Bollywood's bright Diwali bonanza
Bollywood is anticipating its brightest Diwali so far. Four of the biggest Hindi films ever are scheduled for release this week.
By Subhash K. Jha, IANS
Pre-Diwali season being dismal as usual, the industry is hoping to see a big explosion in the coming week.
Naturally, no film can get bigger than "Veer-Zaara", Yash Chopra's first directorial venture in six years. Already, the film's advance booking queues are longer than those of any other Shah Rukh Khan starrer.
With the successful "Kal Ho Na Ho" pair of Khan and Preity Zinta, and the late Madan Mohan's sublime musical score, "Veer-Zaara" is likely to be the blockbuster of the year.
Abbas-Mustan's "Aitraaz", with its erotic theme of a female hotshot executive (Priyanka Chopra) on the prowl, also has audiences geared for a good time in the theatres. But the audience's curiosity about "Aitraaz" is very different from that regarding "Veer-Zaara".
While "Veer-Zaara", which uses the tried and tested Shah Rukh Khan-Yash Chopra combination ("Darr", "Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge", "Dil To Pagal Hai", "Mohabbatein"), is expected to cut across every section of the audience and will probably have the biggest opening for any film in the last two years, "Aitraaz" has the winning pair of Akshay Kumar and Priyanka Chopra, who starred in two big hits, "Andaz" and "Mujhse Shadi Karogi".
The "Aitraaz" stars and their producer Subhash Ghai are hoping for a hat-trick. Talented director Abbas-Mustan came a cropper when he tried to change his style earlier this year in "Tarzan The Wonder Car". With "Aitraaz", he and his team have created what they do best: an erotic suspense thriller.
Ram Gopal Varma's "Naach" also exudes eroticism, albeit of a kind different from that of "Aitraaz". While the Akshay-Priyanka-Kareena starrer manages to look steamy without putting off family audiences, "Naach" is more dreamily reflective and subtly seductive in its mood. The clever promotional campaign for "Naach", though inviting, refrains from giving away the story.
"Naach" is expected to get a spillover audience from "Veer-Zaara". It does not mislead viewers about its erotic content. It also does not promise them anything other than an intense love story and startling performances from its lead pair -- the saleable Abhishek Bachchan and Antara Mali, the resident actress in Varma's production house.
The fourth big Diwali release is the all-colour technically enhanced and rejuvenated version of K. Asif's classic tale of love, "Mughal-e-Azam". This legendary film should whet the dormant aesthetics of moviegoers like no other recent film.
Upon the success of "Mughal-e-Azam" rests the fate of other Hindi classics. If a new generation of audiences can be seduced by this vintage entertainer, then the sky is the limit for similar projects involving other evergreens (give or take the blues and the reds).
This Diwali promises to be more critical for the Hindi film industry than any other. The quartet of high-profile releases from directors as disparate as Yash Chopra, Abbas-Mustan, Ram Gopal Varma and the late K. Asif ensures an optimum interest level in theatres.
While the Akshay-Priyanka and Abhishek-Antara pairs sizzle up the screen in "Aitraaz" and "Naach", Shah Rukh Khan and Preity Zinta will aim to create a legendary pair of lovers in "Veer-Zara" to rival Dilip Kumar and Madhubala's unforgettable Salim-Anarkali in "Mughal-e-Azam".
Which of these screen couples finally crosses the finishing line is a question plaguing the anxious film industry.