Indian Cinema Features
Bollywood directors' day out this July
By Priyanka Khanna Jul 2, 2006, 18:54 GMT
New Delhi, July 2 (IANS) Dazzling stars of Bollywood, who habitually wield immense clout over the sensibilities of movie-buffs and the Hindi film industry, will take the backseat this July as reticent men-behind-the-camera come to the fore.
The month ahead will witness release of films that are riding squarely on the shoulders of promising directors like Madhur Bhandarkar and Vishal Bharadwaj, apart from a string of debutants starting with acting powerhouse Naseeruddin Shah.
In a star-crazy nation, for a film to be marketed on the strengths of its director and not its stars is a big leap, given that in Bollywood actors - Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan and Aishwarya Rai top a Time magazine list of them - the industry's most powerful figures while filmmakers barely manage to make the cut.
For two decades, scripts in the Mumbai studios-based film industry were written solely to provide a larger-than-life image for a tall and immensely versatile actor-star - Amitabh!
Even today, Aamir Khan has always been credited with ghost-directing his roles and stars are known to write their own scripts - after the camera has started rolling.
World over cinema has eternally been acknowledged as a director's medium. Filmmakers like D.W. Griffith, Sergei Eisenstein, Akira Kurosawa or Frederico Fellini have decided the path of cinema and not actors. Alas, not so in the Indian subcontinent.
Filmmakers who will bear their ware this month have their task cut out. A task complicated by the commercial success and critical acclaim garnered by star-studded films released hitherto.
The top of the list is Bhandarkar's 'Corporate'. The director has got a fan following after he made small-budget serious films like 'Chandini Bar' and 'Page 3' work at the turnstiles.
For Bhandarkar 'Corporate' is the second of a trilogy that he began while researching for his last year's hit, 'Page 3'. The film, based on the lives of people of the 'high-society', was one of the big hits of 2005.
As the name suggests, 'Corporate' dwells into the intrigues that go on behind closed doors of a business empire. It is a great platform for Bipasha Basu who is cast in the lead role.
The sultry actress would have pulled crowd were she cast in the usual role of a femme fatale. But going by the promos, 'Corporate' is not going to benefit from her plain Jane look. The film relies on Bhandarkar's good track record to sail through the turnstiles.
The other lead actors are Kay Kay Menon, Minissha Lamba and Raj Babbar. The film is slated for release July 7.
Another much-hyped director to look out for this month is Bharadwaj who had made a great impression with the commercial success of small-budget children's film 'Makdee'.
He got noticed for his deftness in storytelling in 'Maqbool' after 'Makdee' and great things are expected from him in his next release - 'Omkara'. The film stars the hot-and-happening Saif Ali Khan along with popular actors like Ajay Devgan, Viveik Oberoi, Kareena Kapoor and Bipasha. The film also stars National Award winning actress Konkona SenSharma.
Though the film is slated for release towards the end of the month, it has been in news for various reasons ranging from hype about the fact that it is an adaptation of William Shakespeare's famous play 'Othello' to a nationwide contest to choose its Hindi title.
The buzz about internationally renowned actor Naseeruddin's directorial debut is equally strong. His maiden behind-the-camera effort is 'Yun Hota Toh Kya Hota'.
The film is said to be a mixture of romance, thrills, comedy and drama. Shot extensively in New York, 'Yun Hota...' is a medley of four stories.
Naseer has confined himself to wielding the microphone and leaving the acting to Konkana, Irrfan Khan, Jimmy Shergill, Ayesha Takia, Ratna Pathak-Shah, Saroj Khan and Paresh Rawal.
Another debutant is Shivam Nair who will showcase his talent in 'Ahista Ahista' starring Abhay Deol and Soha Ali Khan. While Soha is sitting pretty with a hit like 'Rang De Basanti' already under her belt, Abhay will have much to prove in the film.
The youngest of Deol brothers had put in a sincere effort in 'Socha Na Tha' but the film sank. It remains to be seen whether Nair is able to do Abhay - and himself - a big favour. Unlike Naseer, Nair will not be under the microscope and may just hit the bull's eye.
July is crucial for action film director Rohit Shetty who will try and prove his mettle in directing comedies with 'Golmaal - Fun Unlimited' that goes on the marquees July 14.
The film, described as an action-comedy, stars Ajay Devgan, Arshad Warsi, Tusshar Kapoor, Sharman Joshi and Paresh Rawal. The son of a late Bollywood fight-master, Rohit had earlier adapted a Hollywood action flick in 'Zameen' that also starred Ajay.
The film is crucial for Shetty and the genre of action-comedy. Ramesh Sippy ('Bluffmaster', 'Taxi 9211') is already thinking of signing Shetty up for another action-comedy again for Shemaroo.
Year 2006 has a slew of directors hoping to be second time lucky. Besides Rohit Shetty, who will try his luck in July, others waiting in the wings include Shimit Amin, Farah Khan, Nikhil Advani, Onir and Raju Hirani.
Amin had left a great impression with 'Ab Tak Chappan' starring Nana Patekar in 2004 and is now looking forward to directing Shah Rukh Khan for the next Yash Raj film.
In fact, the illustrious film production house has joined hands with another one-time director Onir who had made 'My Brother Nikhil' for their next film titled 'Ek Pal Ke Liye'.
Choreographer-turned-filmmaker Khan, who entered the exclusive club of big filmmakers with her debut 'Main Hoon Na', is now working with Shah Rukh in 'Happy New Year'.
Taking on Karan Johar's magnum opus 'Kabhi Alvida Naa Khena' will be the filmmaker's own find - Advani. The director of the hit 'Kal Ho Naa Ho' is also coming up with a medley of six love stories in one film.
The film pairing Anil Kapoor-Juhi Chawla, Salman Khan-Priyanka Chopra, John Abraham-Vidya Balan, Akshaye Khanna-Ayesha Takia, Govinda with a foreigner, and Perizaad Zorabian opposite Sohail Khan, will release at the same time as Johar's 'Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna'.
Hirani's next is also generating much interest. It remains to be seen whether he can live up to the great expectations raised by his debut - 'Munnabhai MBBS'.
The comedy with a message starring Sanjay Dutt holds the distinct distinction of inspiring a Hollywood filmmaker to make an adaptation. Fingers crossed for Hirani's next.
Second-time directors have not had a lucky run at the marquees lately.
'Sarfarosh' director John Mathew Matthan's dud 'Shikhar', 'Jhankaar Beats' creator Sujoy Ghosh's disastrous 'Home Delivery' and Farhan Akhtar of 'Dil Chahta Hai' fame delivering big-budget flop 'Lakshya' are points in case.
Mostly, they are directors who hit gold with films made on shoestring budgets and then got too ambitious with their second film, say trade observers.
They signed on big stars and hoped to attract mass audiences with storylines and narratives that are essentially meant for niche multiplex cine-goers, they add.
On the other hand, some directors learn from their mistakes and come up with better products the second time around. Apoorva Lakhia had a disastrous start in the form of the Abhishek Bachchan-starrer 'Mumbai Se Aaya Mera Dost'.
Though an unconventional film, it failed to click due to a poor screenplay and script. In his second film, 'Ek Ajnabee', Lakhia played it safe.
Another director who got lucky a second time around is Rohan Sippy, currently riding high on the success of his latest venture 'Bluffmaster'.
It remains to be seen whether 2006 will turn out to be luckier for scores of young directors.
© 2006 Indo-Asian News Service