directors to make more such films. Aisha grossed a total of Rs. 18.75 crore at the box office, while No One Killed Jessica, made on a budget of Rs. 9 crore generated a business of Rs. 40 crore worldwide.

And it doesn’t stop there as Bharadwaj is yet again gearing up to make another female oriented film that is inspired from a chapter of writer S. Hussain Zaidi's book, 'Mafia Queens of Mumbai'. Nagesh Kukunoor director of Dor is currently making a film ‘Mod’ starring Ayesha Takia in the lead.