FLASHBACK | 1 September, 2023
(From our issue dated 5th September, 1998)


Navchitra Productions’ Maharaja (UA) is a fantasy film. A boy, endowed with divine powers, is brought up in a jungle because his life is in danger in the palace in which he was born. An over-ambitious and wicked uncle of the boy wants to kill him so that he can usurp all his wealth. The jungle boy befriends the wild animals in the forests, who ultimately help him to wipe out his menacing uncle and his cronies. There’s also a girl who is madly in love with the wonder-boy.

The film has a lavish making and a lot of interaction between human beings and animals. But several of the scenes involving animals have been executed through computer graphics and they (graphics) are quite poor. That is to say, the audience immediately gets the impression that the human-animal interaction is fake. While the scenes showing animals will be liked by kids, the youth and the older generation will not really fancy them, if only because of the shoddy computer graphics. What’s more, the fantasy drama, especially the angle of divine power, will not find favour with everybody since the film’s stars have an image of their own.

The first half is quite nice with several light-hearted and comic scenes. But the film takes quite a drastic turn after interval. The second half has very few light moments and plenty of continuity jerks. The proceedings then become dull. The pre-climax is poor and so is the climax (with birds and elephants). Dialogues are commonplace.

Govinda does a fairly good job in a relatively serious role. Manisha Koirala hams throughout the film. She seems to be least interested in her work, and that shows. She has not even looked very pretty. A part of her dubbing is also not in her voice. Manisha needs to take a lot of care if she has to live up to the position she has reached. Salim Ghouse makes an irritating villain. Raj Babbar is wasted. Shakti Kapoor’s comedy is the best thing in the film, but he gets little scope after interval. Aroona Irani acts ably. Prem Chopra and Ishrat Ali lend good support. Shashikala fails to impress. Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Monty, Kunika, Amrit Pal, Aparajita, Sudhir, Mac Mohan, Dinesh Hingoo and the others lend fair support.

Anil Sharma’s direction is inconsistent — good at some places but dull at other places. He also resorts to too many cinematic liberties. On the music side, the title song is very nice and so is its picturisation. The other songs are like fillers. Camerawork is effective. Sets are opulent. Action scenes are fair. The lion fight is weak because it looks obviously farcical.

On the whole, Maharaja is an ordinary fare for small centres.

Released on 4-9-’98 at Novelty and 15 other cinemas of Bombay thru Aditya Films. Publicity: very good. Opening: fairly good. …….Also released all over except in Bihar. Opening was very good in U.P., East Punjab, Bengal and Rajasthan (1st day Jaipur 2,04,382/- from 4 cinemas, very good) but dull in C.I.


Tina Films International’s Mere Do Anmol Ratan is the story of a lady who has not been able to conceive a child for years after her marriage. When she does finally deliver a child, a catastrophe takes place in the hospital in which she delivers, so that she is forced to raise two new-borns instead of one. Because of a mix-up, she, or for that matter, nobody knows which of the two is her child. Finally, after many years, it is revealed that both the children have been fathered by the same person, that is to say, they are step-brothers. In the meantime, both the guys also fall in love with one girl. Besides the identity problem, the question of who should get the girl and who should sacrifice is also resolved in the climax. The story resembles (to quite an extent) that of Sham Ghansham.

The biggest drawback of the film is that a sensitive story idea has been treated in too frivolous a manner. The intention must have been to make the film a comedy but the story has too serious a base to be taken lightly. For instance, the mystery of who (among the two) is the lady’s actual son is hardly a matter to be made fun of. In fact, such comedy will not be digested by the audience. The climax is predictable and ineffective.

Arshad Warsi and Mukul Dev deliver average performances. Namrata Shirodkar is dull. Sadashiv Amrapurkar confuses shouting (at the top of his voice) for comic acting. He gets unbearable after a point. Kader Khan is alright. Reema gives a restrained performance. Johny Lever raises a bit of laughter and so does Dinesh Hingoo. Pramod Moutho is so-so.

