LAST YEAR WAS no less than a film riot. There was drama, action, romance, feminism, fanaticism, coming of age, lovelessness, existentialism and much more. From addressing social issues to falling back on the age old girl-meets-boy formula, 2017 saw immense variety. From big studios to individual storytellers, 2018 promises to throw up eclectic stories with both intent and entertainment.
Thanks to the many controversies, Padmavati has been a living breathing entity within the homes of Indian film buffs for close to a year now. Of course, it’s got the country’s biggest stars, a magnificent backdrop and a director who is working overtime with the country’s self-proclaimed guardians of history in order to release it. And even if the love story of a Rajasthani queen who may or may not have existed doesn’t interest you, you will go to the theatre to see what the fuss was all about.
Directed by S Shankar
Starring Rajinikanth, Akshay Kumar
This film gives us Rajinikanth. It’s been shot in 3D with AR Rahman’s music.
Directed by Rajkumar Hirani
Starring Anushka Sharma, Dia Mirza, Ranbir Kapoor
Sanjay Dutt’s rise to fame and subsequent fall is the perfect potboiler Hindi film. Multiple criminal accusations, infamous romantic affiliations and an overall bad-boy image would make for a dramatic screenplay. But the fact that Ranbir Kapoor is playing Sanjay Dutt, and that too under the direction of Rajkumar Hirani, is what makes this film intriguing. Whether Hirani chooses to tell the story of a hero, a victim, or just a famous man who goofed up too often and came back to tell his story, is yet to be seen.
Directed by R Balki
Starring Akshay Kumar, Sonam Kapoor, Radhika Apte
Padman is a real-life story about Arunachalam Muruganantham, a man who went out on a limb against his family and his own village in Tamil Nadu to create low-cost sanitary napkins. Akshay Kumar plays Muruganantham. The setting has changed from the south to the north of India. He is pitched as the superhero of village women, though one doubts if they need one. Nevertheless, if Padman stays true to its subject, there is a chance it will be an inspiring film to start the year with.
Directed by Nandita Das
Starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Rasika Duggal
Saadat Hasan Manto was a man ahead of his times. In the1930s and 40s, his ideas of love, lust, loyalty, survival were considered too forward for ‘polite’ society. Today, his stories and poetry find relevance in the ever-increasing social and political unrest our generation faces. Nandita Das’ film follows the most interesting seven years in Manto’s life and that of the two cities he inhabits. With Nawazuddin Siddiqui playing the poet and revolutionary, this movie is one of the year’s most keenly awaited.
This is the Hindi remake of the Marathi film Sairat that broke both records and the glass ceiling when it released in 2016. It tells of casteism and feudal mentalities through the story of two lovers who attempt to make a life away from societal norms. Sairat was a path-breaking film, and now producer Karan Johar is trying to replicate the story in Hindi. Much has been said about how Johar, who has seldom set his films in the Indian Subcontinent, is going to treat a subject like casteism within the country.
Directed by Meghna Gulzar
Starring Alia Bhatt, Jaideep Ahlawat, Vicky Kaushal
Meghna Gulzar’s first film Filhaal was a bold take on surrogacy in India. Her film Talvar depicted a high-profile homicide case that embroiled Delhi. Raazi is about a Kashmiri spy married to a Pakistani Army officer. The film is an adaptation of Harinder Sikka’s novel Calling Sehmat set in the backdrop of the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971.
MY SON IS GAY
Directed by Lokesh Kumar
Starring Anupama Kumar, Ashwinjith, Abishek Joseph George
This Tamil film is about a boy coming out to his conservative parents and friends about his sexual orientation. The story is primarily about a no-nonsense school principal who realises that her son is gay and refuses to accept him. The film has been travelling to LGBT festivals across the globe and is touted to be among the most hard-hitting regional films this year.
THUGS OF HINDOSTAN
Directed by Vijay Krishna Acharya
Starring Aamir Khan, Katrina Kaif, Amitabh Bachchan
This film is based on a 1939 novel, Confessions of a Thug, and is again a period drama about a bunch of thugs who challenged the British Empire. Joining Aamir is Amitabh Bachchan who plays the leader of the pack.
