Bollywood sees a dull Diwali

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Mumbai, Oct 28: The Dream Merchants of Bollywood, who churn out fantasies to woo cinegoers, are feeling the heat this Diwali and tightening their purse-strings with several big-budget movies crashing at the box-office. The corporates, who have lately ventured into the film business in a big way, are also tightening their belts seeing the fate of several blockbusters. Industry sources said the artificial prices of projects and the big fees commanded by the top stars like Shah Rukh Khan, Akshay Kumar and Aamir Khan have dampened the spirits of the corporations. Eros International, the Indian film company and Big Films are bearing the brunt of the dwindling returns this year, with barely a few movies registering good profits.

So fluid is the situation in Bollywood that no big deals are being made after the debacle of the much-touted Abhishek Bachchan-- Priyanka Chopra starrer 'Drona' and Sanjay Dutt starrer 'Kidnap' adding to the list of about 80 films that failed to cover costs for distributors or were washed away in the first week itself, the sources said, adding even the biggest banner Yashraj Films had three flops in a row.

The corporations, facing a liquidity crunch, are in no mood to clinch any big deal or buy films for distribution at the moment.

They are adopting a wait and watch policy to decide on the next course of action after ascertaining the response to Karan Johar's 'Dostana', due for release next month, and Yashraj's Shah Rukh Khan starrer 'Rab ne bana di Jodi' and Aamir Khan's 'Ghajni', both scheduled for release in December.

Several big-budget films are lying unsold due to want of buyers for distribution rights after the colossal flops in the past few months of the year, considered to be one of the worst for the film trade. The sources said several new projects have been delayed or kept on hold as distributions deals are falling through with even a corporate backing out of big project it had taken for distribution.

The film, with top stars, is currently being shot in London, sources said, adding the company had struck a deal at an astronomical price but seeing to the fate of several films, it has now backed out of the project.

An industry bigwig feels that the worst is yet to come for Bollywood and the corporates are the architects of the impending disaster as they have inflated the prices of actors. Another insider says the situation is akin to the stock market, which has seen a freefall. ''A correction is needed and it will happen when stars reduce their remunerations,'' he said.

Incidentally, the big actors, who have extracted multi-crore remuneration from corporates, have lined up grand celebrations for Diwali.

All eyes are now pinned on the fate of Madhur Bhandarkar's 'Fashion' and Rohit Shetty's 'Golmaal Returns', releasing tomorrow.

The atmosphere in the film trade is all charged up and even a hit will spur up sentiments for the beleagured and cash-starved industry which has seen a 50 per cent dip in collections in 2008.

UNI

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