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Erotica versus machismo at Bollywood box office
By Subhash K. Jha, IANS
An interesting tussle between erotica and machismo awaits at the Bollywood box office this week.
While Rajiv Rai's "Asambhav" is an out-and-out action thriller - a genre he returns to after the unsuccessful digression into romance in his last film "Pyar Ishq Mohabbat" - Deepak Shivdasani's "Julie" is a complete woman-oriented film, though significantly targeted at a male audience.
On one hand Rai invites male audiences with his espionage energy and on the other Shivdasani has Neha Dhupia tempting male members with her bare-backed call girl act. The bare back worked for Mallika Sherawat in "Murder" just a few months ago, so why not for Neha?
If "Julie" has a former Miss India at its helm, "Asambhav" features former Miss World Priyanka Chopra striking sultry poses in psychedelically lit strobe-illuminated item songs and dances. This is a crucial time for Chopra, as she returns the following week in the comedy "Mujhse Shaadi Karogi".
The heavy breathy atmosphere in "Julie" certainly makes it a different experience from the film by that name 30 years ago in which the Tamil superstar Laxmi rose to dizzying heights of fame in Mumbai, albeit fleetingly, as an unwed mother.
Though Laxmi in "Julie" in 1974 had shocked audiences, it still had an appeal for women. The bare-backed neo-Julie about a Goan girl's journey into prostitution in Mumbai is being seen as a predominantly cheesy product, a perception that annoys and bothers director Shivdasani. But there's little he can do about it.
Both "Asambhav" and "Julie" are expected to get reasonably decent, though not spectacular, openings.
Action films, especially those by Rai ("Tridev", "Mohra", "Gupt"), always get a staunch audience in northern India, though Arjun Rampal with his unbroken train of flops from "Pyar Ishq Mohabbat" to Khalid Mohamed's "Tehzeeb" is hardly expected to draw the crowds in.
But the product's slickness may see it through.
"Julie", on the other hand, has no star appeal and certainly no family audience to back up its box office benefits. What it does have is a leading lady who promises unabashed skin show.
And if that works, let's get prepared for more cheesecake in the coming months.