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|January 17, 2000||
It's more than financial success that sets Vashu Bhagnani apart from the crowd of businessmen with suitcases full of cash who walk into Bollywood every day.
It is a sense of self-confidence that borders on cocky arrogance, an eye that sees films like a viewer, not a maker, and understands what makes them work or not work, a certain filmi style that can't be imitated or put on.
This is a man who lives, breathes and sincerely believes in the mythos of Hindi filmgiri. To him, this is not just a business, it's a lifetyle.
You could see it on his face when he talked proudly of his casting coup in Bade Miyan Chote Miyan, a film that was written off by everyone who had seen the shoot and the rushes.
"We will make the film on the editing table," he reportedly told his ace editor A Muthu. They did! Without the smart cutting and pasting, even BMCM's unique casting wouldn't have saved it.
Later, when Abhishek Bachchan was to be launched in J P Dutta's Border, Bhagnani decided that the smart tactic was to produce another film and keep it ready to release the moment Border released.
This way, he would cash in on the expected success of Border as well as gain from Dutta's own publicity campaign which would obviously have to launch their common star!
The problem was that Abhishek didn't have dates at the time. Bhagnani was used to shooting RAC films (Reservation Against Cancellation) before. After all, that's how he managed to wangle Govinda and Salman at the peak of their careers.
So he simply kept his unit on standby. And the moment Abhishek had a few days free from Refugee, Bhagnani would fly his unit to whatever foreign location seemed suitable and canned as much as possible!
He produced Tera Jadoo Chal Gayaa in a record six months and was so well prepared that he even released a publicity ad before Border's release!
Refugee took a beating at the BO and Tera Jadoo didn't fare much better. But it was certainly the latter film that made a greater impact.
Bhagnani's amazing publicity campaign included a host of gimmicks, including a tie-up with Set-Max satellite channel for exclusive promotion rights, a gala press conference which was also open to the public at Juhu Beach, and a grand party which was supposed to be in honour of the film's music director winning the National Award -- but which turned into a launch party for the release of the music album of TJCG!
But let's not forget that this was the same man who chose to release his previous film, Biwi No 1, on May 28, 1999 (a date that happens to add up to the number 1s, numerologically), at the peak of the cricket World Cup.
Tera Jadoo was nowhere near as big a hit as Biwi No 1, but it wasn't the washout that Refugee was either.
It would have been impressive enough if Vashu Bhagnani was just a successful producer. But he's now playing another, more impressive role. As a promoter of 'packaged products'.
The package included Abhishek Bachchan's first 'entertainer film'.
Now, Bhagnani he's all set to make magic again with the debut film of Tusshar Kapoor.
The question is: What will he do next? Where does he go after films? Or has the wandering salesman finally found his home market? Is Bollywood to be Vashu Bhagnani's last sales tour?
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