As India celebrates 60 years of independence, the country's biggest superstars Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan will step up the tempo to rekindle patriotic fervour with Chak De India and Marigold respectively.
While Shah Rukh, known as the King of Bollywood, will be seen goading a team of women hockey players for a world championship in Chak De India, Salman will essay the role of an Indian man who steals the heart of a foreign belle who arrives in India with a "bad attitude" and transforms her.
Chak De India that goes with the tagline "Sometimes winning is everything" is slated for Friday release in time for Independence Day on August 15. Yash Raj Films, Bollywood' most prestigious production house, trod a road not taken in Chak De India in a year that has spelled doom for them financially.<b1>
The dream merchants have had a nightmarish year so far. Their recent offering, Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, has been declared a dud in spite of the presence of Amitabh Bachchan and his son Abhishek, while Ta Ra Rum Pum was strictly average.
Chak De India is Shah Rukh's first release of 2007. For the actor, who has been doing straightjacket roles of late, the first-of-its-kind film based on India's national sport hockey is a departure and will be a test by fire.
SRK is seen in the avatar of Kabir Khan, a fallen Indian team captain who wants to reclaim glory as a coach of Indian Women's National Hockey team. The film is based on the events surrounding former Indian goalkeeper Mir Ranjan Negi's life - from his fall from grace to his rise from the ashes.
He has formidable task, as the girls are a rag-tag bunch of losers who have never known the thrilling energy of being Team India. He moulds them into a fighting unit that has its eyes set on being the world champions.
This is director Shimit Amin's second film after Aab Tak Chhappan. If it clicks it will be one of the few films coming out of Bollywood that will have pan-India appeal. The plot reaches out to audiences not just in big cities and metros but also the smaller towns.
"I knew it was a challenging script revolving around a sport which, despite being India's national game, wasn't much cared for. But that's precisely what got us so excited," Amin said in an interview.
"What posed as the biggest challenge was the search for girls who could complete the team in the film. We were looking for real people, for a team of girls who could actually play hockey and not merely act.
"In the process of working on the casting, I came face to face with a lot of truths. First, there were hardly any women playing sports, and secondly, every patch and ground in India seemed to be covered with people playing cricket. Hockey was nowhere," says Amin.
Rob Miller, one of the most renowned sports action directors in Hollywood, was roped in for shooting as very few films have been made on women sports internationally.
The filmmakers are also hoping the film recreates the magic of Gurinder Chadha's super-successful Bend It Like Beckham, which narrated the story of a girl in a orthodox Sikh family in Britain who overcame many odds to follow her dream of becoming a football player.
The soundtrack of Chak De India by Salim-Sulaiman, one of the most underrated music-maker duos in the business, is as spiffy, peppy and young, as a film trying to inspire a young India should be.
Whether it will score that crucial goal at the box office will be known soon.<b3>
Salman Khan's first international project - Marigold - is slated for release in the week following Chak De India. Given that Salman is riding high on popularity chart following his rib-tickling performance in box-office hit Partner along with Govinda, Marigold could cut short the screen life of Chak De India if the film does not get going from the word go.
Marigold is a co-production between Adlabs Films Ltd., and Becker Films International. Directed by Willard Corroll the film features Salman in his favourite screen name of Prem along with Hollywood's Ali Larter and upcoming actress Nandana Sen. Larter recently featured among the top 10 sexiest women in the Hollywood.
The story is about American actress Marigold Lexton (Larter) who arrives in India with no luggage and a bad attitude. Stranded in Goa when her low budget Hollywood movie falls apart, Marigold finds herself cast in a small role in a Bollywood musical. Eager to prove herself, she turns to Prem (Salman) for help. Prem, who is the film's choreographer, not only teaches her how to dance but also helps her in getting rid of her bad attitude.
If you are more in mood for a comic caper August will witness the release of debutant director Sajid Khan's Heyy Babby. The film features Akshay Kumar, Riteish Deshmukh and Fardeen Khan bumbling to handle a baby. Vidya Balan plays the key female lead. One song in the film features about a dozen Bollywood beauties with Shah Rukh Khan.
Aag the much-hyped Ram Gopal Varma's take on yesteryears blockbuster Sholay is also slated for release in this month. But the surprise package may turn out to be Vishal Bharadwaj's Blue Umbrella. The film is an adaptation of the beloved novel of the same name by Ruskin Bond. It is a film about desire, the zealous attempt to fulfil it and finally its conquest.
All in all the month ahead has something for everyone.