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Laddoos, bets and frayed tempers at box office

By Subhash K. Jha, IANS

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A mixed bag awaits moviegoers this Friday, with three films that promise laddoos, bets and frayed tempers respectively.

While on one hand Telugu super-director Puri Jagannath makes his Hindi film debut with "Shart: The Challenge", on the other ad filmmaker-turned-director Raj Kaushal makes a second attempt at feature films in the marital comedy "Shaadi Ka Laddoo".

"Shart" is one of those let's-get-it-over-with releases. Too long in the pipeline to excite even the diehard movie buff, its title itself puts a damper on viewing.

There have been at least three other films with the same title in 1954, 1965 and 1989 - none of them very successful. In fact titles with gambling connotations have never yielded hits - for example, the Dev Anand-starrer "Gambler", the Amitabh Bachchan-starrer "The Great Gambler" and Prakash Mehra's "Zindagi Ek Jua".

The mix of stars - Tusshar Kapoor, Amrita Arora and Gracy Singh - isn't exciting, though Gracy is considered quite lucky after "Gangaajal", "Munnabhai M.B.B.S." and "Muskaan", which has done reasonably well in some pockets.

It's doubtful if Gracy's luck will rub off on "Shart". The track record of super-successful directors in the south like Tejaa ("Yeh Dil") and S.J. Suryah ("Khushi") isn't very encouraging in Bollywood.

Like his father Jeetendra, Tusshar is trying to bring successful south Indian films to Hindi - "Mujhe Kucch Kehna Hai", "Kya Dil Ne Kahaa" and "Yeh Dil" - into Hindi. He has been successful only with "Mujhe Kucch Kehna Hai" so far.

The second release this week is the young and interesting comedy "Shaadi Ka Laddoo". Some years ago, director Raj Kaushal's first Hindi film, "Pyar Mein Kabhi Kabhie", introduced three new stars Dino Morea, Rinke Khanna and Sanjay Suri.

In "Shaadi..." he introduces model Samita Bangargi along with charismatic actors like Sanjay Suri, Divya Dutta, Ashish Chowdhary and the director's real-life wife Mandira Bedi. Another interesting aspect of the film: the real-life pair Ashish and Samita.

The sweet romantic comedy boasts of hit songs - a privilege denied to the other releases this week - and a young trendy look that should go down well with the new-millennium youth market that favoured the two hits of the season "Murder" and "Masti".

Interestingly, the release of "Shaadi Ka Laddoo" has been advanced.

Says Kaushal: "We were supposed to come May 30 with "Main Hoon Na". But we couldn't get a good chain of theatres. The choice was between going forward or coming a week in advance. The distributors favoured an advancement. So be it," says Kaushal.

Bardaasht WallpapersThere have been too many 'A' films of late. 'Shaadi Ka Laddoo' is a romantic comedy that parents and their children can watch together."

This week's third release is the delayed "Bardaasht", E. Niwas's romantic thriller with the unusual Bobby Deol-Lara Dutta pair.

Curiosity for the star-centric film is still nominal. As far as distributors care, "Shaadi Ka Laddoo" with its reasonably budgeted romantic configuration is the hope of the week.

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