Happy New Year! Another year of entertainment from the Indian subcontinent is upon us! After a dismal 2017, where big films failed, stars failed and budgets failed, 2018 will hopefully be a year of redemption for Bollywood. The main positive (and it is a big one) is that 2017 was a wake up call. A call that forced filmmakers, actors and writers to take inventory of the work they are doing and how they are doing it. No longer will audiences be taken for granted. No longer will audiences accept film “projects” as opposed to films made with passion and earnestness. Films must have the right content within their respective genres and offer to the maximum extent possible, the best cinematic experience in that space. If you are making a masala film, it has to be made right. If you are making a dramatic film, the pieces have to come together and if you are making a comedy/romance/ or horror film, you have to touch the right nerves.
Based on the lineup for 2018, I think the audiences will be in for a treat. There does not appear to be anything that is run of the mill this year and this may end up being a year of evolution for Bollywood films as we know them. Let’s have a look at some of the most keenly anticipated films of the year, with the disclaimer that I am basing this list off of many things that have caught my eye. It is not exhaustive and I may or may not include films that are of interest to you. Hope this is a good resource as you flock cinema halls this year. Enjoy!
Kaalakaandi, January 12
A raunchy comedy that stars Saif Ali Khan, Vijay Raaz, Deepak Dobriyal and a host of young newcomers, this film promises to be a quirky comedic caper. It is written and directed by Akshat Verma, the man who wrote the hilarious Delhi Belly, so expect the same level of bold comedy here. Saif Ali Khan, an actor who does not get enough credit for the interesting choices he has made in the past few years, needs a hit and I hope that this film provides him with one.
1921 – January 12
Horror is a genre that has had mixed success in India. Whereas modern films like Bhoot, Raaz and 1920 have been terrifying, other films in this genre have been laughable. This films is the 4th film in the â€œ1920â€ series but clearly taking place a year after the other entries in the franchise. Vikram Bhatt directs this chiller and going by the trailer, this film can be hit or miss. I think Bhatt’s style is starting to become quite predictable, but one can only gauge whether that is true when this film hits theaters this January. Zarine Khan and Karan Kundra star.
Mukkabaaz, January 12
All Anurag Kashyap films that I have seen have been awesome. Black Friday, Gangs of Wasseypur and Raman Raghav 2.0 have been incredible cinematic experiences which have displayed the versatility and passion of this filmmaker. Kashyap returns with this boxer-romantic drama and, like Kashyap’s other films, this one too will be a unique film.
Padmaavat, January 25
What can I say about this film (originally known as Padmaavat), which has been mired in controversy since its inception. Directed by the supremely passionate Sanjay Leela Bhansali, the movie tells the story of the Rajput queen Padmavati and how Sultan Alauddin Khilji fell in love with her, releasing a torrent of events that lead to a tale of love, passion and tragedy. Deepika Padukone plays the main role, while Shahid Kapoor plays her husband and Ranveer Singh plays the Sultan. Audiences are waiting with bated breath for this movie, and the day it opens, I guarantee it will break records.
READ: Bollywood 2017: The most awaited movies of the year (January 3, 2017)
Pad Man, January 26
My first most awaited movie of the year, this social comedy-drama stars Akshay Kumar, Radhika Apte and Sonam Kapoor and is directed by R. Balki (Paa, Cheeni Kim, Shamitabh). Based on the true story of the man who brought women’s hygiene issues to the forefront in India through sanitary pads, Pad Man will certainly be another success for Akshay, who is churning out hit after hit with films rooted in patriotism and social issues.
Aiyaary, February 9
Director Neeraj Pandey is one of the most successful directors India has today, with hits like A Wednesday, Baby, Special 26 and MS Dhoni: The Untold Story. This time, Manoj Bajpayee and Sidharth Malhotra head the cast of this thriller revolving around the army and their practices in India. Pandey has yet to make a bad film, and we can anticipate that Aiyaary will be another film worth remembering this Republic Day.
Daas Dev, February 16
Legendary filmmaker Sudhir Mishra will bring to audiences a modern adaptation of Devdas, starring Rahul Bhat. Mr. Mishra’s films are always insightful, different and bring forth realities that we tend to shy away from. It will be fascinating to see this evergreen story take place in a modern and different context than its actual setting, and I am sure audiences will be intrigued by its presentation.
Parmanu: The Story of Pokhran, February 23
Director Abhishek Sharma (Tere Bin Laden 1 & 2, The Shaukeens) directs this dramatic thriller based on a real incident in India. The film stars John Abraham and promises to be a shocking and revealing film for audiences. Not to be missed!
READ: Bollywood 2016: A guide to the most awaited films of the year (January 1, 2016)
Hichki, February 23
Yash Raj Films’ first release of the year, directed by Sidharth Malhotra (not the actor), is bound to be of interest since the great Rani Mukherji is making a come back! From the trailer, the film seems to tell the story of a school teacher suffering from Tourette’s and how she impacts and alters the lives of a rag-tag group of misfit students. I am not sure how novel the overall story will be, but Rani’s performance will garner attention during awards season for sure.
