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June 27, 2000


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The Refugee-Border coincidence

Refugee J P Dutta and release controversies seem to go hand-in-hand. In June 1997, the release of Border clashed with Raj Kanwar's Itihaas, starring Ajay Devgan and Twinkle Khanna. It was not Kanwar's fault, but he agreed to postpone his film by a week. And Border went on to become a super-duper hit.

Now, history is repeating itself. This time, it is Refugee that is clashing with Guddu Dhanoa's Bichhoo, starring Bobby Deol and Rani Mukherjee. And, again, it is Dhanoa who has postponed the release of his film, even though he had announced June 30 as the release date for his film much before J P Dutta.

Does this mean Refugee too will be a hit?

Games producers play

Producers applying for censorship of their films are required to make a payment towards the Cine Workers Welfare Cess. This rule was made effective from 1994. But, soon after it came into force, the IMPPA managed to get a stay order from the court against the cess.

In 1996, though, the court's verdict went in the central government's favour. And those producers who had not paid the Cine Workers Welfare Cess when the stay order was in operation were now liable to do so. For those who are interested, the cess payable is Rs 10,000 per Hindi film; for Marathi, Gujarati and Bengali films, it is Rs 3,000 and for other language films, including English, the cess payable is Rs 2,000.

But the Central Board Of Film Certification is having quite a hard time collecting this amount. When they send letters to the producers by registered post, the letters come back! When they attempt to contact the producers on the telephone, the CBFC gets replies such as, "The producer has shifted his office to an unknown destination" or "We have already sold the film's negatives, so we are not the producers now."

Though the CBFC is amused at such stock excuses, it is keeping a close watch on these producers. They will be cornered when they come to the CBFC office to apply for the censor certificate for their next film. Till then, it's a game of hide and seek!

The first Roshan

Rakesh and Hrithik Roshan Contrary to popular belief, Hrithik was not the first Roshan to be contacted by Pantaloon for their debut film. Once they were clear about the subject, the first person they approached was composer Rajesh Roshan.

Vivek Singhania, CEO and director, PFH Entertainment and Pantaloon Jeans boss, met Rajesh Roshan and narrated the story much before the release of Kaho Naa...Pyaar Hai. The latter liked it so much that he recommended Hrithik for the lead role. And, as PFH were new entrants into the industry, Rakesh Roshan volunteered to guide them through Na Tum Jaano Na Hum.

Incidentally, the title is inspired from the popular song of KN...PH. And the film's director, Arjun Sablok, is Hrithik's childhood friend and an erstwhile assistant to Yash Chopra.

Kishore Kumar reborn?

Pratik Joseph. That's the name of the new playback singer and lyricist David Dhawan is introducing in Jodi No 1.

It all began with Pratik phoning David and requesting him for an opportunity to be heard. The latter, of course, never took him seriously. Not the one to give up, Pratik recorded his songs and sent off the audio cassette to David. Which landed in the hands of the director's elder son.

A film buff himself -- and an intelligent one at that -- he heard the two songs Pratik had recorded, was impressed and started pestering his reluctant and busy dad to hear the cassette. Finally, one night, David's son managed to force his dad to hear the song. And David fell for the voice, the lyrics and the tunes.

The cassette was rewound, replayed and heard all over again. And again. And again. Like his son, David too loved the songs. David's son telephoned the singer the following day and invited him home. David met Pratik, told him he liked the songs and would use them in Jodi No 1. And promised that Pratik himself would render the two songs.

Within days, the tune was improved upon, more music added and Pratik found himself in a recording theatre. In one song, Pratik has actually sung for both the heroes of the film, Sanjay Dutt and Govinda. "Pratik has an amazing voice resembling that of Kishore Kumar," says David, who is thrilled with the two numbers.

R Mohan faces elephantine problem

Raja Ko Rani Se Pyar Ho Gaya People For Animals Chairperson Maneka Gandhi, who is also the union minister for social justice and empowerment, has now threatened to stop the screening of R Mohan's Raja Ko Rani Se Pyar Ho Gaya. This, despite the fact that the film has been been passed by the CBFC.

Maneka insists the film has violated both the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. A PFA trustee, Rita Vazirani, has slapped a legal notice on the producer for using a baby elephant who was only three years old when the film was shot.

