Saawariya.. o ho o ho
This is my daughter's favourite song right now. It's not mine for sure.
The big Bollywood showdown this Diwali is Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Saawariya vs Farah Khan's Om Shanti Om. And in a way it's a battle of Youth vs Experience.
Saawariya uses one of the oldest formulas in Bollywood's book: launching a new lead pair. There are a number of big stars who were born that way:
- Bobby (Rishi Kapoor, Dimple)
- QSQT (Aamir Khan, Juhi Chawla)
- Maine Pyaar Kiya (Salman, Bhagyashree)
Note: Technically MPK was not Salman's first film , and QSQT wasn't Juhi's either but whatever they did before that has been long forgotten. Everyone remembers these as unki pehli picture.
Then there were actors like Kumar Gaurav who made a smashing debut with Love Story. Neither Kumar nor his heroine Vijeta Pandit made it big in Bollywood subsequently par kam se kam ek picture to hit hui!
The 'young love story' is actually a favourite way to launch star sons. I think it fell out of favour when the last chappie launched this way - Abhishek Bachchan - did not make it for about 4 years.
But that was a while ago. India is once again ready for a new chocolate hero and new candyfloss heroine. And a new generation of star kids is ready to be launched.
Lekin there are interesting differences this time. For the first time, a star daughter is being launched with full blessings and fanfare from the family. Poor Karisma had to fight for her career while even Kareena took a backseat to Abhishek in Refugee. This time, Ranbir and Sonam are getting equal footage and so are both sets of parents.
What's more, although either of the Kapoors could have produced a film to launch their kid they have put their eggs in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's basket. And both sides have formed this mutual admiration society.
At the music launch of Saawariya Bhansali gushed: "I am so touched to see Krishnaji here" and made glowing references to Raj Kapoor. While Ranbir came on stage and said in a small and humble voice:"I am grateful to "sir" for considering me worthy of this project." Vagairah vagairah.
Makes sense for both sides. Bhansali has this grand and opulent cinematic vision which India loves. While a debut pair which can generate so much free press and public curiosity can only boost the film. And lead to profitable though bizarre marketing tie ups like this one.
On the other hand, there's 'Om Shanti Om'. Also a love story but with a 'reincarnation' twist. And a reincarnated Shahrukh 'six pack' Khan. And the whole '70s era reincarnated as 'retro cool', actually.
OSO also has a new heroine - Deepika Padukone - but clearly she is not the USP of the film. In fact - in an exact opposite strategy - Om Shanti Om is pitching the star card heavily. The song 'Deewangee', currently on air, features '31 top stars'.
Bottomline: OSO is old wine in a new bottle while Saawariya is new wine in an old bottle. If I had to choose just one I'd go for 'Om Shanti Om'. But then... I'm old.
P.S> Regardless of who 'wins' the box office battle, I think Ranbir will go on to do very well. But hey, I thought Rishi Kapoor (in Karz) was really cool. And Ranbir does have a jhalak of Rishi... Before he graduated in size and had to hide behing horrendous checked sweaters!