Mumbai: Comedies ruled the roost in 2007

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Mumbai, Dec 14: Comedies ruled the roost in 2007 with entertaining and formula films laughing their way to the box office even as the comeback of stalwarts like actor-MPs Dharmendra, Vinod Khanna and Madhuri Dixit before the archlights was well received despite their films failing to set the cash counters ringing.

Another interesting feature was that as many as three films had the backdrop of sports to dwell on the subjects of patriotism and women's emancipation (Chak de India), protecting self esteem in foreign land (Goal) and family bonding (Apne).

According to trade analyst Amod Mehra, 236 films were released till the first week of December. ''More or less the ratio of hits and flops remained the same. The trend was that only entertaining films found favour with the audience. Days of formula was back with hits such as 'Namastey London', 'Partner', 'Heyy Babyy', 'Bhoolbhullaiya', 'Jab We Met' and 'Om Shanti Om' all illogical movies which became big hits. The only sensible but different films which did well were 'Guru', 'Chak De India' and 'Bheja Fry','' he said.

The year 2007 truely belonged to the King Khan and Akshay Kumar as all their films set the box office ablaze, he added. Mr Mehra said till the end of this year 14 more films are scheduled to be released of which Aamir Khan's 'Taare Zameen Par' and Anees Bazmi's laugh riot 'Welcome' look promising.

The average grossers were 'Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd', 'Tara Rum Pum', 'Metro', 'Shootout at Lokhandwala', 'Cheeni Kum', 'Dhamaal', 'Aap Ka Suroor'.

Multistarrers like 'Salaam-E-Ishq', 'Eklavya', 'Shaka Laka Boom Boom', 'Jhoom Barabar Jhoom', 'Cash', 'Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag', 'Dus Kahaniya' failed to woo the audience to the theatres, Mr Mehra said, adding that the other flops were 'Nishabd', 'Saawariya', 'Aaja Nachle', 'Naqaab', 'Fool n Final', 'No Smoking', 'Khoya Khoya Chand' and 'Gandhi My Father'.

Mr Mehra said though producers always claim to have recovered their production cost and definition of a hit or flop has undergone a change, it is the distributor who loses heavily if the box office collections are not good.

The year also saw controversial films like 'Black Friday' and 'Parzania' released based on Mumbai's 1993 blasts conspiracy and Gujarat riots respectively. Actor Sarika won the National award for her performance in 'Parzania' this year.

Another highlight of the year was the media hype over the reported rivalry between Shah Rukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan. The hype was peaked when SRK was signed to host the third season of Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC), a show made hugely popular by the Big B when it first went on air in 2001.

While Kareena Kapoor, who was more in the news for her breakup with longtime boyfriend Shahid Kapur, came up with a creditable performance in the surprise hit of the year 'Jab We Met', a light hearted comedy.

Actor-MP Govinda returned to silver screen with 'Bhagambhag' in December 2006. This year, he consolidated his position and proved his mettle in what he was best at --comedy, with Salman Khan in David Dhawan's 'Partner'. However, his first release in 2007 multistarrer 'Salaam-e- Ishq' was a flop.

The year was not so good professionally for Mega superstar Amitabh Bachchan whose films like 'Nishabd', 'Cheeni Kum', where he is shown in relationships with women less than half his age, were rejected by his fans. While 'Jhoom Barabar Jhoom' where he made fleeting appearances as a street singer during the title song was also a resounding flop.

The biggest failure was the much hyped 'RGV Ke Sholay', remake of the evergreen film 'Sholay' where the actor played the role of Gabbar Singh, a role immortalised by the late Amjad Khan.

The high profile marriage of his son Abhishek with Aishwarya Rai, good reviews for the couple's film 'Guru' directed by Mani Ratnam and winning a National Award for 'Black' were some of the high points on Big B's personal front. While, his ailing mother Teji Bachchan continued to be in hospital for treatment.

Amitabh was also at the receiving end of administrations in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra for his controversial land deals in Barabanki and Pune.

