Subhash K Jha
Bollywood will recall 2002 as the year when almost nothing worked in the Hindi film industry. Not stars, not even superstars.
The mighty Amitabh Bachchan's presence couldn't save Vipul Shah's Aankhen and David Dhawan's Hum Kisise Kam Nahin (left). Neither new directors nor veterans nudged the somnolent box-office awake.
It was also the year which gave Hindi cinema no successful new filmmaking talent. From Vipul Shah, who directed Bachchan, Akshay Kumar and Sushmita Sen in the stagey crime caper, Aankhen, to Arjun Sajnani and his equally theatrical and star clogged costume drama Agni Varsha, no new director had a clue as to what worked at the box-office.
But Maachis composer Vishal Bharadwaj's Makdee and Mani Shankar's 16 December were noticed for their directorial debuts. The rest fell by the wayside: Arjun Sablok's Na Tum Jaano Na Hum; Govind Menon's Danger; Anant Mahadevan's Dil Vil Pyar Vyar; Meghna Gulzar's Filhaal; Anupam Kher's Om Jai Jagadish; Sushen Bhatnagar's Soch; and Gurudev Bhalla's Sharaarat.
None of the debutant directors have been able to get a second project going.
Formula-centric filmmakers came up with one flop after another. In 2002, producers like Yash Chopra and Vashu Bhagnani had more than one failed project.
Director David Dhawan had three big budget flops: Hum Kisise Kam Nahin, Yeh Hai Jalwa (right) and Chor Machaye Shor. No distributor has come forward to buy Dhawan's ready-for-release Sanjay Dutt-Saif Ali Khan-Bipasha Basu comedy Nehle Pe Dehla.
If Dhawan had three releases, so did the prolific Vikram Bhatt. Two of his films, Awara Paagal Deewana and Raaz, made neat profits. Raaz was one of the year's two bonafide successes. The other was Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Devdas.
There were a number of profitable ventures during the year even as the movie business hit rock bottom. Ram Gopal Varma's gangster epic Company, Anees Bazmee's thriller Deewangee (both films with exceptional performances by Ajay Devgan) , Kundan Shah's weepie Dil Hai Tumhara, debutant Adhiyman's Shah Rukh Khan-Madhuri Dixit-Salman Khan triangle Hum Tumhare Hain Sanam, Abbas-Mustan's Humraaz, 16 December, Shashilal Nair's Ek Chhotisi Love Story and Makdee made profits in some areas.
Shah Rukh Khan benefited from Devdas' (left) success. Hrithik Roshan's three releases -- Vikram Bhatt's Aap Mujhe Achche Lagne Lage, Na Tum Jaano Na Hum and Kunal Kohli's Mujhse Dosti Karoge -- bit the dust.
Other than Vivek Oberoi in Company and in Shaad Ali's Saathiya, no newcomer made an impact. Hema Malini's daughter Esha Deol floundered three times in Koi Mere Dil Se Pooche, Na Tum Jaano Na Hum and Kya Dil Ne Kahaa. Other newcomers like Raj Babbar's son Arya (Ab Ke Baras), Sameera Reddy and Salman's sibling Sohail Khan (Maine Dil Tujhko Diya), Lucky Ali and Gauri Karnik (Sur) barely shone before fading away.
Nothing pleased audiences this year. Period films, which made a sizeable impression at the box-office in 2001, were rejected in 2002. The much-hyped cluster of Bhagat Singh films in June went for a toss.
Ajay Devgan in Rajkumar Santoshi's The Legend Of Bhagat Singh competed with Bobby Deol in Guddu Dhanoa's 23 March 1931: Shaheed.
At the end of the battle royale, the only martyrs who mattered were the distributors who lost heavily.
The one silver lining in a year of disaster was the reasonable success of some Indian films in English. Actor Rahul Bose made a poised directorial debut in Everybody Says I'm Fine. Gurinder Chadha's Bend It Like Beckham, Somnath Sen's Leela, actress Revathi's first directorial venture, Mitr: My Friend and Ram Madhvani's original Let's Talk established a rapport with urban audiences.
While the film industry lost the great lyricist Kaifi Azmi, it didn't gain any remarkable musical talent this year. The sporadic success of soundtracks like Nadeem-Shravan's Raaz, Anand Raj Anand's Kaante (right), Ismail Darbar's Devdas and A R Rahman's Saathiya stressed the aridity of exciting musical talent.
Anil Kapoor, who delivered two sensitive performance in the unsuccessful Om Jai Jagadish and Rishtey, says, "A hit has almost become a dream." Adds Akshay Kumar, "2002 has got to be the worst year since the Hindi film industry was born."
But Yash Chopra -- who will direct his first film in three years -- shrugs off the doomsdayers. "Films didn't work because they were bad. Things can only improve in 2003."