The American Bazaar film critic Vikrum Mathur presents a list of some of the most awaited Bollywood movies of 2022.
For cinema lovers, the past two years have been nothing but frustrating. With the advent of Covid-19 and its multiple variants, not only have audiences been fearful and deprived of the magic of the collective experience of watching movies in a packed cinema hall, but also many filmmakers and actors have waited with bated breath to see the proper release of their movies. While many big films did release in theaters this past year and met with some level of success, it has been a far cry from what everyone used to enjoy in a pre-pandemic era.
The biggest casualty from the pandemic has been seeing big movies being forced to release on the streaming space as opposed to the big screen. This has been driven by nothing more than business and relevance – streaming services offered a profitable way out of any further delay and filmmakers feared their product becoming irrelevant if they waited too long in an unpredictable pandemic. Now with the Omicron variant in full force, theaters may continue to see a pause until the situation stabilizes further.
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The pandemic has also changed massively the tastes of Bollywood film lovers. Pre-pandemic, the star system ruled the roost with the Khans, Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgan, Ranveer Singh, Ranbir Kapoor etc. However, on streaming, audiences discovered not only good content but also made stars out of performers on these platforms who otherwise would not achieve that status under conventional cinematic boundaries. What will be interesting to see in the future is if theatergoing will resume as it once was or will only be considered an “outing” where only big spectacle films will be watched in theaters while all other genres find a home on streaming.
In 2022, audiences can still look forward to seeing some of the most awaited movies in some form, either through theaters coming back in full force or on a streaming platform. Here’s presenting a list of some of the most awaited movies of 2022. Note this is not an exhaustive list – it is derived purely as some highlights for the coming year. Happy new year and happy watching!
The first big release of the year stars the man who never rests – Akshay Kumar. This historical epic tells the story of Prithiviraj Chauhan and his love for Princess Sanyukta, played by Miss World Manushi Chillar in her cinematic debut. Produced by Aditya Chopra, this film is directed by Dr. Chandraprakash Dwivedi whose impressive filmography included the film Pinjar and the classic TV series Chanakya. With Chillar’s debut, as well as marking Yash Raj Films’ first true historical epic, expectations are high. Dwivedi is known for doing meticulous research on his projects, and here’s hoping the film continues this trend. The trailer however reveals a slight Sanjay Leela Bhansali hangover, but only time will tell once the film releases this year.
2. Gangubai Kathiawadi
Every Sanjay Leela Bhansali film (Devdas, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Black, Ram Leela, Bajirao Mastani, Guzaarish, Saawariya, Padmaavat) is special so there is no surprise that his latest directorial has made this list. Starring powerhouse performer Alia Bhatt, the movie tells the true story of the famous brothel owner, no doubt in SLB’s visually grand style. An interesting tidbit, initially SLB planned a big romantic film with Salman Khan and Alia Bhatt but disagreements between Khan and the filmmaker put the lid on the project. Still desiring to work with Alia, SLB conceived this much awaited film. Undoubtedly, this will be another master work by the director featuring one of India’s most talented actresses.
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3. Jayeshbhai Jordaar
The second Yash Raj Films release of the year, this social comedy stars Ranveer Singh and newcomer Shalini Panday. Directed by newcomer Divyang Thakur, not much is known about this film but anything Singh does is bound to be interesting.
Another Yash Raj Films production, this epic dacoit drama marks a comeback for Ranbir Kapoor after 2018’s blockbuster Sanju. Also starring Sanjay Dutt and Vaani Kapoor, this film begins a new phase of movies for Ranbir. After starring in many offbeat and critically acclaimed films, the actor has claimed he wants to now focus his career on some commercially viable projects, after having proved himself as an excellent actor. This keenly awaited film will hopefully finally see the light of day in 2022 after having been in the making for several years. It is directed by Karan Malhotra (Agneepath, Brothers)
5. Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2
This spiritual sequel to the 2007 horror comedy does not star Akshay Kumar or Vidya Balan, but there are still plenty of reasons to be excited. Kartik Aryan leads the pack this time, with Tabu and Kiara Advani under the direction of comedy director Anees Bazmee (No Entry, Welcome, Mubarakan, Singh Is Kinng, Ready). Not much is known about the plot, but horror comedies have raised their profile tremendously in Bollywood after STREE, and one awaits this movie to continue to see that growing trend.
