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Raj Kumar Kohli
The prodigal son returns
Raj Kumar Kohli launches his son. Again

Vickey Lalwani

At the age of 71, producer-director Raj Kumar Kohli (Gora Aur Kala, Jaani Dushman, Nagin), now comes up with Jaani Dushman -- Ek Anokhi Kahani to relaunch his son Armaan who has now changed his name to Munish in an attempt to change his luck.

Earlier, Kohli made no secret about the fact that he was trying hard for his son to make a mark in Bollywood with Qahar, starring Sunny Deol and Sunil Shetty, three years ago. Armaan did not prove successful in his father's first attempt Aulad Ke Dushman.

"No one else will do it for him," Kohli had said then. "I have to do it because I am his father. Besides, I can afford to spend money on him. No filmmaker will risk his money or time on Armaan Kohli. My only mission is to establish my son's career. I have cast Sunny and Sunil so that people watch this film."

Qahar sank without a trace.

In Jaani Dushman -- Ek Anokhi Kahani, Kohli goes a step further with a huge star cast --- Sunny Deol, Akshay Kumar, Sunil Shetty, Aftab Shivdasani, Manisha Koirala and Sonu Nigam.

Lovers Kapil (Munish Kohli) and Vasundhara (Manisha Koirala) are separated due to a sage's curse. Now, in the 21st century, Atul (Akshay Kumar), Vijay (Sunil Shetty), Prem (Aftab Shivdasani), Abdul (Arshad Warsi), Ashok (Aditya Panscholi), Victor (Sharad Kapoor), Rajesh (Rajat Bedi), Vivek (debutante Sonu Nigam), Madan (Siddharth) and Divya (Manisha Koirala) study in the same college.

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Divya is in love with Karan (Sunny Deol), who goes away to London on business. Everyone decides to celebrate Valentine's Day. Before they can, Rajesh and Madan rape and kill Divya.

Then begins Divya and Kapil's dangerous game. How do Divya's soul and Kapil's powers kill their enemies? Do Kapil and Vasundhara meet in the 21st Century? What happens to Karan and Divya's love story?

Kohli hasn't had a successful run for a while. Actors were once so used to his multi-star cast films that they refused to accept his solo hero ones like Pati Patni Aur Tawaif, Bees Saal Baad, Virodhi and Aulad Ke Dushman.

Manisha, Munish in Jaani Dushman Kohli now looks forward to August 15, when his film will be released. "I have given everything into this film," he explains. "This film has gone way over budget. If I do not recover my money, I don't know how I will manage. I am not sure of the audience reaction --- most films today are failing. Still, I will say that my film stands above today's mushy romance films. People want to see something different. I have made what they want."

He continues, "It will be a gripping two-and-half hours. The script [penned by Kohli] is within the parameters of commercial cinema. It took me a year to write it. If you have established stars to support your storyline it is like sone pe suhagaa [icing on the cake]."

The film's music score by Anand Raaj Anand, Anand-Milind and Sandeep Chowta, has made Kohli confident of its success: "The music is sure to catch on. Before Gadar -- Ek Prem Katha hit theatres, people said its music was a big let down. But didn't it catch on later?"

Kohli asserts that Universal Music has played dirty with him. alleging that they did not promote the music after acquiring the rights. "How could I fight back?" Kohli asks angrily. "They never took my calls. The promotion you see is from my purse."

Controversy on the music front seems to follow Kohli. He had a tough time when former Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Maneka Gandhi raised an objection against a song sequence in Qahar which showed pigeons who, released into the sky, strain to break free of the strings tying their feet.

Manisha, Sunny in Jaani Dushman Elaborating on Jaani Dushman -- Ek Anokhi Kahani, Kohli says, "I had planned to complete this film in a year, but it took me two. Coordinating with stars was tough. They could not shell out dates when I wanted. At times, I even had to cancel shoots. Thankfully, none of the stars had any ego differences or threw tantrums. The special effects in the action sequences are comparable to those in the Hollywood film Terminator II. And mind you, I did not call for any assistance from abroad."

He narrates his best scene in the film. "The opening scene where friends meet during Rajat Bedi's wedding is my favourite. After the party is over, Rajat enters his bedroom. As he is about to kiss his bride, he turns pale --- his wife has a skeleton's face. Before he can react, his wife hurls him through a glass window. His friends rush into the room, but the wife has disappeared."

The surprise package of the film, reveals Kohli, is his son. "Munish will stands tall in front of all the seasoned heroes," he says.


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