American Bazaar film critic Vikrum Mathur’s take on the 35 Bollywood movies scheduled to be released this year.
2018 was a dynamite year for Bollywood. Movies like Stree, Andhdhun, Badhaai Ho, Padmaavat, Pad Man, Raazi, Sonu Ki Titu Ki Sweety and the just released Simmba did dynamite business. Whereas Simmba is a typical masala film, it featured a new age star (Ranveer Singh) who is at the height of his popularity with both his films and his personal life, marrying superstar Deepika Padukone. All of the other aforementioned films had novel concepts from the supernatural, to the comedic, to the social, to the realistic.
Our Khan trio, Aamir-Salman-Shahrukh, all crashed and burned in a surprising twist last year. Salman’s Race 3 made decent money but is widely considered an abomination by both Salman fans and cinemagoers. Aamir’s Thugs of Hindostan, an extremely expensive action epic from the Yash Raj Films stable also featuring Amitabh Bachchan and Katrina Kaif, was a thunderous failure. Shahrukh Khan’s ambitious project Zero, featuring him in the role of a dwarf directed by Aanand L. Rai, failed to meet the massive expectations audiences had from it. The failure of the Khans last year proved that audiences have matured and will not just accept anything that is offered to them on a platter. Finally, audiences’ tastes and filmmaking potential in India have started to match up, and this bodes well for the future of the industry.
Looking forward now to 2019, this content driven shift is present in the types of films that will be releasing this year. Here’s my list of movies to watch out for, though I will note, some of them are included simply for what they represent, meaning that sometimes an entertaining masala film is necessary, as long as it is passionate about what it is showing and is not simply a hodge podge of elements to make money. Here goes…
- Uri – The Surgical Strike
One of the most prolific actors of the year was Vicky Kaushal, with a whopping 5 successful releases in 2018 (Manmarziyaan, Sanju, Lust Stories, Raazi and Love Per Square Foot). On January 11, Vicky stars in Uri about the surgical strikes that took place in 2016 against Pakistan by India after a militant group from Pakistan attacked the town of Uri in Kashmir. Bound to be a controversial subject, it will be interesting to see the film’s take on the events that transpired. It is also interesting that the film was made in such quick time, given the attacks occurred in September of 2016. I am sure that Vicky will add another feather to his performance cap with this film. Yami Gautam, Paresh Rawal, Kirti Kulhari and Mohit Raina also star in this film.
ALSO READ: Vikrum’s Guide: The most awaited Bollywood movies of 2018 (January 15, 2018)
It has been awhile since a good “pure” horror film hit Bollywood. This January, we will see the release of Amvas, starring Sachin Joshi and Nargis Fakhri. Although I don’t have faith in these two actors to give good performances, the director of the film, Bhushan Patel, has a decent track record of making horror films like Raagini MMS 2, Alone and 1920: Evil Returns. Let’s hope that this film is a chiller to remember and gets the horror formula right in India, a genre that is hit or miss. Only the films Raaz, 1920 and Bhoot have successfully got it right. This film also opens January 11.
- Rangeela Raja
Okay, so I am not exactly keenly awaiting this movie but did want to flag it. Govinda was a superstar in the 90s and made some wonderfully silly but memorable films like Raja Babu, Aankhen, Coolie No. 1, Hero No. 1, Bade Miyan Chote Miyan, Dulhe Raja, Deewana Mastana, Saajan Chale Sasural and Haseena Maan Jayegi. The 2000s have not been kind to him, as people’s taste in comedy has matured and evolved. Yet, if one revisits any of the films I have mentioned, you always come out with a smile on your face. I am hoping that this film, which features Govinda in a double role as brothers, one who is a sadhu and one who is a wayward rich man, brings him back to cinematic glory. If seeing a mindless comedy is your thing, this may fit the bill you seek. Releases January 11.
- The Accidental Prime Minister
Anupam Kher stars as former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in this biopic directed by Vijay Ratnakar Gutte. Akshaye Khanna co-stars as well as a political news reporter in the film. Based on a book, this film looks quite interesting and Kher’s performance will surely be noticed by cinegoers. Depicting the volatile relationship between the Prime Minister’s ethics, his political party and other political entities, the film is sure stir up controversial conversations among people. I don’t foresee the film doing much business, but am certain that the classes will be intrigued by its concept. Also releases on January 11.
ALSO READ: Bollywood 2017: The most awaited movies of the year (January 3, 2017)
Another political film based on the life of cult figure and Shiv Sena founder Balasahab Thackeray, Nawazuddin Siddiqi plays the title role. This is a man who has been both feared and worshipped, who has done things that people have admired and abhorred. What remains to be seen is whether the film will be objective because, as far as I know, Shiv Sena members have been involved with the film, so naturally anything that is unflattering may not make it. The trailer looks like the movie has potential though, so I am very interested in seeing it. Releasing on January 25, the film co-stars Amrita Rao and is directed by Abhijit Panse.
- Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi
I love historical epics and don’t care how accurate or inaccurate they are. I love the magnificence and grandeur, the intrigue, the hammy performances, everything. The fiery Kangana Ranaut stars in this epic film about the brave Rani Laxmibai, the queen of Jhansi, who at a very young age, fought the British empire in the Indian rebellion of 1857 to tragic consequences. The film is co-directed by both Krish and Kangana herself, and has been mired in controversy ever since it went to production. It looks very overblown, with Rani Laxmibai, blood splattered, doing Matrix-type moves, so I am not entirely sure what to expect. Hope it does not delve into the illogical. Releases January 25 and co-stars Ankita Lokhande, Atul Kulkarni, Danny Dengzongpa, Jisshu Sengupta, Suresh Oberoi and Mohammad Zeeshan Ayuub.
- Cheat India
Emraan Hashmi returns to the silver screen in this social-drama directed by Soumik Sen. The film delves into the issue of the rich paying money to imitators to help their children get admission into the top colleges in India. Undoubtedly a relevant topic that does not get discussed enough, I have a good vibe about the prospects of this film. Hashmi usually picks interesting films, is a good actor and has a great box office track record. I am sure this film will deliver its message with a punch when it opens on January 25.
ALSO READ: The state of Bollywood in 2016 – Did superstars grow or decline? (December 31, 2016)
- Ek Ladki Ko Dekha To Aisa Laga
Now this looks like a movie to watch out for! Directed by Shelly Chopra Dhar, and produced by Vidhu Vinod Chopra, the movie stars Anil Kapoor, Sonam Kapoor, Rajkummar Rao and Juhi Chawla. This is the first mainstream Indian film to sensitively delve into the topic of a woman falling in love with another woman. It is about time that such a film got made, and with such talent behind it, I am sure it will be a revolutionary film in the annals of Indian movies. Releases February 1.
Abhishek Chaubey, as a writer and director, has blown us away with films like Udta Punjab, Ishqiya and Dedh Ishqiya. He comes back with this film, a rural drama, featuring Manoj Bajpayee, Sushant Singh Rajput, Bhumi Pednekar, Ranvir Shorey, Mohammad Zeeshan Ayyub and Ashutosh Rana. With such talent involved, I am sure the experience will be an interesting and intense one. Not to be missed on February 8.
- Gully Boy
Zoya Akhtar has directed wonderful films, each one better than the previous one. These include Luck By Chance, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and Dil Dhadakne Do. In this film, she reunites with the man of the hour, Ranveer Singh, to present a tale of the trials and tribulations of a rapper in Mumbai. The best actress of today, Alia Bhatt, also stars. Given Akhtar’s track record, and featuring such wonderful performers, Gully Boy will be a novel experience for cinegoers on February 14 this coming year.
- Total Dhamaal
The Dhamaal series started with a bang, only to whimper with its sequel Double Dhamaal. Popular filmmaker Indra Kumar (Dhamaal 1&2, all 3 Masti films, Dil, Beta, Raja, Ishq, Mann, Aashiq, Rishtey) returns with this third installment of the series featuring an amazing cast that includes Anil Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit, Ajay Devgn, Esha Gupta, Ritesh Deshmukh, Arshad Warsi, Jaaved Jaafry, Boman Irani and Sanjay Mishra. Promising to be a crazy comic caper, and reuniting Anil and Madhuri onscreen after 18 years, the film should be a ray of light amidst the more gritty films that are made today. Releasing on February 22nd, the movie has music by Himesh Reshammiya.
- Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar
This Yash Raj Films production, directed by Dibakar Banerjee, stars Arjun Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra. A dark comedy, the film promises something novel as Banerjee has directed interesting films like Detective Byomkesh Bakshy, Khosla Ka Ghosla, Hosla Ka Ghosla, Oye Lucky Lucky Oye and Shanghai. The Arjun-Parineeti jodi failed in 2018 with Namaste England, and this film faced a delay from last year, so let’s hope this brings the stars back to their glory. Releases March 1.
A Red Chillies production (SRK’s company), this thriller is directed by Sujoy Ghosh (Kahaani). Starring Amitabh Bachchan and Tapsee Pannu, the film is the Indian remake of a Spanish film titled Contratiempo. Reportedly, SRK himself has a cameo in the film, as does Abhishek Bachchan. Amitabh has experimented a lot lately with mixed results, so here’s hoping this one comes out right. Releases on March 8.