The Indian elephant is protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, and, under section 39 of the Act, all wild animals, even those bred and kept in captivity, are government property. No one can acquire or keep them in his possession without the permission of a chief wildlife officer.

R Mohan seems to have convinced the CBFC that there is nothing unlawful in the film. But Maneka and the PFA seem to made this film a prestige issue.

Sanjay Bansali loses Devdas

First, it was Suneel Darshan and the Indra Kumar, Ashok Thakeria duo who clashed over Rishta. The case went to the IMPPA, who had actually caused the problem by allowing Suneel to regisster the title when Indra-Ashok had already done so. Suneel, who was forced to give up the title, has now settled for Ek Rishta.

And just as the dust over that one settled, we hear Sanjay Leela Bansali can no longer make Devdas. The title has already been registered by producer Kailash Chopra (brother of screen villain Prem Chopra), who has been sitting on it for the last few years. Sanjay has now titled his film Aaj Ka Devdas.

Hit and run... into trouble!

Remember Tamil film actor Anand, who shot to fame with Mani Ratnam's Thiruda Thiruda? He has now become notorious, thanks to unlimited drinking, reckless driving and misplaced arrogance.

The actor was recently driving his car in Madras in an inebriated state late one night. A cop signalled him to stop. Instead, he hit the cop and sped away. But a police patrol jeep caught up with him.

Anand, in the meanwhile, had managed to contact his friends from his mobile phone. As a result, a group of stunt actors stormed the police station where the actor was held in custody. They forced the cops to release him and fled the scene.

The injured cop, who was rushed to hospital, succumbed to his wounds. The actor now faces a murder charge. Does that not remind one of a drunken Puru Raajkumar's reckless driving on the streets of Bombay some years ago!

Raj Babbar to plead for debarred Sikhs

Raj Babbar Raj Babbar recently returned from Canada, where he had gone to promote his film, Shaheed Uddham Singh. The actor-turned-film-maker-turned-MP has decided to plead the case of Sikhs residing there with the Indian government. Apparently, they are debarred from entering India on the ground of being Khalistanis, though they have not been charged with any act of terrorism. Babbar wishes to make them honourable NRIs who can visit their motherland when they like.

FDC-FMC announce major policy shift

In a major shift from the earlier joint policy of the Film Distributors Council and the Film Makers Combine, which required producers to refrain from selling the telecast and satellite rights of their films for five years from the date of their theatrical release, producers can now sell these rights a year after their film's theatrical release. But cable television and video rights can now be sold not earlier than one year, as against the six months and two weeks that was the rule till now.

This reason behind this policy shift was the feeling that both, the telecast of new films on cable television and the video release of new films, were affecting business very badly. The new policy is effective from June 19, 2000.

If any producer supplies his film for telecasting through satellite, television, cable television or video before the stipulated time, he would be required to share 50 per cent of the amount with the all-India distributors of the film and would be permitted to keep only the balance 50 per cent for himself. It was also decided that all theatrical rights for public exhibition in all formats would, without exception, belong to the distributors.

A look at the week

**Ratings based on box office collections and cost of the film**
Rating Film Production House Verdict Position Last Week No Of Weeks Since Release
1 Josh Venus Above average in Bombay, south (Average in all other circuits) 1 3
2 Tarkieb Jay Movies Loser (Average in Bombay, Delhi-U P) New New
3 Joru Ka Ghulam Noorani Film Corporation Average/ Above average
in Maharashtra
2 2
4 Kya Kehna! Tips Films Overflow 3 6
5 Kaho Naa...
Pyaar Hai
Filmkraft Superhit 4 24
6 Dulhan Hum
Le Jayenge
Baba Films Average (Losing in
some circuits)
5 14
7 Hadh Kar
Di Aapne
R R Productions Loser (Average in
some circuits)
6 11
8 Hera Pheri A G Films (P) Ltd Loser (Overflow in
Bombay, south)
9 13
9 Chal Mere Bhai Neha Arts Loser 7 8
10 Jung Satish Tandon Productions Loser (Average in
Delhi-UP, commission
earner in Punjab)
10 7

Komal Nahta edits the popular trade magazine, Film Information.

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