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Last Updated 24.08.2019 | 12:56 PM IST
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Reflections – Does reputation really matter?

Mid-year analysis of how Bollywood has fared is still a month away but I am tempted to key in this piece right now. There are two trigger points for that. One – The impending success of Ready, something which the industry is most confident about due to the ‘reputation’ that Salman Khan is carrying post Dabangg. Two – The sweet little success of Pyaar Ka Punchnama, something which the industry was least confident about due to lack of a single known name associated with the project. This led me to do some digging into the archives and what I found was a revelation. Picture this. So far in 2011, each of the successful films have been the one which didn’t quite have much going for it as far as reputation gained from the past was concerned. Now is that a mere coincidence or a ‘reflection’ of the mindset of an average moviegoer, at least as far as Bollywood is concerned? Let’s explore.

Fact 1

Sunny Deol‘s last reasonably successful film is Apne (2007). After that he delivers close to half a dozen flops in a row – Kaafila, Heroes, Fox, Right Yaa Wrong and Khuda Kasam. Bobby does even worse as after Apne, he goes on to deliver turkeys like Naqaab, Nanhe Jaisalmer, Chamku, Heroes, Ek – The Power Of One, Vaada Raha… I Promise and Help with a special appearance in Dostana not quite winning him many brownie points. Director Samir Karnik isn’t doing anything better with a career almost over after Kyun! Ho Gaya Na, Nanhe Jaisalmer, Heroes and Vaada Raha… I Promise. Incidentally three of his films feature Bobby in the lead.

A team, on which hardly anyone is willing to put their money on and basically considered passé, comes together to give Yamla Pagla Deewana, a film that stays on to be the biggest commercial success of the year so far. Hurrah!

Fact 2

Rani Mukerji is staring at the bottom of the barrel as far as her Bollywood stint is concerned. After Ta Ra Rum Pum (2007), an average runner, she doesn’t see box office smiling at her with quality of roles coming her way also showing a huge dip. Laaga Chunari Mein Daag, Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic and Dil Bole Hadippa! don’t work at the BO, with a cameo in Saawariya failing to create any magic. Director Rajkumar Gupta seems to be suited only for making ‘veeeeeerry small films’ after Aamir. No one could imagine the duo coming together and making something worthwhile.

They deliver No One Killed Jessica, a film that audience loves to lap up on the very first day even as a segment of the industry continues to wonder how a ‘perceived docudrama’ like this could actually work.

Fact 3

Jackky? Jackie? Jacky? Jack? Half the scribes don’t even get the name right, leave aside knowing, caring or following what he is actually doing. ‘Yeh hai kaun? Maloom nahi yaar. Iska dad phir se ek picture bana raha hai iske liye. Aah, perks of being born in a filmy family.’ Jackky Bhagnani makes a disastrous start with Kal Kissne Dekha. Dad Vashu is anxious as well. He too hasn’t seen much going his way for a decade now. After Mujhe Kucch Kehna Hai and Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein (both 2001), he is still waiting for an elusive success. Deewaanapan, Om Jai Jagadish, Jeena Sirf Merre Liye, Out Of Control, Vaada, Silsiilay, Shaadi No.1, Sorry Bhai! and Do Knot Disturb isn’t quite a list you would be proud of. What does the father-son team do? They hire a choreographer to make an entire film for them.

Remo D’Souza becomes the only successful choreographer turned director since Farah Khan to actually start off with a bang. F.A.L.T.U. is a success story.

Fact 4

No one knows who is Aanand Rai. No one has ever heard about a film called Strangers that he made a few years ago. Madhavan is relying on all the reputation that he has gained due to 3 Idiots even though Teen Patti and Sikandar are totally forgettable. Kangna gains quite some flak for No Problem and Knock Out, her last two films. And then a song hits the screens and changes the fortunes of the film.

Saddi Galli‘ ensures that audience is excited enough to step into theaters. Rest is taken care by Aanand, Madhavan and Kangna. Tanu goes on to wed Manu and in the process ensures that after Yamla Pagla Deewana, this is one ‘baraat’ that saw ‘baraatis’ driving in hordes.