- De De Pyaar De
Luv Ranjan is famous (or infamous depending on how you look at it) for the Pyaar Ka Punchnama series and Sonu Ki Titu Ki Sweety. This time, instead of directing, he has written and produced this romantic comedy that stars Ajay Devgn, Tabu, Jimmy Shergill and Rakul Preet Singh. Not much is known about the story, but I am sure it will be a fun film to watch out for. Releases March 15.
Superstar Akshay Kumar’s first release of the year is a historical epic based on the Battle of Saragarhi in Punjab in the 1800s. Karan Johar produces and Anurag Singh directs this film, which also features Parineeti Chopra. Another “desh” film by Akshay, I am sure he will hit the bullseye in a genre that he is only too good in. Releases on March 22nd.
- Mental Hai Kya?
A dark comedy that stars Rajkummar Rao and Kangana Ranaut is a hit is already in the making. I am confident that it will have a unique theme and is directed by Prakash Kovelamudi. Not much is known about the plot, but it releases on March 29.
One of my most awaited films of the year, this period film directed by Abhishek Varman (2 States) stars Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan, Sonakshi Sinha, Aditya Roy Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit and Sanjay Dutt in the lead roles. Produced by Karan Johar, this was poised to be his third directorial venture after Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham, but he never found the courage to make it. The film is also notable for reuniting Madhuri Dixit and Sanjay Dutt after over 20 years, and so it will be a delight to see these former lovers together after so many years. A blockbuster in the making that releases on April 19!
- Student of the Year 2
Another Karan Johar production directed by Punit Malhotra (I hate Luv Storys, Gori Tere Pyaar Mein), this film is an unrelated sequel to the first Student of the Year. Featuring new age action king Tiger Shroff, along with newcomers Tara Sutaria and Ananya Panday (daughter of Chunky Panday), this movie will appeal to the young moviegoers of India. Promising fun, frolic and a chartbusting soundtrack, SOTY 2 is one for the young and young at heart. Releases May 10.
- Jabariya Jodi
Starring Sidharth Malhotra and Parineeti Chopra, this rom-com is directed by Prashant Singh. Not much is known about it, but both Sid and Pari are in desperate need for a hit and hopefully this will provide them with it on May 17.
- India’s Most Wanter
Director Rajkumar Gupta has impressed audiences with his unique films like No One Killed Jessica, Ghanchakkar and Raid. Now he brings a spy thriller to movie lovers that stars Arjun Kapoor. Hopefully the movie will push the action and content boundaries of Indian movies when it releases on May 24th!
Superstar Salman Khan’s big Eid release of 2019 is this film! Helmed by Ali Abbas Zafar (Sultan, Tiger Zinda Hai, Gunday, Mere Brother Ki Dulhan), this is home territory for Salman. Also featuring an interesting cast that includes Katrina Kaif, Tabu, Disha Patani, Sunil Grover and Jackie Shroff, this film is an official remake of a Korean film called Ode To My Father. When Salman focuses on a movie with a nice message, he usually succeeds. After dismal failures with Race 3 and Tubelight, Khan needs a hit to restore his image and Bharat seems poised to do so on June 5.
- Kabir Singh
Shahid Kapoor is one actor who is underrated. After experimenting with each film, Shahid comes back to the masala genre after R…Rajkummar with this action flick, co-starring Kiara Advani. Promising to be an intense film, it seems Shahid has another potential hit on the cards. Releases June 21.
- Good News
Karan Johar produces this comedy starring Akshay Kumar, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Diljit Dosanjh and Kiara Advani, under the direction of Raj Mehta. Not much is known about this movie, but almost anything Akshay does these days is interesting and I am sure this film is no different. Releases July 19.
- Batla House
Starring John Abraham, Mrunal Thakur and Ravi Kishen, this movie is directed by Nikhil Advani (Kal Ho Naa Ho, Salaam-e-Isqh, Chandni Chowk to China, D-Day, Patiala House). Based on a true occurrence involving a terrorist encounter, the film is bound to rouse patriotism when it releases on August 15. John Abraham may also have another release in March this year entitled Romeo Akbar Walter.
- Mission Mangal
Another Akshay Kumar flick, this is a space film based on true events. Also stars Vidya Balan, Sharman Joshi, Sonakshi Sinha, Taapsee Pannu and Kirti Kulhari. India may finally have its very own Apollo 13 with this movie, directed by Jagan Shakti. Also releases on August 15.
Nitesh Tiwari, director of Dangal, comes back with this comedy starring Sushant Singh Rajput, Shraddha Kapoor, Varun Sharma, Tahir Raj Bhasin and Prateik Babbar. With a quirky title, let’s hope that this film does as well as Dangal at the Indian box office upon its release on August 30.
- MADE IN CHINA
Another interesting project starring Rajkummar Rao, alongside Mouni Roy and Boman Irani, not much is known about it. Anything Rao does is big on content, so audiences can expect something interesting with this flick. Releases August 30.
