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Badly Burnt In Year Gone By, Industry Looks To Strong Content

Bharati Dubey | TNN (THE TIMES OF INDIA; January 3, 2010)


Pursue excellence and success will pursue you,’’ was what Aamir Khan’s character philosophised in 3 Idiots. But when the lights dimmed and audiences sat down after the National Anthem, what greeted them on screens for most part of the year was average, even poor fare, making 2009 the annus horribilis of the first decade of the 21st century. More than 200 films, with Rs 1500 crore at stake, released last year but almost Rs 1000 crore sank in the sea of mediocrity without a bubble, the sharks-andsexy bikini Blue leading the pack.
Added to it was the multiplex strike which cost around Rs 350 crore, upset release dates forcing films to share Fridays and dent each others’ collections. A multiplex source said, “Cannibalisation caused by big films’ release dates clashing could have been avoided.’’


The year began with Chandni Chowk To China that lost 50% of its Rs 65-crore budget. And marketing blitzkreigs couldn’t save a Blue and Kambakkht Ishq and the audience clearly showed content was king with surprise hits like DevD, New York, WaKe Up Sid and Ajab Prem ki Gajab Kahani. DevD made Rs 6 crore, collected Rs 25 crore at the box office while its ancillary rights made another Rs 5 crore and there are still more satellite runs to be sold. Trade experts also put films like Love Aaj Kal, Ajab Prem ki Gajab Kahani, Wanted among the certified hits, followed by profitable films like Paa, All The Best, De Dana Dan and Raaz 2.


But Bollywood’s loss was Hollywood’s gain, with films like 2012 and Avatar (that collected a whopping Rs 50 crore so far) filling the void for good entertainment.


It was left to And Aamir Khan to play Santa Claus third year in a row, with 3 Idiots the biggest hit of the year. It grossed a phenomenal Rs 100 crore in India in the first four days, and Rs 175 crore worldwide till December 31, even denting into collections of Avatar. Trade analyst Amod Mehra said, “What Ghajini collected in a week, this film has done in three days.


Corporates didn’t really have a great year in 2009 and after the bloodbath in the first half of the year, most of them avoided buying films outright, with even 3 Idiots being released on commission.


Thus 2010 dawns to vastly altered realities — purse strings have tightened by cautious corporates; big banners are no guarantee for success and may dish out big turkeys instead; marketing and stars don’t sell, a good story does; and the days of astronomical fees are over.


“Audiences are very smart, the content ultimately will guide their choices and approval. Marketing and hype will only work if content supports that hype. We may not have a Blue this year but projects like Veer and Prince are costly and prima facie look difficult in terms of recoveries,’’ says a trade expert.


So when Akshay Kumar, blamed for soaring star prices, announced towards the end of 2009 that he would not charge any fee for Farah Khan’s Tees Maar Khaan, it was a lifeline for the industry that had almost gone into the ICU.


Says Amod Mehra, “It is not that people did not come to watch Akshay Kumar films in 2009, it is just that the budgets of the films were so high and his remuneration was almost 40% of those budgets, so recoveries were not possible despite a good opening. But now that the actors are looking at sharing profit with the producer after the cost of the film has been recovered like in the case of Aamir Khan’s 3 Idiots then it will be fair enough. Cutting down of star prices will definitely reduce the budget of films and they will become viable and that is definitely going to be the trend in 2010.”


The year thankfully doesnt have a Rs 100-crore Blue in its line-up. Last year most production houses scrapped films as star prices were not viable. In fact, it is learnt Saif Ali Khan is reworking the budget of his next film Agent Vinod starring Kareena and himself. In fact, 2010 is short on mega projects as budget constraints ensured very few got on the floors in 2009.


The first biggie of 2010 will be Veer,
followed by Rann, My Name is Khan, Action Replay, Kites and House Full in the first half of the year. The second half of the year would have Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Guzarish and Patiala House.


The action in 2010 seems definitely more in mid-size and multiplex projects that would have strong and clutterbreaking content. “There are a lot of films this year that may not topline the Khans or Hrithik Roshan but still have a decent line-up of names and would be thematically different. Tight budgets and good content seem to be the mantra in the decision making corridors of Bollywood. Each company is carefully evaluating its options and are not getting carried away,’’ says Priti Shahni of Indian Films. Corporates, for instance, have decided to take films only on commission, and not buy them outright.


