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What’s in a name?

There aren’t many who haven’t wondered what made filmmaker Raj Kanwar title his 1999 blockbuster as Daag – The Fire.

April 17, 2009 2:58:21 am

Much depends on the title of a film

There aren’t many who haven’t wondered what made filmmaker Raj Kanwar title his 1999 blockbuster as Daag – The Fire. One of the most popular unresolved mysteries of Bollywood,the movie title,continues to crop up in discussions even after a decade of its release.

Movie titles evoke as much,if not more,interest in a film as the star cast does. The more unusual the name,the more interest it generates since there’s less the title gives away about the storyline.

Interestingly,filmmaker Ramesh Taurani compares movie names to ad |jingles or punch lines. According to him,anything a tad different helps grab audience’s attention and also aids instant recall. “We will always remember Ekta Kapoor’s shows for the extra ‘K’ though her reason may have been more numerological than functional. Similarly,Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif-starrer Ajab Prem ki Gazab Kahani is already arousing interest because it sounds out of the ordinary,has a popular star cast but gives away absolutely nothing about the story,” he explains.

There are several factors that come into play when deciding on a title for a film. Most filmmakers go for catchy names that are easy to remember. However,it’s important say trade pundits,that the film title be appropriate suited to the story.

Director Vikram K Kumar of 13B used number 13 in the movie’s title to make it sound spooky,but he doesn’t believe that the number has a negative connotation attached to it. About Excel Entertainment’s next,a psychological thriller

Kartik Calling Kartik,Farhan Akhtar clearly states that the title is intended to generate curiosity around the film.

A recent common practice is to name films after chartbuster tracks. Recently,Yash Raj Films’ Bachna Ae Haseeno was derived from a song in Hum Kisi Se Kam Nahi and Jehangir Surti’s Aa Dekhen Zara evoked memories of the popular track from Sanjay Dutt-starrer Rocky. Sajid Nadiadwala’s next,Kambakkht Ishq too takes that route,of course,with a numerological twist. The title originates from the popular song in Urmila Matondkar and Fardeen Khan-starrer Pyar Tune Kya Kiya. “Most simple titles have already been exhausted. Songs are often the best way to put across the gist of the storyline. And it makes perfect sense to name them after tracks that have been a rage with the audience at some point,” says veteran filmmaker Aziz Mirza.

Ghajini received much flak for its title as the audiences found the villain not an iota as interesting as say a Gabbar or even Dr Dang,the iconic bad men of Bollywood. The argument was that the personality of the character — in this case the villain — should be strong enough to justify naming a film after him. Ironically,the film did well anyway,as did Daag – the Fire. And while people may poke fun at what is the parody of film titles,the fact remains that Kanwar has probably bestowed immortality to his film by christening it unusually.

Name Game
Kites – Anurag Basu
Peter Gaya Kaam Se – John Owen
3 Idiots – Rajkumar Hirani
Wake Up Sid – Ayan Mukerji
What’s Your Rashee? – Ashutosh Gowarikar
Hook Ya Crook – David Dhavan
Three – Love,Lies and Betrayal – Vishal Pandya
Aage Se Right – Indrajit Nattooji
Do Knot Disturb – David Dhavan
Tina Ki Chaabi – Amit Saxena

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