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Director Anubhav Sinha (Dus, Cash, Tum Bin, Thappad, Article 15, Mulk) has turned a massive leaf in the types of movies that he now makes. Starting with some silly commercial pot boilers, he has now become a gritty filmmaker focused on novel social issues. This film marks his 2nd collaboration with Ayushmann Khurrana, with whom he had previously made the stellar Article 15. Given Khurrana’s interest in unique scripts, one can expect this thriller film to be out of the ordinary as well. Highly anticipated!
7. Doctor G
Another Ayushmann Khurrana release, this social comedy is the directorial debut of Anubhuti Kashyap. Rakul Preet Singh also stars. Reportedly, Khurrana plays a male gynecologist in the film. Anything he does is an interesting cinematic experience, and it can be said with confidence that irrespective of how the film fares, it will push the envelope on new stories in Hindi cinema.
8. Bachchan Pandey
Akshay Kumar stars with Kriti Sanon and Jaqueline Fernandez in this revenge action film directed by Farhad Samji (Housefull 4). The poster promises an intense new avatar for Akshay, showing him with a dhoti, mustache and tika on the head. Akshay always excels in action roles and his fans look forward to seeing him back in that space with this film.
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Varun Dhawan stars with Kriti Sanon in this horror comedy, marking India’s first werewolf film. Directed by Amar Kaushik (Stree, Bala), we know the film is in able hands. I personally am quite excited about this as it is a genre I wondered why Indian cinema never explored properly, as it has so much potential. Furthermore, the movie takes place in the same universe as Stree and 2021’s Roohi, creating India’s first movie monsters universe.
10. Jug Jugg Jeeyo
Dharma Productions presents this family comedy with emotions starring Varun Dhawan, Kiara Advani, Anil Kapoor and Neetu Singh. The details of the plot have been kept under wraps, but the film is directed by Raj Mehta who directed the smash hit Good Newwz. Given Karan Johar’s penchant for generally greenlighting the best of projects for his company, there is no doubt that this film too will have something new to offer.
No year is complete without a Rohit Shetty directed (Simmba, Sooryavanshi, Singham series, Golmaal series, Chennai Express) bonanza and 2022 will be no different. This comedy film stars Ranveer Singh, Varun Sharma, Pooja Hegde and Jaqueline Fernandez and is rumored to be an adaptation of the classic film Angoor and the Shakespearean play The Comedy of Errors. Given Shetty’s stellar track record of success, and featuring many of his amazing supporting actors regularly seen in his films, CIRKUS is poised to be yet another blockbuster in the Rohit Shetty cinematic universe.
12. Vikram Vedha Remake
The last we saw Hrithik Roshan was in 2019 with two back-to-back successes in SUPER 30 and WAR. The superstar is back with this thriller in 2022, where he plays a criminal on the run from a cop (played by Saif Ali Khan). The film is a remake of a South blockbuster, and will co-star Radhika Apte. Given Roshan’s propensity to pick unique scripts, and the cat and mouse game expected between him and Khan, this film is one of the most awaited of the year.
Director Om Raut made one of the true few successful films in 2020 with Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior. Raut is back with a bang with this extremely expensive adaptation of Ramayan starring Prabhas as Shri Ram, Kriti Sanon as Sita and Saif Ali Khan as Raavan. Given the lavish production values expected and the interesting star cast, this is one of the most eagerly awaited films of the year. Hopefully it releases without any unnecessary controversy and gives audiences an adaptation of the story that will be cherished for generations to come.
14. Laal Singh Chaddha
After the disastrous failure of Thugs of Hindostan in 2018, Aamir Khan is back with this film co-starring Kareena Kapoor Khan and directed by Advait Chandan (Secret Superstar). Khan has had an impressive cinematic track record over the past 20 years, with only 2 average grossers, 1 flop and the rest historic blockbusters. This film is a remake of the classic Forrest Gump, adapted to Indian sensibilities. A dream project of Aamir’s, audiences can be confident that he has given the film his all, which has been in the making for the past three years. As long as the film offers something new, and the performances are not cheesy, this should be as memorable an experience for audiences as Khan’s other films have been.
