Bollywood promises realistic cinema that entertains
By Priyanka Khanna, IANS
New Delhi, Jan 4 (IANS) Spurred by the proliferation of multiplexes and a change in the film-viewing culture of urban audiences, Bollywood this year promises to dish out realistic cinema that entertains too.
Though 2003 belonged to bold and bawdy films that brought sex, homosexuals and male strippers out of the closet, trade observers are hoping that the genre will mature into new wave cinema in the truest sense.
"If urban audiences continue to patronise niche cinema, the days ahead will witness films that break new ground in terms of being realistic yet money-spinners," says filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt.
When asked to list top movies to look out for in year 2004, trade analysts are naming Vishal Bharadwaj's "Miyan Maqbool", Sanjay Leela Bhansali's "Black", Gurinder Chadha's "Bride and Prejudice" and Sudhir Mishra's "Chameli" along with mainstream films like Raj Kumar Santoshi's "Khakee", Mani Shaker's "Rudraksh" and a venture by Subhash Ghai.
The first off the mark will be "Chameli", which is a small budget film making a lot of noise on account of Kareena Kapoor's presence. Sudhir Mishra has completed this Pritish Nandy Communications' film that was scripted by late director Anant Balani.
The film that delves into the life of a sex-worker is being dubbed as realistic and sensitive yet having enough mass appeal to attract the not-so-discerning viewer.
Last year some brave attempts were made to find the perfect crossover film like "Leela", "Mumbai Matinee" and "Joggers' Park", but these films stopped short of rocking the boat.
"Our filmmakers, time and again, develop cold feet and look for safe exits in the climax?" says analyst Bhawana Somaaya, adding: "It is not as if one is expecting a morality transformation but surely there can be a more mature and realistic solution to a complex love story?"
Mukta Arts' "Joggers' Park" is a prime example of inverted liberalism, she says. The story of a 60-year-old retired judge getting attracted to a 20-plus model-cum-VJ was the first time that Bollywood acknowledged the sexuality of an older man.
Unfortunately, the film ended on a regressive note, leaving one cold, without any sorrow for the estranged lovers. Both go back to their familiar, secure, respectable lives.
Similarly in "Mumbai Matinee", the 32-year-old male protagonist's struggle to lose his virginity ends when he finds true love in the form of a woman who is also a virgin. Even bold actress-turned-filmmaker Pooja Bhatt kept the fašade up in "Jism" even as she tried to portray the intense passion of a woman trapped in a sexless marriage. But by ascribing motive to the extramarital affair, she turned her protagonist into a vamp.
"This is not what the audience wants. They want stories of courage and truth. They want a leaf from their lives. They want to express and identify. They are tired of the make-believe. Tired of contrived morality. Let's respect their perception. Let's stop assuming we have answers to all expectations," says Somaaya.
This year, however, Sanjay Leela Bhansali hopes to capture the passionate and emotional bonding between Amitabh Bachchan and Rani Mukherjee in his next film titled "Black". After a magnum opus like "Devdas", this is an entirely new terrain for the extravagant filmmaker.
Besides "Chameli" and "Black", the realistic films to watch out for include "Lakshya", which is Farhan Akhtar's second venture after "Dil Chahta Hai". The film starring Hrithik Roshan is the story of an individual's discovery of self-worth.
Then there is music composer-turned-filmmaker Vishal Bharadwaj's "Miyan Maqbool" that is an adaptation of Shakespeare's "Macbeth". Set in the Mumbai underworld, the film stars Naseeruddin Shah, Pankaj Kapoor, Om Puri, Irfan Khan and Tabu.
Renowned art-house filmmakers like Shyam Benegal ("Netaji"), Rituparno Ghosh ("Rain Coat"), Madhur Bandarkar ("Aan," "Page 3") and Aparna Sen ("Gulel") will also test the Bollywood waters this year. Only time will tell whether the Indian box-office is ready for the new brave Bollywood.
Bollywood filmmakers will get enough opportunities to arrive at the perfect mix for box-office success, trade analysts say.
To keep pace with demand, players like Adlabs, Pritish Nandy Communications, Zee, Reliance and Ram Gopal Varma have increased projects under production while new players like the AV Birla Group have joined the race.
This week Pritish Nandy Communications announced it would roll out eight to nine productions in 2004. These include Meghna Gulzar's second outing "Mehfoose", "Fida" and "Popcorn Khao" besides "Sahib Biwi Ghulam" and "Chalo Dil Daar Chalo".
Meanwhile, the week ahead will be packed with entertainment with a diverse clutch of films slated for release.
Expected on January 9 is "Plan" by producer Sanjay Gupta. The film directed by Hriday Shetty has been in the news for a tiff between the producer and lead actress Priyanka Chopra. The film stars Sanjay Dutt, Dino Morea, Sameera Reddy, Sanjay Suri, Bikram Saluja, Rohit Roy, Riya Sen, Payal Rohatgi and Mahesh Manjrekar. The music of the film is by Anand Raaj Anand but has not been able to make a mark on the music charts.
Sandesh Shandilya's music melodies in "Chameli" on the other hand have made the film a hot favourite. Sudhir Mishra has directed the film that marks Kareena Kapoor's foray into realistic cinema. The promos of the film portray Kareena at her sensuous best. The presence of Rahul Bose, dubbed as the poster boy of the thinking woman, also lends the film a must-see value.
Also slated for release Friday is "Paisa Vasool" from production house Moving Images. The Srinivas film has music by Bapi Tutul. The cast comprises Manisha Koirala, Sushmita Sen and Makrand Deshpande. Both Manisha and Sushmita have made a name for themselves as actresses par excellence and the film promises to showcase their talents to the fullest.
"Ishq Hai Tumse" that ushered in the new year failed to live up to the expectations surrounding the Bipasha Basu-Dino Morea starrer.
The film has been in the news because its lead pair had been romantically involved and then parted ways. The pair had also given a hit in the form of their first film together, "Raaz".
The film, however, disappoints and Dino and Bipasha seem to have lost their onscreen chemistry. Thankfully the year ahead has better films in store.