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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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SEXY! Priyanka Chopra

SUBHASH K JHA Times News Network (BOMBAY TIMES; January 1, 2010)

Okay, Bollywood’s first big rumour of 2010 is that Priyanka Chopra and Akshay Kumar are going to reunite on screen in Farah Khan’s Tees Maar Khan. The buzz is that Priyanka, riding high on the success of Kaminey, is keen on being cast opposite the Khiladi again. Akshay, you remember, was the hero who galvanized her into the big league at the start of her career with Andaaz, Aitraaz and Mujhse Shaadi Karogi before the two decided not to work together. The buzz is that Priyanka has sent feelers to Farah for the female lead role in her film. The choreographer-director is herself said to be game for this hot-and saleable pairing. And Akshay, who was recently asked if he had any problems working with Priyanka again, had replied, “I’d love to work with her… provided the right script comes along.”

While none of the three involved parties are willing to comment on the Akshay-Priyanka pairing in Tees Maar Khan, Farah did reluctantly say, “By mid-January we have to decide. It will either be an absolutely new girl or a very established actress… go do your math!”
After the success of Paa, the Bachchans are planning a film featuring Amitabh, Jaya, Abhishek and Aishwarya

By Subhash K Jha (MUMBAI MIRROR; December 23, 2009)


Producer-cum-actor Abhishek Bachchan says the experience of producing Paa has made him grow up. He says, “High time it did so. People keep asking me what we are producing next. At the moment I don’t want to leave Paa behind. I’m completely engrossed with Paa and how to take it forward, including the DVD release.”

Abhishek says Paa had recovered its costs only two days after its release but he chooses to be cautious in his exuberance. He says, “My very dear friend Aditya Chopra told me, ‘It’s very rare when the audience decides to love you and when they do you must be very thankful for that. I feel no sense of vindication. I didn’t make Paa to prove any point to everyone. I just wanted to make an A-grade product with a cast to match within a given reasonable budget and without compromise.”

Now there are plans to make a film with the Bachchan parivaar — Amitabh, Jaya, Abhishek and Aishwarya Bachchan together, to be produced by AB Corp Ltd. Confirming the news, Abhishek says, “Most definitely, we are coming together. All four of us are completely for it. We need to sort out certain variables. The scripts that we had been given didn’t justify our collective presence.”

Apparently one or other Bachchan has not liked the scripts offered so far. “Each individual of the family has to be willing to be part of the film. All four of us are unique actors. It’s very difficult for any script to please collectively.”

Meanwhile, Abhishek is planning to produce a film that will cast Amitabh and Abhishek together again after Paa. He says, “Everyone wants to know what’s next with the two of us? I think a comedy is ideal. So that’s what we would do together.”

The year 2009 has been eventful for Abhishek as he worked in his most challenging role to date, for Mani Ratnam’s Raavana. Talking about his experience, Abhishek says, “It has been a gruelling year, but no complaints. Most of the year was taken up by Raavana. Unfortunately, at the start of the year, Mani fell ill after the first schedule. We had to push the second schedule ahead by a few months to give him the time to recover. In the interim, I finished Paa… Raavana has been the most challenging experience of my life, both physically and emotionally. It has sapped me every which way. I was really anxious about Raavana. Mani, Aishwarya and I had to go beyond Guru, which is one of my favourite films. I knew Raavana could do it. It is now going to be released in summer. Mani has completed the editing. We will start dubbing soon.”

Abhishek looks back on the year with much gratitude. “It has been a fantastic 2009. I started with Delhi 6 and ended with Paa. I have no reason to complain. I continue to get the opportunity to work with fantastic directors. I love working with new directors. I like to challenge myself as an actor. It would be terribly boring to be doing the same roles again. Now I am raring to take on the challenges in 2010.”

He has almost wrapped up Ashutosh Gowariker’s Khelenge Hum Jee Jaan Se. Commenting on his busy schedule for the forthcoming year, he says, “I am almost done. We shot it in Goa at a stretch. I start 2010 with a film produced by Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani, but it’s not called Crooked. It has no title. After that I go into Rohan Sippy’s film, then Dostana 2, followed by Abbas-Mastan’s film, which is the official remake of The Italian Job. Finally, at the end of 2010, I’ll go into Neeraj Pandey Special Chabbis. I saw Neeraj’s A Wednesday and loved it. He’s a very no-nonsense director. He doesn’t believe in frills. What he has written for me is very exciting. Is that a lot? No I have always had 4-5 releases per year. All my years have been packed. Only Raavana required more time because of Mani’s illness.”

Abhishek admits he’s worried by his father’s workload. He says, “Any son would be worried. I am no different. Having said that, as his fan and co-actor, I am glad I get to see him quite often in movies. But at the same time I think he’s just starting. After doing five films with him, I can say with some authority that what we have seen so far is just the tip of the iceberg.”

MAKING WAVES: Priyanka Chopra with Arindam Chaudhuri

TIMES NEWS NETWORK (BOMBAY TIMES; December 21, 2009)

Management guru Arindam Chaudhuri’s latest blockbuster book, Discover The Diamond In You is creating records and the latest to join The Discover The Diamond In You fan club is Bollywood diva Priyanka Chopra!

