SRK’s Billu Barber Pre-Release Buzz

billubarberposter1Some time in July 2007, I had my colleague, a Keralite, narrate to me the concept of the original Malayalam film Katha Parayumbol, which was being remade in to Tamil as Kuselan and dubbed in to Telugu as Kathanayakudu with Super Star Rajnikanth as the star attraction. The concept was truly unique and I hadn’t heard anything as refreshing for a long time in films: about two childhood friends and how one becomes a super star in films and the other a barber in the village.

However, I was told, that the role of the Super Star is only limited to a few minutes and it was more in the background, which was the beauty of the film. As the posters began rolling out for the August ‘o8 release, all we could see was Rajnikanth (like in a fancy dress competition) with various get-ups. The entire essense of the film seemed to have been hijacked for pure commercial reasons. The film too was a total dissapointment and disaster with too much emphasis on Rajnikanth and less on the barber, the real hero of the film. When I heard that SRK was working with Priyadarshan on the same film’s remake, I couldn’t beleive it! And now I am in complete disbelief as to how the film is being projected as an SRK film with four songs for him!

To begin with I feel there are too many similarities with the way Kuselan and Billu Barber are being projected. With four item numbers for SRK and his various leading ladies it is apparent that Priyadarshan has been asked to go all-out commercial. But unfortunately, the basic storyline of the film is not commercial and this was the problem with Kuselan too. Produced by SRK’s home production Billu Barber is made with a modest budget of 18 crores, but sold for a whopping 50 crores! Would Eros International have bought an Irfan Khan film for such money? Instead of promoting the unique concept, the film is being promoted as one with SRK and item numbers. I was hoping that they will not do this same mistake.

Yes, going in favor of the film is SRK’s towering Star status which has become even stronger with three back-to-back bluckbusters (Chak De India, Om Shanthi Om, Rab Ne…) and the songs are charbusters! In fact, the time of the film is perfect with Rab Ne…still playing in it’s 9th week (in Hyderabad’s Prasadz multiplex; daily 1 show). Ideally, this is the formulae that should be used by big star-actors—release films with gaps of 3-4 months. This is possible if renumeration is reasonable, the film is sold at reasonable rates–it is win-win situation for all.

It will be really interesting to see how the film fares at the box-office and how the talented  Priyadarshan has handled the project. Will the film begin with blockbuster openings from the first day first show? Strange, but true that I am not able to make a call on this one. We’ll have to wait and see. However, I would have liked to see the film being promoted as an Irfan Khan film with a unique concept, sold for an amount as modest as the budget, and SRK only in the backdrop.

But the box-office is a really strange office. Lets just wait and watch. Billu Barber, as on 9th February, 2008, is releasing in 14 single screens in Hyderabad city on Feb 13th, 2008 including Ramakrishna 70mm (thus, terminating Ghajini‘s run at the same theater after close to 50 days). Shah Rukh Khan is truly the King of Nizam’s Box office as all his films irrespective of their ultimate fate do well.

I would be more than happy to see if the SRK-Irfan-Priyan combo and pull of a good haircut with Billu, but on the same note I will not be surprised if the film falls flat on it’s face because of the over-exposure to the star and commercial elements.

Trivia: When SRK heard that Kuselan would be dubbed into Hindi as well, SRK requested Rajnikanth to put it on hold and Super Star Rajnikanth obliged SRK the same. SRK didn’t expect Kuselan would be produced, directed, and released in close to 81 days!

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