Hate Story 4, March 2
Not really a film series of my taste, but nevertheless a popular franchise, the Hate Story series gets a new entry this year starring former Miss India Urvashi Rautela. Expect plenty of sleaze for this one. Hopefully, there will be a story too. Vishal Pandya, who directed the previous 2 installments and the film Wajah Tum Ho directs this as well.
Drive, March 2
Dharma Productions’ first film of the year, this film stars Sushant Singh Rajput and Jacqueline Fernandez. An action thriller, this film is special because it is directed by Tarun Mansukhani whose last film, Dostana, released back in 2008. Since Dostana, Mansukhani had been working to make a sequel to that film, but a good script never shaped up. He directed an animated version of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai in the meantime, but that film also never saw the light of day. Hopefully, this will bring this talented filmmaker back in the reckoning after its release!
Raid, March 16
Ajay Devgn and Ilean D’Cruz pair up once again in this action thriller from the director who brought you No One Killed Jessica and Ghanchakkar, Raj Kumar Gupta. If this film is done masala style, I doubt it will do well because Gupta’s filmmaking does not fit in that space. However, if it is a realistic film, it may just end up being a surprise hit. Let’s see what happens!
Baaghi 2, March 30
Tiger Shroff, son of 80s action hero Jackie Shroff, has carved a unique niche of his own as an action-dancing star. Known for his daring stunts and amazing dance moves, Tiger has seen success at an early age with his action-based films, such as Baaghi. Now he comes back with a sequel, co-starring his real-life girlfriend Disha Patani, with this action flick. Directed by Ahmed Khan, this film is sure to meet the demand of Tiger’s fans.
Baazaar, Sometime in April
Nikhil Advani (Kal Ho Naa Ho, Salaam-e-ishq, Chandni Chowk to China, Patiala House, D-Day) directs this thriller starring Saif Ali Khan. I don’t know much about this one, but given Advani’s track record, it may be a hit or miss.
October, April 13
Varun Dhawan and newcomer Banita Sandhu star in this romantic film, directed by the talented Shoojit Sircar (Piku, Madras CafÃ©, Vicky Donor). Sircar is known as one of the topmost directors in India today and it is expected that he has come up something novel once again. With Dhawan as the leading man, the film is guaranteed to get a huge opening when it opens this April.
2.0, April 14
The keenly awaited sequel to the 2010 smash hit Robot, 2.0 is bound to set new records because it brings two of the biggest superstars of India “one from the North and one from the South“ as adversaries on screen. Superstar Rajinikanth plays the protagonist while Akshay Kumar plays the supervillain, and Amy Jackson rounds out the cast as the female lead. Shankar, the director, is known as one of the most prominent filmmakers in South India and with this film, made in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi, he might create new records by creating a truly pan-Indian film, with never before seen special effects. Another one of my most awaited movies and undoubtedly it will be one of the biggest hits of the year.
Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi, April 27
Krish (Gabbar is Back) directs this historical epic starring Kangana Ranaut in the title role as Rani Laxmibai. I think this is perfect casting and I think the film will be a visual treat on the big screen, telling the story of a brave queen who gave up her life for the freedom of India. I am sure a competitive streak between this film and Padmavat will be played up. Will be interesting to see who wins.
Raazi, May 11
Karan Johar produces this Meghna Gulzar (Talvar, Filhaal) directed film starring Alia Bhatt and Vicky Kaushal. With an interesting leading pair, along with a director who makes films off the beaten path, Raazi will appeal to audiences who appreciate unique and touching stories.
Bhavesh Joshi, May 25
Harshvardhan Kapoor, son of actor Anil Kapoor, made his debut in 2016’s Mirzya. Unfortunately, the film tanked at the box office, but the Jr. Kapoor’s talent was unquestionable and immediately started work on this detective thriller with director Vikramaditya Motwane (Udaan, Trapped, Lootera). A long time in the making, this gritty film produced by Anurag Kashyap, will hopefully provide a much needed hit to Harsh.
Fanne Khan, June 15
Speaking of Anil Kapoor, the man is unstoppable and he gets younger year after year. This film is his first release of the year, and co-stars Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Rajkummar Rao. It is directed by Atul Manjrekar and produced by, among many producers, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra (RANG DE BASANTI, BHAAG MILKHA BHAAG). Falling under the comedy genre, the movie is poised to be a treat for audiences when it releases this June. I don’t know much about the story, but the posted has Anil Kapoor wearing a jazzy suit and singing into a mike. I am sure the curiosity will only increase as the film nears its release date.
Race 3, June 15
Another one of my most awaited movies of the year is Salman Khan’s big 2018 project. Although the film is the 3rd installment in the Race franchise, it is rumored to not have any connection with its predecessors. An all-out masala action thriller, Race 3 has an interesting cast which also includes Anil Kapoor, Bobby Deol, Daisy Shah, Jacqueline Fernandez, Saqib Saleem and Pooja Hegde. It is directed by Remo D’Souza, better known as a choreographer and director of ABCD 1 & 2.
