The year 2011 hadn’t been a bad year at all if one looks at the box office collections, and the year 2012 with a line of huge, ambitious releases promises to be full of bonanza for the industry. Perhaps one of the happiest in its 100 years journey of the conventional and the non-conventional, serious and the comic, romance and heartburn, tragedy and triumph. Many things generally considered taboos got exploded and the films demonstrated technical finesse not seen very frequently for a long long time, reiterating the long universally held belief that cinema is the medium of the young, even though not necessarily for the young. If one tries to scan the history of Hindi cinema, or indeed world cinema, it will be obvious that some of the finest films have been made by directors when they were still in their twenties. Recent experiences in Bollywood prove the point. And almost all of them contained a slice of the maker’s life culled out of either lived or observed experience.
But like in the past, Bollywood will see at its best and worst the tussle at the box office between the new young trying to get a foothold in the cut-throat world, and the old war horses, the new heroes and the aging ones. Let’s take a look at what lies in store for the next 12 months. The new year offers five big releases beginning with Abbas-Mustan duo’s tried and tested multi-star thriller Players, said to be based on The Italian Job with the out-of-luck Abhishek Bachchan, Sonam Kapoor, Bobby Deol, Neil Nitin Mukesh and Bipasha Basu’s skin show sporting a bikini, and some, reportedly steamy, sizzling song-and-dance numbers set to music by Pritam; Sujoy Ghosh’s Kahaani directed by Quentin Tarantino and music by Vishal-Shekhar. Partially inspired by Kill Bill it tells the story of a pregnant woman (Vidya Balan) hunting for her missing husband; It’s My Life directed by Anees Bazmee, a remake of the Telegu hit Bommarillu with Harman Baweja and Genelia D’Souza.
The month will also see Priyadarshan’s Tezz with Ajay Devgun, Anil Kapoor, Mohan Lal, Kangana Raunat, Sameera Reddy, which revolves around the hijacking of a bullet train, shot extensively on locations in London, Birmingham and Glasgow. Then, of course, there is Karan Johar’s eagerly awaited remake of the banner’s Agneepath with the stellar cast of Sanjay Dutt, Hrithik Roshan, Priyanka Chopra, Rishi Kapoor, directed by Karan Malhotra with the already top-ranking item number Chikni Chemeli by Katrina Kaif.
February has Shakun Batra’s debut film Ek Main aur Ekk Tu, originally called Short Term Shadi made under Karan Johar’s Dharma Production banner with Kareena Kapoor and Imran Khan that has been described by him as “a witty, feel-good, slice-of-life comedy”. The story has the couple tying the nuptial knot after a few drinks on Christmas eve; Ram Gopal Varma’s standard underworld obsession Department with Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjay Dutt, Rana Duggabati, Kangana Raunat, Laxmi Manchu, it has some daring bathing scenes; Saif Ali Khan’s ambitious multi-crore long in the making Agent Vinod, a spy thriller with beau Kareena for company directed by Sriram Raghvan; and Vishal Mahadkar’s Kunal Khemu-Amrita Puri starrer Blood Money, a copy as usual by Mahesh Bhatt of Hollywood Oscar winner Blood Diamond.
For the moment, it is a big no-no in March ostensibly because it is considered a bad time due to the exam fever. But April is Chock-a-block, starting with sequels of Sajid Khan’s comic caper Housefull 2 with Akshay Kumar, John Abraham, Ritesh Deshmukh, Jacqueline Fernandez, Zarine Khan and Asin Thottumkal which will be an acid test for the Khiladi Kumar; Jannat 2, Kya Kool Hai Hum; Viddhu Vinod Chopra’s sports-oriented family drama Ferrari ki Sawari directed by Rajesh Mapuskar. May will have Dangerous Ishq, the possible comeback vehicle for Karishma Kapoor directed by Vikram Bhatt that opens in 1498 and then moves through various eras to contemporary times; Barfee dubbed as a romantic murder mystery with Ranbir Kapoor essaying a deaf, Priyanka Chopra a mentally challenged directed by Anurag Basu; and Ishaqzaade, written and directed by Habib Faisal for Yash Raj Films with newcomers Arjun Kapoor (son of Boney Kapoor) and Parineeti Chopra (a cousin of Priyanka) that ostensibly has, according to the Do Dooni Char director, the tale of a couple, “born to hate, but destined to love”.
June has Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Rowdy Rathore directed by Prabhu Deva. Based on Telegu hit Vikramarkudu with Akshay Kumar in a double role as of a clever crook and a police officer; Aamir Khan’s Talaash directed by Reema Kagti, details a closely-guarded secret, co-starring Kareena Kapoor and Rani Mukherjee; and Kunal Kohli’s Teri Meri Kahani with Shahid Kapoor, Anushka Sharma with Priyanka Chopra essaying the role of a 60s-70s actress in one of the segments. Rohit Shetty’s Ajay Devgun-Abhishekh Bachchan, Kareena Kapoor, Asin starrer Bol Bachchan will be the solo major July release.
August will be big with Salman Khan-Katrina Kaif starrer Yash Raj Films’ Eid release romantic spy thriller directed by Kabir Khan Ek Tha Tiger facing competition from sequels of Ekta Kapoor’s Once Upon a Time in Mumbai 2, yet another underworld drama directed by Milan Lutharia with this time Akshay Kumar in the lead: Mahesh Bhatt’s Vikram Bhatt directed Raaz 3, a horror flick with in-house hero Emraan Hashmi and the Sri Lankan beauty Jacqueline Fernanades, and Shirish Kunder’s adventure-fantasy Joker with Akshay Kumar-Sonakshi Sinha in the lead.
The year end will also have several big cast movies vying for screen space across the globe, beginning with Yash Chopra-directed Shahrukh Khan-Katrina Kaif-Anushka Sharma starrer, followed by Akshay Kumar’s Khiladi 786; Ajay Devgun’s Son of Sardar with Sonakshi Sinha: Abbas-Mustan’s action thriller Race 2 with Saif Ali Khan, Deepika Padukone, John Abraham, Jacqueline Fernandez, Anil Kapoor and Ameesha Patel, Arbaaz Khan-directed Dabangg 2 with the repeat cast of Salman Khan and Sonakshi Sinha, the big question being will he be able to weave the kind of web that the original director Abhinav Kashyap had been able to cast; Ektaa Kapoor’s Neeraj Pandey directed based on a real life incident when 26 men identifying themselves as IT men walk into a jewellery store and walked away with the booty. Special Chabbis stars Abhishek Bachchan in the lead.
The list is by no means exhaustive as there are at least 200-odd, big and small flicks at different stages of production and it is difficult to assess which ones amongst them will race ahead. Many of these do not feature prominently in the list because they boast neither of a big banner nor of a star cast. At least three 2011 releases did 100-crore plus business, and with such a huge line-up 2012 promises to be a much bigger and grander affair with such a veritable fare.
By Suresh Kohli