(From our issue dated 26th November, 1994)
Of Two Star-Sons
Reports filtering in from the snow-capped mountain resort of Dalhousie, where Vinod Khanna is shooting with son Akshaye for Himalayaputra, suggest, the boy is confidence personified in front of the camera. He is said to have a very mobile face.
Another son on the rise is Raaj Kumar’s Puru. Prakash Mehra has signed him for Kaayar. At the launching party of the film, held earlier this week, the boy was exuding all confidence minus the eccentricities of his father His Greek, Adonis-type looks make him look different. The cleft on his chin might well prove to be the centre of his appeal but, after all, how he fills up the screen is to be seen.
No Tall Claims
Nitin Desai, the young art director, is a happy and contented man. He is just back from Dalhousie after installing a 40-feet high Shiva statue for Himalayaputra, which took eight full days and scores of local labourers who carted it to an altitude of 9,700 feet. After the current schedule, the fibre-glass statue is to be dismantled and brought back to Bombay. Later, for another stint, it will be re-assembled at Dalhousie. Interestingly, the locals there, as well as the army people persuaded Vinod Khanna to let the statue stand, as it is, with the assurance that they would look after it. Vinod Khanna plans to install the statue at the main cinema in Bombay when the film is released.
ONLY FOR BIG SCREEN
Inspired by Hum Aapke Hain Koun..!, producer Mukesh Duggal has also decided not to release the video cassettes of Gopi Kishan. He has cancelled the agreements with Time (India Video) and ABC Exports (Overseas) after returning their instalments which he had received while the film was under-production. Mukesh will not only stall the release of its video cassettes, he will also not release Gopi Kishan in Overseas. That’s a brave man!
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One has often wondered about the logic of star prices. Here’s one more which defies all logic. The star in question is a current hotshot who charges anything between 40 and 50. A film of his, released very recently, could not recover 50 from its all-India distributors! Of course, the film in question is one from his earlier lot when he wasn’t so hot. But, so what?
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Rumours are rife that the Punjab government which had introduced the compound tax scheme in the state, may discontinue the same and revert to the old system. If this happens, distributors of Punjab who’ve acquired big films at fancy prices in the hope that their initial business would be fantastic (due to fixed compound tax), would be in for trouble. Maybe, they’ll plead helplessness and simply not take deliveries.
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COMPOUND TAX – COMPOUNDING PROBLEMS
The compound tax system introduced in Karnataka about two months back, is breaking the backs of exhibitors and distributors there. With the tax slab for Hindi films being high, only big star-cast films are able to bear the burden. Small star-cast and repeat-run films are going out of breath. Cinemas are paying tax from their pockets. And, on the other hand, distributors are not getting shares. If the situation does not improve, some cinemas may have no other option left but to close down. Ditto for distributors of Hindi films.
Weak Script, Weak At The Box-Office
The Gentleman had a lot of things going in its favour — Chiranjeevi and hit music to name only a couple of them. But yet, surprisingly, the film took an unenviable opening at most of the centres. Many attribute the poor opening to the English title coupled with the presence of a South hero, albeit popular among the Hindi film audience. This, to some extent, gave the wrong impression to the public that what was coming was a dubbed film. (That the title itself has no relevance to the story is an altogether different story.) What further added substance to the belief was the telecast (different release) of the ‘Roop suhana lagta hai’ song on satellite channels. The picturisation of the song has a typical South flavour about it, thereby adding to the impression that The Gentleman was a dubbed film.
Initial and opening apart, why did the film not pick up by word of mouth? What was responsible for the ordinary and poor collections at most of the places in the first week? What was wrong in the film?
To begin with, the flashback and suspense in the story was unwarranted. The hero, who plays a Robinhood type of character, robs the government of over 40 crore of rupees but the audience is not told (till the time of the flashback) why he is behaving the way he is behaving. Forty crore is no small amount by any standard and the bigness of the amount makes the suspense more irritating. All along, the audience feels cheated about the character and behaviour of the hero and is, to some extent, not ready to sympathise with him or, so to say, stand up for his deeds. When finally the reason for his behaviour is revealed — in his flashback, when he relates the story to the heroine (Juhi Chawla) — it is too late. By then, the audience has lost interest or almost so. Another drawback about the suspense: it is not strong enough to warrant an entire first half and a part of the second half to progress without its revelation. In other words, had the suspense been breathtaking, unique or novel, the audience may have overlooked the basic defect viz. the story moving without a direction (from the audience’s viewpoint) in the first half. But it is not so. Chiranjeevi loots the government because his younger brother and mother were forced to commit suicide. And why were they driven to take this extreme step? Because the brother is unable to get a seat in the medical college, in spite of being a brilliant student, because they can’t afford the high capitation fee. Surely, this routine reason (for the hero’s behaviour) doesn’t warrant a suspense of an hour-and-a-half.
Consider the romantic angle in the film. It is too lopsided to be true. The heroine is in love with the hero but the latter is least interested in her. Not that every successful film must have a romantic angle, but nothing in the routine story of The Gentleman warrants the omission of the romantic track. The makers, too, perhaps, realised this and, therefore, included romantic songs in dream sequences. This itself is a weak point. All the songs coming in dreams is unpalatable. Looking to Juhi Chawla’s image and standing today, her role in the film is pathetic. Why, some felt, Heera Rajgopal had a meatier role!
For a good drama, there must be a confrontation between good and evil and the ultimate triumph of good over evil. In The Gentleman, the evil force is Kulbhushan Kharbanda. But he virtually appears in the climax only, besides the flashback. The tussle all through the film is between Chiranjeevi and the police inspectors who are good and honest officers. There is no connection between the villain (Kulbhushan Kharbanda) and the police officers. Therefore, it is always a fight between good and good. The audience, in that sense, is confused about where its sympathy must lie since both the warring parties are noble.
The hero’s uncle stopping the hero (at the funeral pyre) from seeking revenge on the villain — and the hero agreeing — is one more weak link. It, in a way, weakens the hero’s character.
The film also abounds in illogicalities. Some of these can be overlooked as cinematic liberties, but not all of them. For instance, the hero is principled enough not to use his loot-money to fund someone’s education, but he does not mind constructing an entire educational institution with the loot-money! His heroism often relies too heavily on tricks rather than on heroic deeds. The toughest of tasks appears to be too easy for him. There have, of course, been many hits wherein the hero is shown as a one-man army but when a film lacks in entertainment value (as The Gentleman), these drawbacks become major irritants.
That The Gentleman is a remake of a Tamil hit is well-known. But even remakes have the individual stamp of the director. Unfortunately, The Gentleman does not have the stamp of its director, Mahesh Bhatt. In totality, it doesn’t look like a Mahesh Bhatt film. Opinions may differ about whether director Bhatt should be happy about this or unhappy. But looking to the box-office barometer, Mahesh Bhatt should actually feel thrilled that he did not leave his mark in the making of the remake.
YOU ASKED IT
Why are all big filmmakers also shifting to the small screen?
– Obviously, because there’s big money in the small screen.
What is Feroz Khan planning?
– He is finalising the cast for his next.
Is it true that Madhuri Dixit has hiked her price after Hum Aapke Hain Koun..!? Has she signed any new film?
– Yes, the no. 1 heroine has increased her price by more than 50%. So far, Madhuri hasn’t signed any film after the super-success of HUM AAPKE HAIN KOUN..!.
What is the future of the film industry?
– As good or as bad as the films that are being and will be made!