OMERTA

Swiss Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. and Karma Media And Entertainment’s Omertà (a) is the true story of terrorist Omar Saeed Sheikh. It traces the story of how a bright student of the London School of Economics became a dreaded terrorist.

Omar Saeed Sheikh (Rajkumar Rao) studies in the London School of Economics. He feels terrible when he sees his Muslim brothers and sisters being persecuted in Bosnia. He quits his education and decides to do something to reduce their misery. But soon, he becomes a jehadi and a dreaded terrorist who is behind kid­nappings of foreigners in India in 1994 and who also murders The Wall Street Journal journalist Daniel Pearl (Timothy Ryan Hickernell) in 2002.

Mukul Dev has written the story which gives an insight into the making of the dreaded terrorist, Omar Saeed Sheikh. While the story has twists and turns, it moves on a single track. And because it is the story of a dreaded terrorist, it would not really impress too many people from among the general public. Yes, connoisseurs of art cinema may like to watch how an ordinary citizen turned to the world of crime but there’s not much for an average person to take home from the film. Rather, the story becomes boring after a point of time once it is established that Omar is on a revenge spree. Hansal Mehta’s screenplay is written in such a way that the audience feels, it is watching a docu-drama on Omar Saeed Sheikh. Not many would be interested in watching the documentation of the life story of a dreaded criminal. Hansal Mehta’s dialogues are good.

Rajkumar Rao plays the sinister Omar Saeed Sheikh with all the con­viction at his command. His cold stares and his couldn’t-care-less attitude come to the fore very well. Keval Arora is lovely as Omar’s father, Saeed Sheikh. Timothy Ryan Hickernell is okay as Daniel Pearl. Rajesh Tailang stands his own as General Mahmud. Sanjeev Chopra (as Maulana Abdullah), Ravi Khanna (as Zubair Shah), Rahul Dhir (as Amin), Akhilesh (as Siddiqui), Ajitabh Sengupta (as Salauddin), Marco Bojic (as Rhys Partridge), Tilak Raj Joshi (as the cop at the old Delhi check post), Chris Walter (as Paul Rideout), Jack (as Christopher Myles), Mo Pitz (as Bela), Susheel Dahiya (as police inspector A.K. Jain), Jaipreet (as lawyer Majeed), Harmeet Sawhney (as Abdul), Rupinder Nagra (as Maulana Ismail), Aryan (as Sohail), Aamir (as Jaffer), Satish Yadav (as Saif), Tarun Kohli (as Naved), Sahil Shah (as Arshad), Aman (as Anees), Aditya Uppal (as Abu), Tareeq (as the preacher), Sanjeev Mehta (as Maulana Masood Azhar), Amin (as Qasim), Orvana Ghai (as Omar’s wife, Saadia), Satwant Kaur (as Omar’s mother), Sahir Mehta (as Omar’s brother), Arya (as Omar’s sister), Kallirroi Tziafeta (as Marianne Pearl) and the rest lend decent support.

Hansal Mehta’s direction is fair but is limited in appeal. He has made a film which caters to a very thin section of the audience only. Ishaan Chhab­ra’s music is okay. Anuj Rakesh Dhawan’s camerawork is effective. Harpal Singh’s (Pali) action and stunt scenes are impactful. Neil Chowdhury’s production designing is alright. Editing (Aditya Warrior) is quite sharp.

On the whole, Omertà is too class-appealing to make any impact at the box-office. It will, therefore, flop at the turnstiles. It has some hope in the very high-end multiplexes, that too, just in the first weekend.

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102 NOT OUT

Sony Pictures Releasing International, Treetop Entertainment and Benchmark Pictures’ 102 Not Out is the story of a 102-year-old man and his 75-year-old son.

Dattatraya Vakharia (Amitabh Bachchan) is a 102-year-old man, full of zest and keen on breaking the record of a Chinese as the oldest living man. His son, Babulal Vakharia (Rishi Kapoor), is 75 years old. Quite unlike Dattatraya, Babulal is dull and disinterested in life.

