Yashraj Films to brave Bachchan might in Dec

Oct 30, 2005 Subhash K. Jha, Oct 30

Mumbai, Oct 30 (IANS) Are Yashraj Films the most powerful banner in Bollywood? This will become clear on Dec 9 as that day will witness a battle at the box office.

On Dec 9, Uday Chopra, the scion of the Yash Chopra clan, will actually take on the mighty Bachchan at the box office.

It's the date when Arjun Sablok's zany, zippy and zingy "Neal N Nikki" will rub shoulders with the new Bachchan action flick, Apoorva Lakhia's "Ek Ajnabee".

The date has been locked-in confidently and irreversibly by the respective producers.

Says "Ek Ajnabee" director Apoorva Lakhia, "At first we were a little apprehensive about getting the right chain of theatres worldwide when we heard that 'Neal N Nikki' was also being released on the same day.

"But then my producer Bunty Wallia worked things out. And we have a good chain of theatres booked worldwide for Dec 9. So we are definitely on."

Apoorva admits it's tough coming to the theatres with a Yashraj film. "Their marketing is exceptional. But we have Bachchan in our film. Need I say anything else?"

"Neal N Nikki" director Arjun Sablok is more cautious in his exuberance. "We are certainly coming on Dec 9, no doubt about that. But there is no threat to any film.

"My film is entirely different in mood content and intent from 'Ek Ajnabee' or any other film scheduled for in and around Dec 9. 'Neal N Nikki' is a frothy, feel-good romance. 'Ek Ajnabee' looks like an action film. I am looking forward to seeing it."

Diplomatic stands notwithstanding, both films are more critical for their directors than their producers.

Both Apoorva Lakhia and Arjun Sablok are one-flop old. Apoorva's "Mumbai Se Aaya Mera Dost" sank without a trace in spite of support of stars like Abhishek Bachchan and Lara Dutta (both of whom, incidentally, are making guest appearances in "Ek Ajnabee").

Likewise, Arjun Sablok in spite of a neat well-constructed narrative and excellent star cast - Hrithik Roshan, Esha Deol, Saif Ali Khan - couldn't salvage his reputation as a filmmaker in "Na Tum Jano Na Hum".

Both need a hit badly to keep their heads above water. "Ek Ajnabee" is as much a do-or-die effort for Lakhia as "Neal N Nikki" is for Sablok.

"And I believe there is room for both, and more. The box office has a large heart. It can accommodate more than we imagine, as long as we provide value for money," says Sablok.

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