Direction is average. Had K. Ravi Shankar handled the subject as an emotional drama (emotions are his forte), the film would have had a different colour altogether. Dialogues are witty but only at places. Music is generally functional although a couple of songs are melodious. Camerawork is quite good. Emotions fall flat.

On the whole, Mere Do Anmol Ratan is a non-starter.

Released on 4-9-’98 at Liberty and 7 other cinemas of Bombay thru V.V. Films. Publicity: fair. Opening: poor. …….Also released all over except in Rajasthan. Opening was shockingly dull everywhere.


The Central Circuit Cine Association will soon have a premises of its own in Jaipur. A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of the CCCA in Jaipur on 4th September. Reportedly, a building on Ashok Marg is likely to be purchased by the Association.

A five-member committee has been formed to negotiate for the purchase of the said or any other building. The committee has Kishinchand Janiani as its convenor, and Trilok Singh, Naraindas Mukhija, Ramdhan Mamoria and Baba (D.P.) Ramdeo as its members.


Delhi-U.P. distributor Bedi has knocked the doors of the Delhi high court for getting an order directing producers Vashu Bhagnani and Sheetal Jain to effect delivery of Bade Miyan Chote Miyan to him for Delhi-U.P.

It may be mentioned here that the producers had sold the distribution rights of the film to another distributor, G.D. Mehta, when Bedi allegedly defaulted in paying his under-production instalments. But Bedi is now keen on distributing this Amitabh starrer (BMCM) himself. Bedi filed the case on 3rd September and it was heard on 4th. The producers have been given two days to file their replies.


A non-cognisable offence was lodged against Naseeruddin Shah for verbally abusing Deepak, the son of Jamnalal Jhaveri, producer of Paltan. Deepak allegedly asked Naseeruddin Shah to return the Rs. 1 lakh the actor owed Deepak’s father, when the actor abused him. The complaint alleges that Naseeruddin walked out of Jhaveri’s Paltan after receiving a signing amount of Rs. 1 lakh. Naseer, on his part, says, he didn’t walk out of the film but rather the film was shelved.


Asha Parekh was unanimously re-elected president of the Cine & TV Artistes’ Association for 1998 and 1999 at the first meeting of the newly elected executive committee of the Association, held on 23rd August. Raza Murad was re-elected vice president, and Ram Mohan, general secretary. Dara Singh and Dharmesh Tiwari were elected treasurer and assistant secretary respectively.

Amrish Puri and S.S. Randhawa were co-opted on the executive committee.

Five sub-committees were also constituted viz. Dispute Settlement Committee (Amrish Puri – chairman, members – Satyen Kappu, Gajendra Chauhan, Dharmesh Tiwari and Shammi); Scrutiny Committee (Raza Murad – chairman, members – Javed Khan, Gajendra Chauhan, Manmoujee, Ali Khan and Yunus Perwaiz); Vigilance Committee (Raza Murad – chairman, members – Deep Dhillon, Ali Khan, Gajendra Chauhan and Javed Khan); Care Committee (members – Dara Singh, Satyen Kappu, Deep Dhillon and Ali Khan); Public Relations Committee (members – Raza Murad and Gajendra Chauhan).


The Action Committee Against Rampant Cable & Other Piracy has nominated the following six members to the Special Cell which will interact with the police in matters relating to piracy: G.P. Shirke, K.D. Shorey, N.N. Sippy, U.A. Thadani, Shyam Shroff and Pappu Verma.

Bombay commissioner of police R.H. Mendonca has nominated deputy commissioner (economic offences wing) A.D. Shinde as the nodal officer in the matter.

In the meantime, R.H. Mendonca has set up a special cell in each police station to deal with video piracy. The special cell will be headed by the PSI (Preventive) of the police station. He will receive complaints relating to video piracy and showing of films for which copyrights have not been received by the cable operators, and take suitable legal action.


