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Will 'Musafir' join the 'M-pire'?

By Subhash K. Jha, IANS

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After last Friday's no-show, Bollywood gears up this week for some big-time bacchanalia.

Though it was touch-and-go with the censors, Sanjay Gupta's sensuous "Musafir" has been cleared in time for release this week.

The film will be an acid test for both Gupta and his leading lady Sameera Reddy.

Gupta hasn't directed a film since the much-hyped "Kaante" two years ago, after which he was involved in a near-fatal accident.

Reddy, who was packaged as femme fatale in Ram Gopal Varma's "Darna Manaa Hai", is all set to become the next smouldering siren on celluloid.

She plays a woman trapped in a bad marriage (with Mahesh Manjrekar) who indulges in a series of liaisons.

The male cast features 40-plus 'supper' stars (the hip crowd can't have them over for dinner).

While Anil Kapoor, in an unexpected look and swagger, is working with Gupta for the first time, the director has cast Mahesh Manjrekar for a third time after "Kaante" and "Plan".

Gupta's favourite Sanjay Dutt is also back at his snarling act.

But in this revamped version of Oliver Stone's "U Turn", it's clearly Sameera Reddy who holds the show together.

The role was initially offered to Priyanka Chopra who chickened out saying it was too daring for her.

But Reddy has dared. And if the film's unwonted mood and rebellious characterisations get a thumbs-up at the box office, she won't have to regret it.

Some other careers are waiting to be made this week.

Download Rok Sako To Rok Lo WallpapersNewcomers Yash Pandit and Manjari Phadnis play teenyboppers in love in economics guru Arindam Chaudhuri's over-hyped "Rok Sako To Rok Lo".

So intense has been the campaign to launch the film and its newcomers that the frothy fun-filled campus romance now stands the risk of overselling itself. Chaudhuri's famed marketing acumen is on test here.

The success of "Rok Sako To Rok Lo" will also show if Bollywood is ready to be corporatised.

In smaller centres, the film is being sold as a Sunny Deol starrer. Deol, out of the loop for a while, plays a cameo of a good samaritan who helps bring the young lovers together.

Two other pretty superfluous ventures are being squeezed into the theatres this Friday.

The comedy "Kuch To Gadbad Hai", featuring a cast of has-beens and never-beens, and the costume drama "Alibaba Aur 40 Chor" look as appetising as Sameera Reddy in a nun's habit. It will be a miracle if these space-fillers survive the weekend.

In all fairness, the week belongs to "Musafir". This has been the year of 'M', with films like "Munnabhai MBBS" (Dec 2003), "Murder", "Main Hoon Na", "Masti" and "Mujhse Shaadi Karogi" ruling the box office.

The question now is: will "Musafir" join the M-pire?


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