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Watch out for Bollywood biggies

By Subhash K. Jha, IANS

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In terms of directorial might, 2004 is perhaps the biggest year for Hindi cinema in living memory.

"Just think what kind of competition my 'Main Hoon Na' will have at the awards this year. I'm really competing with the big boys," chortles Farah Khan.

Barring Karan Johar and Rakesh Roshan, every big filmmaker in Bollywood is readying his product for release during and by the end of the year. Beginning in April, it's a virtual chaos of masterpieces at the turnstiles.

The first super-biggie of the year would be Mani Ratnam's Hindi film "Yuva" in May. Though his first Hindi film "Dil Se" failed, Mani Ratnam is regarded as one of the most influential and prolific filmmakers of the country.

"Yuva", with its pairs Ajay Devgan-Esha Deol, Vivek Oberoi-Kareena Kapoor and Abhishek Bachchan-Rani Mukherjee, is being looked at with great expectations by distributors.

The June super-biggie is Farhan Akhtar's "Lakshya". In the last three years, no debut director has made the impact that Farhan did with "Dil Chahta Hai". Hugely influential, his second feature film, war epic "Lakshya", has generated rare and invaluable curiosity in the audience.

It casts Hrithik Roshan as a young man who discovers his mission in life in the army. This film, a much larger epic than "Dil Chahta Hai", isn't just an acid test for Akhtar but also Hrithik who has no other assignment on hand.

Ashutosh Gowariker, whose "Lagaan" broke every norm of filmmaking to become one of the most pioneering Hindi films of all times, is almost ready with his follow-up film after three years.

His "Swades" features Shah Rukh Khan as a man who finds his metier in modern India. After Aamir Khan and "Lagaan", Shah Rukh and "Swades" are being awaited eagerly by Gowariker's fans.

Commercial Hindi cinema's most successful director, Yash Chopra, is also ready with his first directorial venture in seven years. In his untitled new venture featuring Shah Rukh Khan, Rani Mukherjee, Preity Zinta, Amitabh Bachchan and Hema Malini, Chopra creates an India-Pakistan love story set in the 1980s.

The film is the focus of tremendous attention not only because of its director and cast but also the music, which is based on the newly discovered tunes of composing genius Madan Mohan.

Showman Subhash Ghai goes back in time to pre-partition India for an esoteric love story, "Kissna", in which Vivek Oberoi plays the title role.

The film has generated almost hysterical anxiety among distributors all over the country who feel Ghai, in spite of the failure of his last film "Yaadein", has it in him to give Bollywood that huge fillip.

Last, but certainly not the least, Sanjay Leela Bhansali is also readying his starkly emotional study of life, love and redemption. "Black", with Amitabh Bachchan and Rani Mukherjee playing two unlikely comrades in the embrace of pain, is likely to be the awards favourite this year.

May the best among the biggies win!


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