The government issued the Prasar Bharati ordinance on 29th August after president K.R. Narayanan finally put his signature on it. The cabinet had cleared the same on 26th. The ordinance restores all those provisions which were part of the original Prasar Bharati Act of 1990. It restores the 22-member Parliamentary Committee and 14-member Broadcasting Council. It has also limited the retiring age of the chief executive officer of Prasar Bharati to 62 years, which paves the way for removing S.S. Gill who is 72 years old.

S.S. Gill, as he had announced earlier, moved the Delhi high court on 2nd September against the ordinance. He filed a writ petition challenging the new ordinance. He has challenged the constitutional validity of the ordinance and termed the government action as mala fide. A division bench of the high court comprising Justice R.C. Lahoti and Justice C.K. Mahajan issued show cause notices to the secretaries of information and broadcasting, law and justice, cabinet secretary, Rashtrapati Bhavan and the Prasar Bharati Corporation to reply within four weeks. The next hearing has been fixed for 14th October. However, the court said that any appointment made by the government to the post of CEO would be subject to the final order on the writ petition.

The court asked Gill’s counsel, Kapil Sibal, how the ordinance was mala fide and who were the persons interested in seeking Gill’s ouster. In this regard, Gill submitted an affidavit on 3rd September, naming I & B miniser Sushma Swaraj and state minister for I & B, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi. The matter will be decided in the court on 7th September.


The government has appointed All India Radio director-general O.P. Kejriwal as the new chief executive officer of Prasar Bharati, till a new final appointment is made.


Subhash Ghai is the first producer who has gone in for a comprehensive insurance cover, for his new film TAAL. The policy is the direct result of eight months of negotiations between Mukta Arts’ Parvez Farooqui and United India Insurance Co. Ltd. The policy provides a cover for the expenses incurred by Ghai due to the death (either by illness or by accident) of any of the film’s principal artistes viz. Anil Kapoor, Akshaye Khanna and Aishwarya Rai. The cover is also extended to cover the expenses incurred for postponement and deferment of any shooting schedule due to natural calamity, act of God, illness and/or accident of the principal artistes (the above three, besides other stars) and technicians, fire and allied perils, burglary, theft or any mishap during or before the shooting schedule including terrorist risk.

A separate policy will cover loss/damage of sets, wardrobes, costumes, machinery, equipments owned or hired, raw stock/exposed negatives whilst stored and/or lying in the custody of the producer or stored by him in any laboratory or processing unit in India due to accidental loss or damage, natural calamities, act of God, fire and allied perils, burglary, theft and terrorist risks.

Yet another policy provides a cover for the loss of money in transit (i.e. whilst being carried to the location and/or stored at the residence or at location) up to a single limit of Rs. 5 lakh.

Further, more than 200 people connected with the film will be covered up to Rs. 2 lakh each, against death, permanent total or partial disablement.

Moreover, a Third Party Liability policy will cover the expenses incurred due to damage to a third party property as well as up to Rs. 10 lakh for bodily injury to a third party. The policy covers all risks due to accidents to a third party, up to a total of Rs. 40 lakh.


Drive In cinema in Ahmedabad completed its silver jubilee this week. The management has planned several events to celebrate the occasion. The cinema, which began exhibiting films on 6th September, 1973, has been tremendously popular with the cinegoers in the walled city.


Sangeeta Cinema reopened in Aurangabad on 23rd September with Dil Se... Owned by Savera group, it has a seating capacity of 914 and is equipped with Dolby DTS sound system.

The reopening function was attended by distributors and exhibitors of Nizam circuit. It was presided over by Uttam Singh Pawar. The formal opening was done by Haribhau Bagade, food and civil supplies minister of Maharashtra. Moreshwar Save welcomed the guests and also felicitated some of them.


Tips Films’ Jab Pyaar Kisise Hota Hai completed 100 days of its run on 29th August all over. Directed by Deepak Sareen, the film stars Salman Khan, Twinkle Khanna, Namrata Shirodkar (special appearance), master Aditya Narayan, Farida Jalal, Saeed Jaffrey and Anupam Kher. Music: Jatin Lalit. Writer: Honey Irani.