Veterans like Dharmendra returned to silver screen after several years with 'Metro', his own home production 'Apne' and 'Johnny Gaddar'. While Vinod Khanna declared his intentions to start yet another innings in Bollywood with 'Risk'. Bollywood diva of the 90s Madhuri Dixit made a comeback after six years in 'Aaja Nachle'.

Another noted Marathi actress Ashwini Bhave who had debuted in Bollywood in Randhir Kapoor's 'Henna' also made a comeback after many years as actor-producer of Marathi thriller 'Kadachit'.

The year also saw films like 'Chak de India', 'Goal' and 'Apne' having theme of Hockey, Football and boxing to drive home the point of patriotism and women's emancipation, self-esteem in foreign land and family relationships respectively. 'Chak de..' was critically acclaimed and did well at the box office,'Goal' and 'Apne' were flops, says Mehra.

If audience lapped up different kinds of subjects, it gave a thumbs down to remakes. 'Ram Gopal Verma Ki Aag' and 'Victoria No 203' were among the few.

Reticient actors Ajay Devgan and Aamir Khan turned directors with 'U,Me and Hum' and 'Taare Zameen' Par respectively.

Shilpa Shetty hit the international headlines following an uproar over her being victim of racism on television reality show 'Big Brother'. However, euphoria has not enabled her to resurrect her career in Britain or Mumbai, trade sources feel.

Bollyood was stunned into silence when the long arm of the law finally caught up with its 'bad' boys Sanjay Dutt and Salman Khan on whom Rs 100 crore was riding. Sanjay Dutt was sentenced to six years' rigorous imprisonment under the Arms act in the Bombay serial bomb blasts case of 1993 and Salman Khan's bail was cancelled by a Jodhpur court in the black buck hunting case.

Bollywood heaved a sigh of relief when the legal ordeal of the actors ended, with the duo managing to secure bail.

An ugly controversy errupted when a Film Federation of India (FFI) jury selected 'Eklavya' to be India's entry into the foreign language category best film for the 80th Academy awards. Bhavna Talwar who directed 'Dharm' accused the jury of bias and challenged the selection of 'Eklavya' in the High Court. Even the court felt that the jury's decision was biased.

Year 2007 was bad for Bollywood's leading releases. Aishwarya Rai's only release this year was 'Guru' opposite Abhishek Bachchan who stole the limelight. The film was released two days before announcement of the couple's engagement. While Rani Mukherji did not have a good year with a string of flops like 'Tara Rum Pum', 'Laaga Chunri Mein Daag', 'Saawariya'. She was more in news for her alleged affair with filmmaker Aditya Chopra. Preity Zinta featured in 'Jhoom Barabar Jhoom', a dismal flop.

Celebrated music composer O P Nayyar, noted cinematographer K K Mahajan, yesteryear actress Vanmaladevi, noted Marathi actor Macchindra Kambli, noted character actors Satyen Kappu, Yunus Pervez were prominent among lumanaries who passed away this year.

In Marathi cinema, Ashwini Bhave's 'Kadachit', a thriller did well at the box office and was even released in Mumbai. Similarly, Ankush Chaudhary's 'Saade Maade teen' starring veteran Ashok Saraf, Bharat Jadhav and Makrand Anaspure, a remake of Chalt Ka Naam Gaadi was also a success.

The regional film industry continued to grapple with distribution and exhibition problems. Reema Amrapurkar, debutant filmmaker puts it, ''there is no unity among Marathi distributors. Newcomers have to wait to get their films released in theatres as there is monopoly of well known producers in theatres situated in areas where Marathi film audiences dominate.'' If last year, Zee Telefilms decided to venture in Marathi film production and distribution, it was the turn of Subhash Ghai to announce a Marathi film called 'Kaande Pohe' to be produced by Shreyas Talpade. Ghai also announced that he had taken over the rights of a Marathi film called 'Valu'. Zee also started a new movie channel dedicated entirely to Marathi cinema called 'Zee Talkies'.

Even at the Indian Panorama at 38th IFFI in Goa, Marathi films dominated with their variety of subjects -- be it Bipin Nadkarni's 'Evdhe se Abhaal', Vishal Bhandari's 'Kalchakra' or Mangesh Hadawale's 'Tingya'.

UNI

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