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Lage Raho Bollywood!

Munna Bhai may become a cult for those filmmakers who are in desperate need of new ideas, writes Arnab Banerjee.

india Updated: Sep 02, 2006 17:14 IST

Indian cinema's claims of having arrived internationally are pooh poohed by all those who know the truth. We have miles to go.

The reality is that apart from technical gloss that some Hollywood technicians have added to our cinema, there is nothing that we could be proud of.

It is not that we do not have the required talent or expertise. Sadly, we have lost out to other emerging contenders of great cinema like Iran and Taiwan.
Content for one, or rather the lack of it, is something that glaringly attracts any serious cine goer’s attention. Add to it, the mushy overly sentimental treatment of trite subjects offering virtually nothing original.

While the emphasis is on the monotonous sameness of themes, no one has ever succeeded in making watchable films that touch a cord with the viewers.

Raj Kapoor’s gave up his attempts after Mera Naam Joker. Among those who feared colossal collapse at the box office were several top notch directors like Dev Anand, Shakti Samanta and Basu Chatterjee.

A still from Lage Raho Munna Bhai

With the exception of Satyajit Ray whose Feluda series has eager fans waiting for the detective’s return, no one could recreate our own instances. A few filmmakers did burn their fingers trying to revive a story that had connected with the masses but with little success. Ashok Tyagi made

The Return of Jewel Thief

as a sequel to the Vijay Anand’s classic.

The 90s saw many changes and mercifully a lot more pleasant ones too.

With Hindi films exploring uncharted territories the past few years, things are beginning to make a significant change, slowly but definitely.

This year has been a phenomenal year for Indian cinema. Two sequels have done great business – Priyan’s Phir Hera Pheri and Rakesh Roshan’s Krrish. Few remakes are also generating enough curiosity – Farhan’s Akhtar’s version of Don and JP Dutta’s Umrao Jaan. Their claims of merely interpreting the artistic merits of the film in their innovative and imaginative way is impatiently awaited to see how ‘different’ they can be.

Munna Bhai MBBS, by far was the only original subject that spawned several remakes in South Indian languages. Reports says that an English version of the same is in the pipeline.

This week’s release, Lage Raho Munnabhai is yet another sequel, constructs an all-new genre that is sure to make people sit up and take note of its novelty and freshness. Producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra and director RajKumar Hirani deserve all the kudos for living up to people’s expectations.

The premise here is almost similar to their earlier film Munnabhai MBBS – two affable ‘goondas’ Munna and Circuit get drawn into a situation where their life undergoes a dramatic turn and what follows is a series of laughs. The film banks heavily on the Gandhian principles of values and ethics. It denigrates nor preaches any moral judgment – all it underlines is Gandhiji’s philosophy in most good humoured manner. And that raises the film in its emotional content.

Come to think of it, LRM in that sense is not a sequel technically – it does not follow a story from where it had left off as a progression. It relives the hilarity of Munnabhai MBBS and is characterised and designed to drive home some unpalatable truths about our social system. It also sets off a new series of ideas keeping the original roles of the two characters intact.

Will the Munnabhai series whip up enough moolah? For the depleted Bollywood, thriving on the clichéd, banal and uninspired content for far too long, let us pray that it does. Lastly, to all those filmmakers desperately looking for innovative ideas, this might prove to be a money-spinning concept for others to cash in on their success.

First Published: Sep 03, 2006 16:00 IST