Twentieth Century Fox will celebrate the majestic success of Titanic with a party on 7th September at The Taj, Bombay.


Anil Sharma, director of Maharaja, was hospitalised a week back in a private nursing home in Bombay for an eye ailment. He is fine now and was discharged on 4th September.

As A Retaliatory Measure….

In an extremely callous and condemnable move on his part, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh refused to discuss the demands of the M.P. film industry on 1st September in Bhopal. The incident, criticised by one and all, occurred when a delegation comprising eminent personalities of the M.P. film trade called on him after a rally of the trade was disrupted by the police.

The rally was organised on September 1 with an aim to draw the government’s attention to the problems plaguing film business in the state and the government’s anti-film industry policies. The rally saw the trade in its full strength, with over 1,000 people from all areas of the state participating in it. A state-wide bandh of film-related activities was also observed on that day.

The rally, which set off from Rangmahal Cinema in Bhopal, consisted of such eminent personalities as Santosh Singh Jain, Vijay Rathi, Ramesh Sureka, Vinod Malhotra, Dilip Mudliar, Jitendra Jain, O.P. Goyal, Ramkisan Kasat, Bharat Khajanchi, Uttam Nahar, M.M. Jain, J.P. Chowksey, Loonkaran Parikh, Hemant Shah, Joharilal Jhanjharia and others. It was planned to terminate the rally at Vidhan Sabha Bhavan in the city. Unfortunately, the police forced it to a halt mid-way. Subsequently, it was decided that a delegation of industry representatives would leave for the chief minister’s office and present him a memorandum of demands. But the chief minister’s refusal to even see the delegation irked the trade people to a great extent. Later, two separate delegations met the state leader of opposition, Vikram Varma, as well as M.P. governor Bhai Mahavir, both of whom responded favourably to the demands made by the delegation.

Finally, in a meeting held at Rangmahal cinema at 6 p.m., the trade decided to embark on an intensive course of action to display its protest. The following resolutions were adopted by CCCA at the meeting:

(i) That the entire film industry of the state of M.P. strongly condemns the negative approach of the state government and the humiliating approach towards CCCA;

(ii) it was further decided to close the cinema theatres in the state of M.P. on and from 17-9-’98 indefinitely till further decision;

(iii) that the distributors of C.P., C.I. & Rajasthan regions will not take delivery of the prints for release on and from 17-9-’98 and will also not supply the same to the exhibitor-members within Madhya Pradesh;

(iv) that if any exhibitor violates the decision of indefinite closure, then the entire trade will perpetually stop dealing with the violator.

It was also decided to hold protest rallies in various centres of the state.


Is Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh playing hide-n-seek with the M.P. film trade? So it would seem, going by what he did on September 1 and 2.

The M.P. film industry, which observed a bandh on 1st, was scheduled to meet the CM the same day to apprise him of the problems facing it. But although the representatives had sought an earlier appointment, Singh chose not to meet the delegation of leaders who waited for more than an hour outside his chamber. The disgruntled delegation sought another appointment for the following day but even on that day. Digvijay Singh did the vanishing trick. Even while the leaders kept waiting outside his chamber, Singh ‘escaped’ from the back door!

One wonders why Singh chose to do what he did. One source informs us that the CM is repaying the industry for its own wrongs. Reportedly, the industry leaders had on an earlier occasion fixed an appointment with him but did not turn up at the appointed time. Nor did they inform him of the cancellation!

If the above is true, one may be reminded of the Dreamgirl song — Luka chhupi khelen aao — to describe the game being played by Digvijay Singh’s government and Santosh Singh’s CCCA. Maybe, the CCCA can complain by borrowing from the old hit, Bade badle se sarkar nazar aate hain. To which the govt. may reply: Hum to bas aap ki tarah bhaag jaate hain!

