What's in store at the movies in 2013? Fresh pairings, directors finding new muses and films with heart
2012 HAS been annus mirabilis for Bollywood with 15 certified hits and an unprecedented, unparalleled eight films vaulting past the Rs 100-crore hurdle.
So, can 2013 beat this beefy benchmark? Can Bollywood tabulate even higher centuries next year? Buoyed by an omnipresent boom time, the Hindi film industry is certainly going to try besting last year, what with several big-name directors and actors having thrown their hats into the ring for 2013.
Megastars teaming up with money-spinning filmmakers to pursue familiar box-office algorithms yield the most anticipated films of 2013. Yash Raj's Dhoom 3 will continue its eponymous franchise, with a major star (it's Aamir Khan this time) once again playing antagonist to lawmen Jai and Ali (Abhishek Bachchan and Uday Chopra).
The heroines have always had one brief - dhoom machale - and now it's up to Katrina Kaif to out-sizzle Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and company.
It's sequel time for Hrithik Roshan too; he will bring in Diwali with a bang with Krrish 3, his fourth outing with father Rakesh Roshan after three straight blockbusters. To make himself ship-shape for this F/X-and-stunt-laden thriller, Hrithik got the best trainers from UK and `underwent a 10-week transformation,` according to the actor.
But what he says he is relying on most is `the fabulous script; everything else - colour, songs, item songs, action - is decoration.` While Priyanka Chopra will be abetting Krrish, Vivek Oberoi will be battling it out as a `mazedaar supervillain`.
Another sequel, Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai 2 will decide whether director Milan Luthria can pull off a hat-trick after the success of Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai and The Dirty Picture. This Akshay Kumar-Sonakshi Sinha-Imran Khan starrer is slated for an Eid release, a crowd-pulling holiday that has done wonders for Salman Khan of late.
While there's no confirmation yet on whether Salman's breathlessly awaited next (buzz is it's Radhe, a remake of a Punjabi film) will keep his date with Eid, Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone's first-ever collaboration with box office behemoth Rohit Shetty in Chennai Express is slated for 2013. This UTV-Disney thriller details SRK's character's journey from Mumbai to Rameshwaram.
Thirty years ago, the high-decibel revenge drama Himmatwala made the return journey from the South to Mumbai, and became a blockbuster. Sajid Khan is now readying `a homage to the old Himmatwala` which stars Ajay Devgn. With characteristic grandiloquence, Sajid says, `As a child, I have watched the film 36 times in the theatre! Now I want my audience to leave the theatres with a smile and a 'mazaa aaya' feeling. I know Himmatwala will make 100 crores in the first week itself.`
It's not only about making a mark at the box office for our big names. Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Raju Hirani and Aamir try to make a perceptive comment in Peekay (slated for December), Akshay teams up with Neeraj Panday (of the widely acclaimed A Wednesday fame) for Special Chabbis and Prakash Jha readies his Amitabh Bachchan-Ajay Devgn starrer Satyagraha, which presents the middle class movement to renegotiate democracy. Unsurprisingly, Satyagraha is to be released on August 15.
The multiplex boom continues to afford filmmakers a chance to cater to an audience more welcoming of change; and many directors are playing for something deeper even without the benefit of having a megastar fuel their film.
2013 will witness the release of Vishal Bhardwaj's wacky-titled Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola, Sudhir Mishra's indictment of sexual harassment, Inkaar, Rajkumar Gupta's Ghanchakkar (which Emraan Hashmi calls `a dark comedy with suspense`), Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra's Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (`My homage to the sports of the country,` as the director puts it) and Shoojit Sircar's collaboration with John Abraham, Madras Cafe.
After winning reviews for Udaan, Vikramaditya Motwane will return on July 5 with Lootera, set in the 1950s. The film has been delayed by inclement weather and injuries but the cast can't stop gushing. Ranveer Singh raves, `I was in tears by the end of the narration; it's a golden script.`
Ranveer will keep the romance flag flying high with Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Gujarati drama Ram Leela while Ranbir Kapoor will lead the charge of the bright brigade with Ayan Mukherji's Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani and Abhinav Kashyap's Besharam.
As with any other year, 2013 has a plethora of male-oriented actioners such as the sequels Race 2 and Shootout At Wadala but unfortunately, there are all too few women-oriented films on the anvil.
There is the National Award-winning director Vikas Bahl's Kangna Ranaut-starrer Queen, Madhuri Dixit's latest hurrah, Gulab Gang, and maybe the Mary Kom biopic with Priyanka Chopra (shooting has yet to begin). When will Katrina, Kareena Kapoor-Khan and Vidya Balan green-light projects headlining their names first and foremost? What price gender parity?
How would the world have known that sodium (Na) plus chloride (Cl) produces salt unless someone had the gall to do a laboratory test with the two ingredients? 2013 will witness the coming together of several new star pairs and director-actor permutations, all in the hope of sparking off a novel chemistry.
