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January 14, 2000
Bollywood's Millennium Jinx
The new millennium in America has not been kind to Bollywood.
The first two Bollywood movies of the new millennium -- Dharmesh Darshan's Mela and T Rama Rao's Bulandi, failed to attract audiences in North America.
According to box office figures released by Hollywood trade publication, Daily Variety, the two films had mediocre box office openings in the first three days of release. The two films opened on Friday, January 7, officially the end of the one-month Ramadan period.
Mela grossed $ 138,260 between January 7 and 9. Starring Aamir Khan, his brother Faizal and Twinkle Khanna, Mela is a musical drama with a dose of old fashioned violence. The film was ranked 37th among the movies showing in North America. Eros Entertainment released Mela on 29 screens.
If the film follows the usual pattern of other Hindi movies in North America, with a 35 per cent to 40 per cent drop in the second week, it could end its run with $ 300,000, a notch about Mann, but far below that of the $ 500,000 Aamir Khan's Earth made in North America. But Earth plucked most of its dollars from non-desi moviegoers.
Bulandi, distributed by Video Sound, opened on 30 screens and fared worse than Mela. The South Indian masala film, starring Rajinikanth, Anil Kapoor, Rekha and Raveena Tandon, earned $ 110,560 in its first three days of release and was ranked 41st among the movies showing in North America. It might earn just about $ 250,000, a disappointing run for an Anil Kapoor following the big success of Taal which danced to the tune of $ 2 million.
Not daunted by lack of enthusiasm for recent Bollywood films, distributors are gearing up full speed for the next spate of releases.
Opening today is former actor Rakesh Roshan's much publicized Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai. The film stars two new actors -- Roshan's son Hrithik and Amisha Patel.
"We don't want to sound like we have major expectations for the film," a cautious Vaibhav Rajput, the spokesperson for the film's distributor Yash Raj Films, said from his company's Manhattan office. "It has two newcomers and it is hard to rate them, since they have no track record."
Rajput added that the main attraction of the film is director Roshan and his past resume, which includes the 1995 film Karan Arjun, starring Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol and Salman Khan -- a decent box office hit. Kaho Naa will open on 15 screens in North America.
Yash Raj Films has been in a desperate need of a hit. Its recent releases, including Godmother and Jaanwar disappeared without making a mark at the box office. Last year the distributor had focused its energy on director Indra Kumar's Mann. They even flew the film's lead actor Aamir Khan to New York for the opening night. Eventually, Mann ended with a mediocre box office gross of approximately $ 200,000.
Later this year, Yash Raj Films will release two highly awaited films -- J P Dutta's Refugee starring Abhishek Bachchan (Amitabh's son) and Kareena Kapoor (Karisma's sister), and Aditya Chopra's Mohabbatein with Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan and Aishwarya Rai. Both Dutta's and Chopra's last films -- Border and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge were huge hits.
Next week, on January 21, Eros Entertainment is releasing, what could potentially become the first Bollywood hit of 2000 -- director Aziz Mirza's Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani. It stars Shah Rukh Khan and Juhi Chawla and is the first production from the new company Dreamz Unlimited, launched by the two stars and Mirza.
"Since this is Shah Rukh and Juhi's own production, they taking a lot of personal interest in promoting the film," Behram Shahparast, a spokesperson for Eros Entertainment told rediff.com
Starting today as a countdown to the film's release, the Eros web site (www.erosentertainment.com) will carry a personal message from Khan, he said. Each day the site will carry a new message, he added.
Even more exciting for fans, he added, plans are being made to bring Khan and Chawla to New York next week for the premiere.
Eros is opening Phir Bhi on 60 screens, Shahparast said. Last fall, Eros gave the same opening to Rajshri Production's Hum Saath Saath Hain. That film ended up grossing $ 2 million in North America.
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