Sequels: The new filmmaking mantra

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MUMBAI: Juggling the same star cast, modifying the plot, adding some special appearances and blowing some more bucks… this is the presumed outline of a sequel, but wait, there’s more to it.

Sequels have been termed as a fad, a trend and the latest option to bank on if one runs short of ideas. However, the industry had ditched the idea of getting innovative a few years ago when sequels like Nagina – Nigahein, Suraksha – Wardaat, Style – Excuse Me, Hyderabad Blues – Hyderabad Blues 2 and Vaastav – Hathiyar to name a few, bombed miserably at the box office. Reason: the platform and awareness for these sequels was not the same as it is today. The scenario is bigger and better now.

The question thus arises, why have sequels suddenly sprung up? Every second film seems to be coming up with a ‘Part 2’ behind the original. Is it insolvency of themes?

Why have sequels been in negative light and producers blamed for bankruptcy of ideas if they feel strong about selling sequels? It’s been witnessed that sequels are made on a larger scale with more money being pumped in. Whether it was Krrish or Dhoom:2, both have been worked on an exuberant budget as compared to its respective original.< Page Break >

Apart from conventional producers, even corporates are willing to taste the success of this new seedling. UTV has announced a sequel to Metro, which will be directed by Anurag Basu and a three part series of Paanch Kaurav with Rakeysh Om Prakash Mehra.

On the progress of sequels, UTV Motion Pictures CEO Siddharth Roy Kapur says, “Sequels have always been targeted as an unoriginal idea but I believe it’s the other way round. For a good sequel, the cast and script should be in place, as the film has a readymade audience. So why won’t a producer cash in on that? The basic point of making a sequel is to take a story forward. Also, it needs a major creative shift. Many say that a sequel lacks creativity but that’s not true.”

BR Films, though have never dabbled on the thought of cutting out a sequel, is keeping their options open. Explains BR Films CEO Sanjay Bhutiani, “Sequels give us an opportunity to explore an idea. Talking about the Munnabhai series, there was so much more to do in Lage Raho Munnabhai and it was a great attempt. I personally feel that Don 2 will make a great sequel because Don was a brilliant film. At the same time it will be interesting to see what PNC has in mind with four films on Sholay. The style of cinema is changing and it should be welcomed.”

The most high profile film of 2006 was Rakesh Roshan’s Krrish, a sequel to Koi… Mil Gaya. Krrish managed to steal hearts despite of the fact that from Koi… Mil Gaya’s Preity Zinta and Jadoo were missing from it. The film’s success has given the ace film maker a boost and he is gearing up for another sequel with gusto.

Says Rakesh Roshan, “Whether it’s a remake or a sequel every film has its own content and the reel runs on that core content. If my sequel is minus flesh then it’s bound to bomb. Such films have an advantage of the brand factor, like Krrish has. And if these films are publicised well then the recovery is much faster. It’s never a question of money. The only factor, which should be considered, is that the sequel has to be meatier than the previous one. Now that meat can be created by special effects, emotions or action. The film has to take over the audience.”< Page Break >

The franchise way?

Hollywood pioneered the concept of franchise three decades ago and the concept seems to be going strong. For the uninitiated, when studios tap three or more successive films out of an original success – a franchise of sorts is created.

Hollywood has seen sequels like Men In Black, Pink Panther, Mr Bean, Shrek, Jurassic Park, X-Men, Star Trek, Indiana Jones, Rocky, Die Hard, Pirates of the Caribbean, James Bond, Spiderman and Rush Hour. However Bollywood is far from creating a “franchise” out of its sequels as yet.

Knowingly or blindly, Bollywood has strongly believed in aping Hollywood. Lifting ideas to inspirational moves, the Indian film industry has an unstated bond with the industry in the west. So has the industry reached that level wherein our producers will be able to churn out franchise from the sequels?

Roshan thinks that we will soon reach that stage. “One needs guts to create a franchise and I see that happening very soon. If and only if I feel that Krrish 2 has the potential for another sequel, I will make a Krrish 3. The catch is that it should be able to push the story forward.”< Page Break >

Bhutiani too feels that creating a franchise is not far-fetched. “If the makers of Baazigar and Khiladi are planning their respective sequels, then I feel they will make for a great franchise. David Dhawan’s No 1 series worked very well, so why can’t we aim for a franchise?” he says.

The day is not too far when Bollywood will indulge in experimenting with prequels and interquels. An interquel is a story, which develops between two previously completed stories. For example Walt Disney called Lion King 11/2: Hakuna Matata an interquel. Though Bollywood has already ventured in the territory of prequels with D; Hollywood’s Star Wars is one of the most well known films, which has multiple prequels. But interquels are untouched.

Anant Mahadevan who has remade Victoria 203 is of the same opinion but he feels that the industry has mistaken series for sequels. “What filmmakers are indulging in today is a series and not sequels. And that certainly has a lot of potential. But to strengthen that we need to enrich ourselves, the likes of Sudhir Mishra, Anurag Kashyap need to get together and revamp the style of film making. Because the talent is there, it just needs to be molded in the right form.”

Boney Kapoor has announced a sequel to Mr India and No Entry and Ekta Kapoor to Kya Kool Hai Hum to name a few. Gauging the response from positive previews of Dhamaal, the makers have announced a sequel to the same. What’s more, editor turned director Shirish Kunder, who is embarking on his second project Joker with Akshay Kumar, also has plans of making its sequel and a consequent series on the same. And so the story goes…< Page Break >

However, sequels have not victimized everyone from the fraternity. Some producers want to regulate fresh ideas instead of continuing with the same theme. Mahesh Bhatt says, “Sequels are repetitive pleasure but certain products fail to deliver. Only a few Hollywood films have done well in their sequels. In India the response has been miniscule. I am not saying sequels are bad, there’s nothing wrong in them. But we don’t cater to that kind of requirements. A lot of good marketing is needed to make a sequel work.”

Bhatt feels there are certain movies, which though may not have been announced as a sequel but is a continuation of the first one. “Hum Saath Saath Hain was a sequel of a sequel – Hum Aapke Hain Kaun from Maine Pyar Kiya. Even DDLJ was on the same lines, with a different setting. When they announce it as a sequel… it shows. Success might happen when it comes to sequel. We have a mother ship called Hollywood. But I will never make a sequel,” concludes Bhatt.

At the end of the day a film is a film is a film… whether you term it as a prequel, sequel or an interquel – if it entertains and manages to hook audiences – there’s no harm done.