The ‘what has 2018 has left to give us’ Guide

Batti Gul Meter Chalu

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 21st Sept

Brief: Shree Narayan Singh from Toilet-Ek Prem Katha fame from last year brings us his latest outing, said to be based around the small electricity liability and the overpriced electricity bills given to small businesses in small towns of Indian . Shahid Kapoor plays a small time electricity thief paired opposite Shraddha Kapoor and Yami Gautam plays a lawyer.

Est Budget: 35-40 Crore

Daftest Rumour: In the stages was titled Battiya Bhuja Doh

Believable Trivia: Katrina Kaif, Ileana D’Cruz and Sonakshi Sinha were all approached by the role which was later taken by Shraddha Kapoor

Predicted Box Office Verdict:

  • 7-9 Crore (Opening Weekend)
  • 40 Crore (Total Collection)

Manto

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21ST Sept

Brief: Nandita Das’s biopic on the famous Urdu writer Saadat Hasan Manto played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui set India’s post-independence period, discovers the writer’s life between the years 1946-1950. Selected to compete in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival

Est Budget: 30-35 Crore

Daftest Rumour: The film was rejected by BJP supporters during the shoot for Manto’s move to Pakistan

Believable Trivia: Nawazuddin only charged Rs.1 as his charge fee

Predicated Box Office Verdict:

  • 2-3 Crore (Opening Weekend)
  • 10 Crore (Total Collection)

Sui Dhaaga

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28th Sept

Brief: Sharat Katariya from Dum Laga Ke Haisa fame returns with another drama with Varun Dhawan and Anushka Sharma. Based in Bhopal, aimed at promoting the country’s indigenous textile industries tangled with a love story between a tailor and an embroiderer played by Dhawan and Sharma.

Est Budget: 25-30 Crore

Daftest Rumour: Anushka Sharma is said to be playing a mother of three children in the film

Believable Trivia: Both the actors had apparently spend days to learn how to sew and embroil, and also operate the sewing machine.

Predicted Box Office Verdict:

  • 8- 10 Crore (Opening Weekend)
  • 50- 55 Crore(Total Collection)

Pataakha

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28th Sept

Brief: Vishal Bharadaj’s take on Charan Singh Pathik’s short story, Do Behnein, revolves around two sisters, Badki and Chhutki who grow up in a small village in Rajasthan and are constantly at war but when marriage separates them, they realise they can’t seem to live with or without each other.

Est Budget: 15-20 Crore

Daftest Rumour: Sanya Malhotra was casted only because of her fight attitude in Dangal

Believable Trivia: Was a planned project years ago with Priyanka Chopra and Parineeti Chopra

Predicated Box Office Verdict:

  • 2-3 Crore (Opening Weekend)
  • 20 Crore (Total Collection)

AndhaDhun

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5th Oct

Brief: Ayushmann Khurrana plays a blind piano teacher while on a lesson falls into the wrong scenario when a murder occurs which eventually leads to the question of his sight

Est Budget: 20-25 Crore

Daftest Rumour: Said to have some similarities with Kaabil

Believable Trivia:

  • Originally titled ‘Shoot the Piano Player’
  • Was planned with Neil Nitin Mukesh post Johnny Gaddar

Predicated Box Office Verdict:

  • 6-7 Crore (Opening Weekend)
  • 30-35 Crore (Total Collection)

Loveyatri

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5th Oct

Brief: Salman Khan launches his brother-in-law Aayush Sharma about a fun loving story on love blooming during the days of Navarati. Shot extensively in Gujrat and London, Ram Kapoor and Ronit Roy also star. Arbaaz and Sohail Khan also make cameos.

Est Budget: 25 – 28 Crore

Daftest Rumour: Shooting had stopped several times during the London schedule due to Aayush’s unprofessional attitude

Believable Trivia:

  • Salman was impressed with Abhiraj Minawala, Ali Abbas Zafar’s assistant that he offered him to direct this film
  • Said to renamed due the objections against using Navarati to the title LoveRatri

Predicted Box Office Verdict:

  • 7 – 8 Crore (Opening Weekend)
  • 20 – 25 Crore(Total Collection

Helicopter Eela

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12th Oct

Brief: Kajol is back with this urban comedy about an over-protective single mother who goes back to complete her education at college only to find out she is in the same class as her son played by Chauranga fame Riddhi Sen. This tounge-in-cheek comedy deals with unfulfilled ambitions and self-discovery. Directed by the Mardaani Pradeep Sarkar.

Est Budget: 10-15 Crore

Daftest Rumour: It was rejected by Rani Mukerjee as she didn’t want to do this film in the same year as Hitchki

Believable Trivia: Based on the Gujarati play Beta, Kaagdo

Predicted Box Office Verdict:

  • 5-7 Crore (Opening Weekend)
  • 15-17 Crore (Total Collection)

Badhaai Ho

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19th Oct

Brief: Dealing with the subject of Geriatric Pregnancy in an orthodox Indian suburban family, Ayushmann Khurrana, the new ‘people’s man’ plays the characters where his mother is pregnant when his own marriage is being arranged

Est Budget: 20-25 Crore

Daftest Rumour: During the shoot, locals had pretested about his ill thought of the film

Believable Trivia: Shot in a record time of 30 days

Predicted Box Office Verdict:

  • 7-10 Crore (Opening Weekend)
  • 40-45 Crore (Total Collection)

Namastey England

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19th Oct

Brief: Vipul Amrutlal Shah returns to the director seat after years with his sequel to his 2007 hit Namastey London. This time with the fresh pairing of Arjun Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra, keeping the flavour of the prequel alive the film has been shot around Punjab, Brussells, Paris and London.

Est Budget: 35-37 Crore

Daftest Rumour: Originally planned as Namastey Canada, due to permissions not being allotted for Canada, the script was changed to England.

Believable Trivia: The film touches on the sensitive issue of illegal immigration.

Predicted Box Office Verdict:

  • 5-7 Crore (Opening Weekend)
  • 35 – 37 Crore(Total Collection)

Bhaiyyaji Superhit

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19th Oct

Brief: Been in the making for years, this Sunny Deol starrer is finally making its way to the screens. Started in 2011, the film had drawbacks due over budgeting, financial issues, date issues and of course artist conflicts. The film is about a gangster and his attempt of becoming a movie star. Sunny Deol for the first time in his career plays a double role for the first time

Est Budget: 40-45 Crore

Daftest Rumour: The producer was thinking of replacing actresses Ameesha Patel and Priety Zinta during the making because their dead-out market

Believable Trivia:

  • Preity Zinta, Arshad Warsi, Shreyas Talpade and Ameesha Patel have all not received their final payment and have refused to promote the film
  • Sunny Deol has said to give the backing of his production house, Vijeta Films, as distributors for the film

Predicted Box Office Verdict:

  • 3-5 Crore (Opening Weekend)
  • 10 Crore (Total Collection)

5 Weddings

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26th Oct

Brief: Nargis Fakhri plays an American journalist who travels to India for a magazine feature on the multiple Indian wedding ceremonies. Film deals with weddings but also the community of transgender people called a Hijra who dance at these Indian weddings.

