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Three small films before impending explosion

By Subhash K. Jha, IANS

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This week Bollywood is all set to bring three new films, none large or ambitious but all geared to get the movie business creaking to a fresh start.

The first release, "Muskaan", is a straight-off romantic thriller directed by Rohit-Manish, Bollywood's second directorial duo after Abbas-Mustan.

The second release scheduled for March 26, "Hawas", is also by a debutant, Karan Razdan.

The third release for the week is by veteran Raj Sippywho returns to direction with "Woh" after a long hiatus.

Sippy fashioned innumerable Hollywood-inspired hits in the late 1970s and 1980s, including the big Amitabh Bachchan flick "Satte Pe Satta" and the Vinod Khanna hit "Inkaar".

What "Woh" shares with this Friday's other releases is the lack of star presence. It stars newcomer Cleo Isaacs and Priyanshu Chatterjee who after his two back-to-back romantic musicals "Tum Bin" and "Aapko Pehle Bhi Kahin Dekha Hai" was seen in a supporting role as Urmila Matondkar's brother in "Pinjar".

"Woh" leading lady Isaacs is a model who has been on the lookout for a movie career for a few years now. She was selected by Sanjay Gupta to co-star in "Plan". But for reasons best known to the director and actress, she was dropped.

In fact, Isaacs represents the superficially glamorous face that seems to have overtaken 'B' and 'C' grade cinema of Bollywood. Any face with a certain amount of oomph is welcomed in low-budget mainstream films.

Hence "Hawas" director Karan Razdan has selected three faces from the ramp and music videos whose performing abilities may not have anything to do with the camera.

"Cinema is going through tremendous stress, and the new batch of urban and sexy flicks represents that push and pull," remarks Arjun Sablok who made a very fulfilling old-fashioned romantic musical, "Na Tum Jano Na Hum" in 2002 and has gone back to making ads since then for Yash Chopra's advertising wing.

Though Sablok would like to direct Bachchan and Rani Mukherjee in feature films, he's right now content making ads with them "because I don't know how to connect with the kind of films that are getting into cinema these days".

"Muskaan" is unlikely to bring a smile on distributors' faces. Neither Aftab Shivdasani nor Gracy Singh constitutes great magic at the box-office, together or apart.

Tragically, the most titillating film of the week, "Hawas", is the most inviting. At least it offers fodder for the audiences' basic instincts.

As a week that whets audiences' appetite for the grand explosion of epic films in April and May, this isn't the most fulfilling of times at the movies.


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