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Where have Bollywood's romantic musicals gone

By Subhash K Jha, IANS

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The era of the grand romantic musical seems to be passť in Bollywood.

The trend of introducing two newcomers as ardent lovers, supported by sweet-sounding songs, seems to have faded.

Films like Raj Kapoor's "Bobby", Rahul Rawail's "Love Story" and K. Balachander's "Ek Duje Ke Liye" blazed new trails and set college-going hearts aflutter with the first pangs of love.

"The truly romantic phase of cinema has been left behind," says Rajjat Barjatya, the executive producer of the new teen-dream "Uff Kya Jadoo Mohabbat Hai".

"And that's what we hope to revive with our romantic film."

The Barjatyas, known for their two historic romantic family dramas "Maine Pyar Kiya" and "Hum Aapke Hain Kaun", had introduced Salman Khan and Bhagyashree 14 years ago.

With "Uff Kya Jadoo..." they hope to bring back the fresh-faced romantic propulsions of "Maine Pyar Kiya", with newcomers Sammir Dattani and Pooja Kanwal in the lead.

But can these newcomers revive the magic of Salman and Bhagyashree?

They come with a huge responsibility on their shoulders. The days of eagerly awaited debutantes are after all long over.

Nearly 31 years ago, Dimple Kapadia and Rishi Kapoor sang their way into millions of hearts with Raj Kapoor's "Bobby".

The passionate pair was followed by other dynamic debut-making duos, like Kumar Gaurav and Vijeyta Pandit in "Love Story", and Kamal Haasan and Rati Agnihotri in "Ek Duje Ke Liye", all trying to capture the first flush of love.

Today the tables have turned.

Given the cynical social scenario, not to mention a blasť and sexually charged audience who would rather watch Mallika Sherawat without her clothes than a young inhibited debutant struggling to express the first pangs of love, the whole concept of first love, put forward with such rigorous sensitivity in the teenaged love stories of the 1980s and 1990s, now seems jaded.

In the last decade, the failure of eagerly awaited teen romances like Feroz Khan's "Prem Aggan", featuring the star's son Fardeen and Meghna Kothari, and Rajkumar Santoshi's "Barsaat", introducing Bobby Deol and Twinkle Khanna, shook the very notion of puppy love out of Bollywood.

The last love story about first love that really worked with the masses was Rakesh Roshan's "Kaho Na...Pyar Hai".

Barring to an extent "Tujhe Meri Kasam", starring Ritesh Deshmukh and Genelia D'Souza, all the love stories featuring newcomers in the lead have either bombed or have failed to get the kind of response that filmmakers hoped for.

Will "Uff Kya Jadoo Mohabbat Hai!" revive the era of teen romance? The music that was the key to the success of the earlier films on first love has been put together by composer Sandesh Shandilya.

Above all, the Rajshris feel the atmosphere is right for a ripple of romance in the cinema.

In fact, the 'love specialists' Yashraj Films are also releasing their utterly romantic Rani Mukherjee-Saif Ali Khan musical "Hum Tum" May 28, a week after the Rajshris' film. The difference is in the cast and credulity.

While "Uff..." harks back to the unspoilt and untouched melodic romance of Raj Kapoor's "Bobby", "Hum Tum" is more urbane, savvy and sardonic in tone.

The success of the Rajshris' new generation romance could trigger off a chain of such films where the audiences don't just share the collective thrill of discovering new love but also find out if two young newcomers playing lovers are worthy of the audiences' love.


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