Looking ahead: What's exciting from Bollywood in 2007
Jahan Bakshi [ Thu, May 10, 2007 ]
It has been a largely tepid year so far in Bollywood, with nothing that was really worth standing up and applauding for- with maybe, the rare exception of a brave Black Friday or Parzania. No, not even the over-hyped Guru, which- Abhishek Bachchans admirable performance notwithstanding- remains just a good film, not something to treasure, and surely not among Mani Ratnams better works. Then there were other titans like Salaam-e-Ishq and Eklavya- not really bad films, actually- but which inexplicably fell worse than Humpty Dumpy at the Box- Office. Money wise, other than Guru, Reema Kagtis wacky ensemble debut Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd. and Vipul Shahs typically massy n messy, crowd-pleasing Namaste London have been fairly successful.
So, while it hasnt really been a satisfying journey so far- there lots more to watch out for! Heres a sneak peek at whats promising, exciting and worth looking forward to at the filmy marquee for the rest of the year:
Anurag Basu, director of mostly crass films like Murder and Tumsa Nahin Dekha surprised us with a unexpectedly classy effort in last years Gangster, which also showcased a superb Shiney Ahuja (for the first time as a commercial film lead) and a sensational debut performance by Kangana Ranaut. Both the actors feature in the powerhouse ensemble cast of Basus new directorial venture produced by UTV, which also includes Shilpa Shetty, Kay Kay Menon, Sharman Joshi, Konkona Sen Sharma and Irrfan Khan. The music by Pritam (who has formed a band called Band Metro especially for the film) with its soft-rock feel, is refreshingly different and has caught on. With an interesting theme of metropolitan lifestyles and urban relationships, Metro- set for a May 11th release- definitely merits a place on this list.
Amitabh Bachchan once jocularly remarked that he only gets to play father to leading actresses these days, and wished he could romance the pretty young ladies on screen. This year, his wish seems to be coming remarkably true- after falling head over heels for Jiah Khan in Ram Gopal Varmas Nishabd, he will be seen as a passionate chef wooing a feisty Tabu. The promos of this sugar free romance, also starring Paresh Rawal as Tabus father with a dry sense of humor and grand old lady Zohra Sehgal as Big Bs impish mother - that are beginning to come on air are great and look mint-fresh. With the deadly combination of two unbelievably phenomenal actors in the lead, this bittersweet romance directed by ad-filmmaker R Balki, and featuring music by the exceptional (but barely-heard-in-Bollywood) composer Ilaiyaraaja promises to be one grand treat when it arrives on the 25th of May.
The Blue Umbrella
Master craftsman Vishal Bhardwajs fourth film based on Ruskin Bonds novel of the same name still awaits release, after months of being completed. The film, produced by Bhardwaj and UTV, has been screened at film festivals and will probably be released sometime later this year under the banner UTV Classics. After his Shakespearean forays into the dark side of human nature in Maqbool and Omkara, the director returns to merrier territory this time with The Blue Umbrella. The scenic film, shot beautifully in the hilly locales of Himachal Pradesh features a child protagonist, played by debutant Shreya, along with Bhardwaj favorite Pankaj Kapoor, a hugely ignored but brilliant actor. Bhardwaj has an amazing knack for extracting excellent work from child actors (remember Shweta Pandit in the delightful Makdee?) and making films about children with universal appeal. And the reviews that are already out say that he has produced another sparkling gem of a film.
Writer-director Anurag Kashyaps second release after the much delayed and much acclaimed Black Friday is something never seen or attempted before in Indian cinema. Though the exact storyline is unclear at the moment, it is said to be a bizarre, surreal ride; a black comedy with shades of noir. John Abraham plays an egoistic, conceited businessman who is a chain smoker in this neo-stylized film, opposite bubbly Ayesha Takia who has an intriguing double role in the film- playing both Johns secretary and girlfriend.It would be interesting to see how critics and audiences respond to the totally whacko and off the wall No Smoking, which is produced by Vishal Bhardwaj and Kumar Mangat- the makers of Omkara. Bhardwaj tells me its a sort-of comic thriller, while Kashyap curiously describes it as Kafka meets Kaufman meets Fincher meets David Dhawan.