Looking back with much affection and profound regret 2012 seems one of the most decisive years in the history of Hindi cinema. If it was the year when many films acquired blockbuster status, it was also the year when showbiz luminaries fell like ninepins. Rajesh Khanna, Yash Chopra, Dara Singh, A.K Hangal, Jaspal Bhatti ...Bichde sabhi baari baari...
Here's looking at the top newsmakers of the year
Yash Chopra: His passing away signalled the end of more than an era. It was the death of romance. Yashji defined the tenderest moments on celluloid, weaving in and out of stories that glorified the pristine paces of the heart as it drove wildly into the one-way street called love. Yashji continued to make news even when he was gone, though not particularly of the kind he would have liked to make. Ajay Devgn's company sent a legal notice to Yashraj Films just a few days after the doyen's dengue-driven death alleging unfair monopolistic practices by Yashraj in acquiring theatres for the screening of Jab Tak Hai Jaan. Hey hey hey! What happened to good old-fashioned respect for the dead, especially someone as revered as Mr. Yash Chopra? Scant regard for his memory was seen in the industry. Film folks celebrated noisy Diwali parties just days after his death. Kajol the heroine of Yashraj Films' most successful product Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge did not turn up for the premiere of Yash Chopra's swan song Jab Tak Hai Jaan. Some say she wasn't invited. Others say she had no choice but to be loyal to her husband Ajay Devgn who had chosen to pick an untimely fight with Yash Chopra's production house. Somewhere in all this chaos of the cosmic , comic and pathetic, Yash Chopra must be smiling down from heaven wondering if there's a screenplay in the way his colleagues reacted when he bid his final adieu. That's life, we guess.
Return of the Screen Queen: 2012 was the year of the screen divas. What a fabulous return they made to the marquee! Opening the doors was Vidya Balan who last year pushed the envelope for the Hindi film heroine in The Dirty Picture. This year she stunned critics and the aam junta with her pregnant-woman-lost-in-Kolkata act in Sujoy Ghosh's brilliantly-written Kahaani. The film smashed box-office records and paved the way for the return of the timeless Sridevi in first-time director Gauri Shinde's lucid and transparent English Vinglish. Like wine(and never mind the whiny voice) Sridevi showed true beauty only gets more pronounced with age. Even before we could catch our breath at Sri's ethereal return, Bipasha Basu re-defined the screen vamp's claws with her sharply diabolic performance in Raaz 3. The gorgeous girl deserved a hit after the way John Abraham had treated her. Following Raaz 3, came Rani Mukerji in Sachin Kundalkar's vapid and kinky Aiyyaa, Kareena Kapoor in Madhur Bhandarkar's audacious but unsuccessful Heroine and Karisma Kapoor in Vikram Bhatt's Dangerous Ishq. Though some of these ladies didn't quite set the box-office on fire, collectively this was the year of the Bollywood Divas.
The Little-Big Film: 2012 was also the year when out-of-the-box films triumphed. Topping the list was Shoojit Sircar's Vicky Donor. A completely unexpected windfall of sensitivity and ingenuity on a taboo subject like sperm donation ,it caught the nation's fancy and gave us a gallery of glorious performers, the old and the new-Ayushmann Khurrana, Yami Gautam, Anu Kapoor, Dolly Ahluwalia and Kamlesh Gill. Then there was Paan Singh Tomar - a bio-pic on the sprinter-turned-outlaw directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia who was suddenly being wooed by Bollywood A-listers like Imran Khan and Saif Ali Khan. Understandably Dhulia seemed to have his head spinning in the clouds. Happy landing, Mr Dhulia. Debutant Sameer Sharma's Luv Shuv Tey Chiken Khurana didn't quite qualify as a sleeper hit. But footfalls for a different kind of entertainment showed an encouraging upswing trend.