Est Budget: 25-30 Crore

Daftest Rumour: Rajkummar’s notion to saying yes was a big cheque

Believable Trivia: The film was initially set to be filmed in 2008 with the director  Namrata Singh Gujral and Harbhajan Mann in the lead

Predicted Box Office Verdict:

  • 7-9 Crore (Opening Weekend)
  • 20 Crore (Total Collection)

Bazaar (yet to be confirmed)

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26th Oct

Brief: Nikhil Advani writes and produces a dark take on a stock market clash in which deals with greed, politics and business. Film introduces ventran Vinod Mehra’s son Rohan Mehra

Est Budget: 35-40 Crore

Daftest Rumour: A take on Oliver Stone’s Wall Street

Believable Trivia: The film was ready and completed a little before Sacred Games had taken off

Predicted Box Office Verdict:

  • 7-9 Crore (Opening Weekend)
  • 30-35 Crore (Total Collection)

Thugs of Hindostan

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8th Nov

Brief: This year’s mammoth Diwali release, Aamir Khan returns with Dhoom 3 Director – Vijay Krishna Acharya in this Yash Raj Production based on the novel Confessions of a Thug. About a gang of thugs who are posed by a challenge by the British Empire in India during the early 20th Century. Aamir playing the gang leader, Amitabh Bachchan teams with Khan for the first time who plays his adoptive father. Katrina Kaif and Fatima Sana Sheikh are in the female leads.

Est Budget: 210-250 Crore

Daftest Rumour: Oddly, there were rumours that the film was a biopic on Aamir Khan

Believable Trivia:

  • Hrithik Roshan and Deepika Padukone initially had rejected the lead roles
  • There were news of Katrina and Fatima clashing over the extension of their role
  • Security was complete tight on set so no pictures of the characters were leaked

Predicted Box Office Verdict:

  • 155 – 175 Crore (5 Day Weekend)
  • 350 – 375 Crore (Total Collection)

2.0

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29th Nov

Brief: Sequel to the 2010 hit Enthiran aka Robot, Shankar continues the episodes of Dr Vaseegaran and his robot Chitti. Akshay Kumar is said to be playing the role of scientist in the film and the main antagonist, Amy Jackson also joins the cast opposite Rajnikanth. The film has been shot entirely in 3D and said to be Shankar’s most expensive film yet.  The film has already changed its release date twice due to its issues in post-production.

Est Budget: 450-500 Crore

Daftest Rumour: Akshay is said to be playing the role of a pigeon in the form of a human

Believable Trivia:

  • Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kamal Haasan, Aamir Khan, Hrithik Roshan and Vikram Chiyaan were considered the for the role that was later given to Akshay Kumar
  • Akshay Kumar is said to have 12 different looks in the film
  • Amitabh and Abhishek Bachchan have cameos in the film

Predicted Box Office Verdict:

  • 15-20 Crore (Hindi Version) (Opening Weekend)
  • 115-120 Crore (Hindi Version) (Total Collection)

Kedarnath

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30th Nov

Brief: Abhishek Kapoor after his last disastrous outing Fitoor is back with his favourite hero Sushant Singh Rajput, this time Kapoor launches the daughter of Saif Ali Khan-Amrita Singh, Sara Ali Khan. The film is about the 2013 Kedarnath flood problem in which Rajput plays the role of a person who carries pilgrims to the shrine for money while Sara Ali plays a pilgrim who is stuck in the flood, getting through with the help of Rajput which sparks a romance.

Est Budget: 60-65 Crore

Daftest Rumour: Sushant Singh Rajput is said to be ghost producer of the film

Believable Trivia:

  • A set built to recreate Kedarnath was built in Film City, Mumbai. Which alone cost 7 Crore said to be one of the biggest sets of recent times
  • Sara Ali Khan signed Simmba when the shoot halted for this film which resulted to a controversy over dates had threaten to take Sara to court
  • The film at a stage was to be shelved due going over-budget

Predicted Box Office Verdict:

  • 10-12 Crore (Opening Weekend)
  • 60-70 Crore (Total Collection)

Total Dhamaal

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7th Dec

Brief: Indra Kumar returns with the third instalment to the Dhamaal series. The original leads Ritiesh Deshmukh, Arshad Warsi, Javed Jafferi (Minus Ashish Chowdhury) return to the series they are also joined with Ajay Devgan, Anil Kapoor and Madhuri Dixit. Indra Kumar promises it to be thrice the fun as the last two films as well as it being family friendly unlike his Masti series.

Est Budget: 80-90 Crore

Daftest Rumour: Story is said to be a piece of rework from Indra Kumar’s Shelved film Happily Divorced

Believable Trivia:

  • Sanjay Dutt rejected returning to the series after his disappointment with Double Dhamaal
  • Ajay Devgan was original to do a cameo but his role was later extended
  • Said to be getting a release in 3D
  • Ashish Chowdhury could not do the film due to his commitment with his TV Show Dev

Predicted Box Office Verdict:

  • 15-20 Crore (Opening Weekend)
  • 80-90 crore (Total Collection)

Zero

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21st Dec

Brief: The most talked about film this year, Aanand L Rai of Tanu Weds Manu fame teams up with Shah Rukh Khan playing the role of a dwarf.  The film is about Khan playing a guy of short stature, who falls in love with a superstar played by Katrina Kaif. Anushka Sharma portrays the character of a girl with intellectual disability who becomes his friend during his journey.

Est Budget: 150 Crore

Daftest Rumour: Shah Rukh Khan is playing a double role and the other role is called ‘number one’

Believable Trivia:

  • The last film appearance of Sridevi who appears in a cameo
  • Salman Khan, Deepika Padukone, Kajol, Rani Mukerjee, Juhi Chawla, Alia Bhatt, Karishma Kapoor and R.Madhavan also play cameos in the film.
  • The lead role was offered to Salman Khan in 2012 but wasn’t keen on playing a dwarf
  • After Kamal Haasan, Shah Rukh Khan is the first lead hero in a commercial film in India to play a dwarf

Predicted Box Office Verdict:

  • 85-100 Crore (5 day Weekend)
  • 200-225 Crore (Total Collection)

Simmba

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28th Dec

Brief: Rohit Shetty, Karan Johar and Ranveer Singh come together for this massy action entertainer about a corrupt cop Sangram Balerao played by Ranveer Singh, set in a remote area in Maharashtra who after a mistake attempts to become a sincere cop. An official remake of Puri Jagannath’s Temper. The film also stars Sara Ali Khan who is making her debut 4 weeks before the release of Simmba.

Est Budget: 60-65 Crore

Daftest Rumour: The climax brings in Ajay Devgan as Bajirao Singham who comes to the help of Sangram Balerao which then leads to the next instalment of the Singham series.