One day, Dattatraya threatens to send son Babulal to an old-age home. This petrifies Babulal because he is averse to change of any kind. Dattatraya then asks Babulal to accept challenges thrown by him. If Babulal is willing to take up the challenges and if he completes the tasks given to him by Dattatraya, he can avoid going to the home for the aged.

Dattatraya’s plan to shake his son out of the monotonous lifestyle is dee­per than it appears. Why does the 102-year-old father want his 75-year-old son to reform?

Saumya Joshi has adapted his own stage-play of the same title. His story is quite novel and not just because it is the story of a father and his son but also because they both are very old and for a variety of other reasons. The story is interesting and engaging but the best part is that it has a very bold message too. The screenplay, also penned by Saumya Joshi, is excellently written. The first half is light-hearted and evokes laughter and smiles at a number of places. However, the post-interval portion takes a more serious, dramatic and emotional turn. The drama in the second half could make the weak-hearted cry buckets. Many others may not cry a lot but they would definitley find their eyes moist in a couple of scenes. The strong-hearted may not end up in tears but they’d definitely feel a lump in their throats. Although the second half is more serious, it does have its share of light moments too. Another good point about the screenplay is that everybody would be able to identify with the drama – things shown in the film would have happened in one’s family, or the family/ies of a relative, friend or acq­uaintance. There are a number of clap-trap scenes in the film, especially after interval. The climax is splendid and will evoke a loud round of applause – and that would be a conclusive proof that the audience is with the characters and the story. Saumya Joshi’s dialogues are gems and go straight to the heart. Three dialogues which stand out are: the one in which Dattatraya compares the reason for Babulal’s wife forgetting people with that for Babulal’s son forgetting people; the one in which Dattatraya vows to not allow Babulal’s son to defeat his own (Dattatraya’s) son (that is, Babulal); and the one in which Babulal gives his son the final order at the airport.

Amitabh Bachchan is outstanding in the role of the energetic 102-year-old. He plays the character of Dattatraya Vakharia with such conviction that he makes the drama oh so believable. Whether it is the humorous scenes or the dramatic ones, he is absolutely first-rate in each of them. In the emotional scenes, his acting is, of course, simply terrific. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Bachchan picked up awards for his acting in this film. Rishi Kapoor is truly remarkable as the 75-year-old Babulal. He is so natural that one can’t help but sing his praises. His facial expressions and his body language are to die for. If he is cute as the old man with no zing in his life, he is endearing as the man who pines to meet his son and whose heart melts at the very mention of his son’s name. Rishi Kapoor, too, could easily pick up awards for his performance. A word here about the chemistry between Bachchan and Kapoor: it is extraordinary. Jimmit Trivedi stands his own in the role of Dhiru, that too, in front of two acting legends, Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor. Jimmit’s acting is very real. Dharmendra Gohil makes his presence felt as Babulal’s son, Amol. Others lend the necessary support.

Umesh Shukla’s direction is marvellous. His narrative style is very different because although the film speaks about at least five more members of the Vakharia family (Amol, his wife, their two kids, and Babulal’s wife), it shows only two Vakharias (Dattatraya and Babulal) for the major part of the drama. In other words, the characteristics and profiles of the other Vakharias, mainly Amol, his wife and Babulal’s wife, are brought out beautifully mostly through dialogues mouthed by Dattatraya. Music (Salim-Sulaiman) goes well with the film’s mood. The ‘Badumbaa’ song is popular too. Lyrics are appropriate. George Joseph’s background music is very nice. Laxman Utekar’s cinematography deserves special mention as it captures the mood and the emotions very effectively. Bodhaditya Banerjee’s editing is sharp.

On the whole, 102 Not Out is a hit. It has entertainment and it has a message – and that’s a pretty good combination. It will be loved by the ladies, families and the elderly audience, of course, but it will also be gradually lapped up by youngsters. The strong positive word of mouth would actually ensure a big jump in collections during the weekend and would even make the film a richly paying proposal.

