The year of cheer!

Published On: 2016-01-22

Author: Deepa Karmalkar

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The year of cheer!


Source: Screen India  

Date: December 29, 2006 


2006 turned out to be a malamaal lottery for the film industry. What with Rang De Basanti opening the box-office account with a bang and Taxi No 9211 keeping up the tempo, followed by the box-office lottery ticket Malamaal Weekly which serenaded the box-office. Crossing the magical milestone of Rs 60 crore were biggies Fanaa, Krrish, Lage Raho Munnabhai and finally Dhoom 2. Passionate filmmakers backed by corporate funding produced some of the most innovative cinema and marketing strategies this year. And the party is still not over, what with Bhagam Bhag taking a huge opening this festive season. Presenting the annual report card for 2006.


Reeling under the multiplex effect and marketing syndrome, 2006 was going to be a revolutionary year. Indeed, film business witnessed some unprecedented surprises and shocks. For starters, the good news - heartening was the consistency with which hits spun off month after month - right into the fag end of the year. And disconcerting was the debacle of some star-studded films. New Year release Rang De Basanti was the harbinger of good times ahead. Aamir and his unruly gang of boys opened the account of this year’s hits. The patriotic theme, A R Rehman’s music topped by the youthful zest of the ensemble cast catapulted the maker Rakeysh Mehra right into the stellar orbit.


Valentine month brought more cheer as Ramesh Sippy Productions’ wacky comedy Taxi No 9211 teamed the uber sophisticate John Abraham with rugged Nana Patekar and the comic blend brought in a good turn out and so did Himesh Reshammiya’s musical marvel Aksar. These average grossers maintained the upbeat mode of the balance sheet.


The lull release season of exams in March sprung a big surprise in the form of Priyadarshan’s comic caper Malamaal Weekly. Sans a big star-cast, this small budget film earned three times its production cost of Rs 6 crore. What worked in its favour was the uninterrupted comedy act and spontaneous performances by Om Puri, Paresh Rawal and Rietesh Deshmukh. It was the dawn of a new chapter in fun films.


Vishesh Films’ adult saga - Gangster was not banking on younger audience in any case, so in the heat of exam fever in April came the supposed biopic of Abu Salem. Its soulful music, fresh talent of Kangana Ranaut and Anurag Basu’s deft direction clinched the deal and add to that the exotic locations of Korea. Cinegoers enjoyed the film and being a small budget film it brought smiles to the faces of Bhatt brothers.


Summer vacations began in May and two big releases were lined up for the big catch. Yashraj Films’ Fanaa and Mukta Arts’ 36 China Town. Kajol’s comeback film and first-time pairing with Aamir Khan had the audiences thronging the theatres. Consequently Fanaa turned out to be the first big blockbuster of the year touching the magical milestone of Rs 60 crore. However Abbas Mustan’s 36 China Town failed to make a mark, the audience rejected the tame finale of the plot.


June, the month of monsoon showers had desi superman swinging the tide in his favour, Hrithik and Rakesh Roshan’s much-awaited action bonanza brought home the bacon. Traditional Indian values dished up with super-human acts of the hero struck a chord with the Indian audience and the sequel to 2003 hit Koi Mil Gaya... - Krrish was a runaway success with a record opening of over Rs 26 crore. Suddenly sequels became the flavour of Hindi films. And Phir Hera Pheri celebrated the return of the funny threesome Paresh-Akshay-Suneil with Rs 40 crore collections - further consolidating the appeal of sequels.


July had two Ajay Devgan starrers - Vishal Bhardwaj’s Othello-inspired Omkara and Golmaal - Fun Unlimited. Even with a Rs 13 crore opening, Omkara’s stunning performances couldn’t quite pull in the viewers - partially due to its rustic backdrop and mostly due to the undecipherable dialect used in the film - it just failed to connect. But Golmaal climbed up the charts slowly and steadily. With an impressive Rs 25 crore collection, the comedy was a clear winner. The unique story line coupled with good music and effortless performances turned it into a hit.


August ushered in Karan Johar’s star-studded bonanza. With a bold subject dealing with extra-marital affairs, in which Shah Rukh Khan and Rani Mukerji did what they had never done before - cheated on their on-screen spouses to have an on-screen affair. But sorry, off-screen repercussions weren’t too good. While the domestic audience rejected the film, overseas viewers lapped it up loyally - making KANK the biggest overseas grosser of the year.


Come September, Munnabhai returned to the theatres with his side-kick Circuit. The charming duo together with miasma of Gandhiji charmed the audiences thoroughly. Gandhigiri became the new lifestyle mantra. Raj Kumar Hirani and Vidhu Vinod Chopra had pulled off a clear coup this time. Making over Rs 100 crore collections, it was a winner all the way. For its socially relevant content, the film was even granted a tax exemption by the Government. With its unique storyline and endearing theme, Munnabhai emerged a big brand – endorsing sequels yet again. Last heard, Munnabhai will be spreading sunshine in America in the third instalment alongwith old faithful Circuit.


