So it’s obvious: Hollywood is breathing down Bollywood’s neck. It’s even more obvious: the South is winning over a lot of the traditional Hindi film audience because of its mammoth vision and universal content. The confusion that began in 2008 seems to nearing its well-deserved end, and producers are again thinking big.
It’s a parallel scenario to the late 1980s when ticket sales were at an all-time low thanks to videocassettes, piracy and the then-new cable TV. This time, the ‘conflict’ is with even smaller screens, and various different elements spawned by technology and commerce. What remain common are the threats to the film industry and the solution: big films for the big screen.
And it’s a tangy coincidence that the industry seems to be finally hitting the right notes, solution-wise, exactly 30 years after the visionaries of those times hit back in 1988 with Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, Tezaab and Khoon Bhari Maang, films that could never be enjoyed on television as much as on the big screen with Cinemascope and Stereophonic Sound. Watching them on home video became then like a trailer that demanded a visit to the big screen immediately, for picture abhi baaqi thi¸ dost!
Transfer that into 2018, and we find a similar scenario. All the small, simple, fare we have been watching (the genuinely good ones among them, that is, like Hichki) just cannot generate the revenues that we have seen coming in from the superstar-heavy Dangal and Tiger Zinda Hai. The need of the hour is more films that family members of all ages and sensibilities want to watch together. People crave for more traditional family outings, which was the norm until about 2007.
And so, just like 1988 was followed by the majestic Ram Lakhan, Tridev, Chandni and Maine Pyar Kiya in 1989, we now are set to watch big Hindi entertainers. As of now, these 11 originals and 8 sequels are the biggies to come in and after 2018.
The ‘original’ films
Bharat: Salman Khan’s new production adapts a Korean film, Ode To My Father.
USP: Salman in an acting-heavy role in a story spanning over 40 years of Indian history, including Partition; the foolproof Salman-Ali combination; Priyanka Chopra in her first signed film after her Hollywood honeymoon—Zafar’s films always have meaty parts for heroines. The ensemble cast is also getting interesting: Tabu, Disha Patani and two of the best talents who have made a mark on television—Aasif Shaikh and Sunil Grover.
Brahmastra: With a supernatural base, this action-heavy film seems to have a superhero element as well. It is planned as the first of three such movies.
USP: Ranbir Kapoor with director Ayan Mukerji and Pritam’s music again after the 2013 whopper Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani; Alia Bhatt with Ranbir, whether or not they become real-life lovebirds; Amitabh Bachchan as a villain.
USP: The mammoth cast: Sanjay Dutt, Madhuri Dixit-Nene, Sonakshi Sinha, Varun Dhawan, Alia Bhatt, Aditya Roy Kapur; an epic drama as a genre; the Sanjay-Madhuri team returns; the three-hits-old Varun-Alia combination; and Pritam’s music as bonus.
USP: The spectacle and the grandeur; the riveting human angle of 21 Sikhs fighting 10,000 Afghans in one of the most heroic episodes in the 19th century; Akshay’s superstardom.
Mahabharat: This is Aamir Khan’s mammoth interpretation of India’s greatest epic.
USP: Aamir Khan’s overview of the film, which, we are sure, will also have a cast to beat all. We hope it is made, unlike similar past epics announced by Ramanand Sagar, R.K. Nayyar and Rakesh Roshan that never went beyond the announcement stage. Aamir also wants Salman Khan as Lord Krishna!
Rannbhoomi: Shashank Khaitan’s serious actioner with Karan Johar and Varun Dhawan.
USP: Varun Dhawan in a spectacular action drama of good vs. evil and the Shashank-Varun combination.
Shamshera: Yash Raj Films invests in a desi actioner directed by Karan Agneepath Malhotra.
USP: Ranbir Kapoor as a classic Hindi film hero for the first time, with Sanjay Dutt as antagonist; everything that this entails along with the YRF label.
Simmba: Rohit Shetty returns with a hi-octane action extravaganza.
USP: Rohit Shetty in action mode after the Singham franchise; his first team-up with Ranveer Singh; Sara Ali Khan as the female lead with this GenY icon; and above all, the promise of superlative unseen-as-yet action and masala. And the film just got bigger: Ajay Devgn will do a cameo with Ranveer in an action sequence as Bajirao Singham, the first time a franchise steps into a second probable future series—a first for Indian cinema, but common in Hollywood.