Fact 5

Hero has close to half a dozen films of his stuck in different stages of production. Chances are none of them would ever see the light of the day. Heroine is someone who was once a singer, goes through a name change, doesn’t boast of a filmy lineage and isn’t willing to shed any clothes. The director, once working with the likes of Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar, Aamir Khan and Hrithik Roshan is these days busy launching the likes of Aditya Narayan, Shweta Agarwal, Rajneesh Duggal and Adah Sharma. None of them has seen a second movie to his or her name yet. Still someone up there thinks that a new combination could be attempted after all.

Vikram Bhatt, Mahakshay Chakraborty (a.k.a. Mimoh), Tia Bajpai (a.k.a. Twinkle) rope in another new friend, 3D technology, and take a brave foot forward. They make Haunted, a film which is the only clean hit of the year so far other than Yamla Pagla Deewana and Tanu Weds Manu.

Fact 6

Six newcomers. Only one of them has ever been to a studio before. One new director. A first time producer. No known names in the technical crew either. A low key shooting schedule. No buzz. No hype. No nothing. An opening scene that begins with bha%^n ke lo$% and ends with ch*&%a. Scared investors. Confident makers. A cracker of a promo. And it turns out to be one of the most talked about film of the season. But hold on, there is more ‘punch’ that is awaiting this tale. The film doesn’t open well. No, not at all. Heartbreak all over. And then a turnaround happens. People start spreading word of mouth. Footfalls increase. And increase. And then they further increase. More than half a dozen other films arrive in different languages. This one stays stable though. In fact very stable. What wasn’t possible with even a cult classic like Andaz Apna Apna which never quite took off in theatres happens for this unassuming film. That too in the multiplex era when there are just no second chances.

The film is Pyaar Ka Punchnama. A team made of Abhishek Pathak, Luv Ranjan, Kartik Tiwari, Raoyo Bakhirta, Divyendu Sharma, Nushrat Bharucha, Sonalli Sehgall and Ishita Sharma. Chances are not many would still know which of these names belongs to the hero and who is the producer or the director here. None of these eight folks would mind that though. Their film has been accepted, and that too without any reputations preceding them. As of now they are content. They would think more about the reputation earned when they move on to their next film.

The exceptions

Not that none of the films with some reputation to boast didn’t work at all. Thank You stays on to be the second biggest grosser of the year after Yamla Pagla Deewana and though it is just a coverage affair; it at least kept the flag flying high for Akshay Kumar-Anees Bazmee combine. Madhur Bhandarkar, Ajay Devgn and Emraan Hashmi collaborated with Kumar Mangat for Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji and managed to sail smooth. Leave aside these select films and everyone is aware about whether number of other films with the biggest of stars in the business managed to reach the kind of high that the makers would have expected. Well, your guess is as good as mine!

The future

No wonder, with audience clearly shunning away any reputation earned in the past and taking every film on the face value, it would be interesting to see how some of the most talked about films would fare in the coming weeks. Ready sees Salman arriving after Dabangg, Shah Rukh Khan has produced Always Kabhi Kabhi, sequels of Bheja Fry, Dhamaal and Murder come with a baggage of massive expectations due to the past success, Amitabh Bachchan is putting his 40 years of acting career on stake with Bbuddah…Hoga Terra Baap, Aamir Khan has officially declared that reputation of his as well as his production house is at stake with Delhi Belly, Rohit Shetty‘s entire career has hinged on Ajay Devgn and he would certainly be going through anxious times for Singham, Pankaj Kapur has to maintain his as well as son Shahid’s reputation with Mausam while Prakash Jha has to show the world that after Raajneeti, he only goes higher up with Aarakshan.

The stakes are high. Reputations have to be maintained. And there is always a chance of the likes of a Haunted or a Pyaar Ka Punchnama or a Tanu Weds Manu to arrive out of nowhere and spoil the party.

One reputation may be damaged. But another could be created.

The cycle continues!

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