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DAAS DEV

Storm Pictures and Saptarishi Cinevision Production’s Daas Dev (UA) is a love story adapted from Sarat Chandra Chatterjee’s Devdas and Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Dev Pratap Chauhan (Rahul Bhat) hails from a family of politicians but he is not interested in politics. He is heavily in debts after his father, Vishambhar Pratap Chauhan’s (Anurag Kashyap) untimely demise years ago, even while he was a kid. Dev’s uncle, Awadesh Pratap Chauhan (Saurabh Shukla), is a shrewd politician. Not only does he care for his widowed sister-in-law, Sushila Devi (Sohaila Kapur), but also has physical relations with her. He is keen that Dev enters politics.

Dev loves his childhood friend, Paro (Richa Chadda). Chandni Mehra (Aditi Rao Hydari) is a fixer who sleeps around with politicians to get work done. She loves Dev although she is aware that he would never be hers. Paro has two more men salivating for her – politician Ramashray Shukla (Vipin Sharma) and Milan Shukla (Vineet Kumar Singh).

Dev is forced to throw his hat into the political ring when uncle Awadesh Pratap Chauhan is hospitalised. As the political game gets murkier, Paro’s father, Naval Singh (Anil George), is jailed for a crime which he hasn’t committed. Paro and her mother (Ekavali Khanna) plead before the Chauhan family but are unable to secure Naval Singh’s freedom. Rather, Naval Singh dies in jail. That’s the last straw on the camel’s back. A dejected Paro walks out on Dev despite being madly in love with him. Paro agrees to marry the widowed Ramashray Shukla. After Paro’s wedding with Ramashray Shukla, the political game becomes dirtier. Skeletons come tumbling out of different cupboards, leaving Dev as flabbergasted as Paro. It soon emerges that power corrupts and that there’s no room for principles in politics.

What happens thereafter?

Sudhir Mishra and Jaydeep Sarkar have penned a story inspired by Devdas and Hamlet. But the story is so complicated and confusing that it becomes difficult for the audience to fully comprehend it. That is the main reason why the viewers don’t feel completely engaged in the drama. The screenplay, written by the duo, with additional screenplay by Ravi S. Alok, is fast-paced but, like the story, it gets complicated every now and then. Although it is basically a love story set against the backdrop of politics, the political drama takes so much precedence over the love portions that the romance doesn’t remain heartwarming. The audiences do not feel for the two lovers, Dev and Paro – and that’s a major drawback of the love story.

Of course, the twists and turns revealed in the end do shock the viewers but the shock value comes so late that by then, the audience has quite given up. Dialogues, written by Sudhir Mishra and Tariq Naved Siddiqui, are reasonably effective.

Rahul Bhat may lack screen presence but he has performed ably in the role of Dev. As Paro, Richa Chadda is quite effective and impactful. Aditi Rao Hydari is earnest in the role of Chandni Mehra. Saurabh Shukla lends able support as Awadesh Pratap Chauhan. Vipin Sharma leaves a fine mark in the role of the wily Ramashray Shukla. Dalip Tahhil is stylish as Shrikant Sahay. Deepraj Rana stands his own as Prabhunath Singh. Anil George makes his presence felt as Naval Singh. Sohaila Kapur is natural as Sushila Devi. Vineet Kumar Singh has his definite moments in a friendly appearance as Milan Shukla. Anurag Kashyap is pretty good as Vishambhar Pratap Chauhan. Ekavali Khanna leaves a mark as Paro’s mother. Suryamohan Kulshreshta (as Badri Kaka), Anil Sharma (as chief minister Khatri) and the rest are adequate.

Sudhir Mishra’s direction is good insofar as the shot takings and making are concerned. But his narration is unable to do much about the complicated script, co-written by him. Music (Vipin Patwa, Arko Pravo Mukherjee, Shamir Tandon, Sandesh Shandilya and Anupama Raag) is fair but the songs are not popular and that’s a big drawback. Lyrics (by Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Bulley Shah, Munir Niazi, Dr. Sagar, Sameer Anjaan, Arko Pravo Mukherjee, Deepak Ramola and Gaurav Solanki) are appropriate. Firoz A. Khan’s choreography is so-so. Background music (by Vipin Patwa and Karel Antonin; additional background score by Aditya N. and Nayantara Bhatkal) is alright. Sachin Krishn’s cinematography is of a very good standard. Prem Sharma’s action scenes are decent. Gautam Sen’s production designing is okay. Archit Damodar Rastogi’s editing could’ve been sharper.

