Mahesh Dattani's enchanting excursion into raga-land, "Morning Raga" has got sudden competition from the most unexpected quarters this week.
While Mahesh Manjrekar's comedy, "Padmashri Laloo Prasad Yadav", which was scheduled for this Friday, had been shifted to a safer post-Diwali week, Sahara India's latest film "Inteqaam" has been moved quickly into what the producers see as a conveniently vacant slot.
A murder mystery based on Paul Verhoeven's blockbuster "Basic Instinct", "Inteqaam" has Manoj Bajpai making yet another attempt to fit into the conventional hero's role. He is in the cop's role played by Michael Douglas in the original while, very ambitiously, Isha Koppikar tries to blend into Sharon Stone's role.
This "Basic Instinct" remake comes after the failure of some other Hollywood remakes in recent times: "Tumsa Nahin Dekha" was a faithful remake of "Arthur" while "Shukriya" replicated "Meet Joe Black". Both were duds.
So far Manoj hasn't been a success as a leading man. Director Punkaj Parasher - who many years ago gave another serious actor, Naseeruddin Shah, matinee idol status in yet another cop's role in yet another Hollywood remake, "Jalwa" - just might swing it with Manoj, though Parasher hasn't had much luck as a director in recent years.
Compounding the woes of "Inteqaam" is the fact that it comes with the minimum publicity and fanfare during a period when films are known not to do well.
Quite clearly the big attraction of this week is playwright-turned-filmmaker Dattani's lyrical and luminous "Morning Raga".
A magnificent study of the contradictions and reconciliation between traditional Indian heritage and the confusing cosmopolitanism of Gen-X, "Morning Raga", with its intoxicating music and songs, wears an extremely inviting look.
The cast members have been going all out to get people interested. And the performing maestro Shabana Azmi's TV interviews with her effervescent co-star Perizaad Zorabian certainly generate more chemistry than the sloppy synthesis of Dharmendra and Mallika Sherawat plastered all over the channel to promote last week's comedy of errors "Kis Kis Ki Kismet".