Shahid Kapoor’s Chance Pe Dance, Striker starring Rang De Basanti’s Siddharth, Aamir Khan Productions’ Peepli Live, Vishal Bharadwaj’s Ishqiya would release in the first half of 2010.


Generation-next too would be making its presence felt with Ranbir Kapoor in Anjana Anjani and Rajneeti, Imran Khan in I Hate Love Stories, Sonam Kapoor in Ayesha, and Deepika Padukone in House Full.


As the record breaking run of 3 Idiots that has spilled over to 2010 has shown, great content along with great pre-release buzz make the perfect mix.


2010: Coming Soon
RAJNEETI (Naseeruddin Shah, Nana Patekar, Ajay Devgn, Katrina Kaif and Ranbir Kapoor) BUDGET: 50 cr


DHOBI GHAT (Aamir Khan, Prateik Babbar) BUDGET: 15 cr


RAAVANA (Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) BUDGET: 50 cr


TEEN PATTI (Amitabh Bachchan, Sir Ben Kingsley) BUDGET: 35 cr


VEER (Salman Khan, Zarine Khan) BUDGET: 50 cr


RANN (Amitabh Bachchan) BUDGET: 25 cr


ISHQIYA (Vidya Balan, Naseeruddin Shah, Arshad Warsi) BUDGET: 20 cr


MY NAME IS KHAN (Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol) BUDGET: 50 cr


KITES (Hrithik Roshan, Barbara Mori) BUDGET: 50 cr


ACTION REPLAY (Akshay Kumar, Aishwarya Rai) | BUDGET: 35 cr


GUZAARISH (Hrithik Roshan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) BUDGET: 50 cr


ANJAANA ANJAANI (Ranbir Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra) BUDGET: 40 cr


AGENT VINOD (Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor) BUDGET: 40 cr

Figures are an approximate estimation

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SMILES AHEAD: BT shot Akshay Kumar exclusively on the sets of Khatta Meetha

Akshay Kumar in his avatar as the Common Man

MEENA IYER Times News Network (BOMBAY TIMES; January 1, 2010)

The last decade in Bollywood has primarily been dominated by three Khans (Shah Rukh, Aamir and Salman) and one Kumar (Akshay). And even as his brand equity is at an all-time high, Akshay Kumar’s business plan in the new year is to take his banner Hari Om Production (HOP) to greater heights.


The banner which is a late bloomer, swung into action with Waqt — The Race Against Time in 2005, but has already notched up hits like Namastey London, Singh is Kinng, the entertaining grosser De Dana Dan, and is now ready for its next three productions — Priyadarshan’s Khatta Meetha, Farah Khan’s Tees Maar Khan and Nikhil Advani’s Patiala House.

Says Priyan, a close associate of Akshay and the HOP, “Khatta Meetha is a satire on the system. It is about the road-mafia which is prevalent all over but more so in Bihar and eastern UP. The main plot line is inspired by R K Laxman’s famous common man. Based on a true incident, this film unveils the travesty of the common man. I have made this film in Malayalam earlier and it was wonderfully received. I’m sure it will be a winner in Hindi too.’’ Both Hari Om Productions and Akshay will move by leaps and bounds in 2010. While the banner will have two releases in Khatta Meetha and Tees Maar Khan, the actor will also be seen in Sajid Nadiadwala’s Houseful and Vipul Shah’s Action Replayy. Of course, it is not all work and no play for this superstar. He is currently on vacation in Goa with his family. Asked what was uppermost on his mind when the clock struck 12, he says, “I sincerely want 2010 to be a year of peace and harmony. I wish BT readers a Happy New Year.’’

