Old production houses plotting a Bollywood comeback are not relying on their lineage alone
When producer Amit Mehra,the son of renowned filmmaker Prakash Mehra,decided to revive his late fathers banner with the remake of his fathers blockbuster Zanjeer,the casting proved to be a tricky aspect. After all,the actor would have to fill the rather large boots of Amitabh Bachchan. Then I remembered my dad telling me how Amit uncle (Bachchan) was just about finding his feet in the industry,when his performance in Zanjeer established him as the angry young man. So I,too,opted for an actor who is unassuming but can take on the moniker, says Amit of casting Telugu actor Ram Charan Teja. The remake that will revive Prakash Mehra Productions,which made noted films such as Muqaddar Ka Sikander,Laawaris,Sharaabi and Namak Halaal,before the banner folded up in 1996.
Even as the Zanjeer remake readies for release,several other iconic banners are in the process of being revived. Shakti Samantas son Ashim recently released Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai under the family banner,Aradhana Films. Although the film did not witness success,Ashim is certain about keeping the banner afloat. Producer Pramod Chakravartys grandson Prateek Chakravarty is bringing back Pramod Films with a romantic comedy,From Sydney With Love. Father and son duo,Moti and Amrit Sagar Chopra are reviving the late Ramanand Sagars banner,Sagar Arts,by branching out as Moti Sagar Productions. Their first film,a love story titled Rabba Main Kya Karoon,is set to release soon.
Several others are in the offing: Bombay Talkies plans to launch Abhay Kumar,the grandson of late Rajnarayan Dube,one of the founders of the production house,while Ketan Desai plans the return of Manmohan Desais banner MKD. Shatrughan Sinhas banner Shotgun Moviies,has a film going on floors by this year end; Sunny Deols Ghayal Returns marks the return of his home banner Vijeyta Films; and Fardeen Khan wants to re-establish his father Feroz Khans FK International with Qurbanis remake. Revival of a banner is just a matter of confidence and the right timing. When you feel the time is right and you have everything falling into place,then you just go for it, says Ashim,who launched his son Aditya in their comeback venture.
Once successful brands,these banners became inactive owing to lack of ideas,ill-health of the filmmaker-owner or unstable financial conditions. A renowned producer in the industry says,Success in Bollywood sometimes makes you look at yourself as invincible. Those who manage to look at reality can survive; the others dont. Some of our production houses have had similar fates. Some production houses are able to get back on their feet due to family and audiences support. Prateek says,I had the option of staying away from films,but I returned because of my love for cinema. Pramod Films was known for making films like Jugnu,Love In Tokyo and Dream Girl.
While it is easier to work on reviving a brand than build it ground up,Amrit believes that lineage will not get the films the audience or box-office gains. Talent and hard work alone will help you survive, asserts Amrit. Prateek agrees,Todays generation may be oblivious to the fact that Pramod Films even existed. Barood in 1998 was the last film made under this banner.
While these filmmakers are willing to work hard and bring back home the lost fame,the pressure from the industry is overwhelming,Amit believes. In order to succeed,one has to move with the times. Though our film is a remake of Zanjeer,it is a contemporary take on the subject. Ashim,however,believes that if a banner from the past needs to be taken seriously today,elements of nostalgia need to be retained. So he has used romance and relationship the USP of films under Shakti Samantas banner,such as Aradhana,Kati Patang and Amar Prem in Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai. However,I realise that today,content needs to be supplemented with the right marketing for the film.
The launch of corporate houses is also bit of a setback for these production houses. The corporates have resources to fuel production,distribution as well as exhibition for their films,which an independent banner lacks. Earlier,filmmakers rejoiced in each others success. Today,there is so much power struggle in the industry that it is safest to co-produce a film, says Prateek.