All eyes on the next big Khan

MUMBAI: Since the past three months Shahrukh Khan was all over. He stormed TV sets, went to cricket stadiums, got plastered on hoardings and backs of buses and even spoke to you on radio. Now it‘s the turn of yet another Khan, the reclusive Aamir Khan. The currently -in-the-news for all the wrong reasons, Aamir will be making his directorial debut with Taare Zameen Par.

To be released on 21 December, the film has already been in the eye of many a controversial storm. From who is the original director of the film to Aamir‘s alleged tiff with the media and thus his decision to release the film‘s promo on the Internet.

The film revolves around an autistic child and his teacher played by Aamir Khan. TZP which will see an end of year release will play a crucial role at box office collections. For the Hindi film industry Y2K 07 has not been a very exciting year financially. But the last quarter could prove to be a leveler. With over Rs 2.2 billion riding on just four end of year releases - Om Shanti Om, Saawariya, Goal and Aaja Nachle - November could set a spirited mood for Bollywood.

The promos of Taare Zameen Par look very promising and with Aamir‘s track record it will be a must-watch film. The first phase of publicity and promotions that has rolled out sets an optimistic tone. The Internet community of film lovers is keenly awaiting the film.

Trade analyst Amod Mehra is positive that TZP will do well. "It is Aamir‘s debut as director and he won‘t jeopardize it. It is not a light entertainer but a very emotional film. Now with the multiplex culture it does not make much of a difference if masses like it or not. Lagaan was declared a hit though it was a classy film. The bottomline is that a film should entertain as well as educate. Swades flopped as it was a documentary."

The actor on his blog writes about his debut as director, clears some controversies and plans on releasing the English- translated lyrics on the TZP website on 5 November. With PVR ‘s Ajay and Sanjeev Bijli as co-producers of the film, TZP may get the cash registers ringing. The advantage for TZP is the release timing. After the OSO Vs Saawariya, Goal Vs Dus Kahaaniyan and Aaja Nachle fever dies down, TZP will hit the marquee. Besides, Aamir‘s annual fare is always much-awaited by his fans. The Lagaan-Rang de Basanti-Fanaa euphoria is not forgotten in a hurry. His sense of film is his biggest draw. And with the actor now making his directorial debut in an emotional film it will not take much to entice audiences to watch TZP.

The film industry has begun to stir towards the end of the year. The Bhool Bhulaiya, Heyy Babyy, Jab We Met earnings may mean a better 2008. "Though OSO and Saawariya have got good initials it is too early to declare them hits. One can assess only early next week," says Mehra. "As for Aaja NAchle I am not too hopeful. And Goal is a sports film and many such films have flopped. More over after the debacle of No Smoking John Abraham may find it difficult to attract audiences."

And as the year draws to a close Anees Bazmee‘s comedy Welcome starring current rage Akshay Kumar and Sudhir Misra‘s Khoya Khoya Chand will release. Hit or miss? It‘s too soon to predict. But on the whole Mehra says that the end of the year looks promising.

So after a bright Diwali its now time for Xmas celebrations. We just hope Xmas will be as auspicious for Aamir as Diwali may prove for Shahrukh.

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