Bollywood set to end 2006 on a big highDec 3, 2006 Priyanka Khanna
New Delhi, Dec 3 (IANS) The bourgeoning Hindi film trade is set to end the year 2006 on a high with the mighty combination of Amitabh Bachchan, Salman Khan, Rani Mukerji and John Abraham in B.R. Chopra's "Baabul" slated to hit the marquees on Dec 8.
"Baabul" tells the story of a wealthy and progressive businessman Balraj Kapoor (Amitabh). He and his wife Shobhana (Hema Malini) have a son Avinash (Salman). After many years of studying abroad, Avinash announces his return to home.
Soon Malvika 'Milli' Talwar (Rani) enters his life. Love blossoms between them and they get married and are soon blessed with a son, Ansh. Tragedy strikes the family when Avinash is killed in an accident. The loss is too much for Milli and she slowly falls into depression.
Balraj seeks to bring happiness back into Milli's life and he gets in touch with Rajat (John). Rajat was Milli's friend and he secretly loved her but never told her.
Balraj asks Rajat to marry Milli but he faces opposition from his orthodox elder brother Balwant (Om Puri). Will Balraj succeed in uniting Rajat and Milli?
Director Ravi Chopra hopes to recreate the success of "Baghban" in 2003, which starred Amitabh, Hema and Salman. The film, based on ill treatment of elderly by their own children, was an unexpected hit.
Though fast-paced films like -- "Dhoom 2" and "Don" -- are the reining box-office favourites, the intense family drama has enough punch to hit the box-office bull's-eye.
For instance, even Shahid Kapur-Amrita Rao starrer "Vivah" from the equally illustrious Soorja Barjatya did manage to stay afloat and tilts the scale in favour of the family drama "Baabul".
In the past couple of years, Bollywood has managed to produce a wide range of films that brought in a whole spectrum of audiences.
Though in terms of quality, Hindi cinema has a long way to go as is evident from the fact that no awards are coming their way from prestigious international film festivals, it has managed to establish a brand identity world over.
Though feel-good, formula-ridden Bollywood films continue to be made and lapped up by millions in India and especially by Indian diaspora across the globe, there is an increased demand and supply of diverse films.
Take "Baabul" for instance. The film has all the trappings of an archetypical big budget "we are one big happy joint family" film, but it instead tackles the issue of widows being shunned by Indian society.
That the filmmaker and the stars chose to hold a press conference on "Baabul" in London clearly goes to show that the popular notion that the Indian diaspora will reject any film that is critical of their native country may not hold true anymore.
Karan Johar's "Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna" was not all candyfloss and yet it was embraced in the overseas circuit.
Manmohan Shetty, managing director of Adlabs Films, said in an interview that in order to break into the international market in real terms, India would have to begin stressing the sheer range of the cinematic products that it can export.
"There can't be only one kind of Indian cinema that will work abroad," Shetty was quoted as saying.
Bollywood has made the world sit-up and take note with the sheer volume of money generated this year.
It is now time for the industry to make available to the world its entire array of films and follow up with meaningful and stable marketing strategies.
Amit Khanna, the man who coined the term "Bollywood", is of the firm view that segmented marketing is the need of the hour.
"We need to realise that even as Karan Johar's 'Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham' works in certain pockets of the world, the films of, say, Kerala's Adoor Gopalakrishnan and Assam's Jahnu Barua also have takers in certain other pockets.
"Of the 1,000 films that India produces, only a small handful will make money globally and in the domestic market. An overwhelming majority of the films will work in only specific niches. Hence, it is imperative for each film to get its target absolutely right," Khanna added.
"Baabul" preferring to promote its intense family drama in overseas territories could well be a step in the right direction that will help film exports this year cross Rs.15 billion.
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