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November 6, 2001

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Mahesh Manjrekar won't compete with himself

Subhash K Jha

Another Gadar -- Lagaan, Asoka -- Indian kind of clash has been averted with the release of Mahesh Manjrekar's Ehsaas being deferred until after Tera Mera Saath Rahen hits the theatres.

A still from Tera Mera Saath Rahen Says Manjrekar, "My distributors have decided it is wiser to release one of the films a fortnight later. No point in creating self-destructive competition for myself.

"Since the release of Tera Mera Saath Rahen was decided long before Ehsaas, there was no other alternative but to push Ehsaas ahead."

As things stand now Tera Mera... will be released a day after Diwali (November 15). Ehsaas has been re-scheduled to November 30.

There are several superficial similarities between the two films. Both are films about filial bonding. Tera Mera... is about Ajay Devgan's unfathomable link with his kid bother, a cerebral palsy patient played with startling authenticity by Marathi stage actor Dushyant Wagh.

Ehsaas is a father-son story featuring Sunil Shetty as a father who longs to make his son (Mayank Tandon) a sports person.

In both films, the leading lady (Sonali Bendre in Tera Mera... and Neha in Ehsaas) takes a backseat to the young male presence.

"Both films are very close to my heart. In fact, I wrote the roles in Ehsaas and Tera Mera Saath Rahen for myself," says Manjrekar, who is a seasoned theatre artiste and also has a pivotal role in Sanjay Gupta's Kaante.

The most conspicuous similarity between Ehsaas and Tera Mera... is in the image-breaking presentation of the leading man.

A still from Ehsaas For some time both Ajay and Sunil have been trying to break free of the action image they inherited in their debut films, Phool Aur Kante and Balwaan, respectively. The image was perpetuated over several years.

But both actors have had it with fists of fury and buckets of bloodshed. They've both swerved successfully away from their stereotypical image, proving that audiences are open to actors with starry images stepping away from the norm.

Earlier it was impossible for image-centric superstars to move away from audiences' expectations. Dev Anand, Shammi Kapoor and Rajesh Khanna tried in Rahi, Pagla Kahin Ka and Aavishkar respectively but failed.

Ajay and Sunil have been inching away from the guts-and-gore formula towards the glory of a family audience. Tera Mera... and Ehsaas mark a peak in their re-oriented images.

Says Manjrekar, "A distributor was overheard grumbling how I had ruined Ajay and Sunil's careers by making them father-figures in spectacles. When the distributor was asked if he had seen the two films he replied in the negative. "I sincerely believe Sunil and Ajay have given memorable performances in my Ehsaas and Tera Mera..."

Even as super star Sunny Deol rebuilds his image of the beefy bulldozer-like one-man anti-corruption machine, a lot of Hindi film heroes like Sunil, Ajay and Akshay Kumar (who played a negative role in Ajnabee) are moving away from the action-image trap.

Indo-Asian News Service

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