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Horror combats oomph this Friday

By Subhash K. Jha, IANS

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Download Vastu Shastra WallpapersIt's a week for the strong ladies. Horror versus oomph, Sushmita Sen versus Mallika Sherawat as Ram Gopal Varma and Govind Menon unleash a flurry of feisty features at the movies this Friday for Dussehra.

The new Varma production "Vastu Shastra" is described by its producer as "the scariest film I've ever seen, much scarier than 'Bhoot'."

Good! After the aborted scares in this week's "The Exorcist: The Beginning" the audience needs a film that would genuinely terrify them.

Apart from being the next level in Varma's scare-fest, "Vastu Shastra" directed by the talented Saurabh Narang, is also very interesting for its casting. It stars Chakravarthy, whom Varma introduced in his first Hindi directorial venture "Shiva" and later cast in the title role in "Satya". He then moved away from Varma's production house and even made some sarcastic comments about him, but is back as the lead in "Vastu Shastra".

Varma laughs off their differences. "There are no permanent friendships and enmities in showbiz, only working relationships."

More interesting, Varma has worked with Sushmita Sen for the first time. Some years ago Varma had offered Sushmita the role of Fardeen Khan's wife in "Pyar Tune Kya Kiya". "What would I do in such a weak role? Give me Urmila's role in the film," she had urged Varma.

Download Kis Kis Ki Kismet WallpapersStripped off all external trappings of seduction, Sushmita is raw and real in "Vastu Shastra". But it's the child actor Ahsaas Channa who's going to steal the show in what promises to be the most chilling Hindi film since "Bhoot".

Interestingly, the film also features Peeya Rai Chaudhury who recently made her debut as Aishwarya Rai's wild and untameable sibling in Gurinder Chadha's "Bride & Prejudice".

As for the second release this week, "Kis Kis Ki Kismat" is a huge acid test for Mallika Sherawat who needs to prove that "Murder" was no flesh on the pancake. It teams her with her pre-"Murder" director Govind Menon again. The two had done the notorious "Khwahish", a brazen word-by-word remake of 1969 blockbuster "Love Story".

"Kis Kis..." is of some curiosity only because of Ms Sherawat's presence. Considering she's the only star-attraction, would she be able to pull in the crowds?

Playing a con woman, Ms Sherawat describes her role as a cross between Kishore Kumar and Madhubala.

But, hello, does she have the spontaneity and vivacity to carry off such a compelling combination of classic ambitions? The response to her promotional clippings in "Kis Kis Ki Kismet" are pretty tepid. Though distributors are not entirely pessimistic about this caper, they aren't gung-ho about it either.

Download Kis Kis Ki Kismet WallpapersAccording to trade experts, the prospects of "Vastu Shastra" are far stronger than the other release for the simple reason that the 'Ram Gopal Varma' tag makes all the difference. And as Patna exhibitor Roshan Singh points out, "Let's not forget, Mr Varma was a big success in the horror genre. 'Bhoot' will draw the audiences into 'Vastu Shastra'. Then the film is on its own."

Contrary to popular belief, the autumn season hasn't been a killer for new releases. "Bride & Prejudice" has done really well in the metropolises while, on the other end of the aesthetic spectrum, the action-oriented "AK-47" and the sleazy "Tauba Tauba" are money-makers in the smaller centres.

Will "Vastu Shastra" cut across the aesthetic line to become the first all India hit since David Dhawan's "Mujhse Shaadi Karogi" three months ago? And will Mallika Sherawat prove she's got more to her than "Murder"?


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