Debut Cyclone: What a year it was for new talent! Striking new directorial talent like Gauri Shinde (English Vinglish), a music composer of a eclectic gypsy-like abilities Sneha Khanwalkar (Gangs Of Wasseypur). Most of all, desperately-needed new acting talent like Arjun Kapoor in Ishaqzaade, Ayushmann Khurrana in Vicky Donor, Mehdi Nebbou in English Vinglish, Diana Penty in Cocktail, Ileana D'Cruz in Barfi, Siddharth Malhotra-Varun Dhawan-Alia Bhatt in Student Of The Year, the child actor Mohammad Samad in Gattu, Richa Chadda and Huma Qureshi in Gangs Of Wasseypur, Parambrata Chatterjee in Kahaani ...Thank God for the new order! Haven't we seen enough of the established A-listers playing 20-somethings in their 40s? Shall we leave such wrinkle tricks to the Rajinikanths of the Dravidian world?
Wed Dreams: So Saif Ali Khan finally made it legal with Kareena Kapoor. A month before the event Kareena called up this writer accusing him of showing unnecessary curiosity about the marriage. "How do you know we aren't already married?" she hissed. Well, how do we know they aren't? But hang on! It was Saif's forthright mom who gave an interview to this writer declaring October 16 to be the 'D' Day. Saif tried every trick in the book to divert attention from the wedding date. He declared the couple was actually getting married in the Maldives in December. This was the same actor who had to hastily eat back his own words after telling the press he was doing a film with Natalie Portman. Very confusing and highly unnecessary. Why not just get married like normal people?
Death of a Romantic: Rajesh Khanna's death shouldn't have shocked anyone. He had actually died long back. After his unprecedented superstardom faded his friends and family also deserted him. Partly he was to blame for his desolation. But nonetheless a man has got to have at least the family around when he is ageing, fading, failing and ailing. In Mr Khanna's final days we suddenly saw his estranged wife Dimple Kapadia and his son-in-law Akshay Kumar hovering around. A woman claiming to be his live-in partner also surfaced. We can only sigh and sing one of Kakajee's most beloved songs. 'Yeh kya hua kaise hua kab hua kyon hua ...'
India's Own Baby Suri: Aaradhya Bachchan quickly became the country's most talked-about baby minutes after she was born. One wonders if it is fair for the parents or the baby to be saddled with the burden of being India's youngest celebrity! Surely 1 is a rather premature age to start! Aaradhya we hear says one other word besides 'Mama' and 'Papa'. It is the word 'Star'. Yup, a star is born, Literally!
The Salman Factor: Salman Khan unconsciously causes a great deal of collateral damage. Now take for example the question of Katrina Kaif and the kiss. Now we all know Salman and Shah Rukh can't see eye to eye. But when it comes to the question of kissing heroines on-screen, they are both on the same page. No kiss for these two chaste Khans. However probably just to get even with Salman , SRK changed his policy and kissed a heroine for the first time in Jab Tak Hai Jaan. And surprise surprise! The lady who got the privilege was none other than Salman's khaas dost Katrina. Is it any wonder then that the Salman-SRK rivalry remained the most talked about dushmani in tinsel town in 2012 as well. Fight on!
Khamosh!- Sonakshi Sinha, Katrina Kaif, Priyanka Chopra, Salman Khan, Ranbir Kapoor and Vidya Balan were the most talked-about stars of the year. Towards the latter part of the year Sonakshi's intrepid father Shatrughan Sinha found himself in hospital for nearly two months. He came back slimmer and determined to get back into parliament and on screen, as good as new. Film families, whether it was the Bachchans, Kapoors or Khannas dominated the credit lines (on screen) and headlines.
Comeback of the Year: 2012 was a great year for the return of the veterans. Rishi Kapoor made a slamming impact as a slimy villain in new director Karan Malhotra's bleak and brutal Agneepath. Soon after, he was flooded with villainous roles. Randhir Kapoor returned in Housefull 2. Anu Kapoor made a devastating impact in Vicky Donor and the controversial Girish Karnad returned to Hindi films with Ek Tha Tiger.
In the meanwhile the show really did go on. No force on earth except the death of Bal Thackeray could stop the flow of entertainment from Bollywood.