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What's hot, what's not in Bollywood

By Subhash K. Jha, IANS

Mumbai, Jan 3 (IANS) First, here is what you won't get from Bollywood this year: debutant directors and actors.

There were 41 unsuccessful debutant directors in 2003, so this breed is clearly not happening in 2004.

The number of debutant actors too is expected to dwindle as the star system asserts itself in unexpected ways.

And now for what's on.

The year will be saturated with star-studded extravaganzas that begin with Raj Kumar Santoshi's "Khakhee" (Amitabh Bachchan, Ajay Devgan, Akshay Kumar, Aishwarya Rai).

There's a plethora of star-spangled action films on their way, including Madhur Bhandarkar's "Aan: Men At Work" (Bachchan, Shatrughan Sinha, Akshay, Raveena Tandon, Lara Dutta);Farhan Akhtar's "Lakshya" (Bachchan, Preity Zinta, Hrithik Roshan); and Yash Chopra's film (Bachchan, Hema Malini, Shah Rukh Khan, Preity and Rani Mukherjee).

Besides being star-studded, notice another common thread running through these films?

Right! Bachchan stars in all the biggies of 2004. The year will undoubtedly belong to him, as well as the colour khaki.

Films about the armed forces and police are ready to flood the market in waves of indignant nationalism. Every actor from Tusshar Kapoor in "Khakee" to Salman Khan in "Garv" is playing cop.

War films too could be the flavour of 2004, provided J.P. Dutta's "LOC - Kargil" becomes a hit. But this genre is self-limiting because of the resources involved.

Of course, Bollywood will be flush with funds in the coming year.

The success ratio in 2003 has been much higher than in recent years. Established production companies are back in business. Pritish Nandy Communications has as many as six releases lined up in 2004, starting with the exquisitely styled "Chameli" which is expected to put Kareena Kapoor at the top of heroines list.

While Subhash Ghai readies his production "Aitraaz", directed by Abbas-Mustan with Akshay Kumar, Kareena and Priyanka Chopra, he's ready to direct Vivek Oberoi in "Kissna" during the coming year.

While 2003 had four big guns - Karan Johar, Sooraj Barjatya, Rakesh Roshan and J.P. Dutta - unleashing their eagerly awaited works, 2004 also has Yash Chopra, Subhash Ghai, Ashutosh Gowariker and Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

Will these movie moguls recreate the magic of their earlier works in 2004? Chances are they'll try to go beyond what they've already achieved in search of a more universal language.

The process of globalisation that gathered momentum in 2003 with multiplex-motivated movies flooding the market will slow down.

Niche filmmaking will get several jolts in 2004. Not only will such films be stymied by lack of audience but better India-Pakistan relations will also accentuate the need to take cinema to its mainstream roots.

Pakistan bashing will be out, tales of love and valour will be in.

Speed will be money in 2004. Everyone who's anyone is making start-to-finish films in three to six months! Gone are the days of longwinded epics.

Also on the wane are plush musicals. Bhansali's "Black" will have no songs, though Yash Chopra's Shah Rukh-Preity starrer will have 8 to 10 songs, procured from the late Madan Mohan's unused repertoire.


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