The year that was saw another bagful of films from the factory that's Bollywood. The year that was saw Hollywood biggies coming to Elgin Road or the EM Bypass close on the heels of their Leicester Square or Madison Square release. The year that was saw the city being mesmerised by the multiplex experience. The year that was saw the movie-going experience burning a hole in the Calcuttan's pocket like never before...
With just one Friday to go before The End 2004, Metro on Sunday got behind the counters of INOX and 89 Cinemas to get the full picture of what hit and what missed the marquee in 12 months of movie-watching in Calcutta. Combining weekly runs and revenue collections, here's looking at what Calcutta was watching on the big screen and why, in the pecking order.
1. Film: Dhoom
Director: Sanjay Gadhvi
Star cast: Abhishek Bach-chan, John Abraham, Uday Chopra, Rimii, Esha Deol
Their view: 'It is a very young film catering to all ages between four and 60; it has the right commercial mix of action and romance' ' John Abraham
Our view: It took a new national anthem (Dhoom macha le), a Thai singer (Tata Young), prized mobikes, Esha in a bikini, some numerological adjustment and wardrobe makeover by Rimi(i) Sen, John's stud statement for Abhishek to get his first bona fide hit. And what a hit for one of Calcutta's favourite star sons. But it was as much a victory for Aditya Chopra the producer, Pritam Chakraborty the music director, Sanjay the director and the Yash Raj marketing machinery.
Director: Yash Chopra
Star cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Preity Zinta, Rani Mukherjee
Their view: 'There were huge expectations around the film. We tried to reach out to as many people as possible (by distributing a record number of prints)' ' Yash Chopra
Our view: Two Chopra productions at the top is no less than a Ferrari one-two at San Marino Grand Prix. Critics turned their noses up at the return of the romance guru with an improbable plot (two days of romance and 22 years of separation) but the cash counters couldn't stop ringing, from Calcutta to California. What worked' SRK and SRK.
3. Film: Hulchul
Star cast: Akshaye Khanna, Kareena Kapoor, Paresh Rawal
Their view: 'It is full of dhamaal, a paisa vasool film-going experience. Hulchul mixes subtle and situational comedies. It is better than Hungama' ' Akshaye Khanna
Our view: Calcutta likes a good laugh and any kind of Hulchul. The Hera Pheri man struck gold at the box-office this time, thanks largely to his comic team skippered by Paresh Rawal. Big-gang crowds desperate to laugh out loud turned the tide.
4. Film: Main Hoon Na
Director: Farah Khan
Star cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Sushmita Sen, Zayed Khan, Amrita Rao
Their view: 'I always knew Main Hoon Na would be a big hit. Not because there is some secret formula' It's just that during the shooting itself I could feel there was magic happening all around' ' Farah Khan
Our view: The phrase 'old wine in new bottle' found a new meaning with this Bollywood potboiler. What worked' SRK, Sushmita Sen in sari and the Darjeeling setting (St Paul's, if you please).
5. Film: Hum Tum
Director: Kunal Kohli
Star cast: Saif Ali Khan, Rani Mukherjee
Their view: 'It was not a regular Bollywood movie. The film was consciously made devoid of drama. The dialogues, the attitudes. everything was patterned differently. It was very cleverly projected and marketed too' ' Saif Ali Khan
Our view: After the disastrous Mujhse Dosti Karoge, critic Kohli got the mix right ' refreshing music, oodles of emotion, the lead pair's cool chemistry and desi snatches from When Harry Met Sally. The girls went ga-ga over Saif, the boys loved the slim-trim Rani and the parents didn't even mind the liplock (all for a love tale, well told).
6. Film: Murder
Director: Anurag Basu
Star cast: Mallika Sherawat, Emraan Hashmi, Ashmit Patel
Their view: 'More than the flesh factor, I think it was the sincerity in the performances of the entire cast that worked' ' Anurag Basu
Our view: Calcutta audience hardly fought shy of the flesh factor, with even the family flocking in with eyes wide shut. What worked' Mallika redefining the word 'bold' in Bollywood and Anu Malik's Bheegey honth tere that lingered longer than that bare back on the beach.
7. Film: Mujhse Shaadi Karogi
Director: David Dhawan
Star cast: Akshay Kumar, Salman Khan, Priyanka Chopra
Their view: 'What more does the audience want' Me being chased by two of the hottest hunks in tinsel town, Salman and Akshay' ' Priyanka Chopra
Our view: DD back in form meant a typical two-hour timepass. Add to that a Baywatch backdrop, rap pieces as background score and three hot bods'
8. Film: Mughal-e-Azam
Director: K. Asif
Star cast: Dilip Kumar, Prithviraj Kapoor, Madhubala
Their view: 'Dilipsaab loved it and said that it seems like the film was originally shot in colour. We have always treated the film as a brand new one' ' Deepesh Salgia, director of the restoration project
Our view: It took time but Asif's coloured dreams did come true after almost half a century. And the amazing box-office collections is a glowing tribute to the man's polychromatic vision and the undying Salim-Anarkali romance. GenEx reliving its youthful fantasies with GenY made for a rare cine experience.
9. Film: Masti
Director: Indra Kumar
Star cast: Vivek Oberoi, Aftab Shivdasani, Ritesh Deshmukh
Their view: 'Comedy is something people will always lap up if given at the right time and with the right flavours. Masti was spot on' ' Aftab Shivdasani
Our view: That the 'non-veg' jokes cracked in locker rooms could actually form the core of a successful film script was proved by Masti. It not only marked the return of Indra Kumar (Raja, Dil, Beta) it also had one of the most successful special appearances this year by Ajay Devgan. The connoisseur cringed, but bowed to box-office figures.
10. Film: Julie
Director: Deepak Shivdasani
Star cast: Neha Dhupia, Priyanshu Chatterjee
Their view: 'Only sex and Shah Rukh sell in Bollywood. That Julie is a hit only shows that the audience has matured and is more open to sex in films' ' Neha Dhupia
Our view: More than Murder, it was Julie which opened the floodgates for a string of sleazy stuff being dished out from Bollywood ' Girlfriend, Hawas, Tauba Tauba, Ab Bas... Julie worked because of the age-old formula of 'a simple girl gone wrong and her return to innocence', and lots of Neha.
It's early days for Swades, and the signals are mixed (SRK is a pull, the plot is a push).
How happy the new year would be for Bollywood could be decided by how the mega releases in the last fortnight of this year ' Ab Tumhare Hawale Watan Sathiyo, Dil Maange More ' fare.
There's heightened local interest, too, with Rituparno Ghosh's Hindi debut, Raincoat, now showing, with Ash and Ajay.