PAHUNA: THE LITTLE VISITORS
Directed by Paakhi A Tyrewala
Starring Ishika Gurung, Anmol Limbu, Sujoy Rai
An independent venture, Pahuna is a Sikkimese film that has been making all the right noises at international film festivals, including at Toronto. Produced by Priyanka Chopra, the film tells the story of three Nepalese children who get separated from their parents, escape the Maoist agitation in Nepal and flee to Sikkim. After being rejected multiple times by various producers, the film found its mentor in Chopra who is doing everything possible to push it across international film platforms.
Directed by Reema Kagti
Starring Akshay Kumar, Farhan Akhtar
This seems to be the year of period dramas and this one promises to be the male version of Chak De. Set in 1948, Gold is the historic story of India’s first Olympic medal post independence. Here it’s Akshay Kumar instead of Shah Rukh Khan, and a bunch of boys replace women. Set in London and Punjab this is a patriotic films set to release on Independence Day 2018.
SANDEEP AUR PINKI FARAAR
Directed by Dibakar Banerjee
Starring Arjun Kapoor, Parineeti Chopra
Dibakar Banerjee is back after three years with yet another story set in his favourite part of the country, Delhi. His best work Khosla ka Ghosla and Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! were set in the city Banerjee grew up in. Sandeep aur Pinki Faraar is about an ambitious corporate woman who pairs up with a corrupt cop from Haryana to achieve something that can make or break both their dreams.
MERE PYARE PRIME MINISTER
Directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra
Starring Anjali Pathak
If the first look of this film is anything to go by, we can call it Rakeysh Mehra’s Slumdog Millionaire. Mehra, who is used to opulent sets and large landscapes for his storytelling, is for the first time shooting in the slums of Mumbai to tell a story about sanitation. The film addresses the dire need for public toilets through the lives of children who take up the cause themselves.
Four years ago, when four fine filmmakers gave us the anthology of short films Bombay Talkies, it took many by surprise. Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee, Zoya Akhtar and Karan Johar stepped out of their comfort zones to tell us real stories that left us thinking. Love and Lust is the second part of that series of short films, focusing on complex, unconventional and uncomfortable romantic relationships. These directors, who are used to working with a certain aplomb and scale, have apparently been asked to stick to tight budgets for these films.
Directed by Anand Rai
Starring Shah Rukh Khan, Anushka Sharma Kohli, Katrina Kaif
Shah Rukh Khan plays a dwarf in Zero. The film is about embracing your weaknesses and chasing your dreams. You’ll have to wait till December to know more.
PERFORMANCES TO WATCH OUT FOR
Kangana Ranaut in Manikarnika
Directed by Vijayendra Prasad
Kangana Ranaut’s turn as the warrior queen has been much anticipated ever since she began shooting for it. From fighting the first war of independence to running an empire, to dealing with the death of her first son and husband thereafter, to facing the British Army head on, Kangana will truly have to prove her mettle with this one.
Anushka Sharma in Pari
Directed by Prosit Roy
Anushka makes her money with big blockbusters and puts them into smaller, more meaningful films where she is more than just a Yash Raj heroine. She strips off all the glamour and gloss in this gritty supernatural thriller that she has co-produced. Pari is the story of a young rape victim and how she turns her fate around. The last time Anushka played a fighting part was in her own production NH10, but Pari could be a career-defining role.
Ishaan Khattar in Beyond the Clouds
Directed by Majid Majidi
Shahid Kapoor’s younger brother Ishaan Khattar is a complete natural when it comes to the camera; and as a small-time criminal trying to rescue his older sister from jail, he outshines others in this Majid Majidi film. He’s the new kid on the block who reminds one of a younger Ranbir Kapoor.
After 12 years A Slave, director Steve McQueen comes up with a feisty and ferocious tale of four women in Chicago who have to fight the repercussions of their dead husbands’ criminal activities in making lives of their own.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
This is the fifth instalment in the Jurassic Park film series and the first one where the protagonist, a park manager, forms a group to save the dinosaurs who have been threatened by a volcanic eruption.
Mary Poppins Returns
Director Rob Marshall has Emily Blunt playing the quirky Mary Poppins in this remake. And it’s got Meryl Streep playing Topsy.
After a spectacular performance in last year’s Mother, Jennifer Lawrence is back as an inimitable Russian spy who uses her physicality as a tool to unravel some dark secrets about the enemy.