Reel of 2019

What's in store, Bollywood?

As things stand, 2019 should be a great year for Hindi cinema after the hardcore lessons taught to the industry by the films in the last 12 months.

With no theme ‘unsafe’, none ‘safe’ either, and entertainment paramount, films will be content-oriented, even with perfect masala in the completely commercial confections. Bio-pics will continue to have a life, sequels will be on the prowl, and big-ticket releases will retain their power. Alongside, as usual, will come the middle-budget and small content-rich stories that might be pleasant surprises (in the context of 2018, they better be!) and others that will be damp squibs.

Arguably, the most anticipated film of the year is the Salman Khan-driven Ali Abbas Zafar drama Bharat, a home production featuring Katrina Kaif, Disha Patani and Tabu. As a hat-trick, a blockbuster bonanza is expected from this team after Sultan and Tiger Zinda Hai.

Akshay Kumar will have his usual crop of a few releases, which may or may not include Good News featuring Kareena Kapoor Khan. With shooting complete but huge post-production needed for the reincarnation-based comedy, his Housefull 4 will arrive only around Diwali time.


Akshay Kumar in 'Kesari'

Originally to be directed by Sajid Khan, his imbroglio in the #MeToo controversy has led to co-writer Farhad Samji taking over the ensemble cast film that features Bobby Deol, Riteish Deshmukh, Rana Daggubati (who replaced another #MeToo casualty in Nana Patekar), Kriti Sanon, Kriti Kharbanda, Pooja Hegde, and Housefull regulars Boman Irani and Chunky Pandey.

Coming earlier will be his ambitious home production Mission Mangal, the account of India’s first manned mission to Mars, which has Sonakshi Sinha, Vidya Balan, Taapsee Pannu, Nithya Menen and Kirti Kulhari, with Jagan Shakti as director. True to the times as well as the recent predilections of Akshay Kumar, huge time and money have already been spent on authentic research for this space drama.

The same applies to Akshay’s other home production, the ambitious Kesari, about a famous battalion in the 19th century. Kesari co-stars Parineeti Chopra and is directed by Punjabi cinema hit-man Anurag Singh, whose only Hindi effort was the passable but flop 2006 thriller Raqeeb.

Another superstar, Ajay Devgn, will start with a modest rom-com that marks the debut of editor Akiv Ali. Produced by T-Series and Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety fame Luv Ranjan, it co-stars Rakul Preet Singh as Devgn’s leading lady, and Tabu in a key role.

Devgn aims for a grand Diwali (he has always had this date as a favourite, with Golmaal Returns, All The Best, Golmaal 3, Son Of Sardaar, Shivaay and Golmaal Again) with home production (with T-Series) Tanaji: The Unsung Warrior. Successful Marathi director Om Raut directs this blockbuster on the Maratha warrior, which has Kajol as Tanaji’s wife.

But Ajay begins the year with the rollicking Total Dhamaal, the third film in the Dhamaal franchise that will repeat the entire screwball team of Arshad Warsi, Aashish Chowdhry and Javed Jaffrey and add Anil Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit (the rocking romantic team of the 1980s and 1990s, who also did the same director’s Beta) as well.

Ranveer Singh, the star of 2018, will have what he called the sweet film he would not have liked to miss being in, Gully Boy, his second outing with director Zoya Akhtar after Dil Dhadakne Do. Alia Bhatt is his leading lady in this musical from the streets of Mumbai.

After missing out a year, Hrithik Roshan will be back in the biopic of mathematician whizkid Anand Kumar in Super 30, which, despite its imbroglios (ditector Vikas Bahl had to leave in the wake of the #MeToo allegations), is heading for the finishing line and will release this year as another Sajid Nadiadwala production. Mrunal Thakur, who made a mark in Love Sonia, which was produced overseas, will mark her Hindi debut with this film.

Karan Johar’s biggie, Kalank, a family drama, aims for an April 19 release. This will be Varun Dhawan’s only release in 2019, and is an ensemble cast film also featuring Sanjay Dutt, Madhuri Dixit, Sonakshi Sinha, Alia Bhatt and Aditya Roy Kapur. Directed by Abhishek 2 States Verman, it will mark the return after a long gap of Pritam, the man who ruled film music from 2006 to 2017.

Karan also plans to release Student Of The Year 2 on May 12. Directed not by him (like the first film in the series) but by Punit Malhotra (Karan is directing the 2020 mega-historical Takht), the film brings together two new heroines — Ananya Panday (Chunky’s daughter) and Tara Sutaria, with Tiger Shroff: Karan also breaks the ‘three newcomers introduced’ motif here. With this film, Vishal-Shekhar, next only to Pritam in the music echelons, also return after being absent in 2017. Of course, V-S will also score Bharat later.

While Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan and Ranbir Kapoor will remain conspicuously absent, John Abraham, the remaining big star, will act in RAW (Romeo Akbar Walter) and Batla House, the first based on espionage and the Parliament attacks. After Parmanu and Satyameva Jayate, the actor seems to be focusing on his core strength of action in meaningful cinema.

‘Patriotic’ January


Manikarnika: The Queen Of Jhansi

We do not need to spell out the films with a patriotic flavour that earmarked 2018. Suffice to say that it is on this note that 2019 will start out. Dominating the month will be newbie director Aditya Dhar’s URI: The Surgical Strike starring Vicky Kaushal, Paresh Rawal, Yami Gautam and Kirti Kulhari. This will be the first significant release of 2019.

The Accidental Prime Minister, directed by Vijay Ratnakar Gutte, is a faithful cinematic translation of Sanjaya Baru’s biography on Manmohan Singh. Manmohan is portrayed by Anupam Kher, and Sanjaya, who worked closely with him, by Akshaye Khanna.

Cheat India, Emraan Hashmi’s home production, also aims for a release in January. Directed by Soumik Sen, it co-stars Shreya Dhanwantary and is a hard-hitting look (with a twist) on corruption within the education system. Thackeray, a biopic on Balasaheb Thackeray, will be directed by Abhijit Panse with Nawazuddin Siddiqui in the controversial title role.

And above all, the grand epic of the month will be Manikarnika: The Queen Of Jhansi, which features and is the home production of Kangana Ranaut. Written by Bahubali ace V Vijayendra Prasad, it is directed by Krish aka Radha Krishna Jagarlamudi and Kangana herself, obviously minus a conventional hero.

 

Fresh faces to watch out for in 2019

 


Sharmin Sehgal

 


Saher Bamba

 

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