Rewinding to his recent Canada trip where he represented India at the Winter Olympics, the superstar says, “I can’t tell you what a proud moment it was when I was handed the Olympic Torch in Canada. It was very moving. In my opinion films and sports are the two passions that can bind any nation.’’ Having talked about his moment of glory on foreign soil, Akki adds, “I’m proud that New Delhi is the chosen destination for the Commonwealth Games. I pray for peace because I want this sporting event to go off really smooth. I want the world to know that India is safe and capable of hosting an event of this magnitude. As a true sports lover this is something uppermost on my mind.’’
45 days after Simple’s death, Dimple’s brother Munna is involved in a major accident which leaves him in a coma

By Meena Iyer (MUMBAI MIRROR; December 31, 2009)


Dimple’s younger brother Suhail (fondly known as Munna) met with a terrible car accident just before Christmas. Munna was in a car with a friend and the impact of the accident was tremendous. Both have been admitted to a suburban hospital and Munna has slipped into a coma. The car rammed into a tree and it has been damaged beyond repair.
The car is parked outside Juhu Police Station with only its bumper intact. Additional Commissioner, West Region, Amitabh Gupta confirms the news of the accident, “Yes, Suhail Kapadia was involved in the accident.”

A source provides additional details, “The car was speeding at night near Irla Masjid. They crashed into and almost climbed a tree in the middle of the road. The safety features of the car ensured that they were relatively unharmed, but the car has been damaged tremendously. But their legs were injured badly.”

The day that Dimple heard the news, she was shattered. She was shooting for Nikhil Advani’s Patiala House and the shoot had to be called off for the day.

Recently, Dimple lost her sister, Simple, and the accident has sent her into a state of shock. People who have visited her at the hospital say that nothing seems to register as she cares for Munna at the hospital. Munna is third in the line of four siblings and Dimple cares for him almost like a mother. Dimple, having lost two siblings including youngest sister Reema, is terrified of losing her brother. We sincerely hope Munna comes out of the coma.

Dimple was supposed to have been in Goa for the New Year with daughter Twinkle and her husband Akshay  Kumar. Needless to say, those plans stand cancelled.

Inputs by Akela

Akshay Kumar to wear old, used clothes taken from shop owners, in his next, Patiala House

By Kunal M Shah (MUMBAI MIRROR; December 03, 2009)


He might be one of the most stylish actors in Bollywood, but in Patiala House, Akshay Kumar will wear used clothes loaned by three shop owners.

Director Nikhil Advani has borrowed clothes from London’s shop owners as Akshay plays a character from Southall.

Our source revealed, “Akshay’s character in Patiala House is that of a Punjabi boy who is helping out his father by running a corner store in Southall, London. So to give Akshay authenticity, Nikhil visited several corner stores in Southall and zeroed in on three guys who are similar to Akshay in height and build. He has requested them to lend a few clothes to Akshay, and that’s what he will be dressed in for Patiala House.”

Nikhil said, “I didn’t want Akshay or anyone else’s character in film to look unreal or over the top. So while researching, we decided to shortlist a few guys who actually manage corner stores and asked them for their clothes.”

Slated to release on Diwali next year, Patiala House will go on floors in December and will be shot extensively at Southall. The film also stars Anushka Sharma, along with the magical jodi of Dimple Kapadia and Rishi Kapoor.

Nikhil Advani will hold a nation-wide contest to choose a teenager, who will play the 17-year-old Akshay Kumar in Patiala House
By Kunal M Shah (MUMBAI MIRROR; November 17, 2009)


Akshay Kumar

Although Nikhil Advani’s Patiala House is set to go on the floors next month, his casting troubles are far from over.

After roping in Akshay Kumar and Anushka Sharma for the lead roles, Nikhil is now looking for a youngster who will play the 17 year-old Akshay Kumar.

Our source said, “The film’s team was tired of auditioning and watching show reels. None of the boys fulfilled the requirements. So, Akshay suggested that they conduct a nation-wide hunt. The participants essentially have to match Akshay’s height and body language.”

The contest will begin from December 1. The advertisements announcing the same will be published in newspapers across India. Moreover, the filmmakers have tied up with two news channels, one entertainment channel and a multiplex chain for the contest. The entries will be collected from December 1 to December 15. Director Nikhil Advani, will select ten semi-finalists. The winner will then be chosen by Akshay Kumar.

Talking about Akshay’s determination, Nikhil said, “Akshay is very keen on casting someone who comes from a real background. At 17, Akshay was a typical middle class boy; he wants some of his qualities to show in the boy who will play him in the film.”