Thugs Of Hindostan: Yash Raj Films’ period action drama featuring Aamir Khan again with Dhoom 3 director Vijay Krishna Acharya.
USP: The most anticipated film of 2018; Amitabh Bachchan and Aamir Khan coming together for the first time ever after two aborted attempts; unique subject laced with the promise of unparalleled action
USP: Hrithik Roshan in action zone again, with Tiger Shroff complementing him; A fight scene between the two hunks will be a highlight.
Luv Ranjan’s next with Ajay Devgn and Ranbir Kapoor: Again, a film with two major heroes, and a comedy, Luv Ranjan style.
USP: Ajay Devgn will be back to being funny, and Ranbir Kapoor will try pure comedy for the first time. Luv Ranjan has shown his métier for fun without stars so far (Pyaar Ka Punch-Nama 2, Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety), and now two stars are working with him. Here’s hoping he changes orientation this tiem from anti-girls to anti-boys. But will he? That’s the suspense!
The latest unconfirmed buzz is of a sequel to Rowdy Rathore. But the actual ones coming as of now are listed below.
Dabangg 3: Prabhu Dheva helms part 3 of this true sequel series that first put Salman Khan on the gravy train. “I am the only newcomer here!” quips the director.
USP: And Prabhu Dheva is right. The well-loved Chulbul Pandey; the action-plus-emotion brand; the Salman Khan-Sonakshi Sinha team with Sajid-Wajid as composers. Naturally, the budget will go bigger
Housefull 4: Director Sajid Khan returns to his home turf with the team of producer Sajid Nadiadwala, Akshay Kumar and Riteish Deshmukh for one of our top comic series. Housefull 3 was a break Sajid took.
USP: The brand; an ambitious mounting; comedy mixed uniquely with a reincarnation angle; the cast. Check Sanjay Dutt, who has just been added, Bobby Deol, Kriti Sanon as well as Kriti Kharbanda and Pooja Hegde, and if buzz is correct, even Abhishek Bachchan.
Kick2: Sajid Nadiadwala directs Salman Khan again with Jacqueline Fernandez.
USP: The same. The mounting will be much bigger, again with a social message as per the brand.
Krrish 4 & Krrish 5: Rakesh Roshan will up the ante in this series by shooting parts 4 and 5 simultaneously. Bahubali indeed is inspirational!
USP: Rakesh Roshan’s finger on the audience pulse; Hrithik Roshan the star under his father’s guidance after Kaho Naa…Pyaar Hai, Koi..Mil Gaya and Krrish in particular .
Race 3: A change of director (Remo D’Souza) is there, but the hit series is foolproof material until now.
USP: It is Salman Khan’s next Eid release—that says it all.
Total Dhamaal: Indra Kumar comes up with the third installment of his comedy series. The second film, Double Dhamaal (2011) was a true sequel to the first 2007 film, Dhamaal. That is likely to continue.
USP: The crazy goings-on peculiar to the series; Added bonus of Anil Kapoor-Madhuri Dixit in light roles again after Khel; the comic Ajay Devgn also added to the original whacko cast.
Welcome 3: Again there will be a change of director from Anees Bazmee to a new name. But Anil Kapoor, Nana Patekar and Paresh Rawal will continue to play their iconic roles in this action comedy priced at Rs. 150 crore!
USP: These three iconic actors in their well-loved roles; the Welcome brand; buzz that both Akshay Kumar (Welcome) and John Abraham (Welcome Back) will come together, if it comes true.
The bulk of these movies are being produced by three entities: Aditya Chopra, Sajid Nadiadwala and Karan Johar. Joining them are Rakesh Roshan, Aamir Khan and mostly veteran filmmakers, with or without tie-ups with the few corporate entities that are around.
And what do we conclude from that?
That it is either the veteran producers or those reared on classic Hindi cinema who still stick to and go by the passionate love for the medium combined with the clarity of mind and vision needed to restore the lost glory of our typical mainstream cinema.
Our question: When will the younger filmmakers begin thinking along the same lines? After all, they will survive only if Hindi cinema does!