Spotlight: 2015 Bollywood releases

We may criticise, complain or carp at the films Bollywood makes, but it is an undeniable fact that life would never be the same without them. Cinema is ingrained into us in such a way that it forms an irreplaceable part of our lives. And in tune with Coco Chanel’s words that “to be irreplaceable, one must always be different”, the industry seems to be taking a new turn in the coming year. Leaving behind the baggage of trends carried forward from year after year, in 2015 there seems to be a whole new game plan.
If 2014 was the year of the heroine in Bollywood–with films that had female protagonists finding space and making money among big fish–2015 doesn’t seem to promise much in that direction. Some of the leading actors who bagged hits and pocketed crores last year will not be seen on screen the coming year. For instance, the thinking man Aamir Khan, who gave 2014 its finishing stroke with P.K., will not have a release in the year to come. Two young stars, who were touted to be the “next big things” by the media, the industry and the audience alike–Alia Bhatt and Parineeti Chopra–too, have no slated releases for 2015. There is no word yet from Hrithik Roshan, too, who made a huge Bang Bang at the box office in 2014.
Despite all these apparent disappointments, looks like the lineup for 2015 offers a lot to rejoice. While a few much-awaited sequels and remakes may form the highlight this year, it also boasts some interesting casting coups and exciting subjects.
Retell therapy
In 2003, a Telegu film rewrote every possible formula down south and amassed a whopping Rs 30 crore success. This year, Amit Sharma will be trying his hand at remaking the film Okkadu (which was made into Ghilli in Tamil starring Vijay in 2004) with Arjun Kapoor and Sonakshi Sinha in the lead. Although helming his first feature film, Sharma is a known name in the ads circuit (think the Google reunion ad) and has won accolades at festivals like Cannes and Spikes for his commercials. Another south Indian film that will be remade this year is 2002 Tamil hit Ramanaa. The Hindi version, titled, Gabbar, is produced by Sanjay Leela Bhansali and directed by debutant director Krish. The film revolves around the common man’s fight against corrpution and has Akshay Kumar and Shruti Haasan in the lead.
Inspiration can come from any direction and heading west for it is Agneepath director Karan Malhotra, whose next, starring Akshay Kumar, Sidharth Malhotra and Jacqueline Fernandes, is a remake of the 2011 Tom Hardy-starrer Warrior. Telling the story of two estranged brothers with a good amount of martial arts thown in, the film is titled–quite uninventively–Brothers.
After the crackling success of his Marathi blockbuster Lai Bhaari last year, Nishikant Kamat returns to Bollywood with Rocky Handsome. Starring John Abraham and Shruti Haasan, the film, which tells the story of a man seeking revenge against the killers of his eight-year-old daughter, is rumoured to be a rip-off of the 2010 Korean film The Man from Nowhere.
Girl power
The women of Bollywood walked away with the cake in style last year, but all the noise the “women-centric” films made then seem to have settled down in 2015. While Sunny Leone tries to do a repeat of her Ragini MMS 2 success this year with Bobby Khan’s Leela, Sonam Kapoor looks like she is having a lot of fun pulling a few “expensive” pranks on unsuspecting men in Dolly Ki Doli, in which she plays a runaway bride.
Our hopes are, however, pinned on Shonali Bose’s Margarita, with a Straw, which has Kalki Koechlin playing Laila, a girl suffering from cerebral palsy. In Koechlin’s own words, it is “not a film about somebody who is depressed or feeling sorry for themselves because of their state”. Bose also tries to touch upon the unexplored aspect of Laila’s sexuality. The film, which also stars Revathy and Sayani Gupta, had its world premiere at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival.
The other actor who is likely to turn a few heads this year is Anushka Sharma, who, with three entirely different films, has the potential of being the Padukone of 2015. The ‘Yash Raj find’ who made her debut opposite Shahrukh Khan in Rab De Bana Di Jodi seems to have finally broken out of that very label. Her first release of the year, NH10, a road movie directed by Manorama Six Feet Under director Navdeep Singh, is produced by the actor herself. She follows it up with Anurag Kashyap’s period thriller Bombay Velvet and Zoya Akhtar’s urban family drama Dil Dhadakne Do.
Interesting ensembles
Quirky is the word that comes to mind when we look at the casting of this year’s releases. Starting with Akhtar’s Dil Dhadakne Do, which tells the story of a dysfuntional family aboard a cruiseliner, the partnerships are fresh and offbeat. Shot in exotic locales in France, Spain, Tunisia and Italy, the film has an ensemble cast led by Farhan Akhtar and supported by Priyanka Chopra, Ranveer Singh, Anushka Sharma and Anil Kapoor. Another heavyweight ensemble 2015 will see is Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Bajirao Mastani. Announced over 10 years ago, with Salman Khan and Aishwarya Rai in the lead, the film is Bhansali’s dream project. After the couple’s high-profile breakup, Bajirao Mastani was moved to the back burner and almost forgotten. Now after the thumping success of Bhansali’s Goliyon Ki Ras-Leela: Ram Leela, it has been revived with the lead stars of the film Ranveer Singh and Padukone in the lead, alongside Priyanka Chopra. The film is a period romantic drama revolving around the lives of the Maratha warrior Peshwa Baji Rao and his two wives Kashibai and Mastani. Keeping with the Bhansali tradition, the scale will be enormous and the film will be an out and out musical.
The angry young man of yore, Amitabh Bachchan, will be seen in a handful of good roles this year after his attempt at drama on TV with Kashyap’s Yudh failed to take off in 2014. Bachchan will be reuniting with R. Balki after Paa in Shamitabh and sharing screen space with Dhanush, who is reportedly playing a deaf-mute junior artiste in the film. What is interesting about Shamitabh, apart from the fact that Bachchan will be co-producing it, is that the actor has also lent his voice to Dhanush’s character in the film. Actor Kamal Haasan’s younger daughter Akshara Haasan will be making her Bollywood debut in the film.
Throughout the second half of last year, Bachchan’s social media timelines were filled with photographs of him cycling through the narrow lanes of Kolkata wearing a kurta, jacket, a hat, and a neck brace. This is his look in Vicky Donor fame Shoojit Sircar’s next Piku, which tells the story of the relationship between a father and daughter. Deepika Padukone will be essaying the titular character, with Irrfan Khan playing her love interest. With so much talent on board, this sure looks like one that should not be missed.
Image via Google Images
Image via Google Images

