Sci-fi duds

Abhishek Kaul checks out why Bollywood movies based on the
science fiction genre fail to work at the boxoffice

Rudraksh, Alag, Love Story 2050 and Prince — all belong to the sci-fi genre, but the other common factor linking these movies is they were duds at the box office. The sci-fi genre suffers due to lack of good storyline and technology, say experts.

Rakesh Roshan’s Koi ... Mil Gaya about a mentally challenged boy’s friendship with an alien was an instant hit
Rakesh Roshan’s Koi ... Mil Gaya about a mentally challenged boy’s friendship with an alien was an instant hit

Prince, considered to be Vivek Oberoi’s comeback movie,
Prince, considered to be Vivek Oberoi’s comeback movie, could not impress despite its Hollywood-style production

"Special effects need patience and a huge budget — either the producers lose their patience or run out of money here," said Ashu Trikha, who directed Alag.

"There is an established corporate investment system in Hollywood and certainly it is different from the investment made by an individual, like Harry Baweja did for Love Story 2050 here," he added.

Hindi cinema’s saga with sci-fi movies probably started with Shekhar Kapur’s super hit Mr India. Starring Anil Kapoor and Sridevi, the movie about a guy who uses a wristband that turns the wearer invisible to fight corruption, set a benchmark in terms of concept, direction and screenplay.

It took 16 years for another such movie to make a mark — it was filmmaker Rakesh Roshan’s Koi... Mil Gaya. Released in 2003, the Hrithik Roshan-Priety Zinta-starrer, about a mentally challenged boy’s friendship with an alien, was an instant hit.

Roshan was second-time lucky when he released its sequel Krrish in 2006. The part two saw Hrithik as the mentally challenged boy’s son who inherits his father’s superhuman abilities. Made on a budget of about Rs 50 crore, it rocked the box office.

There were other attempts after that, but none could repeat the same success story. Prince, which was considered to be Vivek Oberoi’s comeback movie, could not impress despite its Hollywood style production — slick packaging, sophisticated gadgetry and special effects and a budget of Rs 40 crore.

Something similar happened to the much-hyped sci-fi thriller Love Story 2050. It was the launch vehicle of Hurman Baweja. His father, filmmaker Harry Baweja, spent a whopping Rs 60 crore on the making of the film about a man who travels in a time machine from present to the year 2050 to bring back his beloved, played by Priyanka Chopra. But the audiences rejected the film.

Mani Shankar-directed Rudraksh too bombed at the box office due to a weak storyline and poor special effects. The film came in 2004 and producers Sohail Maklai and Nitin Manmohan had then spent Rs 20 crore on the project that merged mythology with science. Sanjay Dutt, Bipasha Basu, Suniel Shetty and Isha Koppikhar formed the cast of Rudraksh.

Photographer Subi Samuel’s production debut Alag starring Akshay Kapoor and Dia Mirza faded from the audiences’ memory without a trace. Made at Rs 4 crore, the movie focussed on a boy with supernatural powers who has a healing touch and can conduct electricity. According to Trikha, the movie flopped because the audiences failed to understand the concept.

"Star cast plays a vital role in determining the fate of a movie. Sometimes the cast overcomes a story rather than the concept of the movie; that is what happened with Alag. Also, many among the audience fail to understand the science involved in it. If Alag had got a global market, it surely would have done well," he said.

The phenomenal success of James Cameron’s Oscar winning 3D sci-fi epic Avatar has reportedly compelled Rakesh Roshan to defer a sequel to Krrish due to the lack of technological logistics here.

But at the same time, it inspired Ram Gopal Varma to make two 3D films. However, the filmmaker concedes that it is very difficult for Bollywood to match Hollywood’s technical sensibilities. "I don’t think we’ll ever reach that level because we are like 100 years behind them (Hollywood) so by the time if we even reach, they’ll be 500 years ahead of us. Even to copy what they make takes us decades," Varma said.

Another much-talked about film in the genre is superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s Ra.One.

"Ra.One means Random Access version One... (I’ve) never done a film like this... whole feel is unreal... the biggest star will be the VFX (visual effects) unit in the film," Shah Rukh posted on his twitter page.

Considering the slew of duds Bollywood has produced in sci-fi movies, will Ra.One and Varma’s outings work? Only audiences will tell. — IANS