With the IPL coming to an end, can Bollywood expect a boost in box office collections?

If you are not a cricket fan, the last month and a half would have been very traumatic. Evening after evening of watching the men in blue, yellow, red and what-have-you would have definitely not spelt entertainment. And worse still there was no alternative. TV was frustratingly slack barring a little creativity and the other crowd-puller, Bollywood, seemed to be in hibernation too. But sulk no longer. With the IPL frenzy laid to rest (except, of course, the off-field shenanigans), filmmakers are gearing up for their big releases and the next two months should keep you happily occupied at the cinemas.

Films that have been the talking point for a while now are going to be unleashed this summer. Beginning with Sajid Khan's comedy Housefull starring Akshay Kumar, Boman Irani, Ritesh Deshmukh, Arjun Ramphal, Deepika Padukone, Lara Dutta and Jiah Khan this Friday, the tempo builds up with Gurinder Chadha's Hai Marjaawaan! (the Hindi version of It's A Wonderful Afterlife) with Shabana Azmi, Sendhil Ramamurthy and Goldie Notay and Yashraj's Badmaash Company with Shahid Kapur and Anushka Sharma. Next month ends with the much-awaited Kites starring Hrithik Roshan, Barbara Mori and Kangna Ranaut. June is power-packed with two epic multi-starrers: Prakash Jha's modern-day Mahabharata Rajneeti with Nana Patekar, Ajay Devgn, Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif, and Mani Ratnam's modern-day Ramayana Raavan starring Abhishek-Aishwarya Bachchan, Vikram and Govinda.

After the dismal start to 2010, except for My Name Is Khan, Bollywood has staked approximately Rs. 250 to Rs 300 crore on these half-a-dozen films. On offer are a variety of story lines and top stars of the country, besides which the industry is hoping an entertainment-starved audience will flock the theatres and lift the gloom.

April 30: Housefull

Director Sajid Khan has one hit under his belt (Heyy Baby) and is quite confident of this film. He's got some of the best comic stars and since comedy usually works trade talk for Housefull is also encouraging. The film revolves around a loser (Akshay Kumar) who apparently has three wives. Throw in Boman Irani and Ritesh Deshmukh for the laughs and three hot women for the wolf whistles and it seems like a total masala film.

USP: Akshay in a comic role, Deepika, Lara and Jiah Khan in swimwear

Downside: Akshay in a comic role (the audience seems to be tiring of his goofy style)

May 7: Hai Marjawaan! and Badmaash Company

Hai Marjaawan!: Gurinder Chadha's Football Shootball Hai Rabba (the unbelievable Hindi name for Bend It Like Beckham) caught the imagination of Indian audiences like its English version did of the world. But after the poor showing of Bride and Prejudice, this is Gurinder's attempt at tickling the funny bone yet again. The story is about a mother (Shabana Azmi) who only wishes that her daughter (Goldy Notay) gets married. After several rejections to her overweight and opinionated daughter, the mother murders them and the sleuths send an Indian officer (Sendhil) to investigate. How the ghosts of the dead team up with the mother to get the girl married forms the crux of the story.

USP: Loads of Punjabism with the special Gurinder touch, humour, good actors

Downside: It's dubbed, not an original

Badmaash Company: Actor Parmeet Sethi makes his debut as a director with this YashRaj film belonging to the con genre. Shahid Kapur leads the pack with Anushka Sharma (this is her second film with YashRaj as part of a reported three-film deal) with two first timers — stand-up comedian Vir Das and Indian Idol participant Meiyang Chang. The story is about four hopefuls who want to make big bucks and choose a wrong path to do so. The film is full of gags and various get-ups for all artistes.

USP: Shahid ‘female-puller' Kapoor, entertaining con genre, Anushka Sharma sheds her coy image to turn a hottie

Downside: Shahid's nth attempt at recreating the Jab We Met and Kaminey magic at the box-office, obvious comparison to Bunty Aur Babli, Parmeet as director?

May 21: Kites

After two years, Hrithik's fans will get to see him in this highly-publicised film starring Spanish actor Barbara Mori and Kangna Ranaut. The film is about J (Hrithik), a salsa instructor who falls in love with the fiancée (Barbara) of his lover's (Kangna) brother. That's obviously not a good spot to be in and the thrills unravel with the plot. The film has it all: Hrithik dancing, steamy scenes with Barbara and lots of action. It's the first time, however, that papa Rakesh Roshan has backed a film that is being directed by a director other than him for his own son. Anurag Basu (Life in a…Metro, Murder, Gangster) was apparently Hrithik's choice. The film is expected to be marketed in a big way overseas too.

USP: Hrithik all the way, the latest pin up of Bollywood — Barbara Mori

Downside: Too much focus on Hrithik

June 4: Rajneeti

This is one much-awaited film for many reasons. It is a political saga with a little bit of everything from current politics. It shows Ranbir and Katrina in a completely new light and bears the power-packed Prakash Jha stamp. A socialist leader (Naseeruddin Shah), a Dalit politician (Ajay Devgn), a rebel son (Manoj Bajpai), a young widow (Katrina), a conscientious person caught in the murky political world (Ranbir) — Rajneeti promises to be a gripping drama.

USP: Nana Patekar, Naseeruddin Shah in powerful roles, Ranbir and Katrina away from fluff, the plot

Downside: Too many cooks spoil the broth?

June 18: Raavan

Mani Ratnam has pulled this one off in spite of failing health in rather trying shooting conditions, besides simultaneous shooting in Hindi and Tamil. He's managed to get together Abhishek and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and that too not cast them as husband-wife. That would make for an interesting story, wouldn't it? Abhishek essays the title role in the film where Aishwarya plays a modern Sita and Vikram plays Ram in the Hindi version; while Prithviraj is Raavan and Vikram Ram in the Tamil version.

USP: Mani Ratnam's direction, A. R. Rahman's music, unusual story, top actors

Downside: Hopefully none

Keywords: cinema

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