Believable Trivia:

  • The song ‘Aankh Mare Ladki Aankh Mare’ from Tere Mere Sapne has said to be recreated
  • Suresh Oberoi is making a comeback with the film
  • R Madhavan was originally to do the main antagonist but due to his back problem he was replaced by Sonu Sood

Predicted Box Office Verdict:

  • 60 – 80 Crore (5 day Weekend)
  • 150 – 180 Crore (Total Collection)

 

Manmarziyan: Movie Review

 

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Manmarziyan
Starring: Abhishek Bachchan, Vicky Kaushal, Taapsee Pannu
Director: Anurag Kashyap
Music: Amit Trivedi
Release: 14th September 2018

Anurag Kashyap being the crusader of the darkness for Hindi cinema shifts his motion into brightness with a modern day take on the complexity of relationships. Written by a young creative producer who has her roots in Amritsar, the film is written on her perspective of an ugly take on the complexity . Kashyap adding his sensibilities, the film broadens and takes a trip back Kashyap’s last Punjabi-touch Dev D.

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The leading pair, Vicky Kaushal and Taapsee Pannu play two intensive characters who cannot take their hands off each other but the crack of the dream arise when Pannu’s character feeling the pressure of marriage and responsibility decides to settle in the route of marriage but Kaushal’s character not wanting to pick up the responsibility drops out on the relationship.

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Enters a mature subtle Abhishek Bachchan becoming the suitor for Pannu begins to complicate issues more. Unsurety and the pressure of responsibility lead the question of the complexity of the spousal bond. Set in the middle class locality of the holy city Amritsar, the film deals with a jet age with melting butter relationships that prioritise relationships on digitally but not in confrontation .

For many, who have seen Kashyap’s last feature Raman Raghav which slotted it as his weakest, we can rightly say this is weakest yet. To begin, the script is its fall back. Kanika Dhillion’s script in the simplest to say does not have anything relevantly new to the consumer, it’s a case of ‘been there, seen that, done that’.

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Kashyap’s direction attempts to compliment the half-baked script and does it job to a certainty. The first half of the film of course charms the audience with its unconventional narrative style, melodious music and events of uncertainly amongst the characters. Not doubting Kashyap’s direction, getting the tone and the right positioning of the characters considering his backlog of work doesn’t have an essence of romanticism.

The team behind the film have done a fantastic job, the music plays a large role in the film with the Punjabi tone and the twins brings a nice touch to the narrative. The film has been edited in such a way that it understands the texture of notion of being subtle but the film is too long, the end portion screams to be wanting to get done but unfortunately doesn’t leave wanting to part with the story.

The theme broadens maturity and irresponsibility of relationships with failures of overcoming the complexities where the characters which are structured such flawy, the to-the-face issue is the death of such romance and over essence of selfishness.

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Kashyap’s problem is he doesn’t know where to stop. A magical first but a bore of second half doesn’t hold the interest the viewer. Kashyap attempts to hold attention but drops in dragging it needlessly. Previously, Kashyap has had the issue of climaxing his films where he doesn’t know when to pull the leaver. In this case, not only the leaver but the iron becomes rotten.

In terms of performances, Taapsee wears Rumi’s skin as comfortably as a night suit. The character of an outspoken, custom fighter who obliges to speak in what is right for her and what works for her. Vicky Kauhsal, is a powerhouse to say the least. This year the boy alone has managed mark that hes not only a diverse actor but willing to experiment with his appearance for the role. Being a Punjabi, he slips into the character so naturally that one would think it’s based on his actual natural self.

Abhishek Bachchan making a comeback pulls off the character of Robbie with such subtly one is reminded of a Ajay Devgan from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. One can never doubt his skill as actor but can say they are happy to see him returning to the big screen after a hiatus.

Overall, Kashyap as a made a mature attempt on a drama but suffers due to the weak script. Potentially a well diverse story on relationships ends up becoming a bore. The performances and the music adds to the film but sadly does not become its strength. The film has its moments but loses its focus in progression.

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A marzi for the one attempt only

 

 

The JP Dutta Factor

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The passing weekend, we witnessed the comeback of maverick filmmaker JP Dutta who had been long-out of the scene for almost 12 years. Dutta, an influence today for the new set of filmmaker who is recognised for his grand style, technique in filmmaking and his presentation of narrative. Regardless of the body of work, the current generation remember Dutta for his 1971 Longewala account based film Border, but it seems a lot of the cinema admirers have forgot Dutta’s socially-out-spoken-yet-commercial cinema he made prior to Border.ki

Spanning his career over the 80’s, 90’s and 2000’s, Dutta was one such director in which his vision was never refused, being financiers or actors but grandness was never doubted. Filmmaking changes necessary when the taste buds of the audience demand other savouries, the question arises if Dutta had changed his style over his career graph? Lets take a stroll down the maverick maker’s career!

Ghulami (1985)

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Dutta’s first commercial release after losing hope on his first venture which never got completed, in a struggle for almost 10 years he got his first work out to the public. Set in post-colonial Rajasthan, the film deals with six characters who deal with their struggle with identity in a caste oppressed culture regardless of their contribution towards the society. The film established Dutta’s love for the landscape of Rajasthan, but deep within in Dutta opened a can of worms of the hush society within the sands of the desert. Dutta explored the harsh reality of the Thakur’s rule over the Chowdhurys, making the authority on-screen look Nazi-like.

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Interestingly, Dutta revealed that the film was based on a childhood visit to Rajasthan in a gossip conversation he heard about a school teacher who had rebelled against the landlords of the town by becoming a dacoit. The teacher being the character of Dharmendra, who despite his strong values for education goes rogue for his principals by rebelling against the local Thakurs and forms his battalion of Army returned (without ‘Shaque’) Mithun Chakraborthy and underprivileged police constable Khulbulshan Kharbanda who fight the shackles of slavery. The film put Dutta on the map after receiving awards and rewards at the box office.

Yateem (1988)

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The one man army ride. In Dutta’s body of work this actually is a rare exception as it doesn’t have an ensemble cast.  An impressed Dharmendra, decided to sign Dutta for his second outing as a solo Sunny Deol starrer. The subject, quite similar to Raj Kapoor’s Awara and Manmohan Desai’s Parvarish, about a son of dacoit who is raised by a police constable begins to find trouble with the local officer and the dreaded dacoit not letting go of the blood that runs in his veins. Yateem follows a very similar Hollywood western style format with the hero cowboy feel, tacklings the dakus in his escape for redeeming his name.

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The film on release was not only overlooked but somewhat instantly forgotten. Cinema at the period was commercially changing with successful ventures such as Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak and Tezaab released in the same year which introduced an entertaining modern form of cinema unlike the daku movies which were dying the death, in the year prior the debacle of Dacait was the first to take the bullet which scarred the minds of the audience with Rakhee’s happenings. One can revisit Yateem today and notice the ‘emptiness’ Dutta had induced in the film.

Batwara (1989)

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Salim Akhtar, one of the biggest producers of the time gave Dutta an enormous budget to compliment his vision. Dutta became the favourite for this top line producers like Nadiadwalas, Akhtars etc. Batwara is one of Dutta’s most expensive films for its time which its popularity managed to scrape the producer a profit in bank also. Batwara does not deal with partition of India but begins as a narrative of the fading loss of power of the zamindars and the fast social changes in current India. A royal family which have gradual erosion of power, the Bade Thakur (played by Shammi Kapoor) decides to Batwara his estate with his three sons but the bigger Batwara happens when the entire village splits into two, the Thakurs and the Chowdhurys with Vinod Khanna on one side (Shammi Kapoor’s Middle son in the film) and his best friend Dharmendra leading the other.

