It's Akshay-Saif showdown at box office
It is Akshay Kumar against Saif Ali Khan at the box office this week. The two have been together in several films in the past, including the successful "Main Khiladi Tu Anari" and the not-so-successful "Tu Chor Main Sipahi". Now in separate films, they attempt to woo audiences individually.
By Subhash K. Jha, IANS
In an ambience suffused with multi-starrers -- "Yuva" last week had a sextet of stars while "Aan: Men At Work" next week has another truckload of stars -- how far would a solo-starrer gel with audiences?
Producer Feroz Nadiadwala is a worried man. Not that he has anything to do with the films being released this week. But this week's "Police Force" is a cops' film featuring Akshay, and so is Nadiadwala's "Aan: Men At Work", which opens June 4.
"Yes I'm worried," admits a harassed Nadidawala. "My film has a cops theme and Akshay Kumar is playing a cop. 'Police Force' will definitely affect 'Aan'. It should've come a week later."
But "Police Force" producer Kulbhushan Gupta is adamant. "I've no choice. I can't delay my already-delayed film any longer."
"Police Force" has been in the making for several years. In order to ensure a fresh look, producer Gupta and writer-director Dilip Shukla have re-shot major chunks of "Police Force" (earlier titled "Vidroh"). Gupta has just canned an item song by Payal Rohatgi.
He is confident of Akshay's ability to pull in the crowds as a solo hero. Interestingly, Akshay's box office successes have mostly been solo-starrers like Suneel Darshan's "Jaanwar" and "Aan", while his multi-starrers, for instance Raj Santoshi's "Khakee" earlier this year, have been less accepted.
"Police Force" will be followed by at least two more cops' films in the next two weeks. Besides "Aan: Men At Work", there's Govind Nihlani's eagerly awaited "Dev", scheduled for release June 11 where Amitabh Bachchan and Om Puri are cast as cops.
How would audiences react to pairing Akshay with Raveena? In the past, they have done various films ranging from the successful "Mohra" to the disastrous "Barood". But now an Akshay-Raveena starrer seems like a bit of an anachronism.
According to the film's makers, "Police Force" is as forceful as it was meant to be when it was launched. Apart from "Mughal-e-Azam" and "Pakeezah", films in the making for long are never known to be popular among audiences.
Explains Vikram Bhatt: "When a film's shooting is prolonged there're huge lapses of continuity. The stars lose interest and sometimes even the director's momentum flags. During (the shooting of) my 'Aetbaar', a set had to be demolished after one shooting schedule got cancelled. We had to start from scratch."
To Kulbhushan Gupta's good fortune, Akshay, and even Raveena, extended their full cooperation to see "Police Force" to completion. Also, it competes this week at the box office with "Hum Tum" -- a film that belongs to an entirely different genre mood and universe.
This prestigious Yash Chopra production is directed by Kunal Kohli, who earlier directed the Kareena Kapoor-Hrithik Roshan-Rani Mukherjee starrer "Mujhse Dosti Karoge" for the same banner.
Though the film bombed, the Chopras saw talent enough in Kohli to allow him to re-cast Rani for a second film, a romantic musical.
Rani, who was last week seen in a crumpled sari doing a street-bred Smita Patil for Mani Rathnam's "Yuva" changes attitude, walk, clothes and hairstyle, to play a young 'with-it' woman of today in "Hum Tum".
The film's suburban gender-satire with hip lines and a cool outlook will take audiences into a totally uncharted territory. "Hum Tum" is so urbane in mood, its romantic banter would immediately connect with a metro-centric audience.
The success of "Hum Tum" is crucial to Saif, whose success so far has been restricted to being the superstar of supporting roles. With this feel-good flick, Saif hopes to leap from being the third angle to the Shah Rukh Khan-Preity Zinta romance in "Kal Ho Na Ho" and Urmila Matondkar's antagonist in "Ek Hasina Thi" to the status of the lead romanticist.
Saif plays a cartoonist in "Hum Tum", a first in his career and hopefully a new beginning for him as an actor