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To colour or not to colour

bollywood Updated: May 05, 2011 01:06 IST
Robin Bansal
Robin Bansal
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

History repeats itself and how. The success of the second coming of Mughal-e-Azam (1960) in 2004 triggered Bollywood filmmakers to re-release classics like Naya Daur (1957) and Hum Dono (1961) in colour but barring the historic epic, none have managed to create a stir at the ticket counters with their new packaging.

Following suit, now Dharmendra starrer 1964 war-drama Haqeeqat is set to release as an Indo-Australian collaboration with over a million natural colours but trade analysts are livid.

“There should be no tampering with a classic. Mughal-E-Azam was an exception but look at Naya Daur and Hum Dono — these didn’t work,” says trade analyst Taran Adarsh.

The distribution rights for Mughal-e-Azam’s re-release, reportedly sold for Rs 22.5 million alone in Mumbai.

Joginder Tuteja reasons, “Colouring a classic will fetch nothing but a flop. The audiences today have no interest in revisiting old films unless the multiplexes reduce the ticket price to just 25%. Moreover, nobody will invest in them for marketing and distribution. It’s a bad business decision.”

Veteran actor Dharmendra, 75, is, however, undeterred. “The colourisation appears very appealing in Haqeeqat and I’m very hopeful of its box office future,” he says.

The mixed response to Hum Dono Rangeen didn’t put off actor Dev Anand, 87, too, who says, “I would take the idea and turn all my films into colour.”

Apparently producer Ravi Chopra of BR Films is also getting six other titles from his banner coloured through a Florida-based company.

Rohan Desai, business head of DI and Restoration, Prime Focus that renews old movies, says, “The process allows filmmakers to not only preserve their films but also monetise from it.”

Time needed to colour:
Depending upon how much dirty or unkempt a film reel is, it can take anywhere from 2-3 weeks to 3-4 months

What it costs:
The cost depends on how much work needs to be done on a reel and can vary from Rs 7-8 lakhs to Rs 25 lakhs

Shot in Black and white after 40 years (2007)

While the classics are going colour, debut filmmaker Shivajee Chandrabushan took a U-turn and directed Danny Denzongpa starrer Frozen (2007) in monochrome. Touted as India’s first black and white movie after almost four decades, it fetched Chandrabushan a national-award and rave reviews.