2016 opened with Airlift followed by Neerja and Aligarh, three of which beautifully and tellingly recounted inspiring stories of real people. Then came along Kapoor and Sons, one of the best films I’ve seen so far this year. A family drama, that’s believable, with no unwanted theatrics and very un-Bollywood in its treatment. The credit for which goes as much as to the talented Shakun Batra as to his ensemble cast.
This year is as much about biopics and big-budget films (Sultan, Fan, Dangal) as about smaller gems from noted and budding filmmakers. Some of these including Dhanak, Haraamkhor, Nil Battey Sannata have already created a stir at festivals overseas.
Interestingly, three of the big banner films this year — the Khan starrers — are biographicals. SRK’s Raees, Salman’s Sultan and Aamir’s Dangal.
So, here are all the upcoming Bollywood films we’re keeping our eyes peeled for:
Shahrukh Khan’s long delayed and much awaited Fan will finally see light of day this month, in a week from now. It stars him in a double role – playing the superstar himself and his fan. The trailer, which revealed a dark, edgier streak to his role, has already piqued viewers’ curiosity.
Recommended: An Open Letter To Shahrukh Khan
(Trivia 1: The story of Fan was narrated to Shahrukh Khan 10 years ago by late Yash Chopra)
(Trivia 2: Fan is the first ever Bollywood film to have been filmed in the Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, London)
2. Nil Battey Sannata
This tells the story of a single mother (played by Swara Bhaskar) with a meagre source of income and her everyday struggles in raising a child. Debut work of Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari, Nil Battey Sannata also stars Ratna Pathak and Pankaj Tripathi. The film, along with its actress Swara Bhaskar, has already won awards at festivals abroad. The Tamil version of the film starring Dhanush will also release around April 22.
Recommended: 13 Indian Indie Films You Shouldn’t Miss From 2016
Directed by Nagesh Kukunoor, Dhanak is a story of young, innocent siblings Pari (Hetal Gada) and Chotu (Krrish Chhabria) who set off on a journey into the unknown. The film has already travelled at fests abroad and won top awards and honors. The trailer, which was released yesterday, has only roused my curiosity.
Haraamkhor trails the story of a married teacher (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) in love with his student (Shweta Tripathi, of Masaan fame). It is helmed by Shlok Sharma, who has directed various short films in the past, including Bombay Mirror, which went massively viral. Again, both the lead actors have won accolades for their performances in Haraamkhor at international film festivals.
5. Udta Punjab
Directed by Abhishek Chaubey, whose last film was Dedh Ishqiya, and featuring an interesting ensemble – Kareena, Shahid Kapoor and Alia Bhatt, Udta Punjab is right on top of my list of awaited films this 2016. Shahid and Kareena will share screen space after 9 long years! The film also marks the Bollywood debut of Punjabi singer and actor Diljit Dosanjh.
Come Eid and SRK fans will have another reason to rejoice. After Fan, comes a dark, edgy crime thriller set in Gujarat. Shahrukh plays a bootlegger and Nawazzudin Siddiqui a cop, who stands in his way. Apparently, Raees was initially written keeping Irrfan Khan in mind. When writer-director Rahul Dholakia managed to get Excel Entertainment to fund the film, Shahrukh Khan was brought on board. Rahul Dholakia is best known for his critically-appreciated 2005 film Parzania.
7. MS Dhoni: The Untold Story
The upcoming Bollywood biopic, directed by the very dependable Neeraj Pandey, will be led by the talented Sushant Singh Rajput. Sushant has experimented with varied roles early on in his career – from Kai Po Che, Shuddh Desi Romance to Byomkesh Bakshi and played his cards right. This is much bigger than whatever he’s done in the past. I’m sure he’ll have as much to offer to the film as the director himself. MS Dhoni also stars Kiara Advani, who plays Dhoni’s wife.
Vishal Bhardwaj. The name is enough to get your hopes high. This year he brings a period drama – set in the backdrop of World War II, featuring Saif Ali Khan (whom he worked with in Omkara), Shahid Kapoor (who he’s delivered two hits with – Kaminey and Haider) and Kangana Ranaut. This is Bhardwaj’s first film with the three-time National Award winning actress. Bhardwaj called Kangana a one-take actress in a recent interview. Being a female-centric film, Rangoon might just complete a hatrick for her, after the successful Queen and Tanu Weds Manu Returns.
9. Raman Raghav 2.0
Anurag Kashyap’s next, based on a real-life serial killer of the 60s, features Masaan star Vicky Kaushal and Nawazuddin Siddiqui. Siddiqui plays the titular role while Kaushal plays a cop. It’s not the first film on this subject. Back in his FTII days, director Sriram Raghavan had made a 45-minute documentary Raman Raghav with Raghubir Yadav in the lead.
10. Are Dil Hai Mushkil
While Karan Johar has been producing many films off late, he returns to direction after four years with Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. His last as a director were Student of the Year and a short in Bombay Talkies in 2012. Karan’s upcoming film stars Ranbir, Aishwarya and Anushka in pivotal roles. Pakistani actor Fawad Khan also plays a brief part. After the successful Kapoor and Sons, the makers extended his screen time.
Aditya Chopra makes a comeback to direction after a long haul. And this will be his fourth film. All his previous films – DDLJ (1995), Mohabbatein (2000), Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (2008) — were with Shah Rukh Khan. (Trivia: Did you know DDLJ was first offered to Saif Ali Khan?)
Starring Vaani Kapoor (of Shuddh Desi Romance fame) and the charming Ranveer Singh, Befikre was announced in September last year. The cast, at that point, wasn’t confirmed.
And as usual, we’ll have Aamir Khan end the year with the much-awaited Dangal, a biographical account of ex-wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat. Aamir went in for a complete makeover, putting on 30 kilos for the role. Like with every film of his (and this doesn’t include Dhoom 3 by the way), I hope Aamir will bring his characteristic creative uniqueness to the upcoming Bollywood biopic as well!
Did we miss out something? Which upcoming Bollywood films are you looking out for? Let’s talk in the comments below.