2016 has come to an end. For Bollywood, one more saga of hits and misses folded up to take its place in the eternal pages of cinema archives. Of the 139 films released, only two films could be declared as ‘blockbuster hits’ making more than Rs 300 crores, while many others were declared super-hits and average-hits. They were Salman Khan’s Sultan and Aamir Khan’s Dangal. Interestingly, both the films had stories around the theme of wrestling and were set in Haryana. While the former was a tale of fiction and dealt with the marital conflict that arises in the lives of a couple who were both champion wrestlers, the latter was based on the real life of a wrestler Mahavir Phogat and his dream of making his daughters win a gold medal for India in wrestling.
It was an eventful year in many respects wherein the films released belonged to an eclectic mix of genres and dealt with several unique topics like sexual consent of women (Pink),dysfunctional family and homosexuality (Kapoor & Sons), females shining in a typically male-dominated sport of wrestling/boxing (Sultan, Dangal/Saala Khadoos), accepting psychological therapy sessions as part of normal life (Dear Zindagi), drug trafficking (Udta Punjab),importance of education for women (Nil Battey Sannata), a different take on love and friendship (Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, Befikre), the importance of self defence for girls (Akira), film on a serial killer (Raman Raghav), etc. Further, the year was dominated by women-centric themes giving our actresses a definite histrionic edge over their male contemporaries.
A few things which made 2016 special:
ROCKING YEAR FOR OUR ACTRESSES:
The year boasted of some remarkable and memorable performances from all our actresses and across all age-groups as well. The female child artistes in Dangal, Dhanak, Shivaay, Kahaani 2 and Akira were a revelation and came up with heartwarming performances which lingered in the minds of the viewer long after the movie was over….
The heroines got the opportunity to portray a variety of characters hitherto not seen in Hindi cinema. While Sonam was brilliant in Neerja and Sonakshi was amazing in Akira, Alia was outstanding in all her three outings- Udta Punjab, Dear Zindagi and Kapoor & Sons. Vidya Balan was the life of Kahaani 2 and Kareena was top class in Ki &Ka and Udta Punjab. Priyanka Chopra packed a punch as the SP in Jai Gangajal. Radhika Aapte’s power-packed performance in Phobia got her a lot of appreciation.
Taapsee Pannu was fabulous in Pink and so was Swara Bhaskar in Nil Battey Sannata. Aishwarya Rai proved that age is no bar with her superb portrayal as Sarbjit’s sister in Sarbjit. Lara Dutta as a lawyer was excellent in Azhar and so were Tanishtaa Chatterjee and Radhika Apte in Parched.
Not to be left behind, the senior actresses had an amazing year as well. Ratna Pathak Shah was brilliant in Kapoor & Sons and Nil Battey Sannata and Tabu was the perfect choice in Fitoor. Shabana Azmi had two releases- Chalk & Duster-where she plays a teacher and Neerja-where she plays Neerja’s mother and she was fantastic in both. Her stirring speech towards the end in Neerja was so poignant and powerful that it was more touching than even Neerja’s death scene. It was nice to see Konkana Sen in the role of an Inspector –a pregnant one that too- in Akira who gets to the bottom of the case much to the chagrin of her fellow male detractors.
YEAR OF RECORD NUMBER OF NEW FACES:
Many newcomers especially actresses made their foray into Bollywood in 2016. SRK had two newcomers Shriya Pilgaonkar and Walushcha D’Souza in Fan. Ajay Devgn cast Erika Kaar and Sayesha Saigal as his heroines in Shivaay. Aamir had two new faces Fatima Sana Sheikh and Sanya Malhotra in the role of his daughters as the famous ‘Phogat Sisters’ in Dangal. Disha Patani and Kiara Advani were the two new faces launched in M S Dhoni- The Untold Story. While newcomers Saiyami Kher and Pooja Hegde were launched in love-stories Mirzya and Mohen-jo-daro respectively, Ritika Singh was seen as a boxer in Saala Khadoos. Andrea Tairang was part of the powerful film Pink.
