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Letter 'M' takes over Bollywood

By Subhash K. Jha, IANS

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It all started with "Munnabhai MBBS" in December. "Murder", produced by Mukesh Bhatt and starring Mallika Sherawat, triggered off a stampede of superstition in the film industry.

The same Friday also saw the release of "Meenaxi" directed by M.F. Husain.

Though the film isn't a commercial hit, it has brought Tabu and the film a truckload of acclaim. Tabu was equally lauded for her last performance in "Maqbool".

Is it just a coincidence that "Maqbool" director Vishal Bharadwaj has decided to name his next film "Mantra"? Or has the letter 'M' taken over Bollywood from 'K' as the favourite alphabet?

"Well it all depends on how the next Shah Rukh Khan starrer fares at the box office," laughs Hansal Mehta, whose two forthcoming films "Humrahie" and "Raakh" deviate from the name game.

"And I'm getting very jittery...sorry, mighty miffed," chuckles Mehta.

Shah Rukh's last starrer featured the hitherto-lucky 'K' that has coloured his career so far, from "Karan Johar" and "Kuch Kuch Hota Hai" to "Karan" and "Kal Ho Na Ho".

But if Shah Rukh's ready-for-release "Main Hoon Na" touches the high spot, as it is expected to, the first two bona fide toppers of 2004 would be attributed to the letter 'M'.

And one knows what that means in the superstitious filmdom! In fact, the year has many more 'M' factors in store.

Ram Gopal Varma's new discovery, who he says is getting into the mould of Shah Rukh and Hrithik Roshan, is named Mohit.

But it's Mallika who has taken the trade by storm.

Many trade experts, including Akshay Kumar, compare her with another 'M' actress -- the vivacious Mumtaz.

These aren't only the 'M' actresses to have made it big. Prior to Mumtaz and Mallika there were Meena Kumari and Madhubala, and later, Madhuri Dixit. In fact Madhuri is poised to make a comeback this year with three films.

Mallika thinks Malik is lucky for her. "My co-star in my previous film "Khwahish" was Himanshu Malik, and the music in "Murder", which has played such a big hand in its success is by Anu Malik."

Mani Ratnam makes the show world go round. If his "Yuva" clicks this summer there'll be more 'M'-phatic reasons to celebrate.

Wait. That isn't all. The big film this week is "Masti".

And if that becomes the third 'M'-titled hit in a row after "Munnabhai" and "Murder", Ekta Kapoor's next serial may well be called "Meri Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi".


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