Shahrukh Khan has taken a long sabbatical from films since 2018 after a slew of average and unsuccessful cinematic debacles, with his last film being the terrible Zero. Khan, whose popularity and talent remains intact, has turned to his favorite banner Yash Raj Films to give him that commercial success that has eluded him for the past 5 years. This global action spy film also co-stars Deepika Padukone and John Abraham and is directed by Sidharth Anand (Salaam Namaste, Ta Ra Rum Pum, Bachna Ae Haseeno, Anjaana Anjaani, Bang Bang, War) and is expected to be a high-octane spectacle with scenes never before witnessed in Bollywood films. A fun fact is that it takes place in the same universe as Salman Khan’s Tiger films and Hrithik’s War, meaning at some point these characters are expected to converge. While I would have much preferred Khan to make his comeback with a mature romantic film or content driven story, I hope this movie pushes the boundaries of action films in India.
16. Tiger 3
After the record-breaking success of Ek Tha Tiger and Tiger Zinda Hai, Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif are back in this third installment of the popular spy series, this time directed by Maneesh Sharma (Band Baaja Baaraat, Ladies Vs. Ricky Bahl, Fan). This is anticipated to be the biggest yet in the franchise, being shot all over the globe and featuring Emraan Hashmi as the main villain. After some forgettable films over the past few years, Salman needs a big hit that not only brings the numbers but also the critical acclaim as well. Let’s hope this is the film that does it. Aditya Chopra returns as producer of this project.
This long in the making sci-fi action fantasy film is keenly awaited. Produced by Karan Johar, it stars Ranbir Kapoor, Alia Bhatt and Amitabh Bachchan. Expected to be part of a trilogy, the movie is expected to push the boundaries of Indian cinema and will present Ranbir in a never-before-seen avatar. Ayan Mukherji directs (Wake Up Sid, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani). Ranbir always picks interesting films, albeit not always successful. This film has been a huge gamble for his career, almost 5 years in the making, so one can only anticipate that it meets the massive buzz surrounding it.
Another Aditya Chopra produced film, this movie is keenly anticipated because it marks the debut of Aamir Khan’s son Junaid Khan. A thriller based on a true story, this film is keenly anticipated as audiences will finally see Aamir’s son on the big screen. Time will tell if the young actor can match the meticulousness of his father, but nevertheless the movie will be an insightful experience. It is directed by Sidharth P. Malhotra (We Are Family, Hichki).
19. Ram Setu
Akshay Kumar’s film streak continues with this drama film directed by Abhishek Sharma (Tere Bin Laden, The Shaukeens, Parmanu, Suraj Pe Mangal Bhaari). Produced by Dr. Chandraprakash Dwivedi (whom Akshay has worked with in PRITHVIRAJ), not much is known about this movie except that Akshay plays an archeologist in the film and that Jaqueline Fernandez and Nushrat Bharrucha co-star. Akshay always does films that are different and out of the box and I believe this movie will present a unique story that will be worth watching.
20. Action Hero
Ayushmann Khurrana stars in this quirky film directed by Anirudh Iyer and produced by Aanand L. Rai (Tanu Weds Manu series, Zero, Ranjhanaa, Atrangi Re). Described as a satire on Bollywood, it will be exciting to see Ayushmann part of a film that is not based on a social issue. Expect the unexpected with this one!
21. Raksha Bandhan
After the super success of Atrangi Re, Aanand L. Rai directs Akshay Kumar once again in this sweet family drama, co-starring Bhumi Pednekar. While the story is not known, it is expected to revolve around a man’s relationship with his sisters. There has not been a good family values driven movie in a while and no doubt this one will be a tearjerker.
22. OMG 2- Oh My God!
Amit Rai directs this spiritual sequel to the successful film Oh My God. Akshay Kumar returns in this sequel in the role of God, except this time he plays Lord Shiva, after having played Lord Vishnu in the first film. Paresh Rawal is not in the film this time, but the multitalented Pankaj Tripathi has been cast. Expect a film riddled with emotions and social satire when it releases sometime this year.