Sonam’s brother Harshvardhan Kapoor and Punjabi singer/actor Diljit Dosanjh also made their debut in Mirzya and Udta Punjab respectively
ALMOST ALL OUR TOP MALE ACTORS HAD RELEASES:
Almost all top actors with the exception of Saif Ali Khan had the distinction of having either one or two or three of their films released in 2016-
Superstar Amitabh Bachchan continued his stride as the modern-day Colossus giving every other actor-young and old-a run for his money. He was part of three thrillers-Wazir , Te3n and Pink and not only did he get to play different kinds of unique characters in them, he even bagged the ‘Best Actor’ trophy for his role in Pink in two of the recently concluded award functions. He also had a hilarious cameo in Ki & Ka along with wife Jaya Bhaduri where they play their real-life personalities.
Akshay Kumar was undoubtedly the most successful box-office star with three of his films- Airlift, Housefull 3 and Rustom crossing the coveted ‘Rs 100 crore’ mark. However it was his superb cameo in Dishoom which was talked about the most and which incidentally turned out to be one of the highlights of the John Abraham starrer.
Other actors who had three releases to their credit were Nawazuddin Siddique (Raman Raghav, Te3n, Freaky Ali) and John Abraham (Rocky Handsome, Dishoom, Force 2), Arjun Rampal (Rock On 2, Kahaani 2) and Farhan Akhtar (Rock On 2, Wazir) proved their mettle yet again as unique and charismatic actors who are unfortunately underrated in the industry.
Youngsters Ranveer Singh (Befikre), Ranbir Kapoor (Ae Dil Hai Mushkil), Arjun Kapoor (Ki&Ka), Siddharth Malhotra (Kapoor&Sons), Sushant Singh Rajput (MS Dhoni- The Untold Story) and Varun Dhawan (Dishoom) continued to tackle versatile roles with great élan. Unlike their predecessors- ‘the Khans’ who were bound to their screen ‘images’, these actors are game to try any kind of role.
Irrfan Khan, Naseeruddin Shah, Rishi Kapoor and Boman Irani were superb in Madaari, Waiting, Kapoor & Sons and Housefull 3 respectively.
CHANGE OF IMAGE FOR THE KHANS:
After dominating the industry for over a quarter century it was good to see the Khans stepping out of their comfort zones and trying their hand at different roles. Aamir Khan underwent a phenomenal physical change in Dangal to get into the role of Mahavir Phogat and play the father of the two champion ‘Phogat sisters’.
Shah Rukh Khan opted for unique characters in both his releases Fan (where he had a double role) and Dear Zindagi. In Fan, both his roles had negative shades and in Dear Zindagi he plays a charming counselor who conducts therapy sessions to treat people with mental and emotional problems. This was a welcome move and one hopes he will continue to explore newer territories in his second phase as an actor.
After Bajrangi Bhaijan, Salman Khan once again donned a subdued ‘avatar’ deviating from his usual boisterous image in Sultan where the film revolved around his married life and both he and his wife portrayed by Anushka Sharma are wrestlers.
MUSICALLY A GOOD YEAR:
It was a good year for Bollywood music lovers with many songs hitting the jackpot and films like Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, Befikre and Sultan being the top albums. For a more detailed review of music refer to my earlier post:
THE YEAR OF BIOPICS:
We had a total of six biopics released last year- Neerja, M S Dhoni-The Untold Story, Dangal, Aligarh, Azhar and Sarabjit, and two films based on real-life incidents- Airlift and Rustom. Irrespective of whether the films were box-office hits or not, the performances of all the artistes were appreciated by one and all.
