Take your pick: Comedies, controversies or football

Jun 4, 2006 Priyanka Khanna

New Delhi, June 4 (IANS) There is entertainment galore with films on forlorn lovers, comic capers and complex codes vying for viewers' attention, competing with behind-the-big screen controversies, cricket and the all-encompassing football World Cup championship.

Even as "Fanaa", a militant's love story, is basking in the glory of record box-office collections, an unofficial ban on its release in Gujarat is fast turning into a political quagmire and a media circus.

And joining the ring coming Friday is the month-long football extravaganza in Germany, two big-budget Bollywood comedies that are already marred by accusations of false representation and the conclusive stage of the Indian cricket team's tour of the West Indies.

Now that it is well established that "Fanaa", starring Aamir Khan and Kajol, is on its way to becoming a blockbuster, the demands of its release in Gujarat will reach a crescendo this week. Adding to the noise will be accusations of suppression of the freedom of expression, as more Indian states ban the controversial Hollywood film "Da Vinci Code".

Though football fans and die-hard Indian cricket team supporters would not face any dilemma, for a huge chunk of Hindi film watchers the choices will not be so clear-cut.

On one hand will be an original Priyadarshan-directed romantic comedy, "Chup Chup Ke", and on the other will be "Phir Hera Pheri". The latter is a sequel of Priyadarshan's hit comedy "Hera Pheri", but is not directed by him.

"Phir Hera Pheri" has all the elements of its predecessor intact except the director. After the super hit "Hera Pheri", followed by successive hits "Garam Masala" and "Maalaamal Weekly", Priyadarshan has his own fan following.

However, it is very likely that viewers will watch "Phir Hera Pheri" looking for Priyadarshan's touch and find none.

"Phir Hera Pheri" brings together Akshay Kumar, Suniel Shetty and the irrepressible Paresh Rawal. The new additions are Bipasha Basu, Rimi Sen and Rajpal Yadav, making the work of director Neeraj Vohra fairly easy.

Though Priyadarshan is mum on the subject, most tinsel-town dwellers are unhappy with him not directing the sequel of his own film. Directors feel that "Phir Hera Pheri" is masquerading as a sequel and say it sets a bad precedence.

The other release of the week will be "Chup Chup Ke" which once again brings together the real life couple Shahid Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor. The two were last seen together on the marquees in "36 China Town". Though they failed to set the screen on fire, the movie did enough business in the first three days after release to recover costs.

In "Chup Chup Ke", Kareena essays the role of a physically handicapped girl while Shahid tries to win her hand by pretending to be verbally challenged. It remains to be seen whether the two, who could do little with all their senses in place in "Fida" and "36 China Town", can turn their fortunes.

The other leads in "Chup Chup Ke" are Neha Dhupia, Paresh Rawal, Sushma Reddy, Rajpal Yadav, Anupam Kher, Om Puri and Suniel Shetty.

The common feature in "Chup Chup Ke" and "Phir Hera Pheri" is music director Himesh Reshammiya's soundtracks. While "Dil vich lagiya ve" from "Chup Chup Ke" has swiftly made its way to the top of the charts, music from "Phir Hera Pheri" is yet to take off.

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