Are you kidding? The letter ‘R’ kept recurring in 2010. The biggest letdown of the year Raavan and one of the biggest hits of the year Raajneeti shared the ‘R’ factor. No doubt Ranbir Kapoor was the star of the year while Rahman, the maestro from Chennai lost some of his sheen with unpardonable delays and mediocre scores like Raavan and Jhootha Hi Sahi.
The biggest chartbuster of the year came from the low profile Lalit Pandit whose ‘Munni Badnaam Hui‘ instantly joined the ranks of the ritziest item songs in Bollywood, on a par with ‘Kajra Re‘ and ‘Beedi Jalai Le‘. It also catapulted the sizzling Malaika Arora to dizzying heights of glory. Malaika will now dance only for her husband producer Arbaaz Khan‘s films and will of course endorse the brand of balm that the song so seductively talks about.
Brand endorsement and Bollywood became inextricably bonded in 2010. When stars were not shooting feature films (and many of the leading ladies were not) they were shooting ads. And when they weren’t shooting ads they were shooting their mouths off to the media. Otherwise there were always the stage performances.
Besides A R Rahman’s World Tour, there were no major world-concert tours from Bollywood in 2010. 2011 will see Ranbir Kapoor take off for his first ever live performance all over the world.
If A-lister stars were not heading to the stage they took off for television. Priyanka Chopra displayed some delectable derring-do on Fear Factor. The Big B and Salman Khan decided to helm Kaun Banega Crorepati and Bigg Boss, respectively. Akshay Kumar opted to do a cookery show The Master Chef which sadly did not turn out to be finger-licking good.
In 2010, Ranbir lent his cool clout quotient to Prakash Jha’s blockbuster political drama Raajneeti. Later during the year came the unexpected clanger Anjaana Anjaani which boasted of the virgin Ranbir-Priyanka pair (Maybe the fault lay with the word Anjaana. No films with that title Anjaana, Do Anjaane, Anjaan Rahein has ever done well).
Audiences preferred the tried and tested Ranbir-Katrina jodi. That real-life jodis don’t work on screen was again proven this year with the debacle of Raavan bringing the hot-and-coveted real-life jodi of Abhishek and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.
The back-to-back success and failure, respectively, of Raajneeti and Raavan within two weeks of one another came as a shock to the film industry. What exactly does the audience want? Stars they love? Then how do we explain the abysmally low opening of Mani Shankar’s and Rahul Dholakia’s Sanjay Dutt starrer Knock Out and Lamhaa?
The turn-out of newcomers was shockingly sub-standard in 2010. Barring an Anaitha Nair in Nagesh Kukunoor’s Aashayein and an Aditya Roy Kapoor in Action Replayy and Guzaarish, there was not a single new face audiences could take home to Momâ€¦or Dad.
Salman Khan, who introduced the Katrina Kaif lookalike Zarine Khan earlier during the year in the box-office fiasco Veer, did a much better job of introducing Sonakshi Sinha in the year’s smash hit Dabangg. Sonakshi was undoubtedly the discovery of the year.
In a year cluttered with monstrous debacles like Anurag Basu’s pricey Kites and Mani Ratnam‘s dicey Raavan, Dabangg was the face-saver. Producer Arbaaz Khan is still counting the profits. The film propelled Salman ahead of the other Khan superstars for a while.
Another Khan, Imran had a hit in debutant director Punit Malhotra’s I Hate LUV Storys, which was also Sonam Kapoor‘s career’s first bonafide success. Later during the year her home production Aisha was pretty thanda and not so cool-cool. The director Rajshri Ojha was pretty much lost in the film’s designer babble.
There were some significant debutant directors this year. Vikram Motwane blew our mind with his coming-of-age saga Udaan. Siddharth Malhotra managed an impossible casting coup in his directorial debut We Are Family when he brought together Kajol and Kareena Kapoor. Abhishek Chaubey fashioned an unusual drama of sex, jealousy, murder and adultery with Ishqiya set in the cow belt. Without glamorous trappings Ishqiya was a sleeper hit about rural India and its fetish for infidelity. Later during the year debutant director Anusha Rizvi’s Peepli (LIVE) too did well enough for us to assume that rural India was back on the Bollywood map.
Period films as a genre suffered a setback with Veer and Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey failing to draw in the crowds. By year- end it was clear that the disappointments at the box office far outweighed the triumphs.
Meanwhile Sanjay Dutt and Nandita Das, who once starred together in a film called Pitaah, became proud parents. Sanju and his wife Manyata were blessed with twins while Nandita and her business man hubby Subodh Maskara were blessed with a baby boy.
Vivek Oberoi tied the knot in what he called an arranged-cum-love-zyada marriage. Vivek had two films to his credit this year new director Kookie Gulati’s Prince and veteran Ram Gopal Varma’s Rakht Charitra. By year-end, the star system was again at low ebb. But myopic producers continued to pay them unheard-of prices.
Except Aamir Khan, no other actor Bollywood can seduce audiences into theatres. So why pay them in multi-crores?
Time to ask these questions all over again in 2011.