Bollywood on a safe sequel spree

Posted In : Gossips
(added 16 Mar 2013)

The Mumbai film industry may have taken a hundred years to figure out the concept of sequels, but now it suddenly seems like sequels are the only movies that the Bollywood moneybags are interested in. Last year, we had House Full 2 and Dabangg 2, and 2013 started off with Race 2. Sahib, biwi and gangster have returned, and Dhoom 3, Singham 2 and Once Upon A Time in Mumbai 2 are in the works. Hrithik Roshan is going to be Krrish again, and Vidhu Vinod Chopra has announced that Munnabhai is going to be back soon. There have been more Golmaal-s than I can count, and there are possibly several more already being planned. And when you hear that Sunny Deol is going to star in Ghayal 2, 23 years after the original film, one may be permitted to feel a sense of foreboding mixed with confusion. Of course, the actual confusion is among the film makers themselves. Most of them would be working on the simple assumption that you can't have enough of a good thing.

Bollywood on a safe sequel spree

If Ajay Devgn beat the bejesus out of everyone in sight in Singham, and the film raked in some big time moolah, audiences will surely queue up to see him maul people more savagely, and in even larger numbers. The Dhoom formula of glamorous thief, sexy babes and relentless chases has worked twice, so why not a third time? Even Aamir Khan, surely one of the smartest cookies in the industry, seems to think so. Almost each recent sequel has faced the same critical reaction from the media: It's just the same thing all over again, so why make the film at all? But that is precisely the film makers' logic. In other words, recycle. So Sunny Deol will be back, flaring his nostrils and snarling at miscreants more than two decades after Ghayal. And even his new hair is more than a decade old. Hollywood too, seems to have decided that sequels are the best thing since sliced bread. According to a report in the UK newspaper, The Telegraph, 2013 will see the release of X-Men 6 (6!), Fast and Furious 6 (how much faster and more furious can one get?), Scary Movie 5, Paranormal Activity 5, and The Hangover 3.

Bollywood on a safe sequel spreeThere will be a new Mad Max film, and a new Superman (A new Superman again! I thought we just had one a couple of years ago!). But then, Disney lost a whopping $200 million last year on sci-fi spectacular John Carter, a disaster which finally even claimed the head of the studio's chairman. So, "tried and tested" is the new game in town. The calculation is as simple as it can get: Even if you manage to pull in 60 per cent of the audience that enjoyed the first movie, you are practically printing money. But can anyone imagine the complete lack of creative ideas in Hollywood's major studios when you see a Bruce Willis being trotted out for Die Hard 5? I mean, who on earth would be interested in watching this man once more in a dirty singlet? I have no idea how much money Die Hard 5 has made, but I suspect, not very much.

The trouble with sequels is that it's always difficult to outdo what you got right the first time. Perhaps the only sequel in the history of cinema that I can think of, which was artistically and creatively better than its predecessor, was Godfather 2. But when Francis Ford Coppolla tried it the third time, the results were disappointing. Hannibal was not a patch on The Silence of the Lambs, and Red Dragon was almost embarrassing (though one must remember here that the three films had three different directors). And I have always respected Jodie Foster's decision not to reprise her The Silence of the Lambs character Clarisse Starling in Hannibal, because she felt that the Hannibal script had got Clarisse wrong. Foster was sure that she knew Clarisse better than either the director or the writer, and there were certain actions Clarrisse was taking in Hannibal that the real Clarisse would never take. Can Rajkumar Hirani pull off a miracle, a third time in succession, with the next Munnabhai? Of course, all of us are going to watch it, but will we be left with a bitter aftertaste that'll forever shadow the first two delightful films? Considered this way, the people behind Dhoom and Krrish have a much easier job.

Bollywood on a safe sequel spree

All they have to do is to pump up the action and make it as outrageous as they can, and the technology to do that is now easily available and within Indian budgets. All you have to do with each forthcoming Golmaal is make it even sillier and more illogical. Which has never been a problem with Bollywood. But a Munnabhai may be a different matter, however talented a director Hirani is. Even Steven Soderbergh could not pull off Ocean's 13. Though he has recently said in an interview that whenever he runs out of money, he just has to make another Danny Ocean film. But one can sense the shrugging cynicism in that statement from a great director, the man who made films like Traffic and Erin Brockovich. 

Yes, sequels can be tough cookies, but they are also the easiest decisions that the money men can take. The question of course is: Does the audience like to be surprised? The answer that the sequel men will give to this is a straight no. Why take a chance? The audience knows what to expect and so there's less risk that the money they will shell out will be wasted. So, Die Hard 5, it can be said with total certainty, will at some point feature Bruce Willis in a dirty singlet. It cannot be denied that there is some sort of strange comfort in that knowledge. And that cheers up the moneybags when they look at the various options available to them. Play it again, Sam.

(added 16 Mar 2013) / 1129 views

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