The Hindi film industry has entered the second half of the year feeling triumphant as it has managed to get the audiences back into the halls without much extra effort.
But the audiences are still unpredictable. Critically acclaimed multi-starrer Omkara is holding well only in Mumbai and Delhi while Sanjay Dutt-starrer Anthony Kaun Hai is hovering between average and flop categories.
Going by early reports, this year's most-awaited mega-starrer Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna by the industry's blue-eyed boy Karan Johar has not had as spectacular an opening as was hoped.
The box-office collections of the film are likely to pick up after the five-day extended weekend but the film's characterisation and plot have not enthused critics much.
The film stars Shah Rukh Khan who claims to be the "icon of the industry". In the teaser of his new movie Don, Shah Rukh says: "I am the king".
But box-office returns of his solo films are a clear indicator that even he cannot guarantee box-office success the way Amitabh Bachchan could in the good old days.
Though the audience has changed, a large movie-going population is still very much into hero-worshiping enabling some south Indian actors to command more money than Bollywood's "A-list" stars.
Scepticism tends to creep in when one hears Shah Rukh say: "This is King Khan. I'm the Ronaldinho (ace Brazilian footballer) of acting. I'll be there for another five to six years, then maybe you can think of some other actor."
Elsewhere, he can be heard saying: "No newcomer is around to oust me. It's terrific. I'm respected, recognised. Many magazines call me the icon of the country. The fact is I'm blessed, it has been a charmed life."
He has ruled the roost coming a long way from days of television series Fauji in 1988 to scale spectacular heights after Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge.
But in today's scenario Shah Rukh needs to be accompanied by an ensemble cast including Amitabh, Rani Mukerji, Preity Zinta and Abhishek Bachchan as in Kabhi Alvida...
It has been a while since his solo-hero films made cash registers ring. In fact, a film starring a herd of stars cannot ensure a box-office success either.
Ram Gopal Varma's horror flick Darna Zaroori Hai could not stay on the marquees in spite of the presence of almost every star of the industry - Amitabh, Anil Kapoor, Riteish Deshmukh, Mallika Sherawat and Bipasha Basu.
Most of the multi-starrers in the past have witnessed great success. But when it comes to guarantee, there is none. Stars will only help, if the film is supported by a strong script and decent execution along with impressive performances.
Trade watcher Deepa Gehlot says: "Now that the audience is in a mellow, welcoming mood, this is the time to welcome new talent with fresh ideas into the industry."
Unfortunately, a lot of big-money corporate houses, who are getting into film production, are only looking at huge projects with stars.
So, it is left to a few like Pritish Nandy Communications, iDream Productions, Crossover Films and Metalight Productions, plus some enterprising individuals, to fund smaller films, apart from the old trouper National Film Development Corporation (NFDC).
"It is unfortunate, again, that a lot of small budget offbeat films turn out to be unwatchable. There is still a crisis of content, which, in this current self-congratulatory phase, the industry is not addressing," adds Gehlot.
One hears of a little blip of change here and there. Subhash Ghai has set up a script workshop and is looking at new ideas; iDream already has a script bank; UTV is getting scripts developed; NFDC is planning something on the lines of a script bank too.
Everyone complains of the shortage of good writers but no one seems to do anything about it.