The early ’70s saw a lean, intense Amitabh Bachchan arrive on the scene as the angry young man, in films like Zanjeer (1973) and Sholay (1975), beginning Hindi cinema’s love affair with the action movie.
Then, in 1994 came a family drama called Hum Aapke Hain Kaun, which broke all box office records and made this new kind of family entertainer every producer’s favourite genre – till the late ’90s and onwards, when a younger generation of producers and directors churned out skin flicks and low-budget guerilla hits like Murder (2004) and Bhoot (2003).
Now, in that market, two filmmakers are attempting to make the family entertainer fashionable again. Sooraj Barjatya, who directed HAHK, is readying his new film, Vivah, for a November 10 release, while Ravi Chopra, who last directed Bachchan-led family drama Baghban (2003), is working to release Babul on December 8. Both deal with the sanctity of marriage and their makers hope they will draw family crowds the way HAHK did for a long while after its release.
|Vivah is slated to release on November 10.|
Just last week, audiences voted out mythological film
Jai Santoshi Maa
, which played to empty theatres across the city. Industry observers say families won’t spend ticket money and time on mythologicals, which they get on cable TV at home anyway. “I’ve got fairly good feedback at theatres but not many people are going out to see the film,” says the film’s director Ahmed Siddique.
If Barjatya is worried, he’s not showing it. Asked about the prospects of family entertainers in a market of light comedies and offbeat urban subjects, he says: “I’ve grown up in a joint family, experienced festivities and joy together and the bliss of arranged marriage. When a director makes a film with conviction, the audience joins him and accepts his conviction.”
“A lot will depend on the way they (Barjatya and Chopra) promote their films. Also if the music clicks with the audience, both films will get a good opening otherwise family films don’t get a decent opening these days,” says trade analyst Amod Mehra, who believes there’s no space today for films like Jai Santoshi Maa, but is holding his bets with larger names like Barjatya and Chopra.
“Even Baghban didn’t take a big opening but it clicked later due to good word of mouth. That applies to Vivah and Babul as well – if the story is good, collections will do well otherwise their chances are bleak.”
The two filmmakers in question are past masters of the commercial formula, and both have shiny star casts for comfort. While Vivah stars Shahid Kapur and Amrita Rao, Babul has names like Bachchan, Salman Khan, Rani Mukerji and John Abraham.
Madhur Bhandarkar, who made smash hits out of unconventional, low-budget stories like Chandni Bar (2001) and Page 3 (2005), feels Indian tastes are continuously evolving and don’t really care much for the genre in fashion. “There was an era for family-oriented movies in the ’70s and ’80s. All that has changed, now if the product is good, it’ll work,” he says.