Rajasthan In Grip Of Election Fever

With just a little more than a fortnight to go for the elections to the most powerful film association — the Central Circuit Cine Association — the heat is building up. Until last week, it seemed as if the elections this year would be a cold affair. But the scenario has changed today.

Distributors and exhibitors of Rajasthan seem to have contracted the election fever the maximum. This fever is sure to spread to C.P. Berar and C.I. from Rajasthan. A good many nominations are being changed in Jaipur so that votes do not go waste. The election this time will be held in Nagpur on 27th September and, therefore, people who will not be attending the election and the annual general meeting before it, are transferring their nominations in favour of those who will be attending.

From Rajasthan alone, there may be a record number of contestants this year. Besides Santosh Singh Jain, Nandu Jalani, Trilok Singh, Kishanchand Jain and Mohan Godha, the other likely candidates are Ramdhan Mamoria, his son, Rajendra, Baba Ramdeo (or his son Akhilesh), Kishinchand Janiani (or Prem Janiani), Chandrashekhar Chowdhry, Liyakat Ali, Sandeep Bhandari and Narendra Sharma.

The election excitement this year is being interpreted as the desire for change. Although CCCA president Santosh Singh Jain enjoys immense popularity among his members, many of them are now looking for freshness in the working of the Association. The recent fiasco of the Madhya Pradesh industry bandh is being viewed with scepticism by Jain’s detractors who have seized the opportunity to pin the blame on him and his lack of planning.

With things being as they are, it is very likely that there may be a heavy turnout of voters in Nagpur this year. It may be recalled that the last time the CCCA elections were held in Nagpur in 1992, the battle between the ruling Santosh Singh Jain group and the opposition had ended in a tie with each bagging eight seats.

Will there be a similar excitement this year? Only time will tell.


I have a story and plenty of money. Can I enter the industry as a producer?

– Just a story and lots of money are no guarantee that you will succeed as a producer. There have been countless cases of moneyed men going abegging to their own artistes — for dates which they (artistes) have cancelled.

Why are stars and directors always insecure?

– Unsuccessful stars and directors have the feeling of insecurity because they have to prove themselves. Successful stars and directors are insecure because they are scared of losing their position. They are also insecure about a competitive star/director succeeding.

Your editorial last week made a mention of script-doctoring in India? What would a script doctor’s charges be?

– It would vary from case to case. But, paying a few lakhs to a script doctor for an objective script analysis is worth it when you consider the cost of films today — 6, 7 and even 8 crore.



Playback singer and TV show host Sonu Nigam has turned a music director with Icon Entertainment’s Yahi To Pyar Hai, a TV serial being produced by Jatin Kumar and Deepak Mukut and directed by Neeraj Pathak. He recorded two songs recently for the serial at Joshna Recording Studio, in the voices of Kavita Krishnamoorthy and himself. The serial stars Sanjay Suri, Aditi Gowitrikar, Kamal Chopra, Madan Jain, Arun Bali, Shraddha, Lucky, Zeeshan Ali, Mahesh Bhatt and Aroon Bakshi.


* The preview theatre-turned-cinema, Glamour, Bandra, Bombay, drew all shows full in advance in its first week (8 days). In some shows, there was block booking for the entire 46-seater cinema which is screening GODZILLA (English) in daily 5 shows.

*PYAAR TO HONA HI THA has collected 2,14,953/- in 6th week, and a total of 18,18,707/- in 6 weeks at Novelty, Lucknow.

* DULHE RAJA has created a theatre record by collecting 33,615/- in 8th week at Samrat, Raipur. Total for 8 weeks: 6,69,717/-.

* SATYA (tax-free) has created another Khandesh record by collecting 1,14,139/- in 2nd week at Ashok, Jalgaon.

* TITANIC (E.) has created a South Gujarat record by collecting 2,82,306/- (gross) in 1st week at Shree, Vapi.