On the whole, Daas Dev is too complicated to appeal to the public. It will, therefore, flop at the ticket windows.

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BEYOND THE CLOUDS

Zee Studios and Namah Pictures’ Beyond The Clouds (UA) is the story of two siblings.

Amir (Ishaan Khatter) is a drugs carrier, delivering drugs to different places. One day, the police give chase to Amir and his accomplice. The two run for their lives. Amir, who has a packet of white powder with him, reaches the chawl in which his sister lives, hides the packet there and escapes. The sister, Tara (Malavika Mohanan), troubled about his profession, has always been asking him to leave the world of crime. Tara herself has separated from her abusive husband and works for Akshi (Gautam Ghose) who lusts for her. It is later revealed that Tara sells her body to make both ends meet.

Akshi tries to act fresh with Tara the next day when she asks him for the white powder packet which she had handed over to him for safe-keeping. In a fit of rage, Tara hits him so hard on the head with an object that he gets seriously injured. A bleeding Akshi lands in hospital while a weeping Tara is sent to jail. Amir is distraught, even more when he learns that Tara will have to serve life imprisonment if Akshi dies due to the attack by Tara.

It now becomes Amir’s bounden duty to ensure that Akshi gets the best possible medical care. He ends up paying for the medicines of his sister’s tormentor and even giving Akshi’s family, which has come to Bombay from his village, space in his own house.

What happens thereafter? Does Akshi survive or does he die in the hospital? Does Amir succeed in securing Tara’s freedom?

Majid Majidi’s story is both, interesting and engaging. The humane drama touches the heart but its slow pace and realistic atmosphere make it one for the elite audience only. Al­ though it is the story of the underbelly of Bombay, the style in which it has been written makes it more appealing for the classes in the cities. The ending is not just abrupt but it is also abstract and would leave the viewers confused, making it even more unappealing for the masses.

The screenplay, written by Majid Majidi and Mehran Kashani, is excellent but having said that, it must be added, it would be liked by a section of the audience only. The dilemma of the concerned Amir is beautifully brought out as he finds himself tend­ing to the very man whom he would rather want dead but whose death could spell disaster for his imprisoned sister. The scene in which Amir can’t hold back his emotions and reveals all to Akshi’s mother and kids is absolutely brilliant. Equally excellent are the scenes between Amir and Tara in jail. A couple of chase and action scenes are also wonderful. On the other hand, the film shows so much of poverty and squalor that it depresses the viewers.

Vishal Bhardwaj’s dialogues are weighty, yet simple.

Ishaan Khatter is a big star in the making. His performance is so extraordinary and easy-going that it is difficult to believe, this is his debut film. He has a wonderful screen presence, and acts superbly, that too, with effortless ease. He dances very gracefully. He has a good voice, and his dialogue delivery is lovely. Malavika Mohanan shines in the role of Tara. She does an extremely fine job. She is also natural to the core. Gautam Ghose lends tremendous support as Akshi. GV Sharada plays Akshi’s mother with all the conviction at her command and makes the character quite noteworthy. Dhwani Rajesh is extremely likeable as Akshi’s elder daughter. Baby Amruta Santosh Thakur (as Akshi’s younger daughter) and master Shivam Pujari (as Tara’s little friend in jail) provide very good support. Tannishtha Chatt­erjee lends excellent support as Tara’s jail partner. Akash (as Amir’s friend, Anil) is natural to the core. Shashank Shende provides decent support as pimp Rahul. Others are effective.

Majid Majidi’s direction is excellent. His shot takings are terrific and his lighting of the shots is remarkable. He has shot the film on real locations, and that gives the film a lot of raw energy. A.R. Rahman’s music score is good but his background score is superb. M.C. Heam’s rap lyrics are fine. Anil Mehta’s cinematography is award-winning. He has been able to capture the emotions of the drama as well as the ambience wonderfully well. Amaar Shetty’s action scenes are just too real. Mansi Dhruv Mehta’s production designing and Planet D’s art direction are splendid. Hassan Hassandoost’s editing is sharp.

