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Tilak Rishi, born in India, has been working as a career corporate executive, after doing his MBA. Passionately pursuing his hobby for writing, he also remained a regular contributor to newspapers in India and the U.S. Many true happenings and characters he came across in life, including interaction with former president Bill Clinton, inspired Paradise Lost and Found, his first novel. A family saga, it starts from Kashmir, when this paradise on earth is lost for the tourists who thronged in thousands every year to enjoy its scenic splendor. Terrorists have turned it into one of the most dangerous places in the world. The family is not only a witness to the loss of this paradise, but also to another tragedy of much bigger magnitude. In the aftermath of the partition of India, along with millions uprooted from their homes in Pakistan, the family leaves behind all that it has in Lahore. Starting from a scratch on the difficult path to progress, it still has many joyful moments when along the way it makes a difference in many a life. The survival-to-success story climaxes in California where the family finds the paradise that was lost in Kashmir.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Bollywood's Costliest Box-office Crashes

It is sad to note that some of the most expensive films in Hindi cinema history couldn't even come close to recouping their production cost, thereby inflicting lasting damage to all concerned with it, especially the producers. Ironically, most of these are treasured films and can never be described as flops. To be a true flop, a film has to fail in every sense of the word. But the films listed below are great movies in many respects, but for some reason failed at the box-office at their first run at the cinemas.

1. Jhansi Ki Rani (Sohrab Modi, 1952): The first technicolor Hindi film, for Jhansi Ki Rani Modi had technicians flown from Hollywood. Mehtab starred as the young queen of Jhansi who took arms against the British during the Mutiny of 1957, with Modi essaying the role of Rajguru, her chief advisor. The film was notable for its authenticity, its spectacular battle scenes and Mehtab's stirring performance. Ironically, the film miserably failed because the audience found Mehtab far too old for the role of the young queen. It was a costly misfire for Modi as the film crashed at the box-office.

2. Dil Diya Dard Liya (A. R. Kardar, 1966): Dilip Kumar benchmarks the anti-hero in this movie based on the famous novel Wuthring Heights. In spite of the power-packed performance of Dilip Kumar, the film crashed because the Indian audiences couldn't digest their most favorite hero turning into a negative character. Even the immortal 'ghazals' rendered by Mohd. Rafi under Naushad could not save the film from being a disaster for producer/director A. R. Kardar.

3. Mera Naam Joker (Raj Kapoor, 1970): It is indeed unfortunate that Raj Kapoor's magnum opus, loosely based on his own life, was the biggest loser for him at the box-office. If Barsaat showered money for him to build the famous R. K. Studios, MNJ became the cause of the worst financial crisis he went through, which forced him to mortgage his studios.

4. Dastaan (B. R. Chopra, 1972): Remake of BR's earlier classic, Afsana, this gripping romance miserably flopped at the box-office, showing once again that the original will always remain in the hearts and minds of the cinegoers and they will not accept the new versions. One of the most successful moviemakers of Hindi cinema, B. R. Chopra felt devastated by the disastrous failure of Dastaan, in spite of Dilip Kumar playing double role in the film.

5. The Burning Train (Ravi Chopra, 1980): Produced by B. R. Chopra, and inspired by the Hollywood hit Towering Inferno, The Burning Train, despite excellent technical effects and the biggest starcast comprising Dharmendra, Jeetendra, Hema Malini, Parveen Babi, Vinod Khanna, Vinid Mehra, Neetu Singh and popular supporting actors, did not take off at all at the box-office. The viewers perhaps did not relish viewing the burning train, which they had always associated with romance and excitement in life as well as in movies. It was B. R. Chopra's most expensive film and the biggest failure in his career as a producer.

6. Ajooba (Shashi Kapoor, Gennadi Vesilyev, 1991): Shashi Kapoor's lavish Indo-Russian fantasy starring Amitabh Bachchan, Dimple Kapadia, Rishi Kapoor, Shammi Kapoor and Amrish Puri, was such a big disaster for Shashi that he took long time to recover from the financial strain it caused him - "I closed down my film company because after Ajooba I had a lot of losses. It took me some time to pay back everybody"(Shashi Kapoor in an interview with Rediff.

7. Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja (Satish Kaushik, 1993): One of India's most expensive films, RKRCKR was also one of the biggest commercial disasters for the producers which also brought a big set back to Anil Kapoor's career. A con movie, it was perhaps ahead of its time, because Bunty Aur Babli, very similar in theme, produced much later, became the biggest grosser at the box-office for the year 2005.

8. Asoka (Santosh Sivan, 2001): Shahrukh Khan's Asoka has a lot going for it - two very attractive and talented leads, rich mix of action, romance, comedy and drama, yet it turned out to be a big failure at the box-office. The audience perhaps did not digest ending the film right after the brutal battle of Kalinga. They would have liked to watch the glory of the peaceful phase of Emperor Ashoka's reign, after the Kalinga killings.

9. LOC Kargil (J. P. Dutta, 2003): One of the most expensive Hindi movies with the biggest ever starcast, LOC remains the most shocking failure in Hindi cinema. A tribute, a homage to our brave selfless soldiers who have laid down their lives to safeguard ours, LOC should have succeeded, but it did not. The viewers viewed it as an extra lengthy documentary, and not as a great feature film.

10. Kisna (Subhash Ghai, 2005): Billed as an epic cross-cultured romance between a British Commissioner's daughter and son of her family's Indian servant, this period piece was producer/director Subhash Ghai's attempt to resurrect his once great career, but failed him miserably. The viewers probably had fresh memories of another such romance in Lagaan and it was too soon to watch a film with similar theme, but with a weak script. The film was not only a commercial disaster for Ghai, but also a great set back for Vivek Oberoi's career.