FILMS TO LOOK FORWARD TO IN 2017:
The year is starting with an unnecessary clash between two big-budget films: Hrithik Roshan’s Kaabil and Shah Rukh Khan’s Raees. Both the films are releasing on 26th January to get the advantage of the ‘coveted’ Republic Day weekend. Both are leaving no stone unturned in their promotions. In Kaabil both the hero and heroine are blind, which is something unique to Hindi cinema and the film is basically a revenge drama. The songs of the film have already become popular. Here is the trailer of the upcoming film:
On the other hand, Raees has Shah Rukh Khan playing a negative role-a bootlegger. Giving him tough competition will be the super-talented Nawazuddin Siddique in the role of a cop. The new heroine Mahira Khan does not seem very impressive and one wonders what made the makers zero in on a heroine from across the border when there are so many talented actresses in our own industry!
Strangely, even though both are big stars, they have decided to include ‘item’ numbers which are remixed versions of popular songs of the eighties!!! An item number by Sunny Leone has been included in Raees where she dances to the remixed version of the popular track from Qurbani –‘Laila main Laila …’ and Kishore Kumar’s iconic ‘Saara zamaana…’ from Yaarana has been remixed in Kaabil and picturized on Urvashi Rautela.
Really it makes one wonder-should popular stars resort to such cheap gimmicks just to gain a few more crores at the box-office? Here are the links to both these songs:
Akshay Kumar continues his amazing and unstoppable journey of exploring new characters and will be seen in four films- Jolly LLB 2 in which he plays a lawyer for the first time with Annu Kapoor playing the rival lawyer, Toilet-Ek Prem Katha which is a political satire based on the unhygienic conditions of rural India, Crack– a thriller where he joins once again with director Neeraj Pandey and 2.0 which is a sequel to the 2010 super-hit Robot. With 2.0, he makes his foray into South Indian cinema and gets to play the main antagonist opposite none other than Superstar Rajnikant. The film with an estimated budget of Rs 4 billion will be released in three languages-Tamil, Hindi and Telugu.
Some interesting love-stories to watch out for: Kabir Khan’s Tubelight starring Salman Khan and a Chinese heroine Zhu Zhu. The film is a cross-border love story against the backdrop of Indo-China war of 1962. Saif Ali Khan, Shahid Kapoor and Kangna Ranaut will be seen in a historical love triangle Rangoon set against the backdrop of World War II. After Ram-Leela and Bajirao Mastani, the Bhansali-Deepika-Ranveer combination will be seen in the lavishly mounted Padmavati, a dramatized account of the 1303 siege of the Chittor fort in Rajasthan. Ranveer plays Alauddin Khilji, Deepika is Rani Padmini and Shahid Kapur plays her husband Rawal Ratan singh.
SRK-Anushka will be seen in YRF’s The Ring directed by Imtiaz Ali. We also have young Alia Bhatt teaming up with Varun Dhawan to give us the fun-filled Badrinath Ki Dulhaniya. Amitabh Bachchan will be seen in Sarkar 3 and this time he has Manoj Bajpai and Jackie Shroff with him. Nawazuddin Siddique has Haraamkhor, Sushant Singh Rajput has Raabta with Kriti Sannon, Ranbir Kapoor has Jagga Jasoos with Katrina Kaif and Arjun Kapoor has a double role in Mubarkaan opposite Ilean D’Cruz and Athiya Shetty and Half-Girlfriend with Shraddha Kapoor based on Chetan Bhagat’s novel of the same name. Ajay Devgn will deliver the next installment of the comical Golmaal series.
Sonakshi Sinha will be seen in Noor, based on the novel-Karachi, You’re killing me,where she plays a Pakistani writer-journalist visiting Mumbai. Vidya Balan plays the lead role as a madam in a brothel in Begum Jaan, the story of which is a historical drama set during the partition of India in 1947.
The year will also witness Bahubali–The Conclusion, the sequel to the 2015 epic historical fiction Bahubali-the Beginning which went on to become the biggest ever blockbuster of Indian cinema!
All in all, a very interesting line-up of films to watch out for!