Sanju, June 29
My second most awaited movie of the year, Rajkumar Hirani (PK, 3 Idiots, Munnabhai series) directs this biopic on actor Sanjay Dutt, a very controversial figure. Ranbir Kapoor stars in the title role, in what is likely to be the role of a lifetime, along with Paresh Rawal, Manisha Koirala, Sonam Kapoor and Diya Mirza. Hirani is one of the best directors India has, and has not yet made a flop film, so it will be interesting to see how he fares in the biopic genre.
Dhadak, July 6
Karan Johar produces this official remake of the Marathi blockbuster Sairat. This film is particularly anticipated because it marks the debut of two newcomers â€“ Ishaan Khattar (brother of Shahid Kapoor) and Jhanvi Kapoor (daughter of Sridevi and Boney Kapoor). The tragic love story is being directed by Shashank Khaitan (Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania and Badrinath Ki Dulhania).
Sandeep aur Pinky Faraar, August 3
A Yash Raj Films production directed by Dibakar Bannerjee (Byomkesh Bakshy, Shanghai, Khosla Ka Ghosla), Arjun Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra reunite in this romantic comedy thriller. Dibakar is quirky director and it will be interesting to see what he offers with these two quirky leading actors.
Gold, August 15
Akshay Kumar headlines this biopic about one of India’s first athletes to win a gold medal at the Olympics, Balbir Singh. Reema Kagti (TALAASH, HONEYMOON TRAVELS) directs, while Farhan Akhtar produces. Akshay is going from strength to strength with each film, especially patriotic films, and this film will certainly share an inspirational story not many people of the current generation know about.
Batti Gul Meter Chalu, August 31
Shahid Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor will star in this social comedy from the director of TOILET: EK PREM KATHA (Shree Narayan Singh). This time, the subject revolves around the issues with electricity in India. Shahid has amazed us in his performances the last few years, especially in UDTA PUNJAB, and this will add a new genre to his filmography which will once again showcase him as an extremely underrated actor.
Sui Dhaaga “Made in India” September 28
Varun Dhawan pairs up for the first time with Anushka Sharma in this Yash Raj Films comedy directed by Sharat Katariya (Dum Lagake Haisha). Promising to be a very slice of life and simple film revolving around the sewing industry in India, with a fresh pairing, I guarantee this film will garner critical acclaim for all the talent involved.
Untitled Ajay Devgn-Luv Ranjan comedy, Sometime in October
Not much is known about this film except that it would bring Ajay Devgn with talented director Luv Ranjan (if you have not seen the Pyaar Ka Punchnama series you have missed out). If the film has the same real-life perspective that Ranjan has brought to his other films, I am sure this film will be much loved.
Thugs of Hindostan November 7
Probably my most awaited movie of the year, this big-budget action film stars Aamir Khan and Amitabh Bachchan together for the first time. It is produced by Yash Raj Films and directed by Vijay Krishna Acharya (Tashan, Dhoom 3). Rumored to be India’s Pirates of the Caribbean, it will be exciting to see Aamir in a big commercial film after a long time, and that too with Katrina Kaif. Records will be broken this November!
Super 30 November 23
Hrithik Roshan makes a comeback this year with this biopic about a famous mathematician. The film is directed by Vikas Bahl (Queen, Shaandar), but what is most fascinating is that Hrithik has never done an offbeat film before. Reportedly, he is shedding his Bollywood star looks for the film and this may finally give Hrithik an opportunity to do a smaller film, outside of playing superheroes or action heroes.
Namastey England, December 7
A sequel to the 2007 hit Namastey London, this time Arjun Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra make the leading pair. Vipul Shah, who made the original and films such as Waqt, Aankhen, and London Dreams, helms this film as well. The leading stars have a lot to live up to, and I question whether a sequel with a different cast was necessary, but only time will tell.
Total Dhamaal, December 7
The third part in the Dhamaal franchise, this threequel is once again directed by Indra Kumar (Masti series, Dil, Beta, Raja, Ishq, Mann, Aashiq, Rishtey, Dhamaal and Double Dhamaal). While the first film was hilarious, I didn’t care much for the sequel. However, hope for this one comes in the form of its casting which includes Ajay Devgn, Anil Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit, Ritesh Deshmukh, Jaaved Jaafri, Arshad Warsi, Boman Irani and Sanjay Mishra. After many years, we will see Anil and Madhuri together on the big screen and that alone is worth the price of admission.
Zero, December 21
My 2nd most awaited movie of the year, this comedy sees Shahrukh Khan in the role of a dwarf. Although the story is under wraps, the film co-stars Katrina Kaif and Anushka Sharma and is directed by the multi-talented Aanand L. Rai (Tanu Weds Manu series, Ranjhanaa). I have been appreciating SRK’s forays into different genres and I think this will be an interesting film. SRK has pinned all his hopes on the success of this film and I hope it turns out to be a film to remember.
Kedarnath, December 21
Abhishek Kapoor (Rock On, Kai Po Che, Fitoor) directs this romantic film starring Sushant Singh Rajput and Sara Ali Khan (daughter of Saif Ali Khan). Being produces on a lavish scale, audiences are excited to see the debut of a new star kid, but will the film be able to combat SRK’s Zero which releases the same day? Good content always wins.
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