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Anyone remember Mohsin Khan? Mohsin Khan was a Pakistani cricketer, who opened his innings along with Mudassar Nazar who later married Reena Roy and his good links with the Akhtar’s transformation him into a short period actor. Khan did not exactly become a star overnight as the ones who took the acclaim from the film was Vinod Khanna and Dharmendra.

Hathyar (1989)

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Many are not aware but Dutta is actually born and raised in Mumbai which is a revelation as his knowledge of the rural landscape is visible in his films. Hathyar marks his positioning in the city. The film deals with the subject of the use of toy guns. A village-toy maker (played by Khulbulshan Khardanda) shifts with his family from the rural to the city lights of Bombay to discover that his toys are no use, children in the jet age are guns fanatics. Sanjay Dutt plays the son of who ironically begins to play with iron guns for his bread and butter, Dharmendra plays the don who buried his values years ago for crime and his younger principled peacemaker sibling is played by Rishi Kapoor.

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Dutta claims this to be favourite film but sadly his least successful one. A lot of critics argued that the rural setting had stuck to Dutta’s name in such a way that trying to take a different route caused an engine failure. Dutta on the other hand felt the film failed because he had stuck realism too close to the consumer’s face, the Bombay audience being his main consumers completely rejected the film not wanting to have a reality check on their home city.

The tones in the film like Amrita Singh calling Dutt’s Bombay home a ‘Kabootar Khana’, Dharmendra teaching the tricks of survival in the city and railway tracks being a source of the grim reaper did portray the city in such a manner. Sadly, the film doesn’t even have a huge cult following due to the film never being released on DVD or hardly ever been shown on satellite television making it almost non-existent to many film buffs.

Kshatriya (1993)

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This Magnum Opus takes Dutta back to the roots in Rajasthan with possibly the biggest budget and starcast of its time. A cast of Sunil Dutt (Extended Cameo), Dharmendra, Rakhee, Vinod Khanna, Sunny Deol, Sanjay Dutt, Kabir Bedi, Meenakshi Sheshadari, Raveena Tandon, Divya Bharti (Phew! That’s not even getting to the supporting cast yet!) The film deals with life of the Kshatriyas, their upbringing, customs, values etc. A story of two royal rival families and their respective younger and civilised younger generation who have spent their life in London begin to question the ancestral customs. Dutt and Deol play the young rebellious Kshatriyas with their wishy washy London accents find it hard to adjust to their home eventually become arch enemies in protecting their family’s honour.

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The film broadens male testosterone throughout with the bare chested men sacrificing animals, protecting the family dignity and fighting purely out of ego, Dutta surely showcased the flaws of the ‘he-man’. The film was a commercial setback due to the audience not understanding the basic idea of the film, the boredom of the lengthy run and the of course, the overdose of characters. Dutta on the hand expressed he was happy it did not work. He was making something he did not want to, trying to tell a story at the same time keeping the commercial balance of wooing the girls in a sports car on the motorway while being on a cellphone, was just well….was not him.

Border (1997)

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It wouldn’t be wrong to say if Border is possibly one the best film Hindi cinema has seen in the last 50 years, technically and narratively. Border over the years became this definite format of a war film for many makers that attempted to follow the patriotic movement but what followed was a market full of majors, generals and colonels but no stories or techniques. Funny enough, during the first trial show of Border many had told Dutta he had lost his mind, a commercial war army based film that was heading for doom on day one, but the tables turned. Not only did he win hearts, Dutta became an untouchable filmmaker of the country who won hearts commercially and commendably.

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Border is remembered for the sincerity of the artists involved, such well written and performed characters that it stuck in the minds of people even 20 years later. Sunny, Jackie, Sunil, Khulbulshan, Punit were all commendable but one has to give a little special credit to a 21 year old Akshaye Khanna, in his debut year gave a performance in which he stood up to season actors like Deol, Khardanda and Punit Issar. Still today being relevant, as a pro nationalist and an anti-neighbour-nationalist, the film still echoes the hardships of a soldier life and the depiction of pointless battles fought on ground.

Refugee (2000)

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Bachchan’s son and Kapoor’s daughter began to their journey with maestro Dutta, The story of a family in crisis as they are forced to shift to Pakistan, they seek the help of drifter named Refugee (portrayed by Junior Bachchan) in which they cross the border, Refugee’s closeness with the family’s daughter begins to get him in trouble with the border security forces with Sunil Shetty as the Pakistani soldier and Jackie Shroff as the Indian guard.

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This Launchpad was not the definitive venture for any young star kid, as 6 months prior to the release Rakesh Roshan’s launch pad for his son caught the youth with a fever and was still in theatres when Dutta released his saga. A lot could have been better for the film, critics  bashed the film for its 3 hour and 20 minute length and chipped at Junior Bachchan with comparisons to his father. Regardless of this, the film managed to get a decent opening became an average grosser at the box office but Dutta had learned from burning his hands at several stages.

LOC Kargil (2003)

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The Hindi cinema formula to a successful film is a great starcast and festive release, LOC Kargil had both yet was a huge bomb at the box office. The film had practically almost everyone from the film industry (except the Deols, Amitabh Bachchan & the three Khans) and released on festival of Christmas, despite having a huge opening a majority of the audience couldn’t sit through the 4 hours and 5 minutes of Army jargon, bleeped abusive language and attempting to remember who was who.

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An over-detailed account of the Kargil war in which Dutta tried to give scope to every character and their backstory, but unfortunately the audience could not process so much information in way too much time.  The larger element for the film was not the battle capturing the Kargil post but its running length, Dutta had refused at many occasions to snip the film as he felt it would ruin the flow of the film. But regardless, the film has found its life on cable television all these years later which is a regular on every 15th August.

Umrao Jaan (2006)

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Dutta took a drastic turn the mid-2000s putting aside the war drama, wanting to explore romanticism. Dutta chose Mirza Muhammad Hadi Ruswa’s novel for adaption about the courtesan Umrao Jaan and her series of unfortunate events. Dutta was clear he was not influenced of his contemporary’s, Muzaffar Ali’s adaption in 1981. A huge production, ensemble cast a definitive ‘Jaan’ in Aishwarya Rai, Dutta put together the right components for a contemporary take on the novel but it was audience who was least interested.

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Despite Aishwarya being at the peak of her career and getting the international recognition, the audience decided the fate of Umrao Jaan from the first promo. In the same year, films such as Rang De Basanti and Lage Raho Munnabhai which emerged not only becoming successful ventures but highlighted the shift of cinema with the arrival of the new brigadier of contemporary directors.  The big scale period dramas were beginning to die a slow death and the three hour plus features were seeing exit signs flashing brighter in the cinema halls. The disastrous fate of the film affected Dutta’s other films in the pipeline in which studios had backed out doubting his vision.

