Well, everyone has decided that the duldrums of February is the time to promote their films, and the duldrums of March is the time to release them. It’s an interesting sign of the state of the industry that I find the piddling little early spring releases much more interesting than the big deal winter ones.
As I am sure we all know, Holi through Republic Day is generally the “good” season for releases. Or, if it is a summer Eid (as it has been for the past several years), Eid through Republic Day. And then after Republic Day, there is usually one semi-big release at Valentine’s Day, and otherwise the schedule is pretty empty.
Empty of major releases, that is. Filled up with smaller films that wouldn’t be able to find screens during the time when bigger films are crowding every screen in India. And today, probably because the Valentine’s films just came out so there isn’t much else in the news, everyone decided it was perfect time to start promoting some of those smaller films.
The one that is actually coming out soon is Anarkali of Aarah, featuring Swara Bhaskar. Who was one of the best parts of Aurangzeb and Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, but hasn’t gotten her own big film built around her. And it looks like it was a bit of a slog to get this one. I found an interview with Swara from December of 2015 talking about it, which means it must have been waiting for release for at least a year. First time director/writer, which I am sure made it even harder. And it sounds like a very unconventional story. Swara plays a village singer who specializes in clever sexy songs. Which is interesting in itself, we have all these movies in which we have a random stranger leading the songs at a mehndi party about the first night and all, and I always wonder who that person is!
(Like Sonali here!)
Anyway, the plot involves Swara running afoul of a local big wig and how she fights back. Oh, and she looks gorgeous on the poster! And Karan is promoting it, which presumably means Dharma bought up the rights, and that it will get a decent release and marketing campaign, and so hopefully reach a decent-sized audience.
Swara’s film is coming out soon, there is another film that just started filming today and presumably won’t be coming out for a looooooooooooong time. But the production of it is fascinating! Red Chillies and BR Chopra Films and Dharma are teaming up to remake Ittefaq, starring Siddharth and Sonakshi and directed by BR Chopra’s grandson in his first directing job.
So many things to unpack behind the scenes! Firstly, notice the wording of Shahrukh’s tweet:
He identifies Ittefaq as a “Yashji” film. Which it was, directed by Yash Chopra. But produced, and the rights owned, by BR Chopra. Which is a whoooooooooole thing. And now BR’s grandson gets to make the remake, instead of Yashji’s son.
However, as I will get into in the last part of my Hindi Film 101 on the Chopras, “BR Films” might now be owned or at least supervised by Yash Raj films now. A few years back, they went bankrupt and Adi came in to rescue them. Not sure what the terms of the deal were by which he took charge.
Speaking of family stuff, Abhay Chopra I think is the Chopra who was Ranbir’s best friend in childhood. Which makes me wonder if that is part of the Dharma involvement here, that Ranbir brought in his good friend Karan to meet with his friend Abhay. And Karan brought in Siddharth (obviously). And then Karan brought in Red Chillies.
Or else Adi is coordinating this whole thing? Frankly, that might make the most sense of all to me. That Adi took over BR Films, looked through their back catalog, picked out the most promising property for a remake, and then brought in Karan and Shahrukh to kind of handhold his cousin in making it, so that Abhay would gain the experience and success that would let him get BR Films back out of the red.
Oh, and I think the casting is brilliant, Ittefaq the original was memorable for taking a chocolate hero type Rajesh Khanna and a cheery heroine type Nanda and making them into something completely opposite the audience expectations. Siddharth and Sonakshi’s casting gives that same potential to the remake.
And the final film which got it’s first look promo today is Laali Ki Shaadi Mein Laddoo Deewana, starring Vivaan Shah and Akshara Haasan. Or, as they are better known, “Naseeruddin Shah’s son and Kamal Haasan’s daughter.” I haven’t seen Shamitabh, Akshara’s only previous film, but I did enjoy Vivaan in both Happy New Year and Bombay Velvet (one of the few parts of Bombay Velvet I did enjoy).
I hope this film turns out well, because I want good things for Vivaan. But I am a little nervous because, like Anarkaali, the only news I can find about it is from way way back in 2015 when it was supposed to have a summer 2016 release. So either they decided it couldn’t handle the competition of a summer release and they want to dump it in the spring duldrums. Or there were so many issues, that they have been fixing it in post-production and reshoots for a year. Either way, not good.
But in general, these three films, plus Anushka’s Phillauri which is also a lower budget no big names film coming in March, and Running Shaadi which I just saw and LOVED, are so much more interesting to me than the same old big releases. They seem more focused on telling a story about characters, and a story that is distinctly Indian instead of glossy and international.