The Dazzling Debutants of 2023

It’s raining debuts this year, from fresh directors to star kids. Here are some launches to look forward to in 2023
The Dazzling Debutants of 2023

The new year brings with it an astonishing potential for talent – fresh names that might usher in the disruption needed for the Hindi film industry. The last year ended with Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan announcing the completion of his screenplay, reportedly a web series produced by Red Chillies Entertainment which he is also set to showrun. This year, just the month of January rings in two new directorial debuts – Aasmaan Bhardwaj with Kuttey and Shantanu Bagchi with Mission Majnu – each backed by established production houses and a staggering cast. Additionally, