The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Kapoors sent six-packing

A bare six-pack has kicked towelled butt.

In one of the biggest Diwali duels on screen, Om Shanti Om’s thrust has beaten Saawariya’s parry. The audience verdict after festive Friday is loud and clear — OSO is paisa vasool, Saawariya is not.

The trade pundits in Mumbai have pronounced their verdict. “Saawariya is not viewer-friendly. Sanjay Leela Bhansali creates this fantastic fictional world but forgets to invite you in,” says Indu Mirani. “Om Shanti Om is a rip-roaring ride and contrary to apprehensions, it’s not brainless at all.”

Taran Adarsh, too, votes for Farah Khan’s film: “Today content is king and in Saawariya there’s only style, no substance. After the first weekend, it is bound to fizzle out, while Om Shanti Om will turn out to be a major hit.”

Till the curtains rose on Friday, the champion and the challenger looked evenly matched — Shah Rukh Khan flaunting his six-pack abs versus star son Ranbir (Rishi) Kapoor cavorting in just a towel; Deepika (Prakash) Padukone taking the giant leap from ramp to reel versus star daughter Sonam (Anil) Kapoor making her dream debut; Farah’s flair versus Bhansali’s fantasy; production cost of Rs 40 crore for OSO versus Rs 35 crore for Saawariya; a London premiere for Shah Rukh Khan’s costliest home production versus a publicity budget of Rs 20 crore for the first Indian co-production of Sony Pictures...

“Saawariya would have struggled on any given Friday, but its November 9 showdown with Om Shanti Om will surely spell its doom,” warned Manish Agarwal, 28, who managed to watch both films.

So why did Saawariya dare to take Om Shanti Om on' Being an international release by Sony, Team Bhansali could not shift the release date and Shah Rukh was never going to budge from a Diwali big bang after his festive hat-trick of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Veer-Zaara and Don.

“While the first weekend is full for both movies, Monday onwards, the demand for tickets and block bookings is more for Om Shanti Om,” admits INOX (Forum) general manager Vikas Syal.

If the prices at the plexes for both new releases are peaking at Rs 250, at single-screen theatres, OSO tickets priced at Rs 150 were seen selling for Rs 600 on Friday. “Om Shanti Om is a movie for family and friends; it has the power to run for 50 days at standalone theatres,” says Menoka owner Pranab Roy.

If Karz-inspired OSO was billed as a grand all-colour tribute to the Hindi film industry of the 1970s, Saawariya, based on Fyodor Dostoevsky’s short story White Nights, was hyped as an intimate love story in blue.

Sreeraj Mitra, 35, who watched the films back-to-back on Friday, said: “Saawariya was like a collage of picture-perfect paintings that left the audience cold, while Om Shanti Om was three hours of fun, with people cheering and clapping in true Diwali spirit.”

The worst thing heard from the OSO crowd on Day One was that “the second half does not match the first”. The best thing overheard from Saawariya-watchers on Friday was “it’s different”.

A woman in her 40s and her 20-something niece could not hide their disappointment. “We had come to see Ranbir. The towel-drop sequence was a real tease — it was too short and his butt was not shown,” they laughed.

The most common complaints against Saawariya were summed up by Srijita, a teenager, after the evening show at Priya: “The film is too long and too slow, the storyline is too thin, Sonam is too insipid and Ranbir isn’t too hot — the promos are better than the film.”

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