Betting Safe

A month ago, Chulbul Pandey marked his much-awaited return to the big screen with Dabangg 2. In spite of the filmmakers' promise that the sequel of the 2010 blockbuster will be both bigger and better, the film borrowed milieu, mood, costumes and action scenes including the lead character's entry sequence from the first installment of the franchise. This hardly comes in the way of the film's success, and director Arbaaz Khan unabashedly reveled in it. Dabangg collected Rs 166 crore in two weeks, setting an example for several other sequels that are scheduled to release in 2013.

The first sequel of this year, Race 2, comes close on the heels of Dabangg 2's release. Much like the Salman Khan-starrer, it looks like its predecessor heavy with action sequences and with the theme of greed and deception running common. This will be followed by Murder 3, Saheb, Biwi Aur Gangster Returns, Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai Again (OUATIMA) and the return of established blockbuster franchises, Krrish and Dhoom, both in their third installments.

Unlike Hollywood, which heavily uses sequels as a formula that almost always spells success, Bollywood is rather new to the concept. The most common reason prompting a sequel has been popularity of certain characters as in superhero franchises and, closer home, Munnabhai and Chulbul Pandey. But filmmaker Tigmanshu Dhulia believes that often, it is the genre that strikes a chord with the audience. The director sticks to the zone as he takes the story of his lusty badland drama of 2011's Saheb, Biwi aur Gangster forward with additional characters in its sequel, which releases on March 8.

Milan Luthria insists that in the absence of a specific genre, the attributes that contribute to the popularity of the first part have to be repeated. "Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai had a period element with a retro coolness factor even though it resided in a semi-realistic zone. The sequel maintains that," he says.

Sequels, however, need not follow the chronological graph of its original. These have recurring traits in common. The Murder series, for instance, enjoys the reputation of being Bollywood erotica. Mahesh Bhatt of Vishesh films, which owns the franchise, says, "In Murder, the audience looks forward to new stories on modern-day relationships in the mould of a thriller."

But the primary reason behind sequels is their business potential. "After creating a loyal audience, you can ride on its popularity," says Dhulia. This also helps cut down the marketing budget for the film. "Sequels are easier to market since its image is already in the mind of its audience," says Tanuj Garg, CEO, Balaji Motion Pictures, which is set to produce this year's only prequel Shootout at Wadala (to Shootout at Lokhandwala) apart from two sequels OUATIMA and Ragini MMS 2.

Forcing a sequel to an earlier success, driven purely by financial prospects, however, can spell doom for a brand. "You can't just make film after film with no similarities to the original and market them as sequels. You may make money once, but the audience will eventually see through," says Garg.

The burden of expectations set by the predecessor often weighs heavy on sequels, and few films, such as the Munnabhai series, are able to surpass it. "First of all you are pompous enough to declare a sequel; then comes the task of taking the story forward while keeping the spirit of the original intact," says Dhulia.

Franchise fever

Race 2 Jan 25

Murder 3 Feb 15

Saheb Biwi aur Gangster Returns Mar 8

Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai Again Aug 8

Shooutout At Wadala May 1

Yamla Pagla Deewana 2 Jun 7

Aashiqui 2 May 10

Krrish 3 Nov 1

Ragini MMS 2 Oct 11

Dhoom 3 Dec 25

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