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By Bollywood seems to have been (inexplicably) bitten by the sequel bug. By Sohini Chattopadhyay 'D', India's first prequel
  • Published 10.06.05

It’s the “I’ll be back “ fever. Or, you could even christen it the “Phir Milenge” rog. Call it what you will, but Bollywood suddenly seems to be infected by the sequel syndrome, with not one, not two, but five sequels (and one prequel) being made this year. And quite a few more are in the pipeline. Rather, rather surprising considering that ultra-superstitious Bollywood, which counts the Ks before launching its films, has traditionally found sequels to be unlucky territory. So, whereas Hollywood dishes out the Parts 2, 3, 4 and 5, before you can say, “Enough!” Bollywood has generally shied away from sequels, having burnt its fingers with the few it has tried. But that’s all set to change this year.

Sequels are being announced with great gusto, and awaited with bated breath. The most hyped (and eagerly anticipated) among the lot is Dhoom 2 (the title, as of now), the follow-up to last year’s literally runaway success, Dhoom. Producer Yash Raj Films has already whipped up quite a frenzy with the inclusion of superstars Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai in the sequel. Whether Episode Two lives up to the hype or not, Dhoom does in fact hold immense sequel potential.

This furiously paced 3B (boys, babes and bikes) flick is a thrill-a-minute action comedy, a genre which has seen a huge number of sequels in Hollywood. Movies such as Lethal Weapon, Rush Hour, Bad Boys, Beverly Hills Cop, Men in Black, Ocean’s Eleven, Charlie’s Angels, Shanghai Noon, The Whole Nine Yards which have spawned numerous sequels, all fall in the category of Action Comedy. And significantly, most of these sequels have succeeded, at least, to a certain extent. Probably because the action comedy genre is the most sequel-friendly. Highly stylised lead characters (usually male, but occasionally female as well), some smart one-liners, and jaw-dropping action sequences, account for the success of these movies. It’s a formula which is easy to replicate. The super cool (the Will Smith kind) or the super-cute (the Jackie Chan type) main characters, have high repeat value. So it’s just a matter of getting the same cast together, thinking up some more neat one-liners, throwing in some wham-bam plot, with lots of bang-bang-bang, and cars and buildings blowing up, and the sequel is ready.

The success of the original (read: first) movie, and the presence of the same cast, is usually enough to guarantee a good opening. So, Dhoom has all the makings of a smashing sequel ? one super-cool guy (Abhishek Bachchan), one super-cute (Uday Chopra), sizzling women, chart-busting music which is the current ring tone rage, and whistle-worthy action sequences. But whether it creates more dhoom or brings doom-doom, as Tata Young has been singing with such cute gusto and accent, only time can tell.

Another high-profile sequel in the making is Krrish? ? the follow-up to the very successful sci-fi children’s flick, Koi?Mil Gaya. Unfortunately though, Krrish? will not have the much-loved Jadoo ? the cute little alien with large soulful eyes who grabbed as much attention as Hrithik Roshan’s award-sweeping performance. This one will feature Hrithik as a young man with superpowers gifted to him by Jadoo. So it’ll probably fall in the superhero genre of films such as Batman, Spiderman, Superman, Terminator, Rocky, Rambo, which has a long list of sequels in Hollywood.

The superhero genre also lends itself very easily to the making of sequels. Here again, it’s the immense repeat value of the larger-than-life superhero characters, and some stunning special effects and action sequences (though sometimes, they get a bit boring), which make up the recipe for the follow-up acts. This genre also has a reputation for creating memorable villains. For instance, Jim Carrey’s unforgettable ‘Riddler’ in Batman Forever, Michelle Pfeiffer’s poisonous Catwoman act in Batman Returns, the malevolent Green Goblin in Spiderman 1, and the outlandish, yet believable, Doc Ock in Spiderman 2. The creation of such marvellously malicious characters adds considerable zing to sequels.

While it is not known whether Krrish? will have a deliciously devilish villain or not, it is certain that Priyanka Chopra has replaced Priety Zinta, who played the romantic interest in the first instalment. In fact, this replacement of women is a standard feature too of sequels in Hollywood. The new romantic lead is a part of the added attraction package that sequels offer, providing cosmetic change, and adding considerable curiosity value about how the new romantic pair will work. Superhero sequels have an uneven history. While some such as Spiderman 2 and Batman Returns have done phenomenally well, others such as the various instalments of Superman haven’t done so well. Given this unpredictable success rate, it will be interesting to see how Krrish? fares.

