Special Report: Bollywood turns to romantic comedies

Mumbai: The romantic comedy genre in Hindi films is increasingly catching the fancy of filmmakers. The latest movie to explore this genre is Abbas Tyrewala’s debut film Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na.

What’s more, as many as 10 other romantic comedies are in the offing. Some of them being Tips’ Kismat Konnection, Yash Raj Films’ Bachna Ae Haseeno, Pritish Nandy Communications’ Ugly Aur Pagli, Rajkumar Santoshi directed Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani, Tarun Mansukhani directed Dostana, Milap Zaveri directed Jaane Kahaan Se Aayi Hai, Ashutosh Gowarikar directed What’s Your Rashee, Sabir Khan directed Kambakth Ishq and Sajid Khan directed Housefull.

While this is not a genre that hasn’t been explored before, the fact remains that the number has surely been on the rise. Now, with 10 such films in this genre that are in various stages of production, it is almost like romantic comedies are being looked upon in a new light.

Director Siddharth Anand, who explored this genre with his debut film Salaam Namaste, is now revisiting it with Bachna Ae Haseeno. "Many attempts are made to make romantic comedy films, but most of them turn out being love stories. The romantic comedy genre is still in its nascent stages in India," Anand opines.

Percept Picture Company has recently acquired Ranvir Shorey and Mallika Sherawat starrer Ugly Aur Pagli. Seconding Anand’s opinion, Percept Picture Company joint managing director Shailendra Singh said, "There has been a dearth of romantic comedies in recent times."

An advantage that romantic comedies as a genre has over others is that these are easy to execute for the cast and crew, are shot mostly at real locations, are not too heavy on the producer’s pocket, easy for distributors to sell and even draws in audiences without much difficulty. On the other hand, casting for a thriller, action, historic or super hero film leaves limited options.

If one were to put an estimate to the total cost of all the films, which are being made in this genre currently, it would easily be Rs 2.5+ billion (Rs 250+ crores). With investments of this tune, the recovery that this genre is likely to bring is anyone’s guess.

"It is always easy for a distributor to sell romantic comedies. Such films draw youngsters with high disposable income to theatres easily. It may be argued that in totality youngsters comprise a small section of the audience, but no genre of film is universal any longer," says Inox vice president programming and distribution Utpal Acharya.

Writer and debutant director of Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na – Abbas Tyrewala says, "Whenever a film of a particular genre succeeds, many filmmakers start exploring that genre. My film is releasing in the phase when romantic comedies have become popular, but this genre was not very popular when I wrote this film five years ago. So I think I just got lucky that the time period in which Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na is releasing. People have shown a lot of interest in these films."

With plentiful younger filmmakers and actors marching into the industry now, one will witness a range of true blue romantic comedies being made.

Writer Milap Zaveri who is debuting into direction with a romantic comedy Jaane Kahaan Se Aayi Hain is of the opinion that such films are a safe bet and the most identifiable form of filmmaking because everyone goes through a phase of romance in their lives.

Surprising is the fact that filmmakers like Rajkumar Santoshi and Ashutosh Gowarikar, who have until now not been associated with this genre, are now attempting at making such films.

With romantic comedies hogging the attention from filmmakers and audiences alike, the pertinent thing to be kept in mind here is that the film’s story and the humour should be universally relatable.

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