Anushka Sharma's full-of-beans exuberance will hopefully contrast well with Imran's understated charm in Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola. She says, `Imran and I are working together for the first time in Matru... It's a fresh pairing but I had never thought we would have such a different look in the film.` The normally dapper Imran sports a thick stubble and has done akhada-style exercises for the film, prompting Anushka to comment, `I think Imran looks hot in this film.`
Later in the year, Anushka will also attempt to ignite chemistry with Imran's mamu, Aamir, in Peekay. Another heroine who can now claim to have worked with both uncle and nephew is Katrina, who did Mere Brother Ki Dulhan with Imran in 2011 and now pairs with Aamir for the first time in Dhoom 3.
Height issues notwithstanding, Aamir and Katrina's long-burnished star appeal should prove a combustible combination for a guns n' gals thriller like Dhoom 3.
Dhoom 3 will complete Katrina's trilogy with the Khans but Sonakshi is just starting with the Khan roster. While Akshay and Sonakshi have already brushed their broad shoulders twice, making Once In A Time In Mumbaai 2 their third outing together, it will be interesting to see Sonakshi paired in the same film with a younger hero, Imran, for the first time.
Sonakshi is rapidly moving on to stars closer to her age. Choreographer-turned-director Prabhu Deva has already made Sonakshi swivel successfully to his dance steps in Rowdy Rathore, and in his next film, Namak, she will have rubber-boned Shahid Kapoor help her perform some cartilage-defying moves.
Ranveer will be part of two new jodis in 2013. In Lootera, Sonakshi and he will complement each other's earthy appeal and Bhansali's Ram Leela will cash in on Ranveer-Deepika's aerosol fresh team.
Sonam Kapoor and Farhan Akhtar both stay studiedly out of the rat race and their low-key combination should certainly perk up Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. The only hitch is that since the film is a biopic on the Olympic runner Milkha Singh, Farhan may spend more time in the maidaan than with the maiden.
Shah Rukh's first alliance with Rohit Shetty of the Ajay Devgn camp should pique interest. Shetty's popcorn cinema is of a different variety from the Aditya Chopra-Karan Johar brand but it also hits the bullseye with unerring accuracy.
After Prakash Jha worked his magic with beautiful beanpole Katrina (whose acting abilities were under the scanner), he will now be working with Kareena whose acting creds have albeit long been accepted. She plays a committed journalist. Can Jha's film help lay the bedrock for Kareena's post-marital career?
And can the imaginative Bhansali spur the pragmatic Deepika (love the way she handles her controversies) from middle-level stardom to the upper echelons with Ram Leela? Will this new cocktail be an upper or a downer? Can her performance burn with a newer, purer flame? The stakes and expectations are high. Because Sanjay Leela Bhansali is the closest we have to Hollywood filmmakers during the Golden Age of Women's Directors.
A bunch of bright-eyed arrivistes are added every year to the Hindi film industry's list of stars. These youthful roisterers hope to prove their drawing power in a wide spectrum of films.
2013 will witness two major Southern stars aiming for a breakthrough. In the 1990s, Telugu megastar Chiranjeevi had a few Hindi film successes with Pratibandh and The Gentleman (opposite Juhi Chawla). Now, his son Ram Charan Teja seeks to carry over his immense success in Telugu films into Bollywood with the Apoorva Lakhia-directed remake of the 1973 blockbuster Zanjeer.
He is paired opposite Priyanka Chopra and pitted against Sanjay Dutt. The original crystallised Amitabh Bachchan's angry young man image and made him a phenomenon. Teja should be half as lucky.
There's more to the lean-and-wiry Dhanush than being the Kolaveri di singer-actor or Rajinikant's son-in-law. Dhanush has a major fan following for his Tamil films and will now be seen in Tanu Weds Manu director Anand Rai's rom-dram Ranjhana opposite Sonam. Sameera Reddy, who has acted in several major Southern films, says authoritatively, `Dhanush is sheer talent.`
Also coming out of the gates is Sushant Singh Rajput who will try to emulate Shah Rukh's trajectory from TV to films. The Pavitra Rishta actor's TV success was, however, not what clinched Kai Po Che! for him. His film's producer Siddharth Roy Kapoor states, `In Sushant we found our story's character Ishaan.
Director Abhishek Kapoor made sure that his role is actually very different from his TV image. Sushant trained in cricket, worked on his body and attended many workshops to become Ishaan. But it does help that he has a huge fan base from his TV stint.` Kapoor confidently adds, `His popularity will only increase after they see his performance in Kai Po Che!`
After an undistinguished turn in 2010's Love Breakups Zindagi, Pallavi Sharda is lucky to have bagged Abhinav 'Dabangg' Kashyap's Besharam opposite Ranbir Kapoor. Similarly, South star Tamanna acted in a now forgotten Hindi film some years ago but hopes to hit a glam slam with Sajid Khan's Himmatwala opposite Ajay Devgn.
And then there is grand dame Asha Bhosle on track to be the oldest newcomer in Bollywood. She may have done a few small roles in the 1940s but the legendary singer will now take on the title role in Mahesh Kodiyal's Maaee. Says Kodiyal, `Ashaji is definitely a genius because in spite of acting for the first time, she pulled it off so beautifully.`