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Will Mani Ratnam return to regional films?

By Subhash K. Jha, IANS

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The generally hostile response to his new film hasn't really put Mani Ratnam off Bollywood.

Download Yuva Wallpers"By now I'm quite used to it," he says from Chennai where "Ayutha Ezhuthu", the Tamil version of "Yuva", is doing roaring business.

Contrary to doomsday reports, "Yuva" has not only opened well in most parts of the country but is sustaining itself at the box office beyond the first weekend even in a place like Bihar where the southern combination of Mani Ratnam and A.R. Rahman is considered a no-no.

No one associated with the film is going to lose money, and that's for sure. So why the haste to write the film off?

"Yuva" isn't the first biggie to be thus hushed and swept under the carpet. Many big films in the past have been subjected to a similar treatment.

For many weeks after its release, Sanjay Leela Bhansali's "Devdas" had been written off. Only six months later was the film finally declared the biggest blockbuster of 2003.

On the other hand, Farhan Akhtar's "Dil Chahta Hai", which was declared a rage on release, was a miserable flop in most centres except Mumbai.

Kamal Amrohi's enchanting magnum opus "Pakeezah" was declared a turnip on release. When a few days after its release its leading lady Meena Kumari died, the film was suddenly declared an all-time blockbuster.

Until two weeks after release, Ramesh Sippy's "Sholay" was labelled a complete disaster. The film picked up in the third week and went on to be the biggest hit in the history of Indian cinema.

More recently, two Abhishek Bachchan-starrers "Zameen" and "Kuch Na Kaho", which were declared duds within a week, went on to break even and even made a small profit in places.

How do trade analysts in Mumbai determine the fate of a film without waiting for the audiences' reaction to crystallise and solidify?

In nine out of 10 cases, reports on the box office performance of a film are based on unsubstantiated Mumbai-centric calculations that are far from foolproof.

Defending the film and its performance at the box office, Amitabh Bachchan observes, "Yuva is very different and my son Abhishek rocks. As for why the press in Mumbai has chosen to come down heavily on it, I haven't a clue."

Will Mani Ratnam desist from making another Hindi film in future?

The reticent creator smiles: "I can't say right now. I might make another film just to provoke the Mumbai press!"


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