Yash Raj Films sink?

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With every rise can just as easily arrive a tumultuous fall. Such is the case for Yash Raj Films this year, as they have literally gone sliding downhill after some mediocre films, horrible promotion and dare I say—overconfidence.

This was a mammoth year for the once leading production house that has given us hits in the past like Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Dil To Pagal Hai, Bunty aur Babli, Veer Zaara and Dhoom 2. And boy, was there ever excitement! They kicked off promotion for their five releases with a calendar and first look for each one which was released in late 2006. Naturally, this aroused much curiosity due to the top-notch appearance of each film.

However, when it came down to promoting their first film of the year that released in April of 2006, they simply could not put the Ta Ra in Ta Ra Rum Pum. A Saif Ali Khan – Rani Mukerji starrer, it was touted to be a feel-good family film with a realistic angle. Director Siddharth Anand ran around shamelessly claiming he is exposing the “real New York City” in the film. Yeah, right! The film wasn’t completely pitiable, but barely a slice of realism was visible throughout. The music wasn’t particularly outstanding, and more important, the script wasn’t anything great either. Oh well, one average success…there’s still four more releases in the year.

If Ta Ra Rum Pum was low on hype, Shaad Ali’s Jhoom Barabar Jhoom was over-hyped! And with good reason too. The music was mind-blowing, the cast was great, it had an appealing vibrant feel to it and spelled f-u-n. Perhaps YRF did not understand that there is a difference between an entertaining masala flick and one that doesn’t make much sense at all. Madness is great, but at least make it entertaining! Yes, it passes time, but really offered nothing new to filmi fans. Especially those who only venture to the cinemas a few times throughout the year, this one was a great let-down. Despite rocking music, adequate performances by the entire cast and a decent director, the film took a huge drop after a good opening. Well that’s one more flick that couldn’t make the box office jhoom to its tune.

If I were Aditya Chopra, I’d bow down to the Chak De India team for saving him from having to hang his head in shame. Ironically enough, when the initial promos were released for the film, everyone seemed sceptical about whether the film would turn out well. It came across as slightly boring, unconventional for the King of commercial cinema and generally not worth much excitement. Naturally, this led to a sub-par opening. Thanks to a brilliant script, knockout performances and a fresh feel, it wasn’t long before the country caught up to the Chak De anthem and helped make this film one of the largest hits of the year. The sole hit for Yash Raj Films in 2007, it truly was an outstanding movie.

A few months later, we were back to square one—with a good cast, good music and yes, a horrible script. Pradeep Sarkar’s Laaga Chunari Mein Daag was a victim of poor promotion yet again and the fact that the film was pretty bad itself didn’t help matters. Audiences chose to stay home and tune into saas-bahu serials instead, rather than endure a three-hour long soap opera starring Rani Mukerji in the lead role. Thankfully enough, intriguing performances by Mukerji and co-star Konkona Sen Sharma made the film half-bearable.

This is probably one of the most upsetting cases of the year. Madhuri Dixit, after having entrusting her faith with Yash Raj Films, finally agreed to act in a film after years. The least they could have done was promote her film properly! Instead, they plastered the tagline “Madhuri Dixit is back” all over posters and expected audiences to flock to theatres. I hate to inform them, but it seems audiences have got a tad smarter this year as simply stars are no longer selling. Yes, stars are a great addition and an asset to any film commercially, but in the end content sells first and stars second. Even Om Shanti Om cashed in on star power earlier this year, but at least it had content to back it up. Granted that Dixit was the sole star of the film, one hoped for at least a fairly good opening for the film. What’s even more upsetting is that it’s probably their second best product of the year (though largely flawed), behind Chak De India so it at least had potential to do decent business if not earth-shattering.

For the year ahead, they have Tashan, Roadside Romeo, Siddharth Anand’s next, Kunal Kohli’s next and maybe a few that haven’t been announced yet.
And now it’s time for the walk of shame, Yash Raj Films. For wasting our time, getting our hopes up, and delivering only one-fifth of the time (Chak De India). Please, pull up your socks and bring back the YRF we used to love, cherish and consider the front-runner production house in the entire industry. Unfortunately, your red logo no longer holds the same impact as it did only a few years ago.

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