The season of sequels

Two decades after ‘Ghayal’, watch out for ‘Ghayal Returns’. The sequel to the multiple-award-winning Sunny Deol-starrer is set for a summer 2012 release. But before that will come another follow-up to a superhit film: ‘Don 2’ with SRK is expected in theatres this December. Next winter the third instalment in the ‘Dhoom’ series will arrive. Shooting has already begun for ‘Housefull 2’, part 1 of which proved to be manna in the desert for Akshay Kumar’s troubled career.

‘Dostana 2’ is on its way. And as we wait for all these potential blockbusters, in the coming weeks we’ll be watching ‘Bheja Fry 2’ and ‘Murder 2’ among other sequels.

It’s the season of sequels in Bollywood. Hindi cinema has been late in picking up on what is a common practice in Hollywood. Hindi filmmakers have rarely tried their hand at sequels so far. The industry gave it a shot with ‘Hera Pheri’ and ‘Phir Hera Pheri’ earlier this decade. But all antennae went on high alert when Yash Raj Films hit the jackpot with ‘Dhoom’ that was succeeded by the record-smashing ‘Dhoom:2’.

Now, the entire industry has woken up to the money-spinning promise of sequels. That’s good for audiences keen to re-visit a theme, star combination or setting that has already made an impact. But the danger lies in Bollywood’s penchant for the tried, the tired and the tested. Could sequels end up being yet another formula for an industry that in recent years has paid scant attention to originality, substance and good writing? Hopefully not.

The joy of watching a follow-up to a popular film is in seeing a subject or the story of much-loved characters moving forward. Look no further than the Hollywood offering ‘Kung Fu Panda 2’ that is still warming hearts worldwide.

Bollywood’s sequel makers should guard against repetition. Already, the third ‘Golmaal’—in spite of the laughs it undeniably provided—has left us with a sense of déjà vu. It would be a big mistake for the director of a sequel to mindlessly repeat tricks that worked in the original film. That may not impact the current product’s opening collections, but if word of mouth from the audience and reviews are equally bad, it could affect the fortunes of subsequent projects.

But even worse than making a bad sequel is to make a sequel to a poorly received film. Remember how Abhishek Bachchan stood by the pre-release interviews he gave for ‘Drona’, in which he’d said a ‘Drona 2’ is a possibility?

When the prospect of a sequel sounds like a threat, not an assurance, that’s when a film’s team should know it’s pack-up time.

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