Also see: Story of `Khakee` in pictures
The heat is on. After the debacle of J.P. Dutta’s eagerly awaited war epic LOC, the other war epics lined up for 2004 - Farhan Akhtar’s Lakshya, Anil Sharma’s Ab Tumhare Hawaale Watan Sathiyon and Milan Luthria’s Deewaar - are pulling up their socks for a powerful combat at the turnstiles.
The other favourite theme of 2004, the cops films, are going great guns, in more than one. After Prakash Jha’s Gangaajal last year, it’s time for Khakee to create thrills from lives that are on the edge.
Distributors place a high premium on the boxoffice prospects of Khakee. They feel the stupendous starcast would bring in the audiences. No doubt with Ajay Devgan playing the villain and Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar and Tusshar Kapoor lined up against the formidable adversary, and Aishwarya Rai in her first screen appearance since the two flops Dil Ka Rishta and Kuch Na Kaho the queues threaten to cross every record.
Interestingly the cast which is being looked upon as the USP of Khakee has earlier worked in various combinations, with varying degrees of success. Amitabh Bachchan, Ajay Devgan and Aishwarya Rai were together in David Dhawan’s comic fiasco Hum Kissise Kam Nahin in 2002. Devgan and Rai who play adversaries in Khakee were cast as a troubled husband and wife in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and will soon be seen as estranged lovers in Rituparno Ghosh’s Raincoat.
Bachchan and Devgan have an even more interesting history. They first appeared together in antagonist roles as an army officer and a military cadet in ABCL’s Major Saab. Later they reappeared as a possessive brother and a sneaky suitor in Hum Kissise Kam Nahin. In Devgan’s home production Hindustan Ki Kasam (directed by his father Veeru Devgan) AB made a guest appearance.
As for Aishwarya and AB, the latter goodnaturedly grumbles he never gets to co-star with the beauteous Rai. She was his daughter in Mohabbatein and his sister in Hum Kisise Kam Nahin. "In Khakee, she’s paired with Akshay while I’m with Jaya Prada," the Big B sighs.
Akshay Kumar and Aishwarya Rai are the only absolutely untried combination in Khakee. Their romantic song together is already a hit. But can Akshay who has recently been seen with Kareena Kapoor (Talash), Lara Dutta-Priyanka Chopra (Andaaz) click with his leading lady?
The unique blend of stars and the clash among the characters that they play is what gives Khakee a cutting edge. The week’s other release Aetbaar brings the Jism pair John Abraham - Bipasha Basu together with the mighty Amitabh Bachchan. Strangely, it’s the Bachchan-Bipasha chemistry as father and daughter that the audience looking forward to.
Lots of trade experts feel that huge stars in conventional combinations are outdistanced by the unusual synergy that flows between two big stars aligned in unusual ways. In Khakee Devgan the villain, taking on Bachchan seems more riveting than Akshay and Aishwarya singing on the hills. And if we get both in one film, then nothing like it.