Brash, brawny and larger than life, with a moustache to match: Akshay Kumar is all set to steal the show in - and as - Rowdy Rathore.
Slated to release early June, Rowdy Rathore stars Akshay Kumar and Sonakshi Sinha. The film has been produced by Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Ronnie Screwvala and directed by Prabhu Deva.
The trailer was unveiled for the first time at the Bombay Development Department (BBD) "chawls" in Worli, Mumbai, early this month, in an event attended by the film's actors and crew.
Chawls were built in Mumbai in the early 1900s by mill owners and private builders to house the people migrating to the city in search of work. They are four- to five-storey buildings with a central courtyard and 10 to 20 rooms on each floor. A frequent backdrop in Indian cinema, they have come to signify camaraderie, togetherness and security for the residents.
The BBD chawls might seem a curious choice of venue to promote a potential Bollywood blockbuster, but Bhansali, who himself grew up in chawls, has dedicated Rowdy Rathore to all his childhood friends and relatives. He claims to have had them in mind as the audience when he decided to produce the film.
Rowdy Rathore is the third remake of the Telugu film Vikramarkudu - and when a story is rehashed that many times, it begs the question, "Why again?"
The premise is fantastically far-fetched: a small-time crook, Rowdy (Kumar), comes upon a little girl who insists he is her father. Of course, in true Bollywood style, there exists an identical twin - Rathore - who is the actual father that Rowdy has been mistaken for. Not long after the long-lost twins are reunited, Rathore is killed by gangsters. Rowdy steps into Rathore's shoes at work and at home to find out who killed Rathore, saving lives along the way.
This is the precise masala that cinema goers love, and it's no wonder that the film is set to break records for pre-release sales.
Karan Johar set new standards when he sold the satellite rights of his film Agennepath, starring Hrithik Roshan, Sanjay Dutt and Priyanka Chopra, for an astronomical Dh30 million, ahead of its release in January this year.
Rumour has it that the satellite rights for Rowdy Rathore are under discussion in the region of Dh32 million. Both movies are remakes of blockbuster hits of the past.
It does look like Rowdy Rathore is set to do good things for producer Bhansali. Not that he needs it - having already worked on massive projects including Devdas, Black and Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, starring the likes of Amitabh Bachchan, Nana Patekar, Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Hrithik Roshan, Aishwarya Rai, Ajay Devgan and Rani Mukherjee.
This is the first time Bhansali touches a hard-core masala film, though. It incorporates all the commercial aspects that endear this kind of film to Bollywood audiences across the globe: from heart-stopping action sequences to breathtaking romantic songs.
This is also the first time Bhansali worked with Kumar, for whom he has nothing but praise. In press interviews, he has complimented Kumar's commitment to excellence and his value for his own time and that of others.
After an initial visit to Dubai early this month to launch the trailer, the Rowdy Rathore team will return next month for a full-blown promotional campaign, ahead of the film's June release. The leading duo of Kumar and Sinha, as well as the director Deva, are also planning to fly down this time.
As the first release of the summer, Rowdy Rathore's takings will no doubt be boosted by a combination of summer holidays and a post cricket-season lull.
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