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Very few directors of the industry can merge modernity and tradition as effortless as Dutta, his reinvention of the narrative during the 80s barring outside of the commercial cycle of the tried-tested formula. Grand productions and under-the-carpet issues, addressing matters of the less fortunate through the skin of established names. Dutta’s earlier works Ghulami, Batwara, Yateem and Hathyar do seem to be rooted from the same soil with certain layers such as caste, social class, oppression and division.

Its seems colonialism is strong element of Dutta’s features, Ghulami, Batwara, Border, Refugee such titles rewind the mind to the British Raj era. The British Raj and its influence to the country do reflect in his films in a sense of how the country has progressed on since; Ghulami shows that the oppressed are now under the influence of their own kin, Batwara showcasing that division is existent in smaller areas of the country.

Hathyar arguably being Dutta’s best work is still relevant in today’s time; Dutta’s vocals were speaking of a disastrous future which reflected in Bombay riots, the underworld rule in the 90s and the terrorist attack in 2008. Dutta was making a bold statement to the weak of not taking a wrong route, one seeing the consequences in the form of Sanjay Dutt and one become the results in Dharmendra.

A sore thumb Kshatriya stuck out with mixing chalk and cheese in the same plate as an Indian Shephard’s Pie, a mistaken grandeur for storytelling which resulted to a colossal failure. Border and post reinvented the director to something else, his last three features Refugee, LOC Kargil and Umrao Jaan sparked doubts of the director losing his touch.

His recent outing, Paltan which had echoes his 1997 war drama died a fatal death at the box office but Dutta refusing of letting go has already announced his next two features. Refusing to hang up his coat like his contemporaries, Dutta is yet willing to face a long battle but the question is are the audience and the generation still willing to see eye to eye with his vision? Every 3 years the taste of the audience changes and Dutta has been in the industry for 4 decades, reinvention and relevancy in this era is important to the reputable director to keep in the footfalls.

We hope Dutta’s journey continues. Below are the films of Dutta that never made got completed and are in question of a possible revival. Take a visit

Unfulfilled Dreams of JP Dutta

Sarhad

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This was Dutta’s first venture as a director, launched in 1977 starring Vinod Khanna, Mithun Chakraborthy, Bindiya Goswami. The film was about two childhood friends who get separated during the partition, leading one to stay in India and the other to leave to Pakistan. Years later, the two meet again during the 1971 war standing opposite sides of the border. The film dealt with issue of prisoners of war, Vinod Khanna playing the one of Indian prisoners out the 90,000 captivated during the war. The film was half done until the producers ran into financial problems, Dutta held production waiting for better days but the bomb dropped when Vinod Khanna quit films and left the country resulting the film being shelved. Dutta recently expressed his desire to revive the film.

Bandhua

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Amitabh and Dutta have had a close equation over the years but never got to work with each other, despite give his voice over for a couple of his film he never physically appeared in any of his features. Bandhua deals with the issue of the bounded labourers in Rajasthan leading to unfortunate circumstances of the lead character. The film also dealt with the economic system and the poor farming conditions of the area which lead to high percentage of yearly suicides. After a couple of reels of shooting in 1989, the film was shelved for reasons unknown.

Chooriyan

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Originally started with Sanjay Dutt, Madhuri Dixit and Raveena Tandon. Started straight after Kshatriya, said to be youthful love story becoming a story about traditional values ran into trouble when Sanjay Dutt was faced with his legal battles just after shooting a small portion for the film. Dutta later had decided to change the cast to Bobby Deol, Mamta Kulkarni and Tabu failed to take off resulting it to be shelved and Dutta moved on to Border. The song ‘Shaire Main Ho Gaya Deewana’ shot for the film was brought by the producers of Vijeta placed in the film.

Aakhri Mughal

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Dutta had the privilege of having access to Kamal Amrohi’s script vault in which he came across his unused Aakhri Mughal  script which did not take off in the 70s, Dutta was set to revive the film. Originally planned as Abhishek Bachchan’s launch pad in 1998, with Dilip Kumar playing Bahadur Shah Zafar and Junior Bachchan playing his son. After taking off, for unknown reasons it was stalled and shelved. In 2007, Dutta expressed his desire to revive the film but still did not see the light of day.

Border 2

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Been in the news for years, Dutta has frequently spoke about making a sequel to his 1997 blockbuster. Originally, LOC Kargil began as Border 2 but Dutta felt it was becoming a commercial campaign to promote a film based on the sacrifices of the soldiers who lost their lives in 1999. In 2013, it was announced in the media that Sunil Shetty and Sunny Deol had been approached for the sequel and the film was definitely on. Jackie Shroff and Akshaye Khanna were rumoured to be approached but later Dutta announced Paltan and made it clear that this will end his war trilogy.

 

Paltan: Movie Review

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Paltan
Starring: Jackie Shroff, Arjun Rampal, Sonu Sood, Harshvardhan Rane, Gurmeet Chadhuary, Sidharth Kapoor, Luv Sinha, Rohit Roy, Esha Gupta, Sonal Chauhan, Deepika Kakkar
Director: JP Dutta
Music: Anu Malik
Release: 7th September 2018

JP Dutta burnt his fingers 12 years ago with his adaption of Mirza Hadi Ruswa’s Umrao Jaan and has been missing from the scene since. The attention came when he announced Paltan, his final instalment to his war trilogy, the preceders being Border (1997) and LOC Kargil (2004). Delighted fans rejoiced on his return in faith of another war epic. Dutta’s career spanning over 4 decades, now brings his feature to new cinema-going generation which have opened arms to patriotic films of recent such as Airlift (2016) Raazi (2018) and Gold (2018). The question is if Dutta has made his film according to the current generation sensibilities.

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Exploring the tenacious relation between China – India, the film is based on the 1967 untold story of the Indian Army facing off an intense physiological battle with the intruding Chinese forces at Nathu La pass by the Sikkim Border, leading to the tactics and tricks of the Chinese imposing their power over the India force in to seizing land not rightly belonging to them.

Without doubt, judging from Dutta’s backlog, has been a master storyteller and well-explored researcher who is attentive to the ongoing of the scenario almost as if you were there. As a filmmaker, Dutta has not comprised on the grandeur look brought on the forefront of a largescale, making every frame ‘cinema-worthy’

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Sadly, this attempt from Dutta misses the opportunity of arguably being a potential  great exposure of an unexplored territory. Dutta has captured the essence of the landscape and the atmosphere of the tensed zone, but as a Hindi feature filmmaker it seems Dutta is still living in era that has gone past its expiry date.

The biggest problem with Paltan is that in a two and half hour film, it only becomes relevant in the final 30-40 minutes. The drama takes too long to build up, the first half has a bland taste with corny dialogues, clumsy flashbacks and awkward quotes that seem to be taken from Instagram memes. Some sequences even becomes unintentionally hilarious such as the army dancing around like bunch of oafs with a red chunni.

The forced and unneeded subplots of the characters backtracks are completely hackneyed attempting building sympathy for the soldier just makes one tempted to check their wrist watch. The relationships of the soldiers seem as unconvincing as Luv Sinha’s dialogues with a tasteless spice of fake Punjabi and tasteless gur.

