A new chapter begins

A new chapter begins

A new chapter begins
Budgets will spiral, so will the grandeur, and hopefully the pan-Indian connect in movies and music will increase. The year 2016 comprises the same mix of outstanding (as they may turn out), outré and outrageous (in different senses from thematic to content-wise) cinema that we get every year. Numbers will be achieved or manipulated, ditto probably the awards and accolades. The game will go on, but as 2015 showed, content is king, and so the consumer is the emperor. He will choose!

January jinx jettisoned
January equals jinx is the popular belief for many years now, despite the very few exceptions that only seemed to prove the rule. But with Wazir, 2016 dares to takes off. This is a thriller written by Rajkumar Hirani and Abhijat Joshi with producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra. It is also thus a confluence of sensibilities with offbeat director Bejoy Nambiar (who has two flops behind him) and a fourth director in the lead — Farhan Akhtar as an ATS cop. The dark and gritty drama’s cast is led by a wheelchair-bound Amitabh Bachchan as Farhan’s friend.

On January15, Sunny Deol returns to three aspects — film direction (after 16 years), the Ghayal franchise (after a record 25 years) and his ‘dhai kilo ka haath’ with Ghayal Once Again! With four youngsters making debuts and Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy as composers, Sunny, at 60-plus, hopes to make a youth connect.

The film everyone is waiting for is Akshay Kumar’s realistic Airlift, the dramatisation of India’s most heroic evacuation that happened in the 90s in Kuwait. Co-starring in this T-Series production with Akshay himself joining in as one of the co-producers is Nimrat Kaur of The Lunchbox fame.

Hoping for the remnants of audiences of a lower denominator is the unabashed sex comedy Kyaa Kool Hain Hum 3 that stars Tusshar and Aftab, which takes on Airlift on January 22. This one is being brazenly touted as a “porn-com”! Tusshar will also be the common point with Grand Masti writer Milap Milan Zaveri in the next week’s Mastizaade, which Zaveri directs too, and which has Sunny Leone as twins suggestively named Laila and Lily Lele. Ahem! Here’s hoping Tusshar does not become typecast in such movies!

Superstar sizzle
Akshay Kumar will have his customary three or four releases this year, and if lucky, will also be seen in Endhiran 2 / Robot 2 as a villain opposite Rajnikanth. Closer home, Akshay will have Housefull 3, the zany franchise in its third instalment with Abhishek Bachchan, Ritiesh Deshmukh and Jacqueline Fernandez also repeated. This time the directors will be the franchise writers Farhad-Sajid themselves. If all goes well (with Akshay’s shoots it usually does), the actor will have two more releases, Namastey England, directed by Vipul Shah (not a sequel to Namastey London), and Rustom, a romantic murder mystery from his Special 26 and Baby director Neeraj Pandey.

Ajay Devgn, meanwhile, has grabbed Diwali as the release date for his thriller Shivaay with which he returns to direction. This will be his only project this year.

The three Khans will be there too, Shah Rukh Khan with his unique Yash Raj adventure Fan (with the dual role of SRK as a superstar and a younger lookalike fan) directed by Maneesh Sharma, who gave us Band Baaja Baaraat, and Raees, which SRK is also co-producing. The latter film, set in Gujarat in the 1990s, is the story of a local don who came into prominence due to his illegal alcohol trade.

Aamir Khan’s production Dangal is the biopic of wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat and co-stars Sakshi Tanwar as his wife. Directed by Nitesh Tiwari, who had helmed Chillar Party and Bhoothnath Returns, the film completes the trilogy of Khan home productions composed by Pritam after Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Dilwale.

Last but not the least, Salman Khan will have yet another Eid conquest with Yash Raj Films’ Sultan, which has gone on floors without a heroine signed as yet — names like Kriti Sanon and Parineeti Chopra have been bandied about. This film is also about a wrestler, and its tagline, “Wrestling is not a sport. It is about fighting what lies within”, has already boosted the curiosity quotient, given this Supreme Khan’s current predilection for concrete stories.

Whipping up expectations
After a year in which a lot of heroine-centric content ruled, expectations are especially sky-high from the story-rich films we are going to get, like Priyanka Chopra’s gritty cop act in Prakash Jha’s rural actioner Jai Gangaajal set in Bihar, Sonakshi Sinha’s high-octane A R Murugadoss actioner Akira (a remake of a film in which the hero was the protagonist) and Sonam Kapoor’s Neerja, a biopic on slain airhostess Neerja Bhanot.

The time-travel love story Baar Baar Dekho, directed by Nitya Mehra, is the first of two films starring Katrina Kaif with younger heroes, in this case Sidharth Malhotra. The other is Abhishek Kapoor’s Fitoor with Aditya Roy Kapoor, with Tabu in a key role after Rekha walked out.

There are high expectations from R Balki’s offbeat love story Ki & Ka with the fresh pairing of Kareena Kapoor Khan and Arjun Kapoor. The film addresses the working wife issue in a light vein and has a sequence shot with Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan in their home.

Tiger Shroff, who has not had a release since his debut in 2014, will be seen in Baaghi, his second action romance, with Shraddha Kapoor. Even more interesting will be Remo D’Souza’s film A Flying Jatt, where Tiger co-stars with Jacqueline Fernandez and wrestler Nathan Jones.

Among the Gen-Y hotties, Varun Dhawan will join John Abraham in his brother Rohit Dhawan’s action extravaganza Dhishoom, and Ranveer Singh, after his intense Bajirao act, will unwind in the breezy romance Befikre being directed by Aditya Chopra as the whizkid director’s first film minus Shah Rukh Khan.

Aficionados of Shahid Kapoor and Vishal Bhardwaj can also look forward to Udta Punjab (also starring Alia Bhatt and “in a special role” Kareena Kapoor Khan) and Rangoon (starring Saif Ali Khan and Kangana Ranaut). The former film, directed by Abhishek Chaubey, has a unique two-track storyline, while the latter is a 1940s romance directed by Vishal himself.

Finally, though the PR is a shade slow, we would like to vouch for Rajkumar Hirani’s maiden production Saala Khadoos, starring National level sportswoman Ritika Singh opposite R Madhavan in the title role. This is for two reasons: one, Hirani, and two, the winning promos. And yes, Hrithik Roshan and Deepika Padukone will go without any release this year. So expectations from them will whip up for either 2017 or a sudden quickie in the new year.

As for the others...
Two biopics, Neeraj Pandey’s M S Dhoni: The Untold Story and Balaji Motion Pictures’ Azhar, on two the sportsmen, will come in. In the near-porn category we will also get Indra Kumar’s sequel Great Grand Masti.

Two more sequels, Nishikant Kamat’s Force 2 and Deven Bhojani’s Commando 2 will aim at raising the action bar with John Abraham and Vidyut Jammwal respectively. Nishikant and John will also partner in the earlier (March) release Rocky Handsome. The GenY-anticipated sequel will be Rock On!! 2 starring Farhan Akhtar, Shraddha Kapoor, Prachi Desai and Arjun Rampal.

Ranbir Kapoor will have two more opportunities to make up for lost ground, his ever-in-the-making musical co-production Jagga Jasoos (with Katrina Kaif and the Anurag Basu-Pritam combo of Barfi! ) and Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil with Aishwarya Rai and Anushka Sharma.

And, among the debutantes will be Anil Kapoor’s son Harshvardhan Kapoor and Usha Kiron’s granddaughter Saiyami Kher in Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s Mirziya, with Sayesha Saigal, Dilip Kumar’s grand-niece doing Shivaay.
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