Dhoom to Raaz: How sequels have fared without their creators

As Housefull 3 is set for release, without Sajid Khan at the helm, we take a look at the performance of sequels that did not feature the original director.

Mayur Lookhar

Film franchises have been popular in the West for a long time, but the trend was alien to Hindi cinema, until about 15 years ago. Now, however, studios and producers in the Hindi film industry are also building film franchises and reaping the monetary benefits. Even a leading studio like Yash Raj Films has got on to the bandwagon with the successful Dhoom series.

This week sees the return of the Housefull franchise with the third instalment set for a 3 June release. There is a huge difference this time, however, as the original creator of the franchise, director Sajid Khan, is no longer associated with the brand.

Irked by the poor performance of Khan's films like Himmatwala and Humshakals, producer Sajid Nadiadwala chose to part ways with the director for the third Housefull film. Khan was replaced by Sajid and Farhad, who had written the dialogues for Housefull 2.

Not many would argue against Nadiadwala’s decision, especially since Khan’s reputation as a director took a hit after the disastrous showing of his last two films. However, one cannot discount the fact that Housefull is Sajid Khan’s baby.

Like Nadiadwala, Sajid Khan, too, would be keen to see how Housefull 3 fares without him. Meanwhile, we turn back into history to see how other film franchises fared without the original filmmaker.

1. Dhoom 3 (2013)

Back in 2004, Yash Raj Films opened a new chapter in Indian cinema history with the high-flying action flick Dhoom. The film brought three struggling actors together – Abhishek Bachchan, Uday Chopra and John Abraham. Even producer Aditya Chopra may not have harboured too many expectations from it. He picked unheralded Sanjay Gadhvi, the man who had penned the Uday Chopra-starrer dud Mera Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai (2002), as director. History was against Gadhvi and his actors, but Dhoom not only saved the quartet’s career, it turned out to be a surprise hit leading Yash Raj to exploit the theme further.

Two years later, Gadhvi helmed the second film, with Hrithik Roshan as the antagonist and Aishwarya Rai playing his love interest. Big stars, big money and better locations. Dhoom 2 was shot across South Africa and Brazil. The film was a resounding success, fetching over US $11 million worldwide.

Fans wanted more, but Yash Raj did not come up with the third film until Christmas in 2013. The franchise got bigger with Aamir Khan playing the antagonist. The film was entirely shot in America. Katrina Kaif too jumped on to the Dhoom bandwagon. Missing from the action was Sanjay Gadhvi. Rumour had it that Gadhvi was initially meant to direct Dhoom 3 but he lost the confidence of Aditya Chopra following the disappointing show of his previous films Kidnap (2008) and Ajab Gazabb Love (2012). Chopra replaced Gadhvi with Vijay Krishna Acharya, the man who had written the screenplay for the first two films.

Critics panned Dhoom 3 as did a few loyalists of the franchise, but Dhoom 3 went on to shatter records as it garnered over Rs300 crore worldwide, with Rs284 crore coming from the domestic market. Sanjay Gadhvi hasn't been heard from since.

2. Dabangg (2012)

This was the film that kick-started Salman Khan's current reign at the box office. It also made Abhinav Kashyap, until then known merely as Anurag Kashyap’s brother, a sought-after director.

Dabanng’s success created a huge demand for Chulbul Pandey (Salman Khan) to be seen again. Producer Arbaaz Khan had to give in and he set the ball rolling for Dabangg 2. The core team was to return again, but during filming, the relationship between the Khans and Abhinav Kashyap soured. Rumour had it that the Khans felt Dabangg’s success had gone to Kashyap’s head and he was proving to be a misfit. Arbaaz Khan showed Kashyap the door and plonked himself in the director's seat.

Dabangg 2 was a commercial success but it did not create the same impact on audiences as the original. Meanwhile, Abhinav Kashyap signed Ranbir Kapoor, fresh from his success of Barfi! and Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, for his next film, Besharam. The filmmaker even mocked Salman and Arbaaz Khan in the film, but audiences weren’t pleased. After opening with Rs19 crore, Besharam was snubbed by audiences, which found it crass.

3. Phir Hera Pheri (2006)

At the end of the millennium, producer Feroz Nadiadwala obtained the rights to the Malayalam film Ramji Rao Speaking (1989). The Hindi version was titled Hera Pheri. Nadiadwala roped in filmmaker Priyadarshan to helm Hera Pheri.

This was a story of three losers who strike gold accidentally. Akshay Kumar enhanced his reputation as a comedy star, while Suniel Shetty proved that he had a funny side too. Paresh Rawal emerged as the crowd favourite Baburao, the Maharashtrian landlord. The film helped Priyadarshan grow in stature in the Hindi film industry.

Hera Pheri was a success and the demand for Baburao, Raju and Shyam to return grew. Six years later, Nadiadwala returned with the sequel, but Priyadarshan wasn’t part of it. Instead, actor Neeraj Vora, who had written the screenplay for the original, took on the mantle of director. Phir Hera Pheri had new characters, but the comedy was a bit over the top. The film was a commercial success, garnering US $15 million worldwide. However, many still rated Hera Pheri as the better film.

4. Murder 2 (2011)

Murder (2004) introduced us to Emraan Hashmi and new sex symbol Mallika Sherawat. The duo’s countless lip-locks in the film were the talk of tinsel town, but Murder wasn't just about its bold scenes. Anurag Basu doled out an intriguing murder mystery. Murder was a breakthrough film in Basu’s career as his earlier releases (Kucch To Hai, Saaya) were duds. The same year Basu directed another Mahesh Bhatt production Tumsa Nahin Dekha, but that did not click at the box office. In 2006, Basu directed Mahesh Bhatt's Gangster, a love story that appeased both critics and audiences.

Basu moved out of the Bhatt camp for his next films. The 2010 romantic drama Kites turned out to be a disaster, causing a dent in his reputation. Perhaps this prompted the Bhatts to look for a younger talent to direct Murder 2. They opted for their prodigy Mohit Suri. A new script and Emraan Hashmi had a new co-star in Jacqueline Fernandez. Murder 2 was a resounding success, grossing Rs100 crore worldwide.

5. Raaz: The Mystery Continues (2009)

Mahesh Bhatt had unearthed a monster with the 2002 horror thriller Raaz. Though inspired by a Hollywood flick, What Lies Beneath?, Raaz revived the genre in India. In a way, it also revived Vishesh Films, as the production house hadn’t delivered a blockbuster since Dil Hai Ke Maanta Nahin (1991). Raaz helped the Bhatts enter the new millennium by moving away from the clichéd cinema of the 1990s.

However, It took seven years for the Bhatts to think of a sequel to Raaz. Vikram Bhatt was busy with his own production Shaapit (2010) and that, perhaps, was what led Vishesh Films to hand over the director’s cap to Mohit Suri.

Raaz: The Mystery Continues fared reasonably well at the box office, earning over Rs30 crore but it was by no means a blockbuster. Critics panned the film and even audiences did not find it very appealing.

Three years later, the Bhatts recalled Vikram Bhatt for the third film, which also marked the return of Bipasha Basu to the franchise. Raaz 3 turned out to be the most successful film in the series bagging Rs97 crore worldwide. Buoyed by Raaz 3’s success, VIshesh Films has announced the fourth in the series, Raaz Reboot, which will be directed by Vikram Bhatt again.