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As the narrative progresses, the dialogues begin to become even more hilarious. In the midst of the drama, during the conflict sequences we hear such dialouges as ‘tumhare neeyat aur geography dono karaab hai’ and ‘hamari maa ki chatti pe tumne kulhari mari hai’. Not only do the dialogues get more cringe-worthy,  but the confrontation between both sides seem like a bunch  5 year olds fighting in the school playground mouthing ‘tum beimaan ho’ and ‘kyon kiya aisa’ eventually leading the children to throwing stones at each other, fantastic!

Dutta structures his characters with resentfulness throughout, exaggerated emotions towards the Chinese teleports the audiences back to the 70s. In the past, Dutta has portrayed the enemy, either being Pakistan or in this case the Chinese as an evil and malicious force and not as representatives of the perspective nation. Where the protagonists mouth racist written dialogues in the attempt to provoke cheer in the propagandist script.

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The moment of shine for Paltan is the war sequence in the middle of the second half, a moment we begin to have hopes in the build-up of drama. Once the war sequence begins, the excitement levels rise leading to the unpredictability of the execution. The audience become involved in the sequence as the build-up was long awaited and is well executed. The final moments of the film , when Luv Sinha”s character delivers the remains of the soldiers to the families with Sonu Nigam’s Main Zinda Hoon in the background, truly bring a lump to your throat and chills down your spine.

With a large ensemble cast, Dutta is known for milking out individual superior performances in a crowd. In this case, Harshvardhan Rane and Gurmeet Chaudhary are the two who stand the tallest. Rane in his second feature, as well as having a great persona onscreen his character speaks volumes and his tall manly stature showcases his potential for future work. His energy during the action sequences in unmatched and one is reminded of the retro heroes that once ruled on screen. Gurmeet Choudhary drops impact during the conflict sequences, his stance and confidence over the dialogues build his character dominating almost every scene he is in. Regardless of Rane and Chaudhary’s odd bare chested work out in minus 20 degrees rubbing snow over each over, the two do surely bring the house down.

Arjun Rampal as the commanding officer certainly reminds the audience we see little of him nowadays, but the diversity of the actor in recent times shows the growth of him as an actor. His role as the commanding officer brings this big brother feel to the Paltan, which is tackled with complete maturity and sincerity. Sonu Sood comes across as the major quite naturally, the energy he brings to the character makes him look physically attached to the role.

Jackie Shroff looks and seems disinterested throughout and does not have a lot to do. Luv Sinha is extremely poor, one wonders why he was even cast. His dialogue delivery reminds the viewer of such terrible actors we had seen in the 90s, his expression and stance is completely wooden. Siddharth Kapoor doesn’t have a lot to do except for speaking Mandarin. Rohit Roy’s role is confusing as he comes post interval, not a part of most the scenes and then exits very soon.

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The cinematography is top notch, capturing the quintessence of the landscape and giving complete justice to the war sequence. Editing could have been worked on, a lot moments could have been shorted or snapped. The DI work is quite mediocre, the colour grading during the film appear too dampened and dark. The Dubbing is completely off, almost looking like a dubbed Japanese film in some scenes.

Overall, Dutta knows how to execute war but struggles to bring together a war film. Dutta’s direction has become quite retro and needs to develop his skills suiting to the contemporary taste. The film exceptionally bores for a majority of the film, the first half doesn’t have anything engaging enough but the second half holds the attention. Dutta had a good idea but bringing it to life in a two and half hour feature fails to hold that grasp. It seems Dutta is following the same template he developed with Border for a war epic commercial feature and the template in being recycled. The film certainly has a Border hangover but can quite happily say the film is more engaging than LOC Kargil. In closing words, a ride that can be taken but surely a forgettable one!

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Not worth fighting for!

 

15 Indian films that never made it to the Big Screen

Thousands of hours of unused film footage from India is still lying on the shelves in labs or producers offices. One wonders if the footage of possible great unseen cinema still exists or has rotted in storage. Hours of labour, millions of expenditure and the craftsmanship of a director is end-resulted to the developed celluloid material not being completed to be delivered to the cinema projectionist.  This article is my shortlist of unreleased films over the years that have been highly anticipated in my eyes – since its inception to its stir in the media. The insights into these films are all the reading from newspapers, magazines, websites and hearing of the mouth over the years, the information gathered could be a gist of air or the smoke from a blazing fire.

So here is an insight of 15 films from India I would have loved to have seen being made and released – possibly one day, I may even call out a hunt to find the remainders of these films! (The list is in order of preference)

Kalinga

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(Launched 1992 – was planned to release in 1996)

Launched with much fanfare, this was supposed to be Dilip Kumar’s official directional debut. Although he has been alleged to have ghost-directed films such as Ganga Jamuna, Bairaag and Ram Aur Shyam but this was to be his first official baby. Launched in 1992 by producer Sudhakar Bokade (Izzatdaar, Saajan fame) things began to have gone wrong within the early stages of production. Firstly Sunny Deol had exited the film due to his back problem, over-budgeting issues began by the first schedule leading to the production being halted for over year. Once the second schedule had started, the Bombay Riots, Dilip Saab’s health and Bokade being accused of links with underworld all delayed the film from developing further. The story about a righteous Judge Kalinga (played by Dilip Saab himself) and his honourable ways is double crossed by his two sons (played by Raj Babbar and Raj Kiran) and with the help of the village stable boy (then newcomer Amitoj Mann) he seeks to get back at them.

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Despite the issues during the making of the film over time, Dilip Saab had refused many offers to act as he wanted to concentrate on his directorial venture. By the time the last schedule had taken off in 1995 (by this point it had become a whopping 4 crore venture) Bokade had to pull the plug. It was getting over-budget beyond means as Dilip Saab was exaggerating his perfectionism as a director. Unfortunately, being 70% complete, Kalinga never saw the light of the day. Sadly, we doubt we will ever see Dilip Saab again behind the camera at his current age.

Dus    

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(Launched 1997)

One of the most ‘buzzed about’ films during the year of 1997.  Launched with huge power cast of Vinod Khanna, Sanjay Dutt, Salman Khan, Shilpa Shetty, Raveena Tandon and Rahul Dev had gone into production in May 1997 as being one of the biggest action spectaculars the country would ever see. The film’s key theme was terrorism. The story was about a Captain Raja Sethi (Sanjay Dutt), who is part of a secret organisation known as Force 10 is sent on a mission to find an Afghan terrorist named Nasheman (Raveena Tandon). After he is captured and tortured by Nasheman and her right-hand man Mast Gul (Rahul Dev), his partner Captain Jeet Sharma (Salman Khan) is sent to rescue him. However by this point it’s too late, Raja is brain-washed in which he also becomes a terrorist.

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Sadly, director Mukul S Anand died due to a heart attack when the film was 40% complete. Producer Nitin Manmohan had approached directors such as JP Dutta, Ramesh Sippy, Priyadarshan to complete the film. David Dhawan was willing to come on board, but unfortunately none of these directors could see eye-to-eye with the vision of Anand. Nitin Manmohan had decided out of respect for his fellow friend Mukul Anand, he handed over the 9 hours of footage to his family and gave them the option of what they would want to do with the remainder of the film. The family felt it was better to leave the film how it was. The family released a few promos, released the soundtrack and left it to peace as a tribute to Mukul S Anand.

