Variety

Bollywood watchlist 2012

Sashi Baliga | Updated on February 22, 2012

Saif Ali Khan in Agent Vinod.

Salman Khan's thriller-romance outing.

Based on the track record of the directors and stars, a round-up of the movies to look out for this year, and those perhaps best avoided.

It is with some trepidation that I set out to talk about what we are going to be offered (or subjected to) in 2012. Reason: Way too many disappointments, over-publicised and much-touted movies last year.

But one lives in hope — of being surprised by a film that actually lives up to the hype, the little gem, the dark horse, the sleeper hit. As we set off into the uncharted waters of 2012, hope springs unbidden, and so does courage, so let me stick my neck out here.

Movies to catch

Reema Kagti's Talaash, starring Aamir Khan, Kareena Kapoor and Rani Mukerji, has a solid cast, a good thriller is always value for money, and if Aamir Khan likes the script, who are we to argue with him on current form? The director, whose first film was the enjoyable Honeymoon Travels, has impressive credits; she's been part of the units of Lakshya, Dil Chahta Hai and Lagaan. Everything seems to be in place; this may not be a great film but should be a good one.

Dibakar Banerjee has yet to disappoint us, even if the box-office might have another story to tell. Each of his three films so far — Khosla ka Ghosla, Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! and LSD: Love, Sex Aur Dhokha — has been different from the other. Which means, you never quite know what he's going to come up with. More suspense is on the cards since his Shanghai, starring Abhay Deol and Emraan Hashmi, is a political thriller.

With Madhur Bhandarkar's Heroine, the attraction, in a way, is that you know exactly what you are going to get. Page 3, Corporate, Fashion — it's pretty much the same formula and treatment with just the subjects changing. Bhandarkar's cinema is unpretentious, even naïve, but he has the ability to strike a true note and etch his characters well. If he gets Kareena Kapoor going, this one should be worth your while.

In Paan Singh Tomar, the combination of director Tigmanshu Dhulia and Irrfan Khan (they worked wonderfully in Haasil) should deliver above-average viewing. The film is based on the real-life story of Tomar, a runner who turned rebel. ‘Gritty' is a word often used for Dhulia's work, but we can expect more than that, as well as a great performance from Irrfan Khan.

If it's pure Bollywood formula and masala that you like, head for Agneepath.

If you've caught the trailer (and who hasn't by now?) you can see Hrithik Roshan is going all out with the role and Sanjay Dutt is looking in good nick, too. The more interesting the bad guy, the more bang for your buck.

Wait and watch

At the very least, Anurag Kashyap is an interesting film-maker. At his best, he can hit you in the gut. His Gangs of Wasseypur has an impressive cast: Shabana Azmi, Manoj Bajpai and Piyush Mishra, among others. And the story, about the coal mafia in Bihar, seems like material made for him. Warning: The film is scheduled to be released in two parts, each two hours long. Could be too much of a good thing.

Tarun Mansukhani and Karan Johar have taken their time finalising the script for Dostana 2, having rejected many drafts. Hopefully, this means they have a good film on hand. On the flip side, Priyanka Chopra has been replaced by Katrina, who may be prettier but definitely not a better actress. No news as yet about what John Abraham will wear (or not) this time, though.

Speaking of Johar, I, for one, am quite curious about his Student of the Year. In a sense, the director is back to where he began, making a film with young actors; three newcomers, in fact. Johar promises it will be a happy movie with lots of songs and dances. Will he capture some of the innocence of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai?

A Ranbir Kapoor film is usually worth a dekko, for this young actor chooses his films with care. With Barfee, director Anurag Basu will, after the Kites disaster, hopefully revert to his natural style, a la Life in a Metro. What makes me cautious is that Kapoor is said to play a deaf-mute and Priyanka Chopra a mentally challenged girl — will this be an overdose, will Basu and his actors resist the temptation to overdo the ‘acting'?

The big attraction in Ferrari ki Sawaari, directed by Rajesh Mapuskar, is that the dialogue is by Rajkumar Hirani. Mapuskar, who was associate director for 3 Idiots and Lage Raho Munna Bhai, will be on familiar ground with this heart-warming film about a cricket-crazy young boy.

Tread carefully

This is the year for sequels and Dabangg 2 heads the list. But here's the catch — this one's going to be directed by Arbaaz Khan. Which probably means, Salmanbhai too. And that makes me wary. Of course, Salman was the soul of Dabangg. But it was a movie that could well have descended into caricature and the reason it didn't was director Abhinav Kashyap. From stylised cool to parody is but a short step. Not sure if Arbaaz (with the able help of his elder brother) can crack this one.

Son of Sardar could end up like Ajay Devgn's Singham — old-style masala with new technology, lots of dishum- dishum, and Devgn glowering into the lens for the nth time. However, it's probably going to be a hit, so I'll stop here.

I'm somewhat unsure of spy thriller Agent Vinod. A movie that goes through inordinate delays and tons of tweaking is always a dicey proposition. But I'm including it here only because Sriram Raghavan has a way with the dark side ( Ek Hasina Thi, Johnny Gaddaar) and so does Saif Ali Khan.

On the dark side, too, will be Once Upon a Time in Mumbai 2. Milan Luthria is currently the director of the moment after The Dirty Picture and a successful director usually has the confidence to follow his gut-feel or conviction — always a good portent.

Vidya Balan is currently on a high and is a dependable actress. But director Sujoy Ghosh's track record is patchy. You'll have to take your chances with Kahaani.

Romance rules

If you like romances that don't insult your intelligence, watch out for Ayan Mukerji's Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani with Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone, and Habib Faisal's Ishaqzaade that launches Arjun Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra. Both directors are good at small, intimate films.

Then there is Kabir Khan's Ek Tha Tiger, said to be a thriller romance with the piquant combination of Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif. I'm reposing my faith in the first Khan's skills.

Homi Adajania's Cocktail is listed as a romance, but expect some edgy stuff from the director of Being Cyrus. Saif Ali Khan is good casting; let's see what Adajania draws out of Deepika Padukone.

After the success of Udaan, Vikramaditya Motwane turns to a period romance with Lootera, starring Ranveer Singh and Sonakshi Sinha. The choice of film and cast is interesting; this should not be run-of-the-mill stuff.

If you're looking for Bollywood-style humour, the comedies will be aplenty too: Housefull 2, Kyaa Super Kool Hain Hum, Bol Bachchan to name a few. All should feature over-the-top humour that will be anal in varying degrees, but works for many, and certainly at the b-o.

Let the good times roll, then.

shashibaliga@gmail.com

Published on January 12, 2012

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