It is not just Piku that will see an unexpected onscreen couple this year. The face behind last year’s biggest success story, Queen, Kangna Ranaut will be seen opposite Imran Khan in Nikhil Advani’s romantic comedy Katti Batti. Ramesh Sippy brings his dream girl Hema Malini back to the silver screen with Shimla Mirch, in which she will be seen opposite the much younger Rajkummar Rao. The actor, who shot to fame through films like Shahid and Queen, will also be part of Vishesh Films’ Hamaari Adhuri Kahaani, alongside Vidya Balan and Emran Hashmi. While this will be Balan’s only release this year, Hashmi has two other films–Danis Tanovic’s Tigers and Vikram Bhatt’s sci-fi thriller Mr X–to fall back upon.

Superstar in waiting
Despite the fact that his last film, which released in 2013, left him a bit too Besharam, his is the name that is on everyone’s lips. With four big ticket releases this year, 2015 could be a make or break year for Ranbir Kapoor. Kicking off the year as the antagonist in the romantic thriller Roy, Kapoor will be seen in a completely different avatar as a boxer in Mumbai of yore in Kashyap’s period drama Bombay Velvet. The young scion of the country’s first film family will also turn producer this year with Jagga Jasoos, in which he reunites with his Barfi! director Anurag Basu. The film, which will be made under the banner Picture Shuru Productions, will have Ranbir playing a teen detective alongside rumoured girlfriend Katrina Kaif.  He will be ending the year with a bash with Imtiaz Ali’s romantic comedy Tamasha alongside Deepika Padukone.
Action season
With a number of action flicks hitting it off well with the audience in recent years, filmmakers like Kabir Khan and Sriram Raghavan are pinning their hopes around their pet genre. While Kabir has his hands full with a terrorism drama Phantom featuring Saif Ali Khan and Bajrangi Bhaijaan with Salman Khan, Raghavan presents young Varun Dhawan in a completely different light in his revenge drama Badlapur alongside indie darling Nawazuddin Siddiqui. Special 26 fame Neeraj Pandey returns with Kumar, this time with an action thriller, titled Baby.
The story continues
When the electric Tanu (Kangna Ranaut) fell in love with the demure Manu (R. Madhavan), director Aanand L. Rai scored his first hit in 2011. A sleeper hit, the film catapulted Ranaut into the A-list instantly. This year, the team returns with Tanu Weds Manu: Season 2, which will carry on from where the first movie left us. Ranaut is also rumoured to have a double role in film, which will see Dhanush in a cameo. Other sequels which will grace the screens this year is that of romantic comedy Pyar Ka Punchnama and the dance film ABCD. While the cast of the former is yet to be finalised, the latter has young stars Varun Dhawan and Shradha Kapoor matching steps to the dancing wonder Prabhu Dheva.
Akshay Kumar fans can rejoice as he will be reprising his role as Happy Singh in the sequel of his 2008 hit Singh is Kinng this year with Singh is Bling. Anees Bazmee, who helmed the first instalment, has handed over the microphone to Prabhu Dheva this time, as he is busy making another sequel of his 2007 movie Welcome titled Welcome Back. With John Abraham and Anil Kapoor in the lead, the film will also star Naseeruddin Shah, Shruthi Haasan and Dimple Kapadia among others.
And for the Khans   
With one less Khan on the block, the stakes are not that high up this year. Both Salman and Shahrukh Khan have two releases each and the actors, as usual, have divided the festival season between themselves. While Shahrukh’s Fan directed by Maneesh Sharma, in which he does a double role, is slated for an Independence Day release, Salman will usher in Diwali as Prem with his romantic flick Prem Ratan Dhan Payo along side Sonam Kapoor, directed by Sooraj Barjatya. Shahrukh’s other release this year is Rahul Dholakia’s Raees, in which he will be seen as a rugged Gujarati bootlegger. With almost no buzz from competitors like Roshan and Ajay Devgn, there is no doubt about who will be raking in the moolah this year.

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