With the awards season still on, it’s business as usual for most film critics and enthusiasts. January alone has had 10 Hindi films releasing in theaters and has given 2016 its first critically and commercially accepted hit in Airlift. However, apart from that, except for perhaps a little bit of cheer for the small film Jugni, the month has been disappointing, with films like Wazir, Chalk N’ Duster and Kya Kool Hai Hum 3 crashing and burning.
That said, with 11 months left, and the first quarter still primed with many upcoming promising movies, let’s take a look at the 8 Hindi films to look out for in 2016:
Director: Maneesh Sharma
Fortunately, apart from the trailer and teaser posters, the intricacies of this YRF plot have been kept under wraps. This is a film every Shah Rukh Khan fan has been looking forward to desperately, especially considering the brain-dead intellect of his last few films (Dilwale, Happy New Year, Chennai Express). He plays the superstar as well as the young fan here, in a way mirroring his own superstardom through the years, throwing the doors open to his first challenging role in years.
Director: Anurag Basu
This delayed film brings back director Anurag Basu and Ranbir Kapoor after the success of Barfi – and if their previous collaboration is anything to go by, many will be looking forward to this one (minus the bouts of ‘inspiration’ though). It tells a story of a teenage detective in search of his father, and stars Kapoor as well as girlfriend (ex?) Katrina Kaif with Adah Sharma (last seen in Hasee Toh Phasee) in the supporting role.
Director: Abhishek Chaubey
The young director and protégé of Vishal Bhardwaj returns after his Ishqiya series with this one – jointly produced by Phantom and Balaji Pictures (an odd mix to begin with). It brings back Kareena Kapoor Khan and Shahid Kapoor on screen, with the very talented (mini-Kareena of sorts) Alia Bhatt in a much-needed change after the disastrous Shandaar, which Shahid will also do well to get over. This is a mid-year release, and deals with the theme of substance abuse in Punjab, laying the ground for a hinterland-ish, gritty film that will take the actors out of their starry comfort zones.
Director: Vishal Bhardwaj
With his student not very far behind, the master himself is shooting his next directorial venture – perhaps the most ambitious of the lot this year. Done with his trilogy of Shakespearean adaptations (Maqbool, Omkara, Haider), Bhardwaj will go old school and epic, and will be dealing with a canvas far larger than most of his productions. A love triangle against the backdrop of World War 2, this period drama stars Shahid again, this time with Kareena’s husband Saif Ali Khan and the very competent Kangana Ranaut. A casting coup, this is.
Director: Nitesh Tiwari
The Bhoothnath Returns director returns with Aamir Khan’s first outing after PK – a biographical sports drama centered around wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat, the man who taught the sport to his daughters, 2010 Commonwealth gold and silver medalists Babita Kumari and Geeta Phogat. This has mostly been in the news for Aamir’s buffed up kushti avatar over the last year, and most notably, a Khan will finally be playing a man his own age.
Director: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra
A contemporary film to be entirely in verse, this poetic rendition of the Mirza-Sahiban folk legend will star Anil Kapoor’s son Harshvardhan with Saiyami Kher, and is set to release in May. The teaser has aroused plenty of curiosity, setting the grandest of stages for Mehra’s first film after Bhaag Milkha Bhaag.
Director: Rahul Dholakia
A story of cop versus crook (usually bootleggers) in 1980s Gujarat, this Excel Entertainment production stars Shah Rukh Khan in his first negative-ish role in years as the eponymous bootlegger being hunted down by cop Nawazuddin Siddiqui. Set against the backdrop of alcohol prohibition, drugs and the lot, along with Fan, many hope this will bring Khan back into the heart of content-driven, ambitious cinema.
Director: Ashutosh Gowarikar
Hrithik Roshan will return to his Jodha Akbar director Ashutosh Gowarikar after both have endured a spate of mediocre films in the last few years. While it has been proved that Gowarikar can’t pull off his vision without the help of superstars (remember Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey? No? Exactly), this will be Roshan’s first role in two years. Famed for making one historical ‘epic’ in five years, the director will have a challenge on his hands to keep this down to less than three hours; he could get carried away by the backdrop of the ancient Indus Valley civilization city. Pooja Hegde, a former Miss India who has acted in a couple of films down South, will be the female lead.
Director: Karan Johar
Student of The Year was four long years ago, and Karan Johar, after becoming an actor, TV host, producer and much more, will be wielding the megaphone in a film that reeks scale, dreamy stars and more. Ranbir Kapoor will be seen with Anushka Sharma and Aishwariya Rai Bachchan in locations all over the world to give us the Johar we’ve always known best. Perhaps a little edginess (love triangle, older woman?) will help his cause.
Other 2016 films:
Neerja (starring Sonam Kapoor), Sultan (Salman’s mandatory Eid release), Kapoor & Sons (Shakun Batra’s first after the underrated Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu), Shivaay (Ajay Devgn’s directorial venture), Fitoor (Abhishek Kapoor’s Great Expectations adaptation), ALIGARH (Hansal Mehta’s next) and Ki and Ka (R. Balki’s next)