Is the independent film directed by a fresh talent and featuring names that are not the marquee rulers here to stay? Judging by the curiously heightened appeal of this Friday’s release Akaash Vani, one would think that the small film with under-exposed faces has finally found its bearings towards the box office.
Some would say sophomore director Luv Ranjan has bitten off more than he could chew by pitching his love story Akaash Vani, starring two semi-newcomers, straight against this year’s first purported blockbuster Race 2.
We have it from a very reliable source that Akaash Vani producer Abhishek Pathak and director Luv Ranjan took the decision of pitching their film directly against the Race franchise, rather than coming a week earlier to avoid a clash.
The earlier plan was to release Akaash Vani on January 18 when Sudhir Mishra’s Inkaar was due. But when the core crew saw their end product, they were confident of taking on the competition although it (the competition) was a formidable franchise with a showy lineup of stars, male and female, posing preening and enticing audiences to drool over the muscles and the curves in droves.
However, according to strong voices of the film trade, the era of stars posturing and pouting to get audiences in is over.
A prominent exhibitor from a nationwide chain of multiplexes, who wishes to remain anonymous, says the anticipation for Race 2 is not as high as expected. “The first Race film in 2008 was not such a hot box office proposition. But it had two very hot actresses, Katrina Kaif and Bipasha Basu, scorching up the screen. We can’t say the same about Deepika Padukone and Jacqueline Fernandez, who try hard to come across as seductive.”
This exhibitor says the anticipation level for Akaash Vani is “surprisingly high”
He attributes it to several factors. “People are in the mood to watch virgin-fresh faces. Both Kartik Tiwari and Nushrat Bharucha were enormously liked in Pyaar Ka Punchnaama, which was the surprise success of 2011. Also the director Luv Ranjan’s first film was a hit. Abbas-Mustan’s last film Players was a miserable failure. There’s a growing feeling in the industry that Abaas-Mustan are a spent force. If Race 2 doesn’t work they are in serious trouble.”
Clearly then Akaash Vani has the ‘fresh’ factor in its favour.
A major exhibitor in Bihar places a lot of trust in the film’s freshness. “Akaash Vani looks young and fresh. Race 2 looks a little over-the-hill. No doubt the anticipation for Race 2 is huge. But we’re surprised by how much ground Akaash Vani has gained in the one week that it got postponed from Jan 18 to 25.”
While Kartik Tiwari and Nushrat Bharucha, the lead actors of Akaash Vani, choose to be diplomatic about their confidence level about scoring over the competition, director Luv Ranjan is far more vocal. “We moved forward by a week to release with Race 2 because we wanted to avail of the long weekend – Eid on Jan 25, Republic Day on Jan 27 and Sunday on Jan 28. As for the competition in Punjabi they say, ‘Chidiyaan naal jo baaz ladavaan taan Govind Singh naam dharaavan’ (when a bird fights a hawk a Govind Singh gets his name).’ We are very confident about our film. If as a viewer I had to choose between Akaash Vani and Race 2, I’d see Akaash Vani first. We had released my Pyaar Ka Punchaama opposite the Pirates franchise. The independent film with fresh faces is here to stay.”
Incidentally on November 22, 1991 a relatively small film Phool Aur Kaante with two newcomers in the lead had “dared” to release alongside Yash Chopra’s Lamhe. For all its intrinsic merits, Lamhe flopped. And in the other film, a star named Ajay Devgn was born.