Trailer:

 

Raju Raja Ram

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(Launched 1996)

So interestingly enough, Rohit Shetty’s now favourite screenwriter, Yunus Sajawal, was to debut as a full-fledged screenwriter with this feature. David Dhawan had told him to write him 10 scenes adapting from the successful Marathi play All The Best to full commercial comedy Hindi film. David Dhawan being impressed with the written 10 scenes and Jackie Shroff being overly impressed that he decided to become producer for the first time. Launched with high hopes, promotions began before the film took off. A lot people from the trade held their expectations in the film.

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Story about a Raju (Jackie Shroff), Raja (Govinda) and Ram (Salman Khan) who fall for the same girl and in their attempt in wooing her, they try not to make her aware about their physical disabilities. Issues for the film began to arise firstly when Govinda was not exactly happy about how his role was shaping out, then Jackie had begun to reconsider the budget of the film later the dates had become a mess for the cast. Eventually Producer Shroff decided to shelve the film. But don’t be too disappointed because the film eventually got made. How? Yunus Sajawal handed the script over to Deepak Tijori who eventually Tom Dick and Harry out of it. But one would have liked to see Dhawan’s interpretation of the film.

Devaa

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(Launched 1987)

After Karma, Subhash Ghai being at the peak of career had joined hands with the biggest superstar of the country, Amitabh Bachchan. A huge mahurat was launched in 1987 and the producers of the film announced it was going to be the most expensive film ever made in India. Post days of shooting, things began to turn sour between Ghai and Bachchan. Many had said it was an ego clash in which Ghai was demanding more attention from Bachchan who had his hand already in many projects. Other mouths had also said that too many cooks, such as the producers and Bachchan’s team got involved with issues that caused friction between Ghai and Bachchan. Losing patience, Ghai eventually came to the sets of Shahenshah to break the news to Bachchan that he was shelving the film.

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Details about the film were never disclosed but Bachchan’s look for the film was reused (or simply just lifted) in Khuda Gawah as Baadshah Khan. Apparently, the outline of the plot for Devaa was reused and reworked for Ghai’s Khalnayak. So we could say that Devaa had died its chances of being revived. Years later, Ghai and Bachchan had sorted their differences and shared that they would like to work again someday.

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(Launched 1992)

Shekhar Kapur post Mr India made to the nation’s elite director’s list. Being a director with a foreign touch, he desired to make films for India on a big scale that would be matched to any Hollywood feature. Launched in 1992, Time Machine was to be his next big sci-fi venture with Aamir Khan, Naseeruddin Shah, Rekha and Raveena Tandon in the lead. The film was about a young boy (Aamir Khan) and his friendship with a scientist (Vijay Anand) who builds a time machine which eventually sends the boy back time in which he meets the younger version of his parents (rings a bell? time machine, younger parents etc)

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Despite being over budget after 75% of completion, Kapur was not exactly happy with the technology India had supplied him. He already had foreign technicians but he wanted take the film to Hollywood to finish the post production, but his budget did not allow him to do so. Aamir even had suggested to waive off his fee for the budget but the enormous amount Kapur had desired, Aamir and many other experts of the industry understood that recovery would be almost impossible. Years later, eventually clips of the film became available online and Shekhar’s confession that he didn’t have any interest in completing or reviving the film.

Footage of the Film:

 

Zameen

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Many are unaware but this confirms the one and only time Madhuri Dixit and Sridevi ever faced the camera together. Ramesh Sippy brought together a huge cast with Vinod Khanna, Sanjay Dutt, Rajnikanth, Sridevi and Madhuri Dixit with a huge budget began to run into problems after it was almost 50-60% complete. The main issue being the date issues with actors, Sippy began to have issues with scheduling.

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Actors such as Naseeruddin Shah, Nana Patekar and Paresh Rawal exited the film because of their concerns with the script. It was mentioned several times that Sippy had his apprehensions and doubts with the script, he had it changed several times in which actors became a little vigilant in completing the film.  The last nail in the coffin was the ego clash between Madhuri and Sridevi.  During the shoot of this film, Tezaab had released and emerged a huge success making Madhuri a star overnight. Naturally, Madhuri at this point not wanting to play a second lead to her main competitor Sridevi, she then demanded her role to be rewritten. In all of this stress, Sippy put his hands up and just left the film simply to be.

Alibaug

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(Launched 2007)

The duo of Sanjay Dutt-Sanjay Gupta, not only known as actor-director but also as best buddies had a fallout during the making of the film. It was said to be Gupta’s closest film to his heart as it was based on a life experience which he wrote and planned as a quickie. Taking a break from action and attempted to experiment with the slice-of-life genre, this quickie became a ‘stuckie’. It is said that a rift between the two became pretty ugly. Over some issue of finance and some personal issues, Dutt walked out before completion.

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The film boasted a huge cast of Sanjay Suri, Rohit Roy, Manasi Joshi Roy, Mandira Bedi, Gul Panag, Sameer Soni, Sudhanshu Pandey, Dia Mirza, Tisca Chopra, Parvin Dabbas and Masumeh Makhija. It was said the performances by Suri and Roy really stood out and presented them like never before. Gupta not losing hope in reviving the film, replaced Dutt with Irfan Khan but sadly after resuming and reshooting it ran into problems again. Sad for a film that had so much positive mouth publicity before it released just couldn’t make it to the public. Years later, Gupta and Dutt had sorted their differences but there was no talk about reviving the film because of the black chapter in their friendship but Gupta still has expressed he is interested in reviving the film.

Bulund

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(Launched 1991, to release 1993)

Salman Khan was teamed with his then girlfriend, Pakistani model Somy Ali, who was launched in Hindi cinema and managed to work with some big banners during that period.  Her involvement with Salman made her a favourite for the tabloids. Story of the film was said to be revenge saga about a man who is out to avenge the rape and murder of his girlfriend but in process loses his eyesight, despite being blind he manages to take revenge with the strength of his other senses (sound familiar ala Roshans?)

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Indian

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(Launched 1997)

Recalling them days, I remember seeing a six-sheeter in a cinema with Sunny Deol in a paghri attire holding an Indian flag and slightly covering his face (one could make out this was Deol) with the tagline ‘Patriotism can be dangerous’ and mentioned ‘launching 11th December 1997’. The ‘launching’ tag confused people as publicity material was never brought to cinemas before being launched or before the mahurat. Sadly, for producer Pahlaj Nihalani only managed to shoot just one song for the film which cost him a whopping 1.5 crores which was unheard of at that time.

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The was co-produced by Sunny Deol’s Vijeta Films, it’s actually the only film to star Sunny and Aishwarya in the lead (not including Sunny’s cameo in Aur Pyar Ho Gaya and Aishwarya’s cameo is Shaheed). Not only was the producer hesitated with the budget, but some issues with the script was a problem for Nihalani which caused some friction between him and Deol. The script was said to have strong anti-Pakistani overtones which the producer had doubts on. Years later, Deol retained the title for different script all together.