Patiala House will be produced by Bhushan Kumar and Mukesh Talreja. The film will be running on a tight schedule as it has already been slotted for a 2010 Diwali release.

Nikhil Advani’s Patiala House is inspired by large patriarchal families that live under the same roof for generations

By Meena Iyer (MUMBAI MIRROR; October 30, 2009)

 

Akshay Kumar Anushka Sharma

Nikhil Advani is reportedly borrowing a leaf out a South Mumbai family’s life… and basing his film Patiala House on them. The family is apparently the Malhotras of Malabar Hill who, for three generations, have been living together. The head patriarch Malhotra still rules. All additions to the family are put in adjoining buildings and this is one of the largest joint families in India. Important decisions are taken by the senior Malhotra and everyone else adheres to it.

The trade buzz is that Akshay Kumar, who heard this story from Nikhil Advani, was very kicked about it. In fact, he even suggested the title Patiala House to Nikhil, just like he had suggested Singh Is Kingg to Vipul Shah.

Akshay Kumar agrees, “I wanted a title that suggested largeness in terms of numbers. Patiala is synonymous with a large peg and that is understood universally as something which is bigger than regular. Hence, Patiala House, a cluster of several houses that hosts a whole of family and cousins.”

In the movie, the character of the patriarch is played by Gurkreeat Singh Kalon (Rishi Kapoor) who rules and runs his family life just like a prime minister would run a government. He is a strict disciplinarian whose authority and rules are not questioned in Patiala House. Set in London’s Southall, every addition in the family be it a cousin’s cousin all get accommodated in Patiala House. Every new wedding needs the house to expand a little more.

Nikhil Advani, who is directing this film that is being co-produced by Bhushan Kumar of T-Series and Mukesh Talreja, explains, “Our story is universal in spirit as it is a story about all joint families who have a patriarch who makes their decisions and wants to keep everyone under one roof. Kalon family has been living for the last four generations in Southall and he has created his own fiefdom in Patiala House.’’

Nikhil Advani to create London’s Southall in Mumbai’s Film City for Patiala House

By Subhash K Jha (MUMBAI MIRROR; October 27, 2009)

 

Akshay Kumar

Southall, a locality in London, monopolised by Asians, will be recreated to the last detail in Mumbai for Nikhil Advani’s forthcoming film, Patiala House.

Confirming the news, Nikhil says, “It’s a cross-cultural film about a generation gap. It’s set in 2010 but will go back to the infamous Southall racial riots in 1979. Since the Southall of 1979 was impossible to replicate in London, my art director Priya Raghunath is recreating it in Mumbai for me at Film City.”

Patiala House is a rare, non-comic outing for Akshay. “I had put in some lighter moments and comic interludes for Akshay but he firmly asked me to take them out. Patiala House will be unlike anything Akshay has done so far,” says Advani.

Nikhil Advani

The film’s shooting will take place between December 18 and January 31. It is produced by Mukesh Talreja and also stars Anushka Sharma.

NOT WITHOUT MY SON-IN-LAW: Akshay Kumar and (below) Dimple Kapadia. For more pictures of the stars, visit http://photogallery.indiatimes.com

Rishi Kapoor plays action star’s father in Patiala drama

SUBHASH K JHA Times News Network (BOMBAY TIMES; October 20, 2009)


Years ago a smart-alecky director wanted to cast Dimple Kapadia as the seductress and mafiosi in Khiladiyon Ka Khiladi who entraps Akshay Kumar into a lustful bath. “Can you imagine how embarrassing that would’ve been?” Dimple had almost choked later on. That role, blessedly, went to Rekha. But Dimple and Akshay are now finally coming together as mother and son in Nikhil Advani’s London-based, cross-generation drama Patiala House which also pairs Rishi Kapoor and Dimple for the fourth time.

The couple from the trendsetting Bobby were subsequently seen in Sagar and more recently in Pyar Mein Twist.