On the whole, Beyond The Clouds is a beautifully shot and beautifully made human drama with some sterling performances. But it has limited appeal at the box-office because of the way in which it has been treated. Its difficult English title and lack of recognisable faces will further restrict its commercial chances. The film will do well in select high-end multiplexes of a few cities only. It will, however, win a lot of critical acclaim.

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OCTOBER

Rising Sun Films and Kino Works’ October is an unusual love story.

Dan (Varun Dhawan) and Shiuli Iyer (Banita Sandhu) are interns in a five-star hotel. Alongwith other friends like Ishani (Isha Chaturvedi) and Manjeet (Sahil Vadoliya), they make a happy group. But like in every group, there are all kinds. Dan is a restless guy, raring to go. He feels bogged down by the mundane work his boss, Asthana (Prateek Kapoor), gives him, probably due to his (Dan’s) arrogance and irreverence. Shiuli is a conscientious and sincere worker.

One evening, the group of friends is partying by the hotel poolside on the third floor. Since Dan is not around, Shiuli casually asks the other friends where Dan was. Just then, she tries to sit on the parapet, loses her balance and falls to the ground floor in the hotel compound. Although she survives the horrendous accident, she slips into a coma.

Dan, like all the other friends, is shocked. Again, like all the other pals, he visits Shiuli in the hospital ICU. But he feels a strange connection with her as he gets very rattled on seeing her with tubes in her body. Then, Dan gets to know that Shiuli had enquired about him just before falling down. This makes him feel even more responsible towards her. His friends try to convince him that her question about his whereabouts was casual but Dan takes it upon himself to look after her and care for her, becoming a strong pillar of support for Shiuli’s family comprising her widowed mother, Prof. Vidya Iyer (Gitanjali Rao), younger sister, Kaveri (Iteeva Pandey), and younger brother, Kunal (Karamveer Kanwar). So consumed is Dan with caring for Shiuli, whose chances of survival are very low, that he starts neglecting his work and is ultimately dismissed from duty. And all this only because Shiuli had asked about him before falling down from the third floor.

What happens thereafter? Does Shiuli come out of the coma? Is Shiuli in love with Dan? Does Dan love Shiuli?

Juhi Chaturvedi has penned a heartfelt story about a young man selflessly looking after his friend even at the cost of his job. Not many boys would risk their job and their future for a girl who may be dying and who is not even a girlfriend but when Dan does this, he makes one think what’s wrong in being a caring friend. In other words, although everyone thinks in practical terms and moves on in such cases, Dan’s refusal to move on makes the viewers feel that it is not necessary that what the majority does is always right. In fact, the beauty of Juhi Chaturvedi’s story is that it doesn’t paint Dan as wrong or right – and consequently, it also doesn’t show his other more practical pals to be right or wrong! But the story does make the audiences wonder, question themselves and, most importantly, fall in love with Dan and his devotion.

Juhi Chaturvedi’s screenplay is, of course, very class-appealing, moving at a leisurely pace, but it does tug at the heart-strings. The screenplay gets depressing at times but it is also emotional and heartwarming. The weak-hearted may end up crying at a couple of places, especially in the end. A very positive point about the screenplay is that it infuses humour into the otherwise serious drama, giving the audience relief and reason to smile or even laugh at times. No doubt, the masses will not at all be able to enjoy the very slow-paced drama as it oscillates between depressing and emotional but the classes and a section of the audiences in the big cities will be floored by the character of Dan so much that they will love the drama.

Juhi Chaturvedi’s dialogues are very realistic. The funny ones are splendid while the other dialogues touch the heart. Even when the family is discussing whether they should allow Shiuli’s ventilator to be switched off (her paternal uncle is in favour of that), the humour stands in stark contrast to the depressing thought, giving the audience a novel experience.