* TITANIC (E.) has created history at two cinemas owned by Grandhi Bros. of Vijayawada. At Dasapalla Chitralaya in Visakhapatnam, it has collected 60,39,900/- in 154 days, and at Urvashi 70mm, Vijayawada, it has collected 69,31,142/- in 175 days!


* Govindbhai Patel’s DESH RE JOYA DADA PARDESH JOYA has created history at Citylight, Palanpur, by collecting a total of 28,19,614/- in 25 weeks (20 weeks with tax, and 5 weeks tax-free). It has fetched a share of 12,75,000/-. No film since the inception of the cinema in 1951 has celebrated silver jubilee there or even completed 100 days!….. At Roopraj, Pethapur, the film has collected a total of 4,07,712/- in 5 weeks (with tax) and is still going strong. It has already fetched a share of 2,75,000/- in 5 weeks.


Producer-director Rakesh Roshan will leave for Bangkok on 9th September to finalise locationis for his KAHO NAA…PYAAR HAI and will return on 16th.

Producer-director Subhash Ghai is in Delhi, shooting TAAL, and will proceed to Chamba from there for further shooting.

Producer Boney Kapoor left for the USA on 4th September.

Bihar distributor Gopal Bharatiya is in town.

Mr. Ramesh Bhandari of Rahul Movies, Jaipur, is at Hotel Evergreen (386-4214/386-3489).


Maha Sad!

Producer Naraindas Mukhija had a unique experience with his Bihar distributor, Gopal Bharatiya. Mukhija was very secretive about his Maharaja and did not show it to anybody, not even to his distributors, before release. But even while a trial show of the film was on at Rajkamal a week before the film’s theatrical release (it was being seen by the producer, the director and their families), the Bihar distributor reached the preview theatre unannounced. The producer was taken aback but, luckily for him, when the distributor reached Rajkamal, it was interval time. The producer refused to start the second half of the film lest his distributor also saw it. Finally, the distributor got the hint that he was there uninvited and that that was creating the problem, so he left (and the trial show continued thereafter). But, but….. that was not all.

The agitated distributor forthwith sent the producer a telegram, stating that he was not interested in releasing his film as the price increase (the price had been hiked by the two of them mutually, some days before this incident) was not acceptable to him. Many moments and a couple of days of tension later, the producer showed the distributor the trial show. But after seeing the film, the distributor refused to take delivery at the enhanced price despite earlier having agreed to the new price. He asked for delivery at the original price. Mukhija did not succumb to the pressure even if that meant Maharaja not opening in Bihar this week. On his part, Bharatiya says, “I agreed to a price hike because Mr. Naraindas Mukhija told me, he had made a fantastic film and had over-spent in doing so. But both his claims proved to be false when I saw the trial. Why should I pay for a Mercedes and take delivery of a second-hand Fiat?

‘Maharaja’ Premiere That Never Was!

Have you heard of a premiere show being organised, invitation cards being distributed and then, the show being cancelled? Well, that’s what happened this week. A premiere show of Maharaja was organised on 3rd September at Yeshwantrao Chavan auditorium in Bombay by Silver Screen Services and the film’s Bombay distributors, Aditya Films. The show was, however, cancelled after the cards had been distributed to the invitees. But the organisers had no courtesy to even inform the news of the cancellation to the invitees, some of whom made it to the auditorium only to be told by the security men there that the show was not on. Yes, no representative of Aditya Films or Silver Screen Services was in sight at the premiere venue.

The security guys told the guests that their auditorium was under repairs and it couldn’t possibly have been fixed as the venue of the premiere show. Another source tells us that the organisers failed to get the charity commissioner’s permission for tax-exemption as it was supposed to be an invitee show. Whatever the reason, the silence on the part of the organisers was disgusting. Or did they think, nobody would have, in any case, taken their invitations seriously and, therefore, there was no need to inform them of the cancellation? And to think of it, Aditya Films is releasing the film in Bombay. If this is how a premiere show was handled, how will the exploitation of the film be handled is anybody’s guess.