Dinesh Raheja column: Uri to Badla — Enjoying a heady quarter January to March 2019

The Hindi film industry has just enjoyed a heady quarter. I am talking not of the alcoholic pauva but of the corporate Q1. An unparalleled and unprecedented streak of successes have hit the screens between January 2019 and March 2019 this year.
This bonanza has gladdened hearts and also sent equations spinning and turning in B-town’s ever-shifting sands. New stars were birthed and some established actors have reaffirmed their creds. Let’s trace the upheavals a few months can cause.

Jaunty January first film to strike was Uri: The Surgical Strike which has established that Vicky Kaushal is a star to reckon with. How’s The Josh? For Vicky, it’s firing on all cylinders now. A new sex symbol has arrived, brawny and bold; and women are oohing and aahing over him on Facebook and social media. The film has grossed more than Rs.243 crore and is likely to be the biggest hit of the first quarter and one of the top five hits of 2019!Manikarnika: The Queen Of Jhansi, a 100-crore plus grosser, proved that Kangana Ranaut is still a star-actress to reckon with, despite some recent non-starters. When Kangana began Manikarnika: The Queen Of Jhansi, I hoped history wouldn’t repeat itself. The year 1954’s Jhansi Ki Rani, expensively produced by Sohrab Modi’s Minerva Movietone with his wife Mehtab as the heroine, was a box-office disaster that almost broke the movie magnate’s back. Kangana has fared much better. Now if only this immensely talented performer wasn’t so keen on putting her foot into her mouth regularly. With heroes who want to work with her dwindling rapidly, she may unwittingly prove to be a boon for newcomers (most films require a leading man) and she may have to direct herself in films too.

February FavouritesTotal Dhamaal may be far from my brand of dhamaal entertainment but it proves that Indra Kumar’s corny comedy still works in an era when some degree of realism and modern themes are the order of the day. The film has grossed Rs 141 crore and has proved that Madhuri Dixit still has her box office mojo. A full 17 years after her last hit, Devdas (2002), she can still be the main female lead in a film. Ajay Devgn continues to churn out hits from the stables of Indra Kumar and Rohit Shetty. Now it’s time to Raid the actor within more regularly.In the tightly-contested race between Ranveer Singh and Ranbir Kapoor, the former has already opened his account this year with Gully Boy, with a spot-on performance as a rapper emerging successfully from the dark underbelly of the metropolis. It ironically co-starred Ranbir’s girlfriend Alia Bhatt. Alia has become a Lady Midas and is gathering hits with the regularity of a seasoned stamp collector collecting stamps. She has an opportunity to tilt the scales in Ranbir’s favour next with their together film, Bramhastra. The rap song from Gully Boy –Tu nanga hi toh aaya tha kya ghanta leke jaayega (You came naked into this world, what will you take with you and go) has gone viral. Zoya Akhtar proves both that she can be gritty and that women directors are now the new normal… Well, almost.

Forward MarchI saw Luka Chuppi last week and found it had an interesting concept of a small-town girl, Kriti Sanon, wanting to experiment with a live-in relationship. An eager-to-please TV reporter, Kartik Aaryan, is totally smitten by her and obliges. The conventional treatment of this unconventional premise was offset by the combined charm of Kartik and Kriti. Kartik with his infectious charm, gym-trim physique and goofy grin is definitely the poster boy of the season.

If Kriti has found her groove as the groovy girl next door, Taapsee Pannu is the face of the strong, independent woman. What I liked a lot about Taapsee, both in Pink and Badla, is the fact that she is not awed by Big B. In the essentially two-character whodunit, Badla she holds her own against him. Amitabh Bachchan at 76 makes me marvel at the ease with which he adapts to the current generation of directors and actors. A feat that his one-time contemporary Dharmendra couldn’t match and which Jeetendra didn’t attempt. For producer Shah Rukh Khan, 2019 has begun on an auspicious note with Badla already outpacing Pink at the box office.

There is still the period actioneer, Kesari, featuring Akshay Kumar to come in March so the tally of hits may rise to a magnificent 7. The winter may have extended to March in Mumbai this year but the film industry is basking in its sunshine start to 2019.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *