Last month, Golmaal 3 flagged off. Last week, Kumar Taurani of Tips admitted that a sequel to Prince was on the cards. And last Friday, Ram Gopal Varma’s Phoonk 2 arrived to send shivers down our spines. Sequels are the flavour of the season. Actually, they have been the flavour of many seasons. But not always.
I remember a hissstory lesson with Harmesh Malhotra who admitted that for almost a decade he had made the rounds of producers’ offices with the story of Nagina. And met with the standard “it’s interesting but too risky a proposition” response every time. Finally, he had decided to risk his own money in the film and ended up with a blockbuster, along with reams of unused material.It made sound business sense to carry forward the story of reptilian revenge. Nigahen slithered into the theatres three years after Nagina, with Sridevi returning as her own daughter.Another hisssstory. This film was no gamble, its producer-director was expecting to hit the jackpot because Sridevi was now a box-office queen and had been paired with the more saleable Sunny Deol. She also had plenty of ‘saaps’ (snakes) and ‘shraaps’ (curses) for company. But to everyone’s shock, this snake spiel failed to strike. “May be the film came too soon. At every turn it was compared to Nagina and found wanting,” Malhotra had sighed, while admitting that he
could have easily come up with a Nagina III but the Cinematograph Act had made shooting with ‘live’ snakes illegal. “And while computer graphics are high on thrills, they don’t give the same chills,” he had argued.
I’d dropped in on Mahesh Manjrekar’s ‘chawl’ set near Chunabhatti station to interview Sanjay Dutt. The popular ‘Har taraf hai yeh shor, aaya Gokul ka chor…’ that still plays every Janmashtami, was being filmed. As I waited for Sanju to break the ‘dahi handi’ (pot), Mahesh took me through his don drama. Vaastav lived up to all the expectations it had raised... Not Vaastav 2.
No, that wasn’t its title. Turning a deaf ear to his distributors, Mahesh had resolutely refused to appendage his sequel with a ‘Part 2’ to bring in the crowds. He had initially titled his film Pratibimbh because “Raghu’s son Rohit is a mirror image of his father”. However, he soon got exasperated explaining what ‘pratibimbh’ meant and when Rakyesh Mehra’s Aks meaning ‘reflected’ came along, he borrowed Hathyar from JP Dutta’s library as his new title. Interestingly, Manjrekar admitted that he had not planned on making this sequel. The idea had drifted into his mind along with several unanswered questions about Raghu’s family when he was working on Sanjay Dutt’s look for Ek Ajeeb Prem Kahani in London.
“I sat down to write and ended up with 120 scenes,” Manjrekar had laughed, explaining that Rohit’s story was set 32 years after Raghu’s death and began with him struggling to break out of his father’s past. There were many characters and actors from the original Vaastav, including Sanjay Dutt as Rohit, but no recap scenes from the earlier film. “Hathyar was a complete film in itself, a more humane story,” Mahesh had pointed out. Yet, it failed to strike a chord. Later, analyzing its failure, its erudite writer-director had reasoned, “Hindi cinema doesn’t have a culture for sequels.”
Not another Joker
May be he was right. After all, hadn’t Raj Kapoor shelved his plans for a four-hour sequel to Mera Naam Joker despite being ready with the script, music score and a star-studded cast.
For 35 years, Ramesh Sippy despite a barrage of requests had refused to add to his Jai-Veeru curry Western. On Sholay’s 25th anniversary, his father, GP Sippy, had announced plans for a sequel with Shadab, Amjad Khan’s son, as Gabbar Singh junior. But Sippy junior is still to attempt another “perfect” Sholay 2. And after Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag may be he never will.
Even Prakash Mehra who had toyed with the idea of a Zanjeer 2 with Abhishek Bachchan, had to eventually surrender to Jaya Bachchan’s wisdom that the “movie left no room to carry the story forward”.
But there are other filmmakers who with time have got into the act of brand building. We now have successful Dhoom, Krissh and Golmaal franchises. Hopefully there will be more.
As Raj Kapoor would say, “The show goes on…” And so does the story.