In 2018, Bollywood filmmakers are ready to let their creativity fly by bringing a number of films to the big screen that will happily sweep us away from reality, and wind up as the biggest movies of the year. If 2017 was an infernal slop -- out of over 250 films released, only "Tiger Zinda Hai" ($80 million), "Raees" ($49 million) and "Golmaal Again" ($49 million) were blockbuster hits, then this year's crop of blockbuster contenders will hopefully change the fortunes of Bollywood box office. I suspect the four top contenders will be Deepika Padukone's "Padmavat", Aamir Khan's "Thugs Of Hindostan", Shah Rukh Khan's "Zero" and Rajinikanth's "2.0". Having said that, Rajkumar Hirani's "Sanju" also demand attention and cannot be ignored as a powerful contender.
Here's a roundup of the most-anticipated films featuring some of Bollywood's biggest talents, and what they have to offer. So, in no particular order...
The blockbuster, starring Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor, is an operatic version of a Sufi poem "Padmavat," depicting the life of legendary 14th-century Hindu queen Padmini, who immolates herself rather than fall prisoner to a conquering Muslim ruler. After baseless but persistent rumors that the film, earlier titled "Padmavati," depicted Padmini in intimate love scenes with the Muslim king, there were protests, attacks on the set and director Sanjay Leela Bhansali, and threats to mutilate Padukone by Hindu activists. Surely a mob can’t derail a film with this much star power. Now, it’s scheduled to release on January 25, as "Padmavat."
With his films, "Devdas," "Ram-Leela" and "Bajirao Mastani," Bhansali marked himself out as one of modern cinema’s greatest visual stylists. This too, judging from the trailers, has been shot with stunning visual flair and a huge dose of camp. At once brutal and tender, biting and romantic, this period drama incorporates all that it takes -- music, beautiful costumes, lavish set, battle scenes -- for a memorable watch. Having topped box office high-bar in a row with his last two films, it seems like an easy bet for continuing that trend with "Padmavat", which is estimated to earn over $150 million.
Here’s a frenetic concept: an ambitious Shah Rukh Khan, at the height of his stardom, is going method to play a dwarf. In his fifties now, Khan, who is Bollywood’s highest-paid actor, is finally breaking free of his trappings in Aanand L Rai’s "Zero."
In recent films, "Dear Zindagi," "Raees" and "Fan," Khan’s been quietly trying to dial down his emotive, screen-hogging performance to play subdued, serious roles. "Zero" should be the culmination of a new face of King Khan. If nothing else, Khan’s physical transformation into a dwarf should net him plenty of awards nods this time next year. It’s scheduled to release in December. Khan's last film, "Raees" grossed $49 million, and this one, according to industry experts, will clock over $90 million around the world. Red Chillies Productions, Khan's own production house, is going to promote this as an event picture, something larger than just a romantic-drama, because it can in fact be both.
This is another star-driven movie focused on women’s issues. Akshay Kumar takes on the subject of menstrual hygiene, portraying the real-life social entrepreneur Arunachalam Muruganantham, the inventor who risked everything, including his own reputation, to introduce low-cost and easily accessible sanitary napkins to poor women in India.
The fact that it’s written and directed by R. Balki of "Cheeni Kum" and "Paa" fame should be just enough to convince. Expect subtle human drama and social commentary. Kumar, who does four films in a year, is the biggest money spinner in Bollywood right now. He doesn't compromise on content, minimizing budget and maximizing returns made him successful. Even "Pad Man" follows the same formula – no frills, but an interesting plot.
Biopics currently rule the roost in Bollywood. Ranbir Kapoor teams up with director Rajkumar Hirani for the story of one of its own -- ’90s superstar Sanjay Dutt. Considering Dutt’s love affairs, drug addiction, underworld connections and massive success, it’s hard not to be intrigued. From beefing up to growing a beard, Kapoor nails the physical impersonation. “We are trying to show a very human side of Sanjay Dutt, his perils, his downfall, his will to fight,” Kapoor said in an interview with PTI.
Hirani’s methodical attention to detail will ensure that this biopic not only works as a truthful approximation of Dutt's real life, but also makes sense of the mass of contradictions Dutt embodies. It’s scheduled to release on June 29.
The anticipation for the film, and one directed by Hirani himself no less, should help enhance this movie's buzz immensely. All it has to do is be good. If it can do that, then it's pretty reasonable to expect it to join the $100 million club, and if it's great then it could catch fire and be a breakout akin to his “3 Idiots” and “PK”.
'Thugs of Hindostan'
Aamir Khan and Amitabh Bachchan star in what appears to be based on Philip Meadows Taylor’s 1839 novel "Confessions of a Thug" about a gang of bandits, who posed a serious challenge to the British Empire in India. It’ll be interesting to see how Vijay Krishna Acharya adapts it for screen. Recently, Bachchan blogged about the “harsh schedule” of the period action-adventure filmed in Thailand. That’s all anyone knows.
Nevertheless, you should still be excited. After experimental "PK" and "Dangal," this looks like a fun enough diversion at the very least for Khan. The film will arrive in November. If it's as good as it looks, and as good as the creative team has the potential to make it, then we're looking at a film that should achieve the same must-see repeat-viewing status of "Dangal". Also, with Khan and Bachchan's combined star power, it will end up the reigning champ, raking in over $200 million.
It has been around a little while now but time has not dinted my appetite to see what director Shankar does with this sequel of 2010 film "Robot." In "2.0" Rajinikanth, a larger-than-life actor from the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu, reprises the role of scientist Chitti and meets his match, Akshay Kumar, who plays his adversary, in the film.
The film, made with a whopping budget of more than $45 million, marks Kumar’s debut in Tamil cinema. Granted, the Tamil superstar can take down an army, but so can the Bollywood superstar -- it will certainly have a clash of the titans feel. Get ready to watch some epic action on April 27. If this sequel can match the popularity of the original, which earned $206 million, it's going to give “Thugs of Hindostan” a run for its money for sure. Rajnikanth and Kumar connection alone pretty well guarantees this one a spot among 2018's biggest earners.
By: Suparna Dutt D'Cunha | Source: Forbes