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Skin flicks out of closets

Success of films stressing the unclothed female form such as Jism and Khwahish has unleashed a fury of skin flicks.

india Updated: Jul 31, 2003 18:26 IST
Subhash K. Jha (IANS)
Subhash K. Jha (IANS)

The moderate success of films stressing the unclothed female form such as Jism and Khwahish seems to have unleashed a fury of skin flicks in Bollywood.

Even filmmakers with conservative images are going for an image revamp.
Producer Vashu Bhagnani, reeling under the impact of multiple flops like Om Jai Jagadish, Jeena Sirf Merre Liye and Deewanapan, did some quick rethinking to solve the financial crisis in his company. "The first thing I needed to do was to get rid of the star phobia that all of us producers suffer from," Bhagnani told IANS.

He launched Out of Control and signed a former Maharashtra chief
minister's son, Ritesh Deshmukh, "who may not be considered a success in Mumbai but starred in one of the biggest hits of this year, Tujhe Meri Kasam."

But what really got the distributors interested was the bombshell factor. Bhagnani went to the US and spoke to Brandie Rodricks from the beach-bimbo series Baywatch and got her signatures to star opposite Deshmukh.

"And now when I've completed shooting suddenly everyone's interested in my film," says Bhagnani, who has returned from the US after two months of non-stop shooting. The producer had to hire and fire as many as three directors on location. "But I'm happy with what I've canned." The thrust of the publicity for Out of Control would of course be Rodricks' bust and thighs. The publicity reveals a lot of flesh and Bhagnani isn't the least apologetic about it.

"After all, I've to sell my film to the public." Taking a leaf out of the Jism book, another lately failed director, Deepak Shivdasani, has launched a skin flick entitled Julie, with former Miss India Neha Dhupia in the lead. Shivdasani's last film, Yeh Raaste Hain Pyar Ke, which he produced himself, incurred heavy losses. "And I need to get back on my feet."

Recently the filmmaker released a picture to the press showing Neha supine in bed in unclothed splendour. The campaign has caught on, and Shivdasani is back in business. "I never expected such a huge impact from one still. Suddenly everyone is interested in my film Julie. Although Neha didn't get too many flattering reviews for her debut film, I see some potential in her which can be developed."

The "potential" seems to reside mostly in Neha's physical assets. Says Shivdasani, "I'm putting her through a rigorous exercise routine at the gym and she's doing kick-boxing to reduce her weight." The enthusiastic director clarifies that contrary to reports in Mumbai, his film isn't a remake of the 1973 blockbuster Julie, which starred the southern actress Laxmi as an unwed mother.

"My Julie is completely original. It's the story of an innocent girl's journey into corruption, from Goa to Mumbai. "You could say it's akin to Raj Kapoor's Ram Teri Ganga Maili." Kapoor's film became notorious for showing its leading lady Mandakini under a waterfall with nothing on - literally.

"Neha plays a sex worker. So naturally there're bold scenes." Ask Shivdasani if his film is inspired by the success of skin flicks like Jism and Khwahish and he retorts, "I don't think a film like Khwahish needs to be an example for me. "But yes, as you rightly put it, the audience seems to be getting seduced by titillation. And I've got their attention with one photograph of my leading lady, though I start shooting only later during the year."

Many other filmmakers have caught on. Sanjay Gupta, who made a fiercely macho film Kaante, is all set to direct Musafir featuring Sameera Reddy as a wanton wife who has a physical relationship with all the four leading men - Sanjay Dutt, Suniel Shetty, Anil Kapoor and Mahesh Manjrekar.

The role is so bold that even the seemingly uninhibited Priyanka Chopra declined to do it. Sameera, who's been getting a lot of attention for her confident presence in Darna Mana Hai, says she has no qualms about portraying someone as sexually upfront as her character in Musafir.

"It's just a character. And besides we're no longer in the medieval ages," she clarifies for those in doubt.

First Published: Jul 31, 2003 12:58 IST