There is no doubt about Alia Bhatt’s talent, but anyone who has seen the trailer of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Gangubai Kathiawadi will get a niggling feeling of a little girl playing dress-up. Bhatt has done exceedingly well since her debut in Student of the Year in 2012 but this role, of a madam of a brothel in Mumbai’s once-seedy Kamathipura, seems a little out of her league. Every heroine worth her salt in Mumbai cinema wants to be a Bhansali heroine and Bhatt’s eagerness to play the part is understandable, but it underlines a big problem in the industry currently. As the heroes age, they are running out of female co-stars.
Priyanka Chopra is busy acting with hunky Western actors—from Outlander’s heartthrob Sam Heughan in Text for You to Bodyguard star Richard Madden in the Russo Brothers’ series Citadel. Katrina Kaif has her limitations as an actor. Anushka Sharma has just become a mother and has already created a successful alternative career as a producer of reliably risky material such as Paatal Lok and Bulbbul. Kangana Ranaut and Vidya Balan are busy carrying movies entirely on their shoulders without needing any leading men anymore. That leaves only Deepika Padukone and Kareena Kapoor Khan, when she is not busy being a mom. Padukone is taking full advantage of it, having wisely taken some time off after marriage to Ranveer Singh to recharge and renew herself. We will soon see lots of her on screen, beginning with Shakun Batra’s new-age love story with Siddhant Chaturvedi and Ananya Pandey; in Pathan, with Shah Rukh Khan and John Abraham; in Nag Ashwin’s untitled movie with Prabhas; and in her own co-production, a remake of The Intern (2015) which was supposed to star the late Rishi Kapoor in the Robert De Niro role. With her undeniable beauty and greater depth to her acting, there is no reason why Padukone’s career as a leading lady shouldn’t last longer than is usual for a woman in an industry and society that continues to be ageist and sexist.
Since his smash debut in 2000, Hrithik Roshan’s career has been marked with spectacular hits and long absences. He’s all set to make up for it now, it seems. This May, he is ready to start work on the Hindi adaptation of Pushkar-Gayatri’s 2017 cult hit, Vikram Vedha, where he will play the complex gangster Vedha (a role made memorable by Vijay Sethupathi) facing off against Saif Ali Khan’s police officer Vikram (played by R Madhavan in the Tamil original). After that, he will become one of the biggest Hindi movie stars to move to a web series, in the Hindi adaptation of BBC One’s The Night Manager, a role that did much to make
Tom Hiddleston the internet’s boyfriend for a period in 2016. That will be followed by The Fighter with Siddharth Anand who directed the slick War (2019) and Krrish 4. Fans of the actor can rejoice.
She was the enigmatic Begum Samru in Gurinder Chadha’s underwhelming Beecham House, the plucky police officer in Ruchi Narain’s Hundred, and will soon be seen in her old co-star Akshay Kumar’s period spy thriller Bell Bottom. Now, Lara Dutta returns to streaming with the lead role in an adaptation of the Hulu comedy Casual opposite another actor we don’t see enough of, Prateik Babbar. Casual will be one of the series on offer from Lionsgate Play, which will soon become yet another streaming service in what is becoming a crowded market in India.
Did You Know?
The starriest son of all, Aryan Khan, will be making his debut on a streaming service rather than on the big screen. The recent graduate in filmmaking from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, has been meeting representatives of streaming services Netflix and Amazon Prime Video discussing original scripts
and international adaptations. Having played his famous actor father’s younger version in the opening credits of Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham... (2001), his recent appearance at the auction of Indian Premier League players broke the internet. Expect to see an official announcement from Shah Rukh Khan Jr soon.