After the failure of the pricey Akshay comedy Chandni Chowk To China, Nikhil is ready to shoot Patiala House which casts Rishi and Dimple as man and wife. Akshay will play their ideologically-opposed son. Says the director, “People may see the casting as gimmicky. But, after Chandni Chowk… I felt I had to be true to myself. In
that film I was trying a language that wasn’t mine. In Patiala House ,I return to my native tongue.”

dk Though
Akshay plays a second-generation Sikh in London, he won’t be wearing a turban in this film. His father, played by Rishi, will be in a turban once again after Love Aaj Kal. The film will also star the spirited Anushka Sharma in her first film outside the Yashraj banner. Apparently Akshay, who loved Anushka’s performance in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, personally requested her to step into Patiala House. Nikhil sees Akshay and Anushka sharing a great chemistry on screen. “They’re both so warm and so Punjabi in their demeanour,” he says.

FLYING HIGH: Anushka Sharma. (inset) Shah Rukh Khan and Shahid Kapoor; (below) Akshay Kumar. For more pictures of the Bollywood stars, log on to http://photogallery.indiatimes.com
Anushka Sharma believes she’s a lucky girl…

MEENA IYER Times News Network (BOMBAY TIMES; September 15, 2009)


Aditya Chopra’s promising debutant Anushka Sharma continues her run as a big league player. After Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, one of the biggest blockbusters of all-time, Anushka is romancing Shahid Kapoor in Parmeet Sethi’s untitled venture. In December, she will team up with super-hottie Akshay Kumar in Nikhil Advani’s Patiala House. “I loved the script the moment I heard it,’’ she confesses. “However, I didn’t want to do anything impulsive. So I slept over it for a day and went back to Nikhil telling him I was most certainly on for the project,’’ says the heroine, who stands almost six feet tall. Anushka adds, “I have never met Akshay Kumar in my life and I’m going to be romancing him in my next project. I can’t tell you how excited I am. First I got to romance Shah Rukh, then Shahid and now Akshay. It is as if I’m walking on a cloud.’’


Has she talked to her godfather Aditya Chopra about this film? “Adi would hate it if I called him my mentor or godfather,’’
she says. “He and I are not friends. He is someone I hold in high regard. He holds a special place for me forever because he gave me a break every girl can only dream of. Adi is also too professional to ask me about the script of another film-maker. And I’m equally professional, so I will not reveal any details. But I can pick up the phone and seek his advice if I wish to. He is always there for his actors/technicians.’’

The Rab Ne girl admits that she is ruthlessly ambitious but will not resort to anything unscrupulous to attain great heights. “I started at the top with Rab Ne. Now I have to work double hard. An actor told me, ‘Anushka, you have been given a silver platter. Keep it clean.’ My desire, therefore, is to always try and put my best foot forward.’’ With her nose buried deep in the Patialia House script, she day dreams. About Akshay Kumar, perhaps…
meena.iyer@timesgroup.com

By Kunal M Shah (MUMBAI MIRROR; September 09, 2009)

After her debut with Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, Anushka Sharma has now signed her first film outside the Yash Raj Films banner. The film is Nikhil Advani’s Patiala House and she’s teaming up with Akshay Kumar.

Not blinded by the opportunity she was offered by YRF, Anushka has a contract with the banner which says that they won’t just make three films with her, but she is free to work outside the YRF banner if she wishes.

As per her contract with YRF, she is already shooting for her second film with Shahid Kapoor. However, Patiala House will be her third film and the first outside the YRF banner. Anushka confirmed the news and said, “Yes, I am doing Patiala House and I am extremely happy with the script. I’ll finish Parmeet Sethi’s film in December and will start shooting for Nikhil’s film by mid-December.”

Anushka also confirmed that she was not bound by the YRF contract. She said, “I have a three film deal with YRF, but my contract does not forbid me from pursuing outside films. I don’t understand why there has been a misunderstanding about that. Adi (Aditya Chopra) has been extremely nice to me and he has never stopped me from working outside. When I was backed by a capable production house like YRF, I knew I was in safe hands.”

When asked about working with Nikhil Advani, especially after Chandni Chowk to China tanked at the box-office, she said, “It would be foolish to judge someone on the failure of his previous film.”

Meanwhile, the spokesperson of YRF said, “Apart from the three film deal with YRF, Anushka is also planning to take up a prestigious project after discussions with us. We are very happy for her and we wish her all the very best.”


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