Where do Kareena Kapoor and boyfriend Saif Ali Khan go when they want a bit of peace and quiet? They go to see Tashan!
The empty cinema halls screening the latest Yashraj turnip has once again raised the superstitious question, is Kareena a panvati (bad omen) for her men? Every film starring Shahid Kapur and Ms KK gave grief to its makers (eg. Fida fell flat while Milenge Milenge has been lying in the cans for over four years) until she called it quits and bingo! Their Jab We Met was bang on, bulls eye at the cash counters. And now its Saifs turn to do a no-show at the box-office despite a big banner and all the Yashraj gloss (without goodness).
Of course, the flopping of Tashan had more to do with its over-confident producer Aditya Chopra who was pig-headed enough to collide with multiplex owners and with its under-qualified director (Vijay Krishna Acharya) than with Kareenas luck. But this film actually created no waves before its release despite the presence of Akshay Kumar in it. In fact, Tashan broke the inexplicable spell Akki held over the box office. As for Saif, theres a tut-tut over the fact that despite a huge Race behind him, he couldnt impress the advance booking counters. But if you ask me, its precisely because of the Abbas-Mustan thriller that people were bored stiff with Saif. The Pataudi brat has always been good strictly in small doses and you just saw him hog the show (pretty well) in Race last month.
In any case, with the failure of Tashan and the indifferent collections of U Me Aur Hum, TV channels have one more (stale) topic to discuss: are real life couples a turn-off for the audience? Theres a two-word answer to that big Q — not true. If indeed fans dont like to see couples on screen then Sholay should have been the biggest flop of the 70s since it starred both Hema-Dharam (who were inseparable off-screen) and Jaya-Amit (who were married much before the Ramesh Sippy film was released in 1975).
What is a turn-off is simply a shabby film. U Me Aur Hum had an inexperienced screenplay while Tashan might have worked in the 60s — it was that outdated.
Tashan has also revisited old doubts over Yashraj Films durability. In the present tussle between multiplex owners and Aditya Chopra, wholl blink first? Theatre owners swear they won't because Yashrajs bunch of forthcoming films doesnt excite them — Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic (Kunal Kohlis Nanny McPhee rip-off with Saif and Rani) is thanda because, lately, Saif and Rani have individually and together delivered ducks (Tara Rum Pum, Laaga Chunari Mein Daag, Saawariya, Baabul, Tashan). Yashrajs Roadside Romeo (with Saif's voice-over) is an animation film and thats wary territory for the trade. Bachna Ae Haseenon is equally dicey because hero Ranbir Kapoor may have pulled off his towel but he couldnt pull it off at the box office with his debut vehicle. Besides, practically everybody knows that Bachna Ae Haseenon is the film where Katrina Kaifs entire role was snipped off after shooting had commenced.
However, knowing how fickle the trade is, let there be some indication that Ranbir Kapoor has become a magnet for the young crowd or let the promos promote a couple of catchy numbers and the current unity amongst multiplex owners will crumble.
Meanwhile, between Ranbir and his dad Rishi Kapoor, Neetus boys are busy mopping up all the cream in the industry.
Rishi Kapoor is busier today than he ever was in the last 20 years. Interestingly, Rishi, who always scoffed at arthouse cinema, has a judicious mix of all genres of films in his kitty. There is out-and-out commercial fare like Raj Kanwars Sadiyaan as well as a middle-of-the-road project like Rakeysh Mehras Dilli 6 and an earthy Bobby Bedi film where Kapoor plays a celebrity (like himself) caught in strange circumstances in a village. Rishi even has Saif Ali Khans first home production where he plays dad to son Ranbirs girlfriend Deepika Padukone!
Much like his papa, Ranbir Kapoor has signed a big commercial Sajid Nadiadwala film at a Rs 2 crore-plus price but has sensibly picked up substantial cinema too. Ranbir Kapoor is Shimit (Chake De! India) Amins choice for a new Yashraj production and is also aboard Prakash Jhas Rajniti, a political intrigue film with heavyweight performers like Nana Patekar and Ajay Devgan in it. In this film about dynastic politics, Ranbir is tipped to play a role that will remind you of Rajiv Gandhi. The scion of a filmland dynasty like the Kapoors should identify with that character pretty comfortably!
Bharathi S. Pradhan is managing editor of Movie Mag International