Once is not enough

Sequels are being lapped up by audiences like never before, even if some of them pale in comparison with the originals, writes Vikramdeep Johal

Sanjay Gadhviís Dhoom:2 has created as much a buzz as Dhoom
Sanjay Gadhviís Dhoom:2 has created as much a buzz as Dhoom

Krrish, the sequel to Koi Mil Gaya, set the cash register ringing
Krrish, the sequel to Koi Mil Gaya, set the cash register ringing

Lage Raho Munnabhai proved to be a path-breaking film
Lage Raho Munnabhai proved to be a path-breaking film

Nothing succeeds like success. And what is it that succeeds a success? A sequel, of course. However, itís a hard task to make one that matches the popularity of the original film, let alone emulate its excellence. Surprisingly, several Bollywood directors have managed to pull it off this year.

Rakesh Roshanís Krrish (the follow-up to Koi Mil Gaya), Raj Kumar Hiraniís Lage Raho Munnabhai (Munnabhai MBBS) and Neeraj Voraís Phir Hera Pheri (Hera Pheri) have done roaring business, while Sanjay Gadhviís Dhoom:2 is zooming along nicely in India as well as abroad. Barring Lage Raho..., itís been a triumph more of style than substance, with the second editions getting bigger, costlier, glossier but not better.

While sequels are very common in Hollywood, Hindi cinema has rarely taken the plunge, simply because the "Part Twos" have sunk without a trace at the box-office. Harmesh Malhotra tried to cash in on the super success of Nagina (1986) by making Nigahen (1989), but Sridevi failed miserably to recreate her "serpentine" charm. Even the presence of golden oldies Dev Anand and Ashok Kumar could not save The Return of Jewel Thief (1996), the forgettable sequel to the classic suspense yarn Jewel Thief (1967). Then there have been "unofficial" sequels like Sooraj Barjatyaís Hum Saath Saath Hain (coming after the blockbuster Hum Aapke Hain Kaun) and Rajeev Raiís Vishwatma (Tridev). Almost all such films collapsed under the weight of audience expectations and the towering reputation of the originals.

Things changed in a big way with Krrish. It was quite a gamble to make the sequel without Jadoo, the cute extra-terrestrial, and the bubbly Preity Zinta. Still, Krrish did the trick largely due to Hrithik Roshanís (super)heroics and the breathtaking stunts/special effects. Despite lacking the simplicity and freshness of Koi Mil Gaya, Krrish comfortably surpassed the former in terms of box-office gains.

Munnabhai MBBS (2003) was an offbeat comedy that appealed to the masses as well as the classes. Director Raj Kumar Hirani knew he had to produce something special to make the sequel memorable, even though not many thought he could do better than his brilliant debut. After all, Ramesh Sippy had peaked right at the start of his career with his magnum opus Sholay. Laying to rest all doubts, Lage Raho Munnabhai has proved to be not only a colossal money-spinner but also a path-breaking film, making Gandhigiri the ultimate buzzword. In fact, it can hardly be called a sequel, so refreshing is its originality.

Lage Raho... was among the front-runners for the Indian entry to the Oscars, but it narrowly lost out to Rang De Basanti. However, it stands a good chance of winning the Filmfare Award for best picture. If that happens, Hiraniís film will sort of emulate The Godfather, Part II (1974), arguably the best sequel ever made in Hollywood and the only one to win the topmost Oscar.

What to change and what not ó that is the question. John Abraham was the "driving force" behind Dhoomís success. What wouldíve been the film worth without him? Replacing him with Hrithik Roshan in Dhoom:2 seemed a wrong decision. Well, director Sanjay Gadhvi has got it dead right, hitting the bullseye again. Hrithik is superb as the criminal mastermind, even though Aishwarya Rai is terribly miscast as his moll. The most disappointing thing is that the seemingly unbeatable combination of "bikes, burglars and babes" fails to hide the flimsiness of the script.

Since this has been the year of sequels, itís quite appropriate that the last big release of 2006 is Ravi Chopraís Amitabh-Hema starrer Baabul, which aims to bend it like Baghbaan. As far as the next year (or two) is concerned, donít be surprised if directors succumb to the temptation of making sequels to their hit sequels.





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