Are sequels doomed in Bollywood?

By Subhash K. Jha, IANS
7/12/2004 12:00:00 AM
By a coincidence, two sequels were released on the same Friday in India and the US. 

While the sequel to "Hyderabad Blues" opened to a lukewarm reception in India, the sequel to "Spider-Man" was not only been greeted by a phenomenal opening, it is expected to surpass the box-office gross of the earlier film.

The earnings of "Spider-Man 2" in its first four days at the American box-office were a record-breaking $115 million! At the same time last year, it was another sequel - "Men In Black II" which ruled the American box-office.

In fact, sequels are considered the safest bets at the American box-office. They build on the original audience and bring in a whole new audience of curious first-timers.

How do we explain the abysmal performance of all sequels in Indian cinema?

Before "Hyderabad Blues 2" (which did a tortoise in the same week as "Spider-Man 2") there was Mahesh Manjrekar's "Hathyar", a sequel to his highly successful gangster thriller "Vaastav", which didn't even get an opening.

"I don't know why," ponders Manjrekar. "You'd think that Indian audiences are far more sentimental than their Western counterparts. If a film is highly successful, you'd expect them to become attached to the characters and want to know more about their lives.

"Or so I thought when I made 'Hathyar'."

Manjrekar isn't the only Bollywood director to have fallen while trying to carry forward his characters.

Years ago, Harmesh Malhotra tried to recreate the characters of his snake-thriller "Nagin" in "Nigahen", with disastrous results.

There was even talk of Ramesh Sippy going back to his super hit "Sholay".

"No way!" exclaims Sippy. "It's totally unproductive to go back to the original idea. No one is interested, least of all me."

Very recently, we had debutant director Ahmed Khan falling flat on his face while claiming that Sunny Deol's character in "Lakeer" was based on what Deol played in Rahul Rawail's "Arjun" 25 years ago.

No one was interested. No wonder Sujoy Ghosh is fobbing off the temptation to bring back the characters of his "Jhankar Beats".

"I'd love to know what Rahul Bose, Sanjay Suri and Shayan Munshi are up to. But will the audience be interested?"

Since not one of them has worked, are sequels doomed to die a quiet death in Bollywood?