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Year of humour for Hindi films

ZIYA US SALAM

Comedy has been the predominant flavour of Bollywood this year.



MOVING FILM: Viruddh

In a year of comedies, the standout image is of an aged man sitting on a bench in a park. While his peers round him laugh, his laughter is forced, and the melancholy seeps through.

The man reduces the audience to tears at the loss of his son and at his attempt to get back to normal.

The man is the timeless magician called Amitabh Bachchan.

The film? Mahesh Manjrekar's "Viruddh," a tearjerker that reminded you of "Saaransh." It did not exactly set the cash registers jingling, but moved those who saw it.

Incidentally, that was the fate of another beautiful film this year: Jahnu Barua's "Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Mara" that had Anupam Kher in an outstanding performance as a Gandhian reliving a childhood folly in old age.

Again, the critics loved it. But it did not do so well at the box office. Yet again, the chasm between quality and popular fare came to the fore.

For a brief while, earlier this year, that gap was bridged. Thanks to Sanjay Leela Bhansali's "Black" and, to a lesser extent, Madhur Bhandarkar's "Page 3." And we had Vidhu Vinod Chopra's ``Parineeta."

Joyous mood

Of course, while these films left an imprint on the mind and soul with their depiction of anguish and heartburn, the mood of the year was one of joy.

The distributors, exhibitors, producers were making money. They sold crass like never before. Worse, they found ready buyers. And films like "Kya Kool Hain Hum" or "No Entry" which in the past would not have had a star of status on their credits, did well.

The presence of Tushhar and Riteish Deshmukh in Sangeet Sivan's "Kya Kool... " helped as did the star draw of Salman Khan, Anil Kapoor and Bipasha Basu for "No Entry." Similarly, a film with little claims to seriousness and all about fun, made it big. That was Shaad Ali's "Bunty Aur Babli."

The year is about to draw to a close but the song is still on every cinemagoer's lips.

Quite clearly, a singular, spectacular hit. Also capitalising on its music was "Dus" that had thrill and chutzpah to endorse the case. The masses liked what they saw, the film got an initial, and made profits. As did "Waqt," which was from the old school of filmmaking.

But then there were others happy too at the turn of events. Mahesh Bhatt's "Kalyug" did not get a bumper opening but made enough money to stay in the hunt.

Keeping Bhatt company were the likes of David Dhawan and Priyadarshan, past masters at rib-ticklers. Both hit the bull's eye with "Maine Pyar Kyun Kiya" and "Garam Masala," respectively.

Again, there was no attempt to win over the discerning, no claim to being logical. Just a single intention of making the viewers laugh, with the laughs translating into bank balance for the exhibitors. So, this has been a great year for Bollywood, and comedies the flavour.

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