The heat is on...

Returning to familiar territory(From left:) Stills from Nagesh Kukunoor’s “Aashayein”, Ram Gopal Varma’s “Sarkar Raaj” and Kunal Kohli’s “Thoda Pyar Thoda Magic”.

Returning to familiar territory(From left:) Stills from Nagesh Kukunoor’s “Aashayein”, Ram Gopal Varma’s “Sarkar Raaj” and Kunal Kohli’s “Thoda Pyar Thoda Magic”.  


After a rough start to the year, get ready for summer sizzlers on the big screen.

This is the time of the year when parents insist, guys go have some fun. These are the months when Bollywood doles out its best. Of course there is nothing like Diwali bonanza, but summer holidays offer Bollywood an opportunity to line up back-to-back biggies. Call it the IPL effect or the drubbing that the big films have got during the first half of the year, which delivered just one hit in the form of ‘Race,’ this summer is lukewarm as far as Bollywood is concerned. “There are five-six big releases on the cards but because of IPL there is no hype of any film. The real action is expected to begin only in June. Also the failure of ‘Tashan’ has left the distributors in a state of shock. Big banner and big names are no longer a guarantee for even a good opening,” says distributor Sanjay Mehta.

To start with there is ‘Bhoothnath’ coming your way this week. Starring Amitabh Bachchan as the ghost, who appears in the life of a naughty boy played by 11-year-old Aman Siddiqui.

“The story is about how this boy makes friends with a ghost and the two start sharing a grandfather-grandson kind of relationship,” says Ravi Chopra, producer of the film. Then ‘Jannat’ comes calling. The film talks of match fixing in cricket. Mahesh Bhatt was inspired by the mysterious death of Bob Woolmer to make a film but by the end of it we hear it’s a love story of a match-fixer played by Emraan Hashmi. Amidst the IPL extravaganza, it pays to be positive about cricket. To begin with Emraan has got his due (read kisses) from the cheer girls during the promotion. “Films around controversies seem to find favour these days and Mahesh Bhatt is an expert at it. But Emraan’s appeal somehow hasn’t worked with the masses. If the gentry like the subject, ‘Jannat’ might work,” predicts Mehta.

Pride at stake

The mercury is definitely going to soar when Ram Gopal Varma’s ‘Sarkar Raaj’ opens in theatres in June. Varma has a lot at stake after a series of duds. The sequel to ‘Sarkar’ has the Bachchans written all over it in terms of cast, and Thackeray in terms of inspiration. Varma says the film talks of development politics and people love to put faces on stories taken from life. With big issues such as Enron Power Project raised in the film, let’s hope Varma returns to where he belongs. “All these issues, Thackeray and the underworld that Varma is expert in, tend to work in Mumbai territory. ‘Sarkar’ did a business of around 10 crores in Mumbai territory while in North India it could rake in only around two crores,” cautions Mehta. For the North Indian audience, Mehta suggests ‘Mere Baap Pehle Aap.’ The Priyadarshan comedy where a son is trying to get his father married stars his favourites, Akshaye Khanna and Paresh Rawal.

June is going to be the month of great expectations. Nagesh Kukunoor is returning to familiar territory with ‘Aashayein.’ But his lead actor John Abraham is moving away from the cool dude image. The film is about a gambler who finds a new meaning to life through a sudden turn of events. Another banner which has pride at stake is Yash Raj whose ‘Tashan’ has left the trade circuit in a state of shock. The banner will try its luck at the turnstiles with ‘Thoda Pyar Thoda Magic.’ The title and the cast, which includes Saif Ali Khan, Rani Mukerji and four kids, remind one of ‘Tara Ra Rum Pum Pum,’ but director Kunal Kohli insists it’s different. “Our lives are filled with ups and downs, tears and joy, it’s during those periods when we’re down and out we all need ‘Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic.’ It is about people like you and me who wish for a little bit of magic in our lives, and don’t realise the angels who bring it to us are right amongst us,” says Kunal. However, Mehta says that according to his sources Aditya Chopra is not happy with the film and has asked for some re-shoots.

Fresh faces

Then towards the end of vacations, there is an opportunity for time travel, courtesy Harry Baweja’s ‘Love Story 2050.’ The film is making news for its humungous budget as Baweja is leaving no special effect untried for the debut vehicle of his son Harman Baweja. Watch out for Priyanka Chopra in a fresh new look.

Talking of debutants, the season will also see Aamir Khan’s nephew Imran Khan making his debut with ‘Jaane Tu Yaa Jaane Na.’ Bollywood’s new-age script writer Abbas Tyrewala is making his debut as a director with this film. Then Anupam Kher’s son Sikander will try to keep the Kher legacy going with ‘Woodstock Villa’ and Mithun Chakraborty’s son Mimoh will make his entry as ‘Jimmy’. “There is some buzz around ‘2050’ but the other three have to really prove their mettle to be noticed,” says Mehta. Trade knows no blood!

The odd ones outEvery year there are some surprise success stories, and this season pundits are putting their money on Jahnu Barua's "Har Pal" starring Preity Zinta, and Santosh Sivan's "Tahaan". There is also Raj Kumar Gupta's "Aamir". Television star Rajiv Khandelwal is making his debut with this UTV production based on the aftermath of Mumbai riots. Then there is Sanjay Gupta's multistarrer "Alibaug" and Rituparno Ghosh's "The Last Lear", where we will again see Preity Zinta far removed from her pretty image and Amitabh Bachchan in his third release this summer.

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