Quite a few sequels are being made to successful comedies. First and foremost, there’s the somewhat intriguingly titled Munnabhai meets Mahatma, the follow-up to the delightful Munnabhai MBBS. Then, there’s Phir Hera Pheri, part two of the side-splitting Hera Pheri. While the male cast of Akshay Kumar, Suniel Shetty and Paresh Rawal has been reassembled, in true sequel tradition, Tabu has been dispensed with and Bipasha Basu and Rimii have entered the picture (literally). However, unlike the other sequels, this one will see a change in director, too. In Phir Hera Pheri, Satish Kaushik takes over the reins from Priyadarshan, who directed Hera Pheri.

David Dhawan has decided to re-unite the Salman-Akshay duo in Jaaneman. Although Jaaneman has not been formally announced as a sequel, it’s obviously Act II of the super-successful (though God alone knows why) Mujhse Shaadi Karogi. In keeping with the rulebook of sequel making, the two studs, Salman and Akshay, have been recast, while Priyanka Chopra has been replaced by Priety Zinta (which makes it tit for tat between the two babes).

And now, producer Ektaa Kapoor and director Sangith Sivan are threatening to come back with Episode 2 of the truly awful crass comedy, Kyaa Kool Hai Hum, which has become a roaring success this summer. If this sequel really materialises, it will be a crime against humanity. Comedy has had a very long, though not always fruitful, association with sequels in Hollywood.

FFrom the early Charlie Chaplin and Laurel-Hardy films to recent successful comedies like Analyze This, Barbershop, Father of the Bride, Dr Dolittle, American Pie, Meet the Parents, Miss Congeniality, Bridget Jones’ Diary, Ace Ventura, Austin Powers, Hollywood has always loved dishing them out in numerous instalments. In this genre, sequels try to cash in on the endearing and enduring appeal of the clumsy/crazy/goofy/ weird, yet very lovable characters, that successful comedies generally create (think the moronic Mike Myers in Austin Powers, the perennially confused Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jones, or the clumsy Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality). Comic sequels, however, have an irregular success graph. While some, such as American Wedding (Part 2 of American Pie) and Analyze That have done even better than the originals, others such as Meet the Fockers (Meet the Parents) haven’t done too well. But the most astonishing of the lot really, is Darna Zaroori Hai, the second helping of the small-budget scare fare, Darna Mana Hai. Sequels are made to cash in on the success of hit films. But trust Ram Gopal Varma to surprise us by making a sequel to a flop!

Like comedy, the horror genre also has a very long history of sequels in Hollywood. Right from the early Dracula and Frankenstein films to the Exorcist, Omen and Friday the 13th series to the very recent Ring, Hollywood has an old, old habit of churning out horror sequels, though not always with heartening results. The Exorcist sequels, and the later Omen films, in particular, have done disastrously.

Varma has some more surprises up his sleeve. His company has recently released D, prequel to the superbly slick Company. This is probably the first prequel made in Bollywood. On the other hand, Hollywood has made quite a few in recent times ? Red Dragon (The Silence of the Lambs), Exorcist: The Beginning, Dominion (both prequels to The Exorcist), The Ring :0, Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry met Lloyd, but none of them set the cash registers ringing. The only and very remarkable exception to the bleak prequel landscape is George Lucas’s Star Wars prequel trilogy comprising Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Episode II: The Attack of the Clones and Episode III: The revenge of the Sith. All of them have done spectacularly at the box-office. And though critics panned the first two prequels as nothing more than dazzling special effects shows, Episode III : The revenge of the Sith, has managed to win them over.

This sudden fondness that Bollywood has developed for the sequel is really quite inexplicable. Especially considering that its earlier attempts at sequels have been disastrous ? be it the dreadful Return of Jewel Thief, the horrendous Hathyar (Vaastav) the inexcusable Xcuse Me or the yawnsome Hyderabad Blues 2. Until now, the miserable performance of these frightful second acts had made Bollywood wary of the Hollywood sequel habit.

Interestingly though, Bengali cinema has a much more successful track record of sequels. Ray’s Apu trilogy is revered the world over, and his Feluda and Goopy-Bagha films are much loved. Recently, Goutam Ghose struck gold with Abar Aranye, his sequel to Ray’s Aranyer Din Ratri, and Sandip Ray enjoyed his biggest hit with Bombaiyer Bombete, another Feluda film.

Hollywood, of course, has never believed in the adage, ‘All good things must come to an end’ and has always sworn by the formula of ‘hits equal sequels’. This obsession with sequels is actually the manifestation of an extremely conformist, ‘let’s stick to what’s worked before’, and also lazy, ‘let’s make some more money without working hard’ attitude. Given this mindset, it’s not surprising that most sequels, except a few rare ones like The Godfather II, Spiderman 2, Aliens, and Batman Returns, have been terrible. And some of them have not even been commercially successful. Treasured memories of great movies like The Maltese Falcon, The Magnificent Seven, The French Connection, The Silence of the Lambs have been completely ruined by their ghastly sequels.

So, in Hollywood, all good things come to an end with their sequels. Hopefully it won’t be the same in Bollywood.