Sat. Mar 25th, 2023

Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone starrer song Besharam Rang from Pathaan movie.
Few had anticipated the fate of Rohit Shetty’s ensemble cast period comedy Cirkus before it hit the marquee. The film elicited a couple of giggles from those who laugh easily. And that was all it did, resulting in a box-office dud – and one more failure for its hero Ranveer Singh.
The failure of Cirkus symbolised how the Hindi film industry often fared at the ticket counters last year. Big-budget films crashed as the road to commercial success eluded Bollywood repeatedly.
As Bollywood waits for its first big Friday in 2023, it is already clear that the year will be critical for the industry. Many significant films will get released at a time no star or filmmaker can promise one week of good theatrical attendance.
Will SRK rule once again?
Shah Rukh Khan’s off-screen appeal is unmatched, but he has not had a solo hero release in four years. 2023 will see his return in three potential blockbusters at a time market conditions have changed considerably. There is Siddharth Anand’s action thriller Pathaan, which ran into a controversy after the release of its song Besharam Rang’s music video. The film reached the Central Board of Film Certification examination committee, which asked for a few changes. While the SRK factor, its action-packed trailer and the controversy will ensure packed theatres during the first weekend, will Pathaan emerge as a long-distance runner at the box-office?
SRK also has Atlee’s action thriller Jawan and Rajkumar Hirani’s social drama Dunki, both much-awaited films. If the megastar delivers a hat-trick of hits, he will play a big role in Bollywood’s resurrection before the year ends.
The director’s brand name does not matter
Karan Johar finds some way or the other to make news in his many avatars of a TV show host, a TV show judge, an entrepreneur and a film producer. Johar’s last full-length directorial venture was Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, a layered romance about relationships starring Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Ranbir Kapoor and Anushka Sharma released in 2016. His upcoming film is Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani, a romantic drama starring Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt alongside veterans Dharmendra, Jaya Bachchan and Shabana Azmi. Johar’s ability to deliver blockbusters is well-known, but RARKPK must please the judgmental modern-day viewer, which is not easy.
The name of the person on the director’s chair will be far less relevant than it used to be, a fact the likes of Hirani and Johar would know as they prepare themselves to confront the challenge of satisfying the rapidly maturing viewer.
No guarantee for anybody
Ranveer Singh has had a series of flops in recent times, starting with Kabir Khan’s sports drama 83, a remarkably well-made film that failed because of its big budget. Divyang Thakkar’s comedy drama Jayeshbhai Jordaar, the outcome of a weak screenplay, made little noise at the box-office. Cirkus starring Singh aspired to make the viewer laugh but failed miserably.
RARKPK will be crucial for Singh, who needs a hit to recover from the shock of three successive failures. Alia Bhatt, of course, starred in two successes last year, Ayan Mukerji’s supernatural adventure film Brahmastra: Part One- Shiva, the biggest Hindi film of 2022, and Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s fascinating drama Gangubai Kathiawadi. Her presence will make a difference as Johar attempts to create some sweet music of success at the box-office.
Flops followed by a blockbuster as the leading man was the most prominent fact of Ajay Devgn’s career graph last year. The actor, who ended 2022 with Abhishek Pathak’s crime thriller Drishyam 2, will headline two releases in 2023, one of them Amit Sharma’s sports drama Maidaan and the other the self-directed action thriller Bholaa. Bholaa is a remake of Lokesh Kanagaraj’s Tamil film Kaithi, which makes comparisons with the original almost inevitable. Recent experience shows that most remakes have failed in the acid test of comparisons, with Drishyam 2’s success an exception.
Ranbir Kapoor starred in Karan Malhotra’s period action film Shamshera, a box-office dud, followed by Brahmastra:Part One –Shiva. Kapoor will have two releases in the coming months: Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s action film Animal featuring the actor in a double role along with Anil Kapoor, Bobby Deol and Rashmika Mandanna and Luv Ranjan’s romantic comedy Tu Jhooti Main Makkar opposite Shraddha Kapoor. Ranjan and Vanga have created mass-friendly entertainers before, making TJMM and Animal much-awaited big-screen events of 2023.
Kartik Aaryan had a box-office success with Anees Bazmee’s comedy horror film Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2. The brilliant Tabu stood out with her performance in the Bazmee film, and Aaryan was equally appreciated. An actor whose popularity has grown manifold, partly due to his performance as a socially awkward dentist with a dark side in Shashanka Ghosh’s psychological thriller Freddy, Aaryan will appear in the central role opposite Kriti Sanon in Rohit Dhawan’s action comedy Shehzada, a remake of Trivikram Srinivas’s Telugu film Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo.
The release of the film’s teaser led to comparisons between Aaryan and Allu Arjun, who played the central character in Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo. While the teaser did not reveal much, leading to conclusions based on assumptions, film-goers with Twitter handles will be able to make detailed comparisons between the performances of the two stars after Shehzada’s release. Aaryan’s second 2023 release is the drama Satyaprem Ki Katha alongside Kiara Advani, his co-star in Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 who also featured in Raj Mehta’s reasonably successful family drama Jugjugg Jeeyo last year. If both these films succeed, 2023 will end with Aaryan’s entry into the club of the most important leading men of the Hindi film industry.
Big-budget films generally have more viewership than their mid-size and small-budget counterparts. How these films fare at the box-office is the most visible indication of the film industry’s ability to attract viewers to the theatres. Bollywood has been experiencing an unending nightmare, a phase that must end soon. Whether or not that actually happens remains to be seen.
The author, a journalist for three decades, writes on literature and pop culture. Among his books are ‘MSD: The Man, The Leader’, the bestselling biography of former Indian captain MS Dhoni, and the ‘Hall of Fame’ series of film star biographies. Views expressed are personal.
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Updated Date:
Shah Rukh Khan starrer has already saved few crores by following the strategy of not giving celeb interviews to the media.
Excluding Baahubali 2 and KGF 2 (as they are not Bollywood films) Pathaan has become the ninth film to enter the Rs 300 crore club in India after Dangal, Sanju, Tiger Zinda Hai, Padmaavat, PK, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, War and Sultan.
The Walt Disney Co.’s “The Way of Water” added $19.7 million in U.S. and Canadian theaters over the weekend
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