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Big moviemakers shun March releases

By Subhash K. Jha, IANS

After several releases in January and February, Bollywood will take a breather in March, when big filmmakers are steering clear of movie debuts for fear of losing out to India-Pakistan cricket matches.

Ram Gopal Varma's "Ab Tak Chhappan" this week would be the last major release for now.

Thereafter, films would flow in a trickle, with either long-delayed project holders using the gap to slip in their unwanted products or enterprising producers defying the audiences' determination to focus on sports.

For starters, March offers two long-delayed films -- "Insaaf" and "Love in Nepal".

While the latter is singer Sonu Nigam's third effort to establish himself as a leading man, "Insaaf" is a reality-based film with Namrata Shirodkar in the main role.

Both the films feature debutante leading ladies, Flora Saini and Henna respectively, who have been handpicked by the producers.

Two weeks later on March 19, veteran director Raj Sippy unleashes model Cleo Isaacs with Priyanshu Chatterjee in "Who".

Like many recent model-actresses, Isaacs is said to be far from fluent in the Hindi language. The music has also not caught on.

Two other releases scheduled for the same Friday have been openly disowned by their leading men Shah Rukh Khan and Akshay Kumar and are even less appetising.

Khan says he has no idea what "Yeh Lamhe Judai Ke" is. It's actually a film called "Jadoo" that he signed and shot for briefly a decade ago.

As for Akshay Kumar and "Meri Biwi Ki Shaadi", the star says: "If the producer had taken me into confidence I'd have happily cooperated in the release of this 10-year old film. If it makes him happy what difference does it make to me?"

But the question is how happy audiences would be with these mothballed sleepers?

On Friday March 26, three debutant directors -- Ashok Pandit, Ahmed Khan and the duo Rohit-Manish -- are ready to unleash their stuff.

While Khan's film has an interesting array of stars from Sunny Deol to John Abraham (the only star-centric film in March), the other releases scheduled for the last Friday of March will have to depend entirely on merit to get audiences.

It is a tall order at a time when the public would prefer to just stay at home to watch cricket.

Moviegoers will have to weather the dry spell in March and wait for April when super-biggies like Farah Khan's "Main Hoon Na", Indra Kumar's "Masti", Boney Kapoor's "Run" and Madhur Bhandarkar's "Aan: Men At Work" will hopefully make the long summer months easier to bear.


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