Gameplan for success?

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MASTER STROKE Guru is the corporate version of Nayakan
MASTER STROKE Guru is the corporate version of Nayakan

Was the Ash-Abhi engagement timed perfectly, just after the release of Guru?

The announcement of the Ash-Abhishek engagement just after the release of Guru is being bandied about as a masterstroke of manipulation by Mani Ratnam. There are not many things you can accuse Mani of and least of all manipulation. To credit the success of a film to the cementing of a liaison between the lead pair is typical of Bollywood. Let's see JP Dutta re-release Umrao Jaan and expect the same result. The success of Guru has baffled pundits. It's not Mani's best work, but definitely better than the kitsch Mumbai churns out. The director chooses to chronicle the life of a successful businessman rather than pass judgment about the modus operandi. My hunch was right. The film is a corporate version of Nayakan. Mani always complains that he has to take a couple of steps backwards when a film he makes flops. Here, he's taken a giant leap. Hopefully there'll be no looking back from here.
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When a director has struggled, made a film with conviction and has done well at the box-office, you expect a deluge of offers. This happened to Ratnaja of Nenapirali, but the man has resisted tempting offers. He moved on to his next script, Aparoopa, for the producer of his debut film Ajay Gowda has immense faith in his abilities. The film is temporarily shelved because Ratnaja is not able to find a youngster suitable for the hero's role. The director is very clear that he wants to cast a newcomer who can play a youngster as well as a mature man. Now he's moved on to Baagina, a rural love story he'll direct for his guru, Hamsalekha who's also penning the story and of course scoring the music. Baagina, loosely translated, is the gift given away during festivals. "It's definitely not a colloquial word but people will know," says the director. "It's a village story bereft of the brother and mother sentiments," says Ratnaja clearly. "I've cast Shivraj Kumar and Ramya, because I want the film to reach more people. It's about a friendship that blossoms into love and I will be experimenting with the narrative style too," avers the confident director. "Villagers are no longer the emaciated, gullible, golden-hearted people constantly taken advantage of. Thanks to land prices sky rocketing they've become street smart." Ratnaja will touch lightly upon land-grabbing and the mass industrialisation of farmlands.
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The dust has settled. The awards function in faraway Bagalkot went off without a hitch. The Chief Minister who presided was quick to notice the absence of most leading stars. Jaggesh was one star who avoided going even though he was to receive an award. It was more a political snub in his case rather than a harsh judgment on merit. Stars will attend if they are nominated and even perform if they know they are the eventual winners, but awards doled out by governments are foregone conclusions depending on who is in whose good books. In fact, politicians probably outnumbered stars on the glitzy night. The one good point the CM made was about upholding the State's rich culture and showcasing important heritage sites by shooting there.S.SHIVA KUMAR



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