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Source:Asian gigs

Hope 2001 - an insider's sneak preview.

By Fuad Omar.

2001 has started off with a mixed response from the big box office. We've seen Kasoor and Chori Chori Chupke Chupke do well, but others such as Aashiq and One Two Ka Four not doing as well as expected, some are worried as to what the future holds for the Indian film industry. Well fortune favours the brave and the bottom line is if a well-polished product is delivered, you have done all you can to try for a hit, the rest is destiny. The international arena has opened up new debates as films such as Mohabbatein and Zubeidaa beat competition in the UK and US, but fail to live up to the hype in India, bringing the question to light: What makes a blockbuster film? What do the audience want?

We gaze into our crystal ball and take a peek at six of the soon-to-hit-your-screens films which have 'potential' written all over them. Each seems a risky venture but one that promises to deliver, and each are reason enough to get excited as to what's around the corner. You think you know what's to come, what to expect? Think again, read on and we'll let you in on what to look forward to in the remaining months of this year.

Of the many films which has been written about Ashoka the Great is one which is said to have generated the most interest. Shahrukh's home production which is now simply entitled 'Asoka' is master cinematographer Santosh Sivan 's (Dil Se, Fiza) baby and is all set to rock the big screen like no other movie. The film is under the Dreamz Unlimited banner whose debut venture Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani may have not got favourable reviews from the press, but secretly attained cult status among many. From what this writer's heard about reports from the sets, seen stills and rushes of, Asoka is a film which is full of hard work, dedication and many people's sincerest efforts. Don't believe all the media speculations about this movie and expect nothing and you will be blown away. The film stars Shahrukh Khan, Kareena Kapoor, model Hrishita Bhatt and the increasingly popular Rahul Dev. The film is inspired by the life of the legendary Mauryan emperor who's enchanted by the beautiful Karubaku who in turn is in love with Asoka's commander-in-chief. It's to win her over that Asoka invades Kalinga, where the war and mass destruction changes Asoka.

But if you're expecting costume dramas that fall flat, prepare for disappointment, Asoka is shaping up to be a slick, well made epic and a movie like no other. As Shahrukh himself reminds us:
"Asoka is not a usual costume drama. It's going to be very different from other historicals."

Next we have Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gum which is easily going to be the biggest movie of the year. It's the second venture from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai's director Karan Johar and boasts a cast of Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, Kajol, Hrithik Roshan, Kareena Kapoor and Rani Mukherji in a brief cameo role. This movie reunites Amitabh and Jaya thirteen years after Silsila to play parents together. The movie will also be the last one which pairs Shahrukh and Kajol as she has decided to settle down to concentrate on her family after this movie, although she may surprise us sometime in the future. The film has an enormous amount of expectations and is slated for release around the end of the year, whatever the outcome it is a surefire hit at the box office and one that will not disappoint - depending on what you're expecting.

Subhash Ghai's Yaadein is a film as he says which is "inspired by photographs". Starring Jackie Shroff, Rati Agnihotri, Hrithik Roshan and Kareena Kapoor, this movie is all about relationships triggered by the stray realisiation that in every household you can find photographs of much-loved ones that bring back memories and are a part of our entity. The film is Subhash's next after Taal, which was a superhit internationally. The Hrithik mania, novel idea and presence of a good actress who looks stunning (Kareena) makes this film one to watch for. I've never been a huge fan of Ghai's work, but it seems like wine, he matures with age and delivers better than one would expect.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali enchanted audiences everywhere with his worldwide smash Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and is following it up with a movie which seems as difficult to make if not moreso. Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam was an experience which took a long time to realise and was the result of painstaking efforts on behalf of the film's director, cast and crew and now Devdas has already had as much, if not more, press. With the death of a crew member by a hurtling giant fan, the castings and arrest of producer Bharat Shah, it would seem Devdas is in hot water. But Sanjay is a survivor and has a great support team in his cast of Shahrukh Khan, Madhuri Dixit and Aishwarya Rai. Friend Salman Khan drops in on the sets too and is a welcome face but the sets erected at Film City, the canvas of the project and the unbridled passion of everyone involves makes this a larger-than-life project whch will undoubtedly be a visual treat and cinematic journey. Don't expect something too different from the original though as Sanjay himself admits, "For me, Devdas is great literature. I will not tamper with the basic story but my treatment will make it different from the earlier two versions by PC Barua and Bimal Roy."

Madhuri is cast in a role which highlights her acting and dancing skills and is looking nothing short of mesmerising on the sets of the film. Aishwarya is looking like a princess and better than in any film and Shahrukh is going to deliver a performance of a lifetime. The sets are awe inspiring, with an entire palace being set up surrounded by a lake, mirrors, huge pillars and an atmosphere that makes you believe in this world when on the sets it's screen magic is going to set the celluloid on fire. 

Aamir Khan's home production Lagaan is already winning music lovers everywhere's hearts and generating anticipation. Aamir took the bold step of promoting his film through showing Hollywood-style teaser trailers only in theatres that too months in advance of the film's release. This worked and people queued up only to see the publicity. His making of Lagaan's music is set to be shown on Sony TV and his recent appearance at Planet M in Mumbai caused hysteria. "Lagaan is not a historical film, it's not a true story," said Aamir. "It's a once-upon-a-time story and though it is set in Colonial India it's not about Indians fighting for freedom." The film is set in 1890 in a small farming village and revolves around a farmer, Bhuvan, who protests against a land tax levied by the British and spearheads a peasant uprising. The film was shot in a start to finish schedule last year between January and July with in-sync sound and it's taking a year to complete post-production work. From those among us who've seen the rushes, Lagaan is definitely going to be worth the worth to wait.