Says Priyanka, “This is that one book that every Indian should read to get inspired and feel empowered. It’s certainly my new year’s gift to all my friends! I could relate to every page in the book and the examples. The best part of the book is there is no moral lecture and it does not recommend any kind of dependence on the unknown or destiny. Arindam offers a practical, do-it-yourself logical guide to success. I totally loved it and I think being from the world of films, it’s a must for every aspiring actor to retain his or her sanity and know the path to success. No wonder ‘You are a diamond’ is the new way to compliment now!” Even in cricket stadiums one can see placards like ‘Dhoni you are a diamond’ these days. Says publisher Piyush Chawla, “Despite the affordable Rs 150, price of the book, we recovered Rs 25 lakh advance we gave Arindam in the first week itself.” And never before has an Indian author’s book sold 1 lakh copies in less than 10 days, leaving the publisher running to print more in record time. All Arindam has to say is, “I want to reach out to every household with this book and I hope the entire country discovers the diamond in themselves.”
BOOKWORMS: Professor Arindam Chaudhuri and Shah Rukh Khan
SRK was in Delhi to release Arindam’s book on self-discovery, and he had everyone in splits with his witty one-liners

JYOTHI PRABHAKAR Times News Network (BOMBAY TIMES; December 10, 2009)

The crowd was waiting for a motivational speech from Shah Rukh Khan, something on the lines of ‘My success mantra’ or ‘Discover the talent in you.’ After all, that was what Professor Arindam Chaudhuri had just spoken about for 20 odd minutes – and quite an impassioned talk it was too… About the people who’d influenced his life and motivated him – those like Sylvester Stallone in Rocky, and Amitabh Bachchan. “My book, Discover The Diamond In You, is an attempt to share with everyone the powerful principles of success that I’ve grown to passionately believe in,” he said, “This book is for everybody who wants to increase his or her productivity in life and work, everybody who wants to be better.”
But trust Shah Rukh to do the unconventional. He took to the stage and said, “I was inspired by Rocky too. I wanted to be a porn star! (You see, Sylvester Stallone was one early on in his career). The witty-as-ever SRK went on, “I’m going to work very hard, positively, and with clarity, to be a porn star.” He did later speak about hard work and honesty and things that motivate people to succeed, but SRK, who’d come from Mumbai to release Discover The Diamond In You, a motivating, self-discovery book by Arindam, asked everyone to read it, and said, “Main bhi padhoonga. Next time you hear about me, I’ll be the world’s biggest porn star.”
But Shah Rukh has not been quite so witty in the foreword to the book, where he’s said, “I believe success is a wonderful experience, but not always one from which we acquire wisdom or knowledge… which is why success, whether deserving or not, can be enjoyed, but not passed on.” He goes on to say, in the foreword that “Success is never final, just like failure is never fatal!” And this, coming from someone like as successful a man as him, must be rich advice!

LOOKING AHEAD: Neha Dhupia
Neha Dhupia reveals her filmi fundas in a candid chat with BT

HARSHADA REGE (BOMBAY TIMES; December 2, 2009)

You have been a part of many multi-starrers, is that a formula for success?
If there was a formula for success I would pay pots and pots of money and buy it (laughs). But seriously, I feel that while choosing your films, all one needs to do is follow your gut feeling and have faith in the project.

You tried your hand at some unconventional stuff with Ek Chalis Ki Last Local, Mithya and Dasvianiya. What kind of response did you get for them? And are you going to be part of more such films?
I have got a fabulous response for all the different cinema that I have attempted, and am looking forward to a lot more in the future. My film Raat Gayi, Baat Gayi? just won the viewers choice award at a film festival. That will be my next release after De Dana Dan. I agree it’s a mixed bag, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.

How important are hits to you?
While making a film we put in a lot of hardwork, and the only way it gets appreciated is when the audience views it and it becomes a hit… unless the critics are really kind (laughs).

After doing realistic and masala movies, do you want to see yourself doing an absolute rom-com kind of movie?
Yes, I would love to, I am screaming out loud that is my most favourite genre. I hope someone’s listening. But on a serious note, I have done one that’s in the same space… it’s called Pappu Can’t Dance Saala and will be releasing soon.

You and boyfriend Ritwik Bhattacharya have been going steady for some time now. So, are wedding bells in the offing?
Not at all!
THIS IS ME: Sonal Sehgal

Sonal Sehgal would rather go with what her heart says

DEEPALI DHINGRA (BOMBAY TIMES; December 1, 2009)



When the going gets tough, the tough get going. And that’s exactly what Sonal Sehgal had to do, after waiting eons for her film Aashayein to release. The Nagesh Kukunoor film where she stars opposite John Abraham got delayed so much, that Sonal decided she could not wait any longer and signed her next film Radio. “It was six months after the music launch of Aashayein and I thought to myself that if I keep sitting at home, I’ll probably forget how to act!” she laughs. Of course, that doesn’t mean she isn’t disappointed about her first film being delayed so much. “It’s my first film, so it’s naturally very close to my heart. Plus it’s a beautiful story. When I asked Nagesh last when it would release, he said ‘soon’, so I’m waiting for that to happen soon,” she smiles. On the other hand, she’s a firm believer in destiny and believes that whatever has happened, has happened for the best. Says Sonal, “Since Aashayein got delayed, people don’t have any pre-conceived notions about me yet, and that’s why I was able to sign such diverse films as Radio and Jaane Kahan Se Aayi Hai.” Talk about Radio where she’s paired opposite Himesh Reshammiya and we can’t help but ask if she was advised against taking up the role by anyone. “If the director has such faith in Himesh, then who am I to judge?” she dodges the question diplomatically, and then laughs, “Anyway, I rarely listen to people’s advice. I want my success as well as failure to be credited to me alone,” she adds. But the actress is kicked about her role in the film. “It’s a contemporary look at relationships,” she says, adding that anyone who’s been in a relationship would identify with the film. “I play a girl who gets divorced from her husband but the habit of the relationship is hard to let go for her,” she explains her role. With so much work in her kitty, Sonal is glad that all the hard work and patience is finally paying off. “We make plans for our lives but God always has bigger, better plans for us,” she says with a smile.

Touchwood, we say!


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