Sequels are the latest fad in Bollywood

Apr 07, 2012, 07:40 IST | Subhash K Jha

Whether it is an urge to cash in on the success of the first film, or carrying the franchise forward

For all we know, the new Vidya Balan hit Kahaani may turn into a franchise soon. Director Sujoy Ghosh wants to cast Vidya in a series of films based on her character. “I feel her character Vidya Bagchi has the potential to grow and go much further.

I don’t want to do a sequel for a sequel’s sake. I see my protagonist growing into other stories and circumstances. It would all depend on how far Balan wants to go with the character.

Sujoy Ghosh and Vidya Balan on the sets of Kahaani. Ghosh feels Vidya’s character can grow and be taken further in different ways

” Filmmaker Aanand Rai echoes a similar sentiment when he tells us why he has decided to do a sequel to his 2011 surprise hit Tanu Weds Manu. Says Aanand, “It isn’t as though I have this burning ambition to do a sequel to Tanu Weds Manu.

But I feel there hasn’t been a closure to the lives of the two characters. I am left with a sense of dissatisfaction about their lives. I want to know what happens to Tanu and Manu after they marry.” Aanand discounts any burning urge to cash in on the success of the first film.

“If I wanted to cash in on Tanu Weds Manu I’d have launched a sequel immediately. But I’m making another film after Tanu Weds Manu and will return to the characters only when I am mentally prepared to take on their lives again.” Serenading sequels merely to cash in on a lucrative brand name is not unknown in Bollywood.

Rohit Shetty’s Golmaal and All The Best were roaring successes. While Golmaal has gone to its third segment All the Best is yet to go to Number 2. According to a source, “The game-plan was to build both as franchises. But Rohit ran out of steam for All The Best after Part 1.

Raaz 2 featuring Emraan Hashmi and Kangana Ranaut

And since some of the star-cast was also common to both he decided to focus only on taking Golmaal through a series of feature films.” Interestingly the characters in Golmaal barring Tusshar Kapoor’s ‘talking’ deaf-mute, are all different in the three Golmaal films, and so are the situations and screenplays.

So what binds a Bollywood series together apart from the greed to exploit a successful title? Says Siddharth Jain who’s producing independent films like Ragini MMS, Rock The Shaadi, Jaa Chudail Jaa , Kinky Aur Pinky, Bollywood Striptease and Size Zero, “Studios usually use sequels to milk a hit.

Lage Raho Munna Bhai featuring Sanjay Dutt, Vidya Balan and Arshad Warsi

They mostly cash in on a hit arbitrarily. A sequel like Krissh does it in relatively more refined manner and builds a franchise discreetly. But even in Hollywood very few sequels are creatively satisfying. You have X Men and Spiderman. I feel character-driven sequels stand a better chance of being qualitatively satisfying.”

Anant Mahadevan who has never made a sequel to any of his films feels sequels are a late arrival in India. “Comics and comic books like Superman, Batman and Tarzan have been serialized in Hollywood cinema.

Then someone claimed Nagina was a sequel to Nagin and the idea spouted here. But sequels here have nothing to do with their original story lines except repeating the same actors. The only possible exception is Raj Kumar Hirani’s Lage Raho Munnabhai.

The fashion of aping Hollywood has manifested itself in the form of sequels. But I find it very amusing when our filmmakers very openly say that the second part has no connection with the first. I am afraid, in Bollywood it’s all about exploiting a popular title and adding a 1, 2 or 3 suffix to it.

This is a false sense of ensuring success,” he said. Mahadevan makes interesting points, specially regarding the adding on of suffixes. The Bhatts— Mahesh, Mukesh and Pooja, began this trend when they turned all their successful films Raaz, Murder, Jannat and Jism— into sequel-worthy franchises.

The current trend of sequels actually began with Harmesh Malhotra’s Nigaahen which tried to encore the success of Malhotra’s 1986 blockbuster Nagina, and failed. But the first director who actually attempted a sequel in the true sense of the word was Mahesh Manjrekar.

In 2002, he made the sequel entitled Hathyar for his highly successful 2000 gangster epic Vaastav. Hathyar failed and sequels were forgotten in Bollywood for another decade.

Says Manjrekar, “Looking back, I think I came with a bonafide sequel a little ahead of its times. When I did Hathyar, audiences were not ready to take the characters of Vaastav forward in a logical movement. Sanju (Sanjay Dutt)’s character was dead and Hathyar was about the son, again played by Sanju. Namrata Shirodkar who played his wife in Vaastav was now his mother. It was a little new and confusing for the audience.”

Naturally, Bollywood sequels began to move away from original ideas. The first and second installments of Raaz and Murder had no bearing on the first film in the series. Kunal Deshmukh who is directing Jannat 2 for the Bhatts says, “I’m not treating Jannat 2 as a sequel.

I’m treating it as a franchise brand. While the characters in both the films have similar shades, the world and the conflict in Jannat 2 are different from Jannat. But the protagonist’s craving for paradise is common to both.

” Some such craving takes Bollywood filmmakers in search of sequels. Not all of them succumb, though. Habib Faizal who made a much-acclaimed working-class comedy Do Dooni Chaar was under tremendous pressure from all ends to do a sequel. Habib refused and went on to do a completely original film.

He doesn’t discount the possibility of a sequel. But for that he needs to get a proper script. Do Dooni Chaar producers Disney International asked for a sequel.
But Habib is not in a hurry to oblige. Director-producer Vipul Shah is working on two sequels for his successful films Singh Is Kinng and Namaste London.

Says Shah, In principle if the story allows itself to be extended into another great edition then I think it should be done. Any film runs only on its own strength and not because it is Part 2, 3 , 4 .

” Anees Bazmi, who has been working on the sequel to his 2005 hit comedy No Entry for two years now says, “If you force a sequel into the market, it will never work. But if you let it flow naturally out of the first film it’s bound to work.”

Director Tarun Mansukhani understands the imperativeness of getting a sequel right. Ever since Dostana, he has been under pressure to deliver a sequel. At least three screenplays have been written and scrapped.

The dates of the cast for the sequel (Abhishek Bachchan,Katrina Kaif and John Abraham) have been cancelled. “If I don’t get inspired by the idea for a sequel how can I expect the audience to be with me?” Mansukhani asks, echoing Bazmi’s logic that forced sequels are duds.  

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