It's boos all the way at box office

Scenes from

Scenes from "Wah! Tera Kya Kehna" and "Jeena Sirf Merre Liye"... two films, two flops.  

EVERY FRIDAY Hindi film producers, distributors and exhibitors head for the turnstiles much like a millionaire at a casino. A couple of hours later, like the prodigal millionaire, they too end up poorer, though not necessarily wiser. All thanks to the all-wise, all-knowing cinemagoers bestowing the final verdict with as much grace and kindness as the executioner leading a convict to the guillotine. That is if the producer concerned is indeed guilty of inflicting a film that tortures the viewers, and makes them pay for it!

Possessed neither by demons nor a dervish, just a wish to give themselves one in a thousand chance of success, Bollywood's dream merchants reserve their best for the festive occasion. Matters little that on festivals like Diwali even habitual cinemagoers are busy doing up their house, buying the latest clothes in the market and purchasing gift items than spending three long, increasingly testing hours inside a cinema hall. If there is any splurge at cinema halls around Diwali, it is only of new releases. The audiences keep away.

This year three Hindi films were released on Diwali, two relatively smaller banners, the other a big banner but struggling to stay in that category. We had action director Ravi Dewan wincing all the way through "Annarth". The audiences winced too. Many walked out midway, others gamely took on the challenge of sitting through. At the end nobody was happy. Neither Sunil Shetty, the action hero looking to wear something more than a scowl on his face, nor Dewan,looking for a hit to vindicate his decision to take on more responsibilities than just directing the kicks and guns. Nor too the audiences, some of whom queued up faithfully for the stalls. Former India cricketer Vinod Kambli, who had a walk-on role in the film, could not probably have chosen a worse vehicle to launch his film career. A forgettable role in film that deserves to be forgotten is not the ideal way to begin your new innings. Time to take a fresh guard, Kambli.

The other middle rung man to release his film was Manoj Aggarwal. After "Pardesi Babu", he brought us "Wah! Tera Kya Kehna". Wish one could say the same to him! If "Annarth" got a few dedicated Sunil Shetty fans, this film was let down by Govinda die-hards too. Somehow they could sense that the film could not pass the muster. And kept away, leaving Govinda with his third flop of the year - "Pyar Diwana Hota Hai" and "Akhiyon Se Goli Mare" had earlier bombed miserably. If Govinda needed a cracker this Diwali to rocket his career to its earlier heights, he probably put his hopes on the wrong film. As a result his complete "Khullam Khulla Pyar Karen" is not managing even a release. Much like "Chalo Ishq Ladaye".

Then there was Vashu Bhagnani's "Jeena Sirf Merre Liye". A remake of 1946 "Anmol Ghadi", the film kept its date with the silver screen but its time ran out before the first show was over. The film struggled with just 25 per cent collections at most halls and even less at one or two places. After "Rehna Hai Tere Dil Mein", "Deewanapan" and "Om Jai Jagadish", it just reinforced the belief that Bhagnani is no longer sure about which horse to back.

It's boos all the way at box office

Yet sad as the fate of these films has been, it is only history in repetition. Hoping to cash in on the festive fervour - just like "Kuch Kuch Hota Hai" a few years ago - Bollywood dream merchants had released major films last year too, hoping to bring in the Diwali crowds. They even advanced the day of the release from Friday to Thursday. Yet, all they did was to burn their fingers at the box office. Among the casualties last year were Mahesh Manjrekar, Tanuja Chandra and Vashu Bhagnani. While "Tera Mera Saath Rahen" started Manjrekar's slide which is yet to stop, Tanuja Chandra is yet to overcome the debacle of "Yeh Zindagi Ka Safar". Like Manjrekar's "Pitaah" and "Hathyar", her "Sir" failed at the box office this year. And Bhagnani, well, he will have to go back to the last World Cup in England to recount his last success. Also, probably stay there too if his films continue to fall like the proverbial house of cards.

Yet one cannot blame it all on Diwali. It is just that all these happened to be shoddy films, either lying in the cans for a long time or long in the making - except "Jeena Sirf... ." If "Kuch Kuch... " could defy the crowd's momentarily changing predilections, it was only because it was a well-made musical with a dash of credible emotion. Others did not deserve to be shown or seen. From the looks of it, the lean phase will continue for the whole of November. Come Id and cometh "Kaante". That might just set the equation right. Just like last year when "Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham" salvaged a bad year in mid-December. Till that time, the show goes on... with insipid fare all the way.


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