Can Bollywood elephants dance?
Seven months through 2004 and most of the traditional moneybags of Hindi film industry have been missing from action or have had no luck at the turnstiles.
By Priyanka Khanna, IANS
Though the cash registers have been ringing at regular intervals, Bollywood heavyweights like Boney Kapoor, Ram Gopal Varma, Yash Chopra, Karan Johar, Subhash Ghai, Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Rakesh Roshan have had little or nothing to do with the merrymaking.
While Yash Chopra's production house has churned out more failures than successes, filmmakers Boney Kapoor and Ram Gopal Varma have had a string of box-office duds.
Most other Bollywood moguls have been out of currency, giving rise to doubts whether the giant stature of traditional blockbuster movie-churners makes them less agile.
Trade watchers say that in light of the increasing interest of corporate houses in the entertainment industry, the old guard of filmmaking will have to be more nimble to survive the corporate battles that seem inevitable in the days ahead.
All five directors -- Ram Gopal Varma, Karan Johar, Yash Chopra, Sanjay
Leela Bhansali and Rakesh Roshan -- branded as "Bollywood Bosses" by a BBC TV series have had a quiet year.
Varma's productions "Ek Hasina Thi", "Ab Tak Chhappan" and the recent "Gayab" have been disappointing and Yash Chopra's only success was "Hum Tum" while the failures included the very forgettable "Uuf...Kya Jadoo Mohabbat Hai".
Sahara, which has a two and half year deal worth a reported $17 million with Varma and K. Sera Sera, for producing 10 films, has not had a good start with their first product going bust at the box-office.
The Varma-K Sera Sera collaboration's "Darna Mana Hai" and "Ek Hasina Thi" have also not done well. Varma needs a hit to keep his corporate partners happy.
Clearly, in the rush to meet the demands of films for mushrooming multiplexes, some big production houses are becoming lax with respect to quality.
However, with companies like Tata Infomedia, Reliance Infocomm, A.V. Birla Group, A.B. Corp, Sahara India, the Oswal group, Raymond chairman Vijaypat Singhania and many others eyeing Bollywood, star wars could well be replaced by corporate battles in the future.
Oswal group's Lucky Star Entertainment Ltd., Tata Infomedia Ltd., business tycoon Vijaypat Singhania, Sahara India Mass Communications, PFH Entertainment, K. Sera Sera and Cutting Edge Entertainment are fast replacing traditional financiers.
Though their entry is an excellent development for cine-goers and serious minded filmmakers who find it impossible to get finance, established film houses and Bollywood moneybags are dreading the consequences.