The year 2018, with an interesting spread of diverse Bollywood films, promises to be more uniform in all respects. Hopefully, the film fraternity will learn lessons from 2017, a bad year with extremes of success (Baahubali 2-The Conclusion, Tiger Zinda Hai) and failures (Rangoon, Jab Harry Met Sejal), and correct what is needed by way of content, budgets and ticket admission rates. After all, with spiralling costs of living, the audience is progressively turning ruthless.
Bonanzas? Well, terms and conditions apply here - if the result is as per expectation or beyond, the sky is the limit given the way people endorse recent blockbusters. With the movie-going experience no longer being financially easy (one multiplex in Delhi reportedly charged Rs 2,400 per ticket for the opening weekend of Tiger Zinda Hai!), audiences rightfully want value for money in the following order: (a) entertainment (b) familiar faces, preferably stars, and last but not least (c) an emotional experience through the story, irrespective of genre.
Going full speed ahead in these departments are the expensive behemoths starring the big names. Tips Films's Race 3 (a different story in the hit franchise) will be Salman Khan's only release. Race 3's only common point with Ramesh Taurani's earlier films is Anil Kapoor. But this time, he will not play the eccentric private eye but Salman's father! Remo D'Souza directs this thriller that also features Bobby Deol, Jacqueline Fernandez (who was in Race 2, but again in a different role), Daisy Shah, Saqib Saleem and Pooja Mohenjo Daro Hegde. As per tradition, this film will release on Eid and will be Salman's ninth Eid release in 10 years (he had no film at all in 2013).
The other whopper is Aamir Khan's Thugs Of Hindostan, which Dhoom:3 director Vijay Krishna Acharya directs for Yash Raj Films. This exorbitantly budgeted period thriller's cast is headed by Amitabh Bachchan, with Katrina Kaif and Fatima Sana Shaikh in female leads. The film hits the screens on Diwali (November 7), a Yash Raj Films special occasion for numerous films in the past 23 years.
A film delayed due to seeking perfection in its VFX (visual effects) is 2.0, the sequel to Robot (2010), by Shankar again. In this tri-lingual, Rajinikanth battles a crow, played by Akshay Kumar in his first outright villainous role after Ajnabee in 2001. However, this superstar, with an unbroken array of five 100-crore films and a change in image as the new messiah of socially-relevant films, opens the year on January 26 with his wife Twinkle Khanna's co-production PadMan, a fascinating but part-fictional biopic of Arunachalam Muruganantham's life, a rural welder from small-town India with a dream of bringing a revolution for female hygiene in India. This will be followed by Reema Kagti's Gold, a period biopic on the sportsman who won India the first-ever gold medal at the Olympics.
Ajay Devgn, who has just got his biggest hit in Golmaal Again, will have two releases - Raid, a thriller directed by Rajkumar Gupta (No One Killed Jessica) in March, and Total Dhamaal, releasing on December 7, in which he enters this comedy franchise of Indra Kumar alongside Anil Kapoor and Madhuri Dixit. We expect the other regulars - Riteish Deshmukh, Aashish Chowdhry, Arshad Warsi and Jaaved Jafferi - to be in it as well. Ajay might just release another T-Series film, marking the directorial debut of editor Akiv Ali. While Ali has edited mostly thrillers, this will be a family entertainer with Tabu also in the cast.
Shah Rukh Khan will make a stunning transformation into a dwarf with the Aanand L Rai film that also features Katrina Kaif and Anushka Sharma, and will be co-produced by Shah Rukh's home banner and wife Gauri Khan.
Hrithik Roshan comes in with Super 30, the biopic of mathematics wizard Anand Kumar. The film is directed by Vikas Bahl, who has to outgrow the disastrous Shaandaar after his hit Queen, now being shot in all four Southern languages simultaneously! Sajid Nadiadwala has just entered the project as a co-producer with Phantom Films.
And what of Padmavati now? Hopefully, the film will make it in February at least as Ranveer Singh's ace this year after being away in 2016. His newest film, Simmba, a South remake with whizkid Rohit Shetty at the helm, is expected in December. However, Singh's co-stars, Deepika Padukone and Shahid Kapoor, have no other releases in 2018.
Varun Dhawan, who scored high twice in 2017 (Badrinath Ki Dulhania, Judwaa 2, both sequels), will now release two original but different mainstream films: Shoojit Sircar's October (opposite Banita Sandhu, a new face), and Yash Raj Films's Sui Dhaaga: Made In India, a purposeful film co-starring Anushka Sharma and directed by Sharat Katariya of Dum Laga Ke Haisha fame.
And Republic Day is set to be rich with PadMan, directed by stalwart R Balki, co-releasing in a very entertaining Republic Day competitive spirit with Aiyaary. Helmed by Neeraj Pandey, one of our most dependable directors, who first changed PadMan Akshay Kumar's image with Special 26, Aiyaary, whose trailer has attracted great appreciation, features Sidharth Malhotra and Manoj Bajpayee, and is a patriotic thriller again.
Tiger Shroff, fan following intact despite two flops, hopes to strike back with Sajid Nadiadwala's Baaghi 2 opposite real-life love interest Disha Patani, with Vidyut Jammwal as the antagonist and choreographer Ahmed Khan as director. Fans are already swooning over his new haircut! And Ranbir Kapoor hopes to make amends to his career with his essay of Sanjay Dutt in the latter's biopic, directed by the hitherto-infallible Rajkumar Hirani. Manisha Koirala, Sonam Kapoor and Paresh Rawal co-star.
Starry home productions
Newcomer Prosit Roy directs Anushka Sharma in her third production, Pari, a horror story, which releases on February 9. Kangana Ranaut, making her controversial production debut with the Rani Laxmibai-biopic titled Manikarnika: The Queen Of Jhansi, plans to release it on April 27. South director Krish (of Gabbar is Back) is directing the extravagant drama written by V Vijayendra Prasad of Baahubali fame. Veerey Di Wedding, announced way back in 2016 with Kareena Kapoor Khan and Sonam Kapoor, promises to be a fun experience from producers Anil and Rhea Kapoor, and director Shashanka Ghosh.
John Abraham's Parmanu: The Story Of Pokhran, is a dramatised account of India's first nuclear explosion. Co-starring John with Diana Penty and Boman Irani, the film is directed by Abhishek Sharma, of the Tere Bin Laden franchise. The Deols are making two films: Yamla Pagla Deewana Phir Se directed by Navaniat Singh, featuring Kriti Kharbanda with Dharmendra, Sunny Deol and Bobby Deol, and Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas, which Sunny Deol directs.
The new blood coming in 2018 is considerably, but not, all nepotistic! Saher Bamba co-stars with Sunny Deol's debut-making son Karan Deol in this latter film. Banita Sandhu, as mentioned earlier, is Varun Dhawan's October leading lady. Ishaan Khattar, Shahid Kapoor's half-brother, co-stars with Jhanvi Kapoor, Sridevi's and Boney Kapoor's daughter, in Dhadak, directed by Shashank Khaitan of Badrinath Ki Dulhania. This is a remake of the popular 2016 Marathi film Sairat. And Sara Ali Khan, Saif Ali Khan and Amrita Singh's daughter, is cast in Kedarnath opposite Sushant Singh Rajput.