METRO PLUS

Reaping a rich harvest

EPIC FANTASY: The Lord of the Rings.  

THIS HAS been a good year for Hollywood films with movies like Spider-Man grossing over Rs. 30 crore - a great deal more than the regular Bollywood film. Hyderabad has mostly gone along with the trend - with a little Hyderabadi twist. We have to be different see?

INTRIGUING WEB: Spider-Man bags fantastic openings.

INTRIGUING WEB: Spider-Man bags fantastic openings.  

So the first instalment of J.R.R. Tolkein's epic fantasy, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring (LOTR), did much better than Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. One of the reasons for this according to Nisar Mehdi Khan Faiz of Skyline theatre is "LOTR - I had all the elements of a fantasy film. There was a journey, battles and queer looking monsters. So you could enjoy the film even if you were not a hardcore Tolkein fan. Harry Potter, on the other hand, needed you to be familiar with Rowling's world. Hyderabadis seem to prefer a slam bang FX laden adventures."

Faiz's reading seems accurate when see that along with Spider-Man, LOTR - I and Harry Potter, other films that have done well include, Ridley Scott's gritty, realistic Black Hawk Down and the ultimate thrill laden Vin Diesel starrer XXX.

FASCINATING MUGGLES: Harry Potter.

FASCINATING MUGGLES: Harry Potter.  

This is not to say that the action/fantasy element had it easy in the city. "Collateral Damage was the biggest disappointment this year," Faiz commented about the Arnold Schwarznegger starrer. And Scorpion King, which was a prequel to Mummy II, with the Rock and a lissom female lead dressed in an interesting costume mainly comprising knots also came out a cropper.

The one to blow the biggest hole in the "big bangs bring big bucks" theory was Gurinder Chadda's wonderful east meets west coming of age film Bend It Like Beckham. "It was the surprise hit of the year," Faiz commented. "Movies like Spider-Man took fantastic openings thanks to the incredible hype. Bend it... however was hardly hyped and yet did fantastic business."

EAST MEETS WEST: Bend it like Beckham.

EAST MEETS WEST: Bend it like Beckham.  

Akshat Mishra of Sangeet cinema, however, feels it has been a dismal year for cinema. "Apart from Spider-Man and Devdas, there have been no hits. Mishra attributes "piracy and dubbing of films into Hindi and Telugu" for the drop in ticket sales. Faiz concurs when he says, "LOTR was not dubbed and did exceedingly well while Harry Potter among other films that were dubbed did not do as well.

One of the pluses of liberalisation has been the speed at which films hit Indian screens and one of the fastest was Spider-Man, which came to India precisely three weeks after its US release. Winning an Academy Award has nothing much to do with a film's run. While LOTR (Original score, cinematography, make up and visual effects) and Black Hawk Down (editing, sound) did well, A Beautiful Mind (picture, director, supporting actress and adapted screenplay) and Training Day (actor) fared disappointingly.

ACTION-COMEDY: Rush Hour 2.

ACTION-COMEDY: Rush Hour 2.  

It was not a good year for prequels and sequels as MIB-II, sequel to the super popular Tommy Lee Jones/Will Smith starrer was laughed out of theatres as was the disappointing Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones and Goldmember, the third instalment of Mike Myers' spoof on the James Bond films. The film could not be saved even by the presence of a host of celebs including Spielberg, Tom Cruise, Uma Thurman and Britney Spears. Unfortunately Stuart Little II, which was as wonderfully magic as the first one, did not find favour with the audience. The only sequel that did well was the Jackie Chan, Chris Rock politically incorrect asinine Rush Hour - II.

One wonders if the Spielberg magic is on the wane as the visually stunning AI: Artificial Intelligence in the beginning of the year and the Tom Cruise starrer Minority Report did middling well. Of the Hinglish films, Bend It Like Beckham has become the benchmark. Rahul Bose's directorial debut, the stylish funky Everybody Says I am Fine did fairly well. Revathy's directorial debut, Mitr whichwon Shobhana the National Award for her wonderful performance, unfortunately, did poorly. Towards the end of the year, we have had the silly inconsequential The Guru and Piyush Pandya's debut American Desi, which acquitted themselves honourably.

SPY THRILLER: The Bourne Identity.

SPY THRILLER: The Bourne Identity.  

`Horror movies did as expected x badly with the noisy illogical 13 ghosts and Resident Evil deservedly being dismissed from theatres. There was an occasion to indulge in a tad of nostalgia with the re-release of Spielberg's epoch making E.T, the Extra Terrestrial. Other nostalgia inducing films included Blake Edwards' The Party with Peter Seller getting all the laughs as the bumbling Hrundai Bakshi and the chance to see Clint Eastwood bite off cigars in the war time classic Where Eagles Dare. While Steven Soderberg continues to excite and his lovely stylish thriller Ocean's 11 with a super high hunk quotient (think Brad Pitt and George Clooney), M. Night Shyamalan's Mel Gibson starrer Signs did not go the Sixth Sense way. While John Woo's moronic Windtalkers deserved the beating it took at the B.O, other films like Tarsem's Singh's visual pyrotechnics in The Cell and the Johnny Depp starrer From Hell definitely deserved a better deal. Comedy hardly ever does well in the city, which is really sad as wonderful films like the absolutely hilarious Bridgette Jones' Diary, Shallow Hal, About A Boy and Legally Blonde among others did disappointingly. Smart thrillers hardly fared better starting from the Michael Douglas starrer Don't Say a Word to the fast paced Bourne Identity did their obligatory week in the theatres but were nothing to write home about. Movies to look forward in the New Year include the second instalments of LOTR and Harry Potter (both in April bypassing the World Cup and exams) and the Jackie Chan starrer Tuxedo. But before that we have date with the super cool secret agent with a licence to thrill. James Bond, apart from saving the world while sipping his martinis shaken not stirred, has another assignment and that is pulling the movie business out of the doldrums. "We are hoping for James Bond to work his magic," Akshat comments. A sentiment echoed by Faiz. As Madonna croons about living to die another day, we can only hope the suave secret agent will work his gadgets and gals magic at BO.