Get set for onscreen Vivek-Ash chemistry
Vivek Oberoi and Aishwarya Rai have been busy touring northern India, trying to convince people to see them in debutant director Samir Karnik's love story "Kyun! Ho Gaya Na".
By Subhash K. Jha, IANS
The tussle between a mismatched couple is nothing new for Hindi films, but the makers say the story is original.
Kajol and Shah Rukh Khan fought their way through "Kuch Kuch Hota Hai" and more recently Saif Ali Khan and Rani Mukherjee warred all the way to the altar in "Hum Tum".
Both the films were huge successes. The audiences never had a problem accepting these pairs as potentially hostile wannabe lovers. But knowing that Aishwarya and Vivek are a real life pair, would audiences accept them in antagonistic parts?
"Why not?" asks producer Boney Kapoor who hasn't had much success with his last two productions "Khushi" and "Run", both Hindi remakes of very successful southern Indian films.
After a long while, Boney Kapoor has chosen a debutant director with a script that's totally untried. "That's true," says the producer, just back in Mumbai from a whirlwind tour of cities ranging from Nagpur, Kanpur, Lucknow and Indore.
"'Kyun! Ho Gaya Na' is an original film. On Tuesday night I had my first preview of the film. Everyone loved it, including my harshest critic, my wife Sridevi, whose birthday falls on Aug 13. If the film works it will be the best present I can give her."
Original scripts have a much better chance of getting noticed than Hollywood or southern Indian remakes. Among the successes of this year, "Munnabhai M.B.B.S.", "Main Hoon Na" and now "Mujhse Shaadi Karogi" had original ideas.
Kapoor concedes, "For some reason, the remakes haven't been working. But then what has? It's a bad time for the movie trade. Nothing really seems to work. On top of all the other hardships, I've just come to know that there is a cinema strike across Karnataka. That will affect a large chunk of my business.
"It's not easy to make films any longer. But still, I wouldn't give up the pleasure of making films for anything in the world."
It remains to be seen how the audiences warm up to the Aishwarya-Vivek pair, with Amitabh Bachchan thrown in as the affable matchmaker who brings the couple together.
While the Vivek-Aishwarya pair is untried, the leading lady has earlier appeared with Bachchan. In Aditya Chopra's "Mohabbatein", they appeared as father and daughter and in David Dhawan's "Hum Kissi Se Kum Nahin", they played siblings.
In "Kyun! Ho Gaya Na", Bachchan and Aishwarya will share an almost father-daughter bonding. This is his fourth film this monsoon.
"And definitely his most light-hearted and lovable role in recent times. In 'Dev', 'Lakshya' and 'Deewaar', he was cast in very serious roles. For the first time in this film, he plays a naughty, funny and lovable guy. Bachchan is the USP of my film," says Boney.
Time will tell whether the audience shares the producer's enthusiasm. In the meanwhile, the producers of the long-delayed "Shart: The Challenge" have decided to release their film alongside "Kyun! Ho Gaya Na".
Like Samir Karnik, Puri Jagannath is a debutant in Bollywood. In the south, Jagannath is a huge draw, commanding a fee that is matched by his films' fan following.
Unfortunately his Hindi debut seems to evince no interest in the market. Tusshar Kapoor, who has given two well-appreciated performances earlier during the year in "Khakee" and "Ghayab", could be the surprise element in "Shart".
He has Gracy Singh, considered lucky after "Lagaan", "Munnabhai M.B.B.S." and "GangaaJal" and also "Muskaan", which did decent business in some pockets, and Amrita Arora.
However superstar directors from the south, including Suryah ("Khushi") and Teja ("Yeh Dil"), have fared miserably in the past.