Will love, longing make Bollywood's Diwali sparkle?
Move over psycho-thrillers, take a break skin flicks, offbeat cinema and supernatural spine-chillers.
By Priyanka Khanna, IANS
Come November and it is time to make way for tales of love, longing and all-engulfing passion on Bollywood Boulevard.
The Hindi film industry is banking heavily on the sweet pain of love and yearning to make Diwali - the Hindu festival of lights - a truly joyous occasion and the extended holiday season a money-spinner.
Bollywood has been on an experimenting spree with its trademark escapist cinema taking a backseat and new kids on the block indulging themselves irrespective of box-office diktats and repercussions.
The availability of easy finance, coupled with the loosening hold of the big daddies of Bollywood, has meant that more small-budget and independent films are being churned out. This is a welcome trend for connoisseurs. But, owing to the restricted audience of this so-called new wave cinema, flops have been pilling up too and are worrying exhibitors.
Filmdom folks hope that the tried and tested formula of lovers torn apart by circumstances, which has formed the crux of Hindi cinema's most commercially successful projects, will once again triumph this November.
Love, as defined by thespian director Yash Chopra in his epic drama "Veer Zaara", which is the dream weaver's first film in eight years, or the star-crossed legendary romance between a prince and a dancer in the repeat run of "Mughal-E-Azam" will unleash its considerable power on us in the days ahead.
In "Veer Zaara", we will encounter not only the doomed love affair of Veer (Shah Rukh Khan) and Zaara (Preity Zinta), but also the different shades of love, patriotism and devotion as depicted by Rani Mukherjee, Manoj Bajpai, Amitabh Bachchan, Hema Malini and others in the film that is slated for a Nov 12 release.
"Mughal-E-Azam" which was first released in 1960 with 85 per cent of the prints in black and white and 15 per cent in colour, will be released on the same day as "Veer Zaara" with refurbished colour prints. Based on the legendary doomed affair of a Mughal prince and a dancing girl, the film will lay bare various shades of love.
With stars like Prithviraj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar and Madhubala, the K. Asif film with music by Naushad has held viewers spellbound for decades. Some reports say that the all-new version of "Mughal-E-Azam" is the first film in the world to be converted to colour for a big screen release. Hitherto, it is said, Hollywood has been successful in doing so only for a TV/DVD release.
Dramatically opposite to the all-sacrificing, shy and meek demeanour of Madhubala in "Mughal-E-Azam" will be Priyanka Chopra's no-holds-bar character in "Aitraaz" which is the other release of November 12.
The Mukta Arts Ltd., production is directors Abbas-Mustan's take on the new-age definition of blind passion, lust and love. The film has music by Himesh Reshammiya and stars Akshay Kumar, Kareena Kapoor and Priyanka.
Some exhibitors say that while "Aitraaz" will not compete with audience of "Veer Zaara" and "Mughal-E-Azam," it will find a contemporary in Ram Gopal Varma directed Abhishek Bachchan and Antra Mali-starrer "Naach".
The promos of the film hold much promise of being a riveting and engaging romance between the not-so-conventional onscreen couple. The filmmakers describe it as a fast paced romantic drama that will apparently bring to forth another interesting dimension of love - between two strugglers and how both oscillate between being learners and preachers.
Predictably, most distributors and exhibitors are pegging their money on the grand old man of reel romance and his labour of love "Veer Zaara". Yash Chopra, winner of the Dadasaheb Phalke award, has fashioned some of the most sensitive onscreen love stories ever like "Daag", "Kabhie Kabhie", "Silsila", "Chandni", "Lamhe" and "Dil To Pagal Hai".
"Even before the release of the film, it has a familiarity feel to it. Audiences will either love the film as it will be comfortably familiar or hate it for being too familiar. It is double edged sword," says a trade analyst.
Clearly, the box-office success of the film is not a foregone conclusion as audiences may go for the more "with-the-times" film like "Aitraaz".