Box office to go 'balle balle' from Amritsar to LA
This week Gurinder Chadha goes balle, balle... ballistic at the box office with her zany "Bride & Prejudice" and its Hindi version "Balle Balle - Amritsar to LA!" hitting the screens on Friday.
By Subhash K. Jha, IANS
Her utterly audacious adaptation of Jane Austen's "Pride & Prejudice" already has London enthralled. And now it's all of India's turn, from Mumbai to Amritsar to Patna. The film is being released in both the original English and the dubbed Hindi.
Critically, the film's reputation in India hinges not only on the "Bend It Like Beckham" queen Gurinder Chadha but also on Aishwarya Rai. Since the film's leading man Martin Henderson is relatively a stranger to Indian audiences, Aishwarya will have to pull them in.
There's also the subverted song-and-dance formula done with the tongue-in-cheek panache of the outsider ogling at Bollywood. Just how appealing our moviegoers find the subverted formula remains to be seen this Friday.
"Bride & Prejudice is definitely a crucial film for many careers -- Gurinder Chadha who has to consolidate on her huge "Bend It..." success, Aishwarwa Rai who needs to move to another level in her career, and for Bollywood cinema in Hollywood.
Back home, Gurinder gets unexpected and modest competition from two Hindi releases. Anupam Sinha, who's the brother of filmmaker Anubhav Sinha, is ready to release "Shukriya". The only thing it has in common with Chadha's mammoth film is Anupam Kher in the cast.
Kher recommends "Shukriya" strongly, but will it be able to take on Hurricane Chadha?
Two years ago another small film "Shararat" had dared to take on another literary adaptation, "Devdas". But "Shukriya" is presumably as far removed from "Shararat" as the "Devdas" author Saratchandra Chattopadhyaya from Jane Austen.
It seems unlikely that this small love story will be able to take on "Bride & Prejudice".
Aftab Shivdasani who plays the male lead in "Shukriya" has a reputation for clicking only in three-hero comedies ("Love Ke Liya Kuch Bhi Karega", "Masti"). His leading lady Shriya Saran from south India made her flop Hindi debut with Arya Babbar in "Thoda Tum Badlo Thoda Hum" some months ago.
Curiously, a third film is also scheduled for this week. "Wajahh" marks the arrival of the television bigwigs Adhikari Brothers into film production. While Markand Adhikari produces this suspense thriller, Gautam Adhikari directs it.
But would a film starring Arbaaz Khan, who has no success to his credit except "Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya" which starred Salman Khan and certainly none as a lead actor, be able to wean audiences away from Gurinder Chadha's eagerly-awaited spectacle?
Interestingly, the Adhikaris are treading into territory where their peer from television Ekta Kapoor has already failed. It's proven that television companies aren't adept at filmmaking.
Would the Adhikaris be able to break the jinx? More importantly, would Gurinder Chadha's "Bride & Prejudice" be able to stem the flow of monsoon and post-monsoon flops?
The only film that has worked in recent months is "Dhoom". And if a riotous time is what audiences are looking for then Chadha's homage to 'her' Bollywood (comprising Raj Kapoor, Manoj Kumar, Yash Chopra and Karan Johar) could just be the feel-good flick of the year that would truly crossover from LA to Amritsar, or more accurately from London to Mumbai.