- Yash Raj Films’ untitled action film
Hrithik Roshan, Tiger Shroff and Vaani Kapoor will head this action extravaganza directed by Sidharth Anand (Bang Bang, Bachna Ae Haseeno, Ta Ra Rum Pum, Salaam Namaste, Anjaana Anjaani), which will focus on 2 hitmen – a mentor and his student. All hell will break loose when the student will be contracted to kill his mentor. Likely featuring pulse pounding action, and incredible dancing, this might be the film to bring Hrithik Roshan back on the radar. At some point during the year, Hrithik will have another release entitled Super 30, directed by Vikas Bahl which tells the story of a brilliant mathematician named Anand Kumar. For the action flick, see it on October 2nd!
Another Sidharth Malhotra starrer, also featuring Ritesh Deshmukh, Tara Sutaria and Rakul Preet Singh, this is an action film directed by Milap Zaveri. Not much is known about it, but Zaveri is an excellent writer, so I am sure he has something exciting up his sleeve. Releases October 2nd.
- Housefull 4
The latest installment in the long running franchise, this film stars Akshay Kumar, Ritesh Deshmukh, Bobby Deol, Kriti Sanon, Pooja Hegde, Kriti Kharbanda, Rana Daggubatti, Boman Irani and Chunky Pandey. This film has been mired in controversy because its initial director, Sajid Khan, has been accused of sexual harassment, as was actor Nana Patekar, who was replaced by Rana Daggubatti. Writer Farhad Samji has taken over to direct the film, which will take place half of the time in the present and the other half during the time of kings and queens. Interesting premise, hopefully funny, this will tickle the funny bones when it releases this Diwali (October 25).
- ABCD 3
Varun Dhawan and Shraddha Kapoor’s ABCD 2, a dance film, turned out to be much better than what anyone expected. Remo D’Souza comes back as director for this third part, which stars Varun Dhawan again. Initially, Katrina Kaif was signed as the lead but walked out, and the search is on for a new girl. Varun is a good dancer and dependable star, so I am sure this film will not disappoint. Releases November 8.
- Taanaji – The Unsung Hero
Ajay Devgn stars in this historical epic based on the Marathi warrior leader Taanaji Malusare. Directed by Om Raut, the film also features Kajol and Saif Ali Khan. Ajay has not done a period film in awhile, so it will be fun to see him take on this role. Hopefully the film will release controversy free on November 22nd.
Ashutosh Gowariker (Jodhaa Akbar, Lagaan, Mohenjo Daro, Swades) comes back with another historical epic based on the battle of Panipat. Arjun Kapoor stars as Sadashiv Rao Bhau, along with Kriti Sanon as Parvati Bai and Sanjay Dutt as Ahmad Shah Abdali. Gowariker has a proven track record in this genre with mixed results. Hopefully, this one will be more like Jodhaa Akbar and Lagaan tjam Mohenjo Daro. Releases December 6.
- Kick 2
Another Salman Khan blockbuster in the making, this is a sequel to the 2014 hit directed by Sajid Nadiadwala. Not much is known about it, but I am sure Salman will be extra careful to make sure that this movie does not suffer the fate that Race 3 had. Releases December 20.
Karan Johar’s final production of the year, directed by Ayan Mukherji (Wake Up Sid, Yeh Jawaan Hai Deewani), this is a superhero action flick. Ranbir Kapoor stars alongside Amitabh Bachchan and Alia Bhatt. Kapoor has stated that he is done playing true to life roles and now wants to do mainstream commercial films, and this is his first step toward that. This is the first part in a proposed trilogy, so let’s hope the first part does not flop and Kapoor maintains his successful streak after the blockbuster Sanju.
Missing Actors of 2019
You may be wondering what are Shahrukh Khan, Aamir Khan and Ayushmann Khurrana up to this year? Shahrukh Khan will soon be starting work on a biopic of astronaut Rakesh Sharma called Saare Jahaan Se Accha. It is not expected to release in 2019.
Aamir Khan is working on a 7 part web series, Mahabharat, in the role of Lord Krishna. He is also rumored to be playing T-Series head honcho, the late Gulshan Kumar, in a film called Mogul and may also play Osho Rajneesh in a film co-starring Alia Bhatt to be directed by Shakun Batra. All sound interesting and I am sure will bring Aamir back to glory!
Ayushmann Khurrana will definitely have at least one release this year, though it is not clear when. The comedy, titled Dream Girl, will undoubtedly be different like Khurrana’s other films. He is also signed for a film called Bala with his Shubh Mangal Savhdhaan co-star Bhumi Pednekar.
Looks like an interesting year ahead at the movies! Let’s see whether content tops the box office this year like 2018 or masala films continue to reign supreme.