Diwali-Eid festive season had Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan pitted against each other - with Don and Jaan-E-Mann vying for viewers’ attention. Even as Bachchan loyalists wrote off the remake, the younger lot took an instant liking to Don’s new Bond-avataar and it was soon a superhit. But Salman’s magic wore thin as did Preity Zinta’s charm. Not even Anu Malik’s soulful scores could lift the pall of gloom that settled on this festive release. Mukta Arts’ Apna Sapna Money Money raised a celebratory toast for its makers, stressing upon the perennial appeal of well-made comedies.


November was a fire-cracker month with the much-hyped Dhoom-2 dazzling the silver screens. The film proved a unique point - that with correct marketing strategies who needs a script. Fabulous visuals, breath-taking stunts, exotic locations, modern treatment and scintillating dances whipped up such frenzy that Hrithik and Aishwarya stole the Indian viewers’ heart with their con act in the film. Within three weeks, Dhoom - 2 has raked in over Rs 120 crore and is still counting. This smashing sequel is all set to overtake Krrish in the coming weeks. Market is abuzz that Aditya Chopra will direct the third part with Shah Rukh Khan in the negative role and Saif Ali Khan lending his star charisma to the sequel.


But J P Dutta’s Umrao Jaan turned out to be a damp squib and expectedly so. The audiences seem to be in no mood to return to the bygone era of Lucknowi kotha -- they preferred Aishwarya’s night club dancing to the rambunctious beats of Crazy kiya re...


The closing month of the year saw Ravi Chopra’s family melodrama Baabul hitting the theatres but missing the mark. Neither Amitabh Bachchan’s sincere acting and convincing dialogue delivery nor Rani’s heart-felt histrionics could touch a chord. For Salman Khan, it was a year of big flops. While the widow-remarriage was rejected in Baabul, Rajshri’s Vivah, a small-town story of a newly engaged young couple struck gold with the domestic audience. The film may not have worked in urban centres but in the traditional belts like Rajasthan, U.P., Bihar and Madhya Pradesh it has caught on like wildfire. In Jodhpur alone, the weekly collection was nearly Rs 10 lakh. A clear hit!


Priyadarshan’s Bhagam Bhag has taken an unprecedented opening and being a solo release it has the makings of a hit. As the year closes, we await the release of Rekha’s latest Kudiyon Ka Hai Zamana, Arjun Rampal’s production debut I See You and curious story of Anwar. But all in all, this has been the year of cheer for the film industry.


Small Wonders

The acceptance of small budget films like UTV’s Khosla Ka Ghosla, Percept’s Corporate, Dor and PNC’s Pyar Ke Side/Effects proves that the audience is ready to accept a good film with an innovative storyline and treatment. Madhur Bhandarkar’s Corporate garnered Rs 10 crore making it an average earner and establishing him as the new age filmmaker. Nagesh Kukunoor’s Dor may have been critically acclaimed but it failed to woo the audience, nonetheless it was a talked-about film. KKG and PKSE worked on the basic premise of human relationships woven in with a comic element. But it still wouldn’t be fair to say that comedies reign, “The need of the hour is feel-good cinema - be it comedy, thriller or family drama - it must make you feel good,” surmises Vinod Mirani.


Era of corporate producers and institutional funding

Including Fanaa, Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna, Umrao Jaan, Dhoom 2, Don and Jaan-E-Mann, all big-budget productions this year have enjoyed the backing of institutional funding. That according to trade pundits would be the only way to make films in future.


While the popular belief is that the independent producers are soon to become extinct making way for corporate production houses like Yashraj Films, UTV, Eros, Percept, Mukta Arts and Ashtavinayak, trade analyst Vinod Mirani thinks otherwise, “This is a phase of big transition, what ABCL did on a smaller scale, these corporate houses are making similar mistake but on a much larger scale. This whole gimmick is going to backfire. Filmmaking has never been a balance sheet business, it is creative enterprise driven by instinct alone. Who are these marketing graduates wearing ties and coats to decide upon scripts,” he questions. He points out further that only seasoned filmmakers rooted to Indian values can score a point with viewers, “Which corporate production has been a superhit, tell me? This year’s biggest grosser Krrish is made by Rakesh Roshan who knows how to blend the traditional with contemporary - he worked on a story of an overprotective grandmother and then gave it a futuristic twist that the grandson finds his own place under the sun with his super powers. Yash Chopra too knows the pulse of the audience. We must stick to Indian subjects and then paint them in modern hues,” stresses Mirani.


The public issues of entertainment companies are no longer considered safe propositions, “What is the rational behind raising Rs 45 crore issue that a new corporate house is about to float, It doesn’t even cover the cost of one big budget film today,” he argues.So the golden handshake would be institutional funding for films.