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Odd couples, random pairs vibe on screen

By Subhash K. Jha, IANS

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Sanjay Dutt-Gracy Singh, Shah Rukh Khan-Sushmita Sen and Mallika Sherawat-Ashmit Patel/Emran Hashmi -- the oddest couples have been making waves this year.

The season seems suffused with untried if not unlikely screen pairings with the three biggest hits of the year featuring virgin pairs in the lead.

Download Main Hoon Na Wallpapers"Munnabhai M.B.B.S" had Sanjay Dutt with Gracy Singh (who incidentally scored another hit with Ajay Devgan earlier during the year in "Gangaajal"). "Murder" has Mallika making out with Ashmit Patel and Emran Hashmi. And the summer's super-biggie "Main Hoon Na" brings together Shah Rukh Khan and Sushmita Sen for the first time.

The new Mani Ratnam release "Yuva" also offers us two new interesting pairs. Vivek Oberoi and Kareena Kapoor set the screen ablaze with their chemistry, while Ajay Devgan and Esha Deol may seem like an unlikely screen duo, she being 12-13 years younger, but vibe marvellously on screen -- thanks to Mani's marvellous motivations.

Seeing how well they work together, the two might be cast together again very soon.

Strangely, all of Ajay's recent successes have been without the support of a leading lady.

While "Gangaajal" had the nondescript Gracy, "Qayamat" had newcomer Neha Dhupia. The action film "Zameen" has no leading lady for Ajay.

Odd couples are certainly the order of the day.

Download Hum tum WallpapersIn the romantic musical "Hum Tum" from the house of Yash Chopra, the first-time pair of Saif Ali Khan and Rani Mukherjee hit the marquee with vibrant velocity.

Going by the promos, the two share a very special rapport and could trigger off a fresh hit pair. Rani has paired with everyone from Anil Kapoor in "Nayak" to Abhishek Bachchan in "Yuva".

After Kajol and Shah Rukh Khan, there hasn't really been a hit long-lasting screen pair. That explains why filmmakers are constantly trying out new pairs in pursuit of a winning combination.

Strangely, the combos that have clicked aren't being encored. Raj Kumar Hirani who's making his second "Munnabhai" film has decided to leave Gracy out of "Munnabhai LLB". The movie will star a new heroine opposite Sanjay.

As for the season's hot Shah Rukh-Sushmita pair, no producers are rushing forward to sign them together after "Main Hoon Na". Instead, every producer is on the look out for fresh pairs.

Download Main Hoon Na Wallpapers"Instead of Amrita Rao with her hit "Main Hoon Na" co-star Zayed Khan, it's Akshaye Khanna for Ms Rao in Gaurang Doshi's "Deewaar: Let's Bring Our Heroes Home".

Explains Doshi: "There wasn't much room for romantic interludes in my film. So I wanted the lead pair to grab attention immediately. The best way to do that is to cast an entirely fresh pair. The audience wants to see what they look like together."

Doshi's formula is being adopted by several filmmakers.

Ashutosh Gowariker and Subhash Ghai have signed on brand new leading ladies for Shah Rukh and Vivek Oberoi, respectively in "Swades" and "Kisna". And though Aamir Khan has his tried and tested heroine Rani to give him company in the prestigious "The Rising", the other female lead is played by Amisha Patel who's completely new territory for him.

Explains Hansal Mehta: "Leading men want to be paired with fresh actresses like Salman Khan with Bhoomika Chawla in 'Tere Naam' to give their image a boost."

Hence debutant Samir Karnik's "Kyun Ho Gaya Na", due in the first week of July, has Vivek Oberoi with Aishwarya Rai.

Download yuva WallpapersSays Vivek: "In fact apart from my first two films 'Company' and 'Road' where I had the same leading lady (Antara Mali), my co-star has changed in every film... Rani Mukherjee in 'Saathiya', Amrita Rao in 'Masti' and Kareena in 'Yuva'."

As the year goes by, the star pairs will get odder.

While Abhishek pairs with Antara Mali in Ram Gopal Varma's "Naach the senior Bachchan will be seen with Rani in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's "Black".

So, is the era of hot durable star pairs over?

Going by the random couples on screen, it would seem as though the era of Raj Kapoor-Nargis and Shah Rukh-Kajol is long behind us.


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