Yeh Raaste... is Madhuri's test by fire
For Madhuri Dixit, the lissome dancer with a thousand-watt smile who has reigned supreme in the Hindi film industry for more than a decade, the week ahead will be crucial.
She returns to popular cinema on August 10 with Yeh Raaste Hain Pyaar Ke in the role of a mentally imbalanced wife. This Deepak Shivdasani film also features Ajay Devgan, who hasn't tasted box-office success in a while.
Madhuri's first release after she tied the knot with Los Angeles-based surgeon Sriram Nene, Pukar, did not meet with much box office success. Gajagamini, which came next, belonged to the experimental film genre.
Yeh Raaste... will be a test by fire for the actress, who had a disastrous debut in Abodh in 1986 but was catapulted to mega stardom with her Ek do teen number in Tezaab (1988). Ram Lakhan followed in the same year.
The 1990 the superhit Dil fetched Madhuri her first Filmfare award. Since then, she has delivered a hit film every year -- Beta, Saajan, Khalnayak, Prem Pratigya and Hum Aapke Hain Koun..!, with the last-mentioned turning out to be a huge blockbuster.
Madhuri mania ensured the success of the much-flawed Raja in 1995. But later films like Yaarana, Rajkumar and Prem Granth collapsed at the box-office.
Age, said the industry, was catching up with Madhuri.
But she gained critical acclaim for her performances in Prakash Jha's Mrityudand and Yash Chopra's Dil To Pagal Hai in 1997.
In 1998, Madhuri had only one major film to her credit -- C N Chandra's Wajood -- which failed to recreate the Tezaab hysteria. The next year saw saw Madhuri in Boney Kapoor's Pukar and artist M F Husain's Gajagamini.
That she chose to continue working in films after marriage is proof of her love for the cinematic medium. Though marriage is considered a bane for Hindi film heroines, Madhuri is out to prove otherwise.
Beside Yeh Raaste..., she has Rajkumar Santoshi's Lajja slated for an August 31 release. The film's massive star cast includes, besides Madhuri, Anil Kapoor, Jackie Shroff, Ajay Devgan, Rekha, Manisha Koirala and Mahima Chaudhury.
Madhuri has made it very clear that she is still in the race. "In Hollywood actresses come out with their most outstanding roles even after three or four marriages. I have had only one and I am sure I will have only one," she told a trade weekly.
She is also working in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's ambitious Devdaas, co-starring Aishwarya Rai and Shah Rukh Khan.
What Madhuri is looking forward to the most, though, is Yash Chopra's next film in which she is cast with Amitabh Bachchan; it will, for Madhuri, be the fulfillment of a long-cherished dream. The two had earlier worked together in a song sequence in Bade Miyan Chhote Miyan.
Ajay banking on Yeh Raaste Hain Pyaar Ke
Another person anxiously waiting for Yeh Raaste...'s release is the film's hero. The National Award winning actor -- Ajay Devgan won the award for Zakhm -- desperately needs a hit.
His last film, Raju Chacha, was a miserable flop and left his coffers empty. The home production, which was touted as the most expensive film to be made in Hindi cinema, was terribly over-budgeted. Ajay's last commercial hit was Bhansali's Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam.
Ajay is optimistic about his forthcoming projects like Tera Mera Saath Rahe with Sonali Bendre, Chori Chori with Rani Mukherjee and Deewangee with Sanjay Dutt, Raveena Tandon and Karisma Kapoor.
YRHPK vs Dil...
The much-hyped Dil Chahta Hai, starring Aamir Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Akshaye Khanna, Preity Zinta, Sonali Kulkarni and Dimple Kapadia is the other Friday release.
Film critics believe both Yeh Raaste Hain Pyaar Ke and Dil Chahta Hai will have little competition from Pyar, Ishq Aur Mohabbat and Hum Ho Gaye Aapke that were released on August 3.
Both Rajiv Rai's Pyaar Ishq..., which stars Kirti Reddy, Sunil Shetty, Aftab Shivdasani and Arjun Rampal, and Ahathiyan's Hum Ho Gaye Aapke starring Fardeen Khan, Reema Sen and Apurva Agnihotri have received gloomy reviews.
Yash Chopra and Amitabh Bachchan join forces
The hottest news of the week is the coming together of heavyweights Yash Chopra and Amitabh Bachchan for the master filmmaker's next venture.
The duo had earlier teamed up for superhit films like Deewar, Kabhi Kabhi, Trishul, Kaala Pathar and Silsila.
Chopra's forthcoming venture will also star Madhuri Dixit, Shah Rukh Khan and Uday Chopra, who debuted in elder brother Aditya Chopra's Mohabbatein, a film in which Amitabh played a pivotal role.
Kareena Kapoor has reportedly been approached to star opposite Shah Rukh, while Uday's female co-star has yet to be finalised.
Indo-Asian News Service