What Bollywood will offer in 2019
Published: Thu 13 Dec 2018, 11:00 PM
Last updated: Fri 21 Dec 2018, 10:28 AM
As the year inches towards its end, the slate has already been chalked up for a shower-ful of Bollywood products for the first three months of 2019. Since the 2018 year-end attractions are the Shah Rukh Khan romedy Zero followed by the knockabout cops-versus-crooks entertainer Simmba - both expected to make waves at the cash counters - 2019 will commence on a quiet note with no releases till January 11.
The new year's start-up will be Uri: The Surgical Strike, a war drama which seeks to recreate the Indian army's initiative in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir two years ago. It's directed by first-timer Aditya Dhar with Vicky Kaushal, Yami Gautam and Paresh Rawal topping the cast. Filmed on rugged locations and replete with action scenes, true-life stories have an in-built hazard though: dramatic licence can become an issue, leading to controversies. This bid to appeal to the nationalist spirit will hopefully be treated with the requisite amount of factual accuracy.
The last week of January will see the clash of as many as three movies, which will inevitably cut into their volume of footfalls at the multiplexes. Fortuitously, the three are extremely different in their content.
Thackeray - a biopic on Bal Thackeray, architect of the political party Shiv Sena - is due to be released on January 23, in time for the late politician's 93rd birth anniversary. The eponymous part is being essayed by Nawazuddin Siddiqui, his second biopic after Manto. In an interview, the actor has stated that he learnt Marathi language to do justice to the Thackeray role since "one of the important aspects of Balasaheb's character was the ease and the speed of his public speeches".
Two days after Thackeray hits the screens, Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi, which had to be re-shot extensively and was beset by post-production snafus, arrives. Kangana Ranaut portrays the woman of valour who combated the British Raj during the 1857 uprising. An earlier version directed by Sohrab Modi, with his wife Mehtab in the lead, had tanked way back in 1953. This time around, Kangana, who intervened in the shot-takings and the final edit, may just share a joint credit with its director Krish, who stepped out of the project because of "creative differences".
On January 25, Cheat India, a probe into the corruption and malpractices in the current education system, will jostle for space. On the positive side, the Emraan Hashmi starrer, directed by Soumik Sen, has been completed at a brisk pace and is being publicised smartly by its producers Ellipsis Entertainment, associated with quality, award-grabbing films like Neerja and Tumhari Sulu.
Come February 4, and A-listers Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt will be seen in the feisty director Zoya Akhtar's Gully Boy. Based on the real-life story of underprivileged musicians Divine and Naezy, here's a streetsmart musical which promises to be upbeat and inspirational. On February 22, director Indra Kumar returns with Total Dhamaal - the third edition of his Dhamaal series. Star-packed with Ajay Devgn, Riteish Deshmukh, Arshad Warsi, its USP is the reunion of Anil Kapoor and Madhuri Dixit, who paired in a spate of well-remembered entertainers ranging from Tezaab (1988) and Parinda (1989) to Beta (1992) and Pukar (2000), to name a handful. Director Indra Kumar's style has never been known to be restrained. So you can expect an unapologetic farce replete with gags, elaborate song-and-dance setpieces and over-the-top dialogues - a formula which still works.
Public curiosity is high about the March 8 release of Badla, directed by Sujoy Ghosh (best known for Kahaani, 2012). Adapted from the Spanish thriller Contratiempo (The Invisible Guest, 2016), the revenge nail-biter is being produced by Shah Rukh Khan's Red Chillies, with the acting crew once again led by Amitabh Bachchan and Taapsee Pannu, after Pink.
The other March openers comprise director Robbie Grewal's Romeo Akbar Walter, incarnating John Abraham as an espionage agent. But the month could well belong to the period epic Kesari starring Akshay Kumar and Parineeti Chopra, which narrates the story of the 1897 Battle of Saragarhi in which 21 Sikhs battled 10,000 Afghans. Directed by Anurag Singh for Karan Johar's Dharma Productions, here's proof that tales of indomitable courage and heroism still fire the imagination of Bollywood.
Meanwhile, competition is mounting considerably from streaming channels like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Original films and series are being commissioned with cushy budgets and actors are no longer wary of moving to the smaller screen.
In fact, overall, 2019 promises to be a boom year for the frontliners of B-town show business. Opportunities are knocking at their doors like they have never before.