What do the young want to see?
What kind of movies do the young want to watch?
By Subhash K Jha, IANS
That's the question that everyone in the industry is asking as almost every second film seems to be targeted at the young audience.
But how young is young? And what sort of an audience are these youngsters meant to be?
All the three hits of 2004 - "Murder", "Masti" and "Main Hoon Na" - were targeted at college-going crowds.
While "Masti" and "Main Hoon Na" ultimately got a family audience, "Murder" remained restricted to a target audience of males aged 16-25.
With a crucial cluster of big films to be released, it would be appropriate to wonder how many of these are actually aimed at a predominantly young audience.
"Not my film," pleads producer Gaurang Doshi about his ambitious June release "Deewaar: Let's Bring Our Heroes Home".
"It's a fallacy to think films targeted at a 20-something audience have a better market. Only the family films do really well. So I'd like to think that 'Deewaar' will interest ladies and children.
"Because that's the audience which will finally determine a film's fate."
Doshi thinks even Mani Ratnam's "Yuva" is finally "a film about the young but not only for the young".
One tends to agree with Doshi's reasoning. Though Ratnam's film is called "Yuva" or youth, Ajay Devgan would hardly be considered a college dude.
Again, though Farhan Akhtar's "Lakshya", Govind Nihalani's "Dev" and Samir Karnik's "Kyun Ho Gaya Na" star Hrithik Roshan, Fardeen, Kareena and Vivek Oberoi, they are not meant to entertain youngsters alone.
So what are the young flicks that the experts seem to be constantly pointing a finger at?
Farhan Akhtar, whose "Dil Chahta Hai" triggered off the trend towards youthful yearnings in Hindi commercial cinema, has already moved on. His "Lakshya", which opens next month, is as far removed from the campus climate of "Dil Chahta Hai" as Amitabh Bachchan from Saif Ali Khan.
In reality, the only truly young film this season is Rajshris' "Oof Kya Jadoo Mohabbat Hai", where 22-year old debutante Sammir Dattani woos 21-year old Pooja Kanwal.
Cleverly, the Rajshris pitched the film against "Yuva" on May 21, knowing that in spite of its title, Mani Ratnam's film isn't really about the young.
So who are these young audiences at whom the supposedly young films are pitched?
Hansal Mehta, who made one of the truly young films in recent times, says: "My film 'Yeh Kya Ho Raha Hai' was about 20-somethings looking for fun, sex and life. No one in the film was above 25. That's how young films should be made."
Delhi-based Planman Films, piloted by academician and management scholar Arindam Chuadhuri, seems to have got the formula right.
Its maiden Hindi film "Rok Sako To Rok Lo" takes on the yearnings of the young. While six newcomers play campus dudes and dolls with problems ranging from acne to dislocation, Sunny Deol and Namrata Shirodkar are brought in to balance the inexperience and weightlessness of the central cast.
Problems of the young do not interest the average moviegoers unless they're extended into the music-romance-drama formula that makes mainstream Hindi cinema what it is, namely an escape route full of flights of fancy.
To that extent, the Rajshris are uniquely slotted with "Oof Kya Jadoo Mohabbat Hai".
"Ours is the only film where the young couple is truly young and where the pangs of first love are felt in every breath that our lead pair Sammir and Pooja takes."
Oh, to be young again!