London

London

(Launched 1997)

Again, I remember the film also having posters in cinemas just around the time of it being launched, another failed effort of super early promotion as the film ran into problems days into shooting. The film was to be helmed by British director Gurinder Chadha, who was on a high after Bhaji on the Beach. Chadha couldn’t come onto the same page as Deol as she probably, or most likely, did not understand the basic format of commercial Hindi cinema. What she was prepared out to make was a cross-over British-Indian film.

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Deol had called in Rahul Rawail to come and make changes, which obviously did not go down well with Chadha. It was then decided she would be the director of the English version (yes, in the midst of the production they decided there was to be an English version). Once Deol had worked out that the Hindi version alone has already cost him 1.5 Crores till now, he dropped the idea of the English version and waved goodbye to Chadha. Karisma Kapoor’s tantrums began because this exit which made Deol also show her the exit door.  Some of the portions shot for London, mainly with Sunny and Bobby were reused in Sunny’s directorial venture Dillagi. Which apparently was London Revived!

Ladies Only

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(Launched & Completed in 1997)

In the late 90’s, Kamal Hassan decided to produce a remake of his petite budget Tamil hit film Magalir Mattum, which itself was a remake of the Hollywood film 9 to 5. The film starred Randhir Kapoor, Seema Biswas, Shilpa Shirodkar, Heera Rajagopal and Kamal Hassan himself. The story of three women, working in the same office. They are constantly harassed by their lecherous boss Randhir Kapoor. The three decide to gang up against him to teach a lesson, but a strange accident complicates things when the boss lands in a hospital and the three women end up with the dead body of a terrorist.

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Kamal Hassan plays a dead body throughout the film who is carried out by the women, said to not have a single dialogue or a movement throughout. The film was completed in 1997, some people of the industry had seen it and enjoyed it, but for some unknown reason the film never made it to the theatres and Kamal Hassan didn’t seem to bother getting it out, instead he moved onto Chachi 420.

Zooni

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(Launched in 1988)

The story of Habba Khatoon has been a jinx for the Hindi film industry. The story of a girl Zooni, as she was known, was a fine poetess in her own right. Married to a poor man who disapproved of her poetry and saddled with a hostile mother-in-law, she would divorce her husband and go on to become the empress of Kashmir taking on the name Habba Khatoon after marrying Yusuf Shah Chak, the then ruler of Kashmir. The story was also selected by renowned directors such as Mehboob Khan (with Dilip Kumar) and B.R Chopra, both directors had gone into pre-production with their take on Habba Khatoon but never went further.

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Muzaffar Ali, of Umrao Jaan fame, went into production with the story starring Vinod Khanna and Dimple Kapadia.  It was a dream project for Ali, who wanted to shoot the film capturing all four seasons of Kashmir and also wanted to make two versions – one in English for International audiences and one in Urdu for Indian viewers. More than half the film was shot by 1989 with two seasons complete when insurgency hit the valley in a big way. The film could not resume shooting and coupled with other problems that Ali was facing at the time including his father’s death, Zooni came to a halt in 1990. After waiting for quite some time for better days, Ali had to shelve the film. In an interview in 2015, Ali remarked that if Zooni had been complete, Kapadia would have been a legend today.

Libaas

Libaas

(Launched & Completed in 1988)

This one is a completed film but just hasn’t been released yet. The film based on the short story Seema, published in collected stories in Raavi Paar. About married couples of urban India having extramarital relations and the issue of adultery. The film won critical acclaim in international film festivals, but has not been released in India to date. Firstly, distributors were always hesitated in releasing Gulzar’s films as none of them were commercially sustainable. The second reason being the fear that the film would cause a stir because of its bold theme.

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The censor board did not approve of the film due to its adultery theme saying ‘it’s nothing but purely misguiding the Indian public’ in which they refused to certify it. Hope then came knocking at the door in 2014, when the film premièred at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) and there was a rumour it would make a digital or a theatrical release but still as of now, one can just hope it would reach the public.

Trailer:

Shoebite

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(Launched 2009, Completed 2010) 

Shoojit Sircar second directorial venture after Yahaan, Shoebite is the story of a man in his early 60s named John Pereira who sets out on a journey of self-discovery. After the film had completed production in 2010, problems began for the film when two production houses had claimed the script legally belonged to them. Percept Pictures and UTV fought this long battle in which by 2012 the case was dismissed by the court in the favour of UTV.

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Sircar went out to make Vicky Donor in hope he would return to Shoebite once things were cleared by the court. Despite this issue and UTV now are legally the owners of the content of the film, for unknown reasons it still has not been released. In March 2018, Bachchan requested the makers to release the film in his tweet, saying “Yes… put aside the internal debate, issues, or personal view points and give this labour of love from Shoojit Sircar a chance for others to appreciate this novel story and film… Please”

Marudhanayagam

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(Launched 1997)

My last film on the list and the only film which is a non-Hindi language Indian film. This had to be done as its quite a special one. Launched in 1997 by Queen Elizabeth II who usually stays away from social events, appeared as the chief guest at the launch of the prestigious project which happened at the MGR Film City, Chennai on 16 October 1997. During the 20 minutes that the Queen spent at the event, a teaser (a pilot film which was shot much before principle cinematography began) was screened. The short video, which featured a shot battle sequence, was reportedly made on a budget of 1.5 crores (equivalent to 9 crores in 2018),

The film was based Maruthanayagam Pillai a warrior in the Arcot troops, later Commandant for the British East India Company troops. The British and the Arcot Nawab used him to suppress the Polygars in the south of Tamil Nadu. Later he was entrusted to administrating the Madurai country when the Madurai Nayaks rule ended. After a dispute, Maruthanayagam became a rebel and was sentenced to be hanged.
Hassan originally pulled together several prominent names across Indian cinema for its principal cast and crew. Screenwriters from the world were collaborated to write the film. Post the launch, the film was being shot for around three months before the work was suddenly ceased after a British production house that had planned to co-produce the film backed out, causing the film to be indefinitely postponed.

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Other than Hassan, the film starred Nassar, Om Puri and Amrish Puri (if its ever revived, this would be the final released footage of them in a film) while Amitabh Bachchan and Rajnikanth were rumoured to play cameos. Kate Winslet at the time was offered the lead role just before a British production house had pulled out. Hassan had gone to various productions houses in the west to revive the film but because of the huge budget (at the time it was said to be around 85 crores which is roughly equivalent to 500 crores now) it was almost guaranteed no one would make their money back. Hassan had already spend 8 Crores of his own money on the two scenes he had shot in the three month of shooting which involved 7,000 artists in one scene. In 2008, 2012 and 2014 the film has been in the news for being revived by a major Hollywood studio.

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In 2017, posters of the film were placed in Cannes, a sign of a possible revival. But who knows, it can happen and it might not. Seeing Hassan is not getting any younger and he already expressed that he may pull the plug from movies if he does get busy with politics. Currently he is finishing his commitments for Indian 2 and Shabash Naidu for now but we cannot say if this will ever be revived or it might find its life on the shelf after all.

Trailer:

 

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Kismat Talkies