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Second Round

Friday, February 08, 2013

Coming up this week is Neeraj Pandey’s Special 26, his second film after the sleeper hit A Wednesday. His first was a no-frills thriller that touched millions of middle-class hearts, where Naseeruddin Shah, the terrorist-buster who spoke for the common citizen, is fed up of living in fear. Another filmmaker, Abhishek Kapoor, whose first, Rock On!, was highly appreciated, is also waiting to pass his second acid test—Kai Po Che.

A lot of promising filmmakers (and actors) make a great first impression, and then their second film just doesn’t live up to the expectation of the first, just like the second half of so many films ruins a great first half. If a filmmaker crosses this tough hurdle, then he/she is here to stay.

Some recent success stories? Dibakar Bannerjee, who struggled to get his first, Khosla Ka Ghosla released, and then, just took off. Raj Kumar Gupta followed Aamir with an even more powerful No One Killed Jessica.

But there are some sad cases too, like John Mathew Matthan, whose terrific Sarfarosh was just not matched by Shikhar. Kundan Shah could just never live up to his cult comedy Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro. Amit Saxena vanished after Jism and Navdeep Singh after Manorama Six Feet Under.  Sagar Bellary could not replicate the humour of Bheja Fry. Sanjay Khanduri’s first Ek Chalees Ki Last Local got as many good reviews as his second Kismat Love Paisa Dilli got brickbats.

The industry is not too generous about offering second chances, unless there is pedigree backing the name, particularly another chance after failure. So many star kids and siblings also discovered that—Fardeen and Zayed Khan, Uday Chopra, Tanisha Chatterjee, Shamita Shetty to name a few.  Tushar Kapoor, Riteish Deshmukh, Arshad Warsi cleverly decided not to go solo and saved their careers. Abhay Deol figured out early on that regular mainstream films were not for him and became the darling of alternative cinema.

 A few actors did manage almost spectacular comebacks when they were all but written off. Manoj Bajpayee, who reportedly insisted on playing the ‘hero’ after the success of Satya, got his groove back when he realised that edgy parts suited him better. Randeep Hooda hung in there, and Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster resurrected him, while another Ram Gopal Varma discovery, Mohit Ahlawat, was never seen in anything significant after James.

What is it that works for some and not for others? Perseverance, courage, killer instinct or just plain luck?

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