Three is not a crowd in Bollywood

Three-hero films are the order of the day in Bollywood.

In the new release "Charas", gifted director Tigmanshu Dhulia brings together a triumvirate of stars. The glamorous duo of Jimmy Shergil and Uday Chopra is propped up by the powerful Irfan Khan.

Lakeer Movie StillsIn next week's "Lakeer", Suniel Shetty, Sohail Khan and John Abraham get back up from Sunny Deol.

Aftab Shivdasani has done the maximum number of tri-star vehicles, from Rajiv Rai's "Pyar, Ishq, Mohabbat" (with Suniel Shetty and Arjun Rampal) to Vikram Bhatt's "Awaara Paagal Deewana" (with Akshay Kumar and Suniel Shetty) and E. Niwas's "Love Ke Liye Kuch Bhi Karega".

Masti Movie WallpapersIn "Masti", Aftab seems to have convinced Vivek Oberoi that three can do it better than one, or even two. In his first appearance in a long time, Vivek has chosen to do a three-hero film.

And going by the initial response, he has chosen wisely.

In fact in his next release, the much-anticipated "Yuva", he has co-stars Ajay Devgan and Abhishek Bachchan to complete a trio of crowd-pullers.

Are three-hero films the order of the day? Has "Masti" revived the era of Manmohan Desai's super-successful "Amar Abkar Anthony" in 1978 where Amitabh Bachchan, Vinod Khanna and Rishi Kapoor were the three estranged brothers, running into one another without knowing their true identity?

The film spawned several imitations, including Asit Sen's "Bairaag" and S. Ramanathan's "Mahaan" and T. Rama Rao's "John Jani Janardhan". Their failure aborted subsequent films with a trio of leading men.

The poetic Gulzar did make the luscious three-heroine film "Namkeen" with Sharmila Tagore, Shabana Azmi and Kiran Vairale as three sisters, followed by F.C. Mehra's version of "Charlie's Angels" called "Ashanti", with Zeenat Aman, Parveen Babi and Shabana Azmi as three detectives.

But what happened to the three-hero concept?

Not so long ago, Subhash Ghai produced "Trimurti" with Anil Kapoor, Jackie Shroff and Shah Rukh Khan playing brothers. The film bombed miserably.

Jhankaar Beats Movie WallpapersAfter Farhan Akhtar's "Dil Chahta Hai" in 2002, Sujoy Ghosh's "Jhankar Beats" in 2003 and now "Masti", there's bound to be a shower of such projects.

Indra Kumar's "Masti" and then Mani Ratnam's "Yuva" signal a new beginning for the three-hero concept. During Manmohan Desai's era, it was an indulgence. Today it is a necessity.

Very few stars sell solo or even in pairs. Three heroes like Anil Kapoor, Salman Khan and Fardeen Khan in Anees Bazmi's forthcoming "No Entry" ensure the kind of audience participation that none of the above, except perhaps Salman, could ensure on their own.

According to the trade, only the three Khan superstars - Shah Rukh, Aamir and Salman - plus Ajay Devgan and to a certain extent Akshay Kumar can serve up a solo success.

For the rest, it's time to wake up and smell the threesome dream team.