All in all, Juhi Chaturvedi deserves praise for writing an extremely difficult script so beautifully.

Varun Dhawan is splendid in the role of Dan. His performance has so much honesty and integrity that he makes the character of Dan extremely endearing. At several points in the film, the viewer would feel like simply hugging Varun for making Dan so lovable. Credit to Varun for essaying the role with so much restraint because he has the image of a happy-go-lucky and over-the-top youngster who is boisterous and brash. Banita Sandhu makes an impressive debut in the role of Shiuli Iyer. She does full justice to her character. Gitanjali Rao slips into the character of Shiuli’s distraught mother, Prof. Vidya Iyer, and delivers a very mature performance. Ashish Ghosh makes his presence felt as Dr. Ghosh. Isha Chaturvedi is first-rate as Ishani. Sahil Vadoliya lends tremendous support as Manjeet. Prateek Kapoor shines in the role of Dan’s boss, Asthana. Nimmi Raphael has her moments as Sister Grace. Shekhar Murugan is very natural as Shiuli’s paternal uncle, Jairam Iyer. Iteeva Pandey (as Kaveri) and Karamveer Kanwar (as Kunal) are natural as Shiuli’s siblings. Rachica Oswal leaves a mark in the role of Dan’s mother. Nilanjana Banerjee, Sudeep Singh and Dr. Poonam Solanki (all three as doctors), Anshul Thakur (as Adi), Anmol, Caroline, Mishele Samrat, Maaz, Alex and Eran (all six as interns), Mala Gopal (as head nurse), Rajveer Khanna (as Akash Sarin), Nitika Anand (as Akash Sarin’s wife), Papori Medhi (as Maajda, the maid), Nikhil Dewan (as the senior in the laundry department), Niresh Kumar (as the parking security man), Mohammed Shoeb (as the general manager of the hotel), Shishendu Banerjee (as the senior manager of the hotel), Gaurav Mehta (as the banquet manager), Dr. Debabrata Mukhopadhyay (as the neuro surgeon), Javed (as the guard outside the neuro ICU), Vipin Katyal (as the night watchman at the hospital), Kumar Thakur (as the man outside the hospital in the night), Vibhuti Tomar (as the hospital receptionist) and the others lend very good support.

Shoojit Sircar’s direction is supremely sensitive. Rather than resorting to melodrama, he tells his story in a very understated manner. He very beautifully drives home the point that being practical in life is right but getting carried away by your emotions may also not always be wrong. There are no songs in the film – and that’s a minus point. However, there’s a song in the end credit titles and there are other promotional songs, composed by Shantanu Moitra, Anupam Roy and Abhishek Arora. The pleasing music is in synch with the film’s mood. Lyrics (by Swanand Kirkire, Tanveer Ghazi and Abhiruchi Chand) are im­pactful. Shantanu Moitra’s background music is very effective. Avik Mukhopa­dhyay’s cinematography is lovely. Mansi Dhruv Mehta’s production designing is appropriate and suitably understated. Chandrashekhar Prajapati’s editing is crisp.

On the whole, October has class appeal but it has enough soul to touch many hearts and reach the winning post at the box-office, more so because its entire investment (cost of production plus cost of promotion, publicity and marketing) has been recovered completely from non-theatrical sources (satellite, digital, audio rights). Public reports will vary from boring to very sensitive but it will appeal to the target audience and do fair business at the ticket windows in the final tally. It may have started slow but collections will pick up, especially in good multiplexes and big cities. Business in small centres and mass-frequented single-screen cinemas as also in lesser multiplexes will, of course, be very dull.

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Salman Khan’s 5-Year Jail Sentence – What Does It Mean In Monetary Terms?

The question uppermost in the minds of the trade people today is: What if Salman Khan has to serve the five-year jail term pronounced by the Jodhpur court on 5th April in the endangered blackbuck hunting case? What will be the loss to the film industry if one of the biggest superstars of our times is in prison for the next five years?

