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Newcomers get the thumbs down from audiences

By Subhash K. Jha, IANS

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There's an alarming scarcity of new talent in Bollywood this year.

Uff Kya Jadoo Mohabbat Hai WallpapersBarring Sammir Dattani who's been noticed in spite of his disastrous "Uuf Kya Jadoo Hai", all the debutants in 2004, including Vatsal Sheth and Ayesha Takia in "Taarzan The Wonder Car" this week, have got a tepid response from the audience.

"What is going on?" moans Hansal Mehta. "We don't have stars at our disposal. But we don't want newcomers. How do we make movies? I'd love to make a film with Sammir Dattani in the lead. I think he's brilliant. But I can't find a producer to back my belief. Out of sheer desperation, directors have to keep going back to the same set of supposedly saleable faces who may or may not be successful."

The scenario does look bleak at the moment. Apart from a handful of players like Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan and, to a lesser extent, Akshay Kumar and Ajay Devgan, no one demanding a certain price is affordable to the industry.

Arjun Rampal, John Abraham, Fardeen Khan and the other fringe players are asking for the sky, but find it increasingly difficult to deliver the desired dividends at the box office.

Asambhav WallpapersOne of the big movie moguls Suneel Darshan wanted to sign Arjun Rampal for his next film in lieu of his favourite hero Akshay Kumar. But he gravitated back to his original choice when Rampal demanded a cool Rs. 10 million.

"I think our stars are totally unjustified in demanding staggering fees when most of them can't draw in audiences even on the first day. Look at the way some recent big films like 'Lakeer' and 'Asambhav' opened," says Darshan.

A lot of embittered filmmakers in Bollywood feel that way, but continue going back to the stars out of a feeling of insecurity.

Julie Wallpapers"Stars do draw them in to some extent," concedes Mehta. "But no-star films have done well."

Wrack your brains for one non-star film that did well this year, and you're in for a shock. Apart from "Murder" and "Julie" (which in any case pre-sold themselves to the audience on the basis of a flesh fest), all the mega-sellers this year have featured stars.


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