Kukunoor's arty sequel versus potboiler this week

By Subhash K. Jha, IANS
6/29/2004 12:00:00 AM
One would think with the summer rush hour in the theatres over, the Hindi movie trade would take it easy in July.

Not so! Though the real big spectacles are out of the way, July has its own share of ambitious films. Topping them is Nagesh Kukunoor's fifth feature film, a sequel to "Hyderabad Blues", which comes seven years after his first film.

Will audiences recall the quirky film that rocked the art house circuit so long ago? Kukunoor, who's currently touring the country to promote "Hyderabad Blues 2", is counting on nudging audience memories awake.

Sequels don't really work in Indian cinema. Bollywood has seen some of the strangest sequels, including Harmesh Malhotra's "Nigahen", which fell flat in trying to encore the success of the director's Sridevi-helmed snake charmer "Nagina".

More recently there was Mahesh Manjrekar's "Hathyar", which tried to carry forward the gangster's story after his sensational debut film "Vaastav" and failed miserably.

"Hyderabad Blues 2" hopes to get the audiences that made the first film a cult hit. Also, in the seven years that have elapsed since, Kukunoor has made three other films - the coming-of-age boarding school drama "Rockford", the Bollywood spoof "Bollywood Calling" and the fascinating prison drama "3 Deewarein".

Seldom in recent times has the curiosity for a small art house film been so high. Ironically, there are far more people interested in Kukunoor's sequel than the mainstream Bollywood release this week.

Jaz Pandher is the name of the leading man in this week's potboiler "Shikar". Years ago, there was a thriller by the same name featuring Dharmendra. More recently, Govinda played a villainous role in a film named "Shikar".

Pandher's second attempt at stardom is an all-out attempt to mould himself into an action star. While his first film, last year's "Indian Babu" was a no-win at the box office his second film too carries zero interest reports in Bollywood's trade circles.

Interestingly, both the films are produced by Pandher's own father.

Says a cynical young filmmaker, "Nowadays anyone with money is entitled to make a movie. This is corporatisation at its worst. Fathers make films for sons. Producers make films for their mistresses. Husbands are forced to make films to showcase their wives' non-existent talent and politicians ghost-produce films to flush out their surplus funds."

It's unlikely that Pandher's kin can afford to give him a third chance at stardom. For all practical purposes, "Shikar" is his last stab at stardom.

Interestingly, Kukunoor's "Hyderabad Blues" is made with the actor-director's own money. It accentuates the most sincere aspect of Bollywood.

At a time when Indian cinema seems to be standing at the crossroads, the two releases this week epitomise the polarities of filmmaking in India.