First and foremost, the case is not as hopeless as it seems to be. The order of the court can be appealed against and it is anybody’s guess that Salman’s lawyers will appeal against it. In fact, while moving his bail application on 6th in the sessions court in Jodhpur, Salman’s lawyers also prayed for suspension of the sentence. The arguments for bail were heard by the sessions court but the judge said, he would pronounce his order the next day (7th, today). However, the transfer order for the district and sessions judge, along with 86 other judges, came on 6th evening. Therefore, Salman may be granted bail on Monday, April 9, instead of today (7th) as the new judge may take charge after a couple of days. Salman’s lawyers will then appeal against his conviction. Even if one were to assume that the first appeal would not be allowed, Salman can further appeal right upto the time he reaches the Supreme Court. This process could take many years.

Taking a look at Salman Khan’s film assignments, he has only one film – Race 3 – on the sets currently. Almost the entire work of Salman in the multi-star-cast film is complete. All he needs to shoot now is a song and, perhaps, a couple of patchwork shots. His dubbing is also still to be done. If Salman is granted early bail – which seems very likely – he can easily complete his part of the shooting for Race 3 in less than a month. Even otherwise, the film’s shooting would have to be completed very soon because its release has been scheduled for June 15 (Eid week). After the shooting, the stars of the film would need to complete their respective dubbing. Salman may not need more than a week to finish his dubbing, even if he dubs at a leisurely pace. With around Rs. 125 crore invested in Race 3, it can be said that that’s the money riding on the actor right now.

Luckily, all the other films, Salman has been signed for, are in the pre-production stage. That is to say, their shootings haven’t begun. In other words, there would be no continuity problems for these films, which would’ve been the case had Salman shot partly for them. In case Salman has to serve his sentence very soon (again, very unlikely), the three films he was committed to doing – Dabangg 3, Bharat and Kick 2 – will not start. So far, time rather than money has been invested in the three aforenamed films – time has been spent on scripting the films and other pre-production work. In case other actors have been signed for any or all the three films, that’s not a big deal because the signing amounts paid to them can always be adjusted in other films or asked to be returned.

But what will film business be like, without Salman starrers hitting the screens? Salman’s films mostly prove to be blockbusters at the ticket windows. Whether it was Tiger Zinda Hai in 2017 or Sultan in 2016 or even Prem Ratan Dhan Payo and Bajrangi Bhaijaan in 2015, his films invariably set the cash registers ringing. With the exception of Tubelight last year and Jai Ho in 2014 (the same year in which Salman delivered the blockbuster, Kick), all Salman’s films from 2010 have brought in tons of money at the turnstiles. Of the 12 films of Salman released in the last seven years, seven have been 100-crore-plus films (including Ek Tha Tiger which was Rs. 1 crore short of the 200-crore mark), two have been 200-crore-plus films, and three (Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Sultan and Tiger Zinda Hai) have crossed the 300-crore mark.

Salman Khan usually has two releases every year. This year (2018), he will have just one release, Race 3. But he had planned three releases in 2019 – Dabangg 3, Bharat and Kick 2. Of his last four released films, three have been 300-crore-plus fares. Hence, it would be safe to assume that he would contribute at least Rs. 300 crore (net) (or, Rs. 400 crore gross, after adding 28% GST) to the box-office in 2018. In 2019, even if two of his three releases were to be 300-crore-plus fares and the third, a 200-crore-plus film, his contribution to the box-office could safely be assumed to be upwards of Rs. 900 crore (net) or Rs. 1,150 crore (gross), at least! In 2020, 2021 and 2022, he would easily generate revenue of Rs. 600 crore (net) or, in other words, Rs. 750 crore (gross) per year if he were to have two releases each year. Taking into account inflation, his contribution to the box-office from 2018 to 2022 would, therefore, be Rs. 3,800 to Rs. 4,000 crore!! That is the loss Bollywood is looking at if Salman were to not get bail.

Of course, that’s an eventuality that may never arise. But the calculations above show the worth of Salman Khan at the box-office. After all, he is probably the only superstar, besides Aamir Khan, to bring in huge numbers at the ticket windows in film after film.

In the above calculations, one has not even considered the Overseas box-office collections of his films. One has also not taken into account the revenues from sale of satellite rights, digital rights and audio rights of the nine or ten films he will deliver till 2022. The gross figure for Overseas business of his films could be an equivalent of Rs. 1,500 crore, and for satellite, digital and audio rights, another Rs. 1,500 crore. This means, if Salman is not behind bars, he may end up contributing approximately Rs. 7,000 crore to the film industry (Indian box-office Rs. 4,000 crore, Overseas box-office Rs. 1,500 crore, non-theatrical revenues Rs. 1,500 crore).

Thank God for Salman’s impending bail application! Once bail is granted, the actor will ensure that Bollywood is in the pink of health. After all, if he can single-handedly bring in Rs. 7,000 crore from his films in the next five years, he is precious. Since Bollywood has just a couple of superstars like him, Salman Khan is actually the endangered species.

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MISSING

Anand Pandit Motion Pictures, Sri Adhikari Brothers, Manoj Bajpayee Productions Pvt. Ltd., Friday Filmworks and Abundantia Entertainment’s Missing (UA) is a suspense thriller.

A couple, Sushant Dubey (Manoj Bajpayee) and Aparna (Tabu), check in into a beach resort in Mauritius with daughter Titli, on a holiday-cum-work trip. Titli gets kidnapped on the first night itself. Aparna is distraught and telephones the police even though a more composed Sushant has dissuaded her from calling the police.

Investigating officer Ramkhilawan Buddhu (Anu Kapoor) of the Mauritius Police feels that there is something which the couple is trying to hide during investigations and questioning. Is Sushant talking lies or is Aparna the liar? Who has kidnapped Titli?

Mukul Abhyankar has written a suspense story which has some moments of intrigue but once the suspense of Titli becomes somewhat clear to the audiences, the only question that remains in their minds is: why? Even though the viewers sense the truth about Titli, the revelation is made in the end only – that’s not the most desirable way of penning a suspense drama. Mukul Abhyankar’s screenplay has flashes of intrigue and thrill but they are few and far between. Two points which are giveaways are: the behaviour of both, Aparna and Sushant, is not exactly what one expects when one’s daughter has gone missing, and so, the audience understands quite early on that there is something amiss here; secondly, the police investigation is often so laidback and slow-paced that the viewers are even more convinced that there is something that’s being hidden from them. Frankly, the audience and the police officials ought to have been on the same side but the police investigations give the audience the feeling that the police were aware of the truth – which, of course, is not the case! In other words, the screenplay is not too well written. Even otherwise, a suspense thriller is best enjoyed when the pace is super-fast and the audience doesn’t get time to think but in this case, the viewers have all the time in the world to let their minds wander. Resultantly, the viewers think not just what the writer would want them to think but a lot more than that. The climax is not very convincing and doesn’t leave the audience satisfied enough. Of course, some turns and twists do come as shocks but they are not enough for a suspense thriller. Mukul Abhyankar’s dialogues are alright.

Manoj Bajpayee is good, generally speaking, but to see such a fine actor overacting in some scenes is not a very good thing. He goes overboard in some scenes. Tabu’s performance is nice but even her acting in some scenes gives the impression that she was in a hurry to complete them. Anu Kapoor is effective as police officer Ramkhilawan Buddhu but that’s only when he doesn’t overact. Rajesh Jais (as police officer Ganga Narayan) and Ashu Sharma (as police officer Nandlal) lend fair support. Priyanka Setia (as Naina, the receptionist on night duty) provides excellent support. Shruti Gupta (as the receptionist on day duty) makes her presence felt. Navin Kaushik is nice as the hotel manager. Kali Prasad is okay as the suspicious guest at the resort. Others are alright.

Mukul Abhyankar’s direction is fair. M.M. Kreem’s music and background score are okay. Lyrics (Manoj Muntashir) are good. Sudeep Chatterjee’s cinematography is lovely. Sets (Aariz Naqvi) are appropriate. Shree Narayan Singh’s editing is impactful.

On the whole, Missing has very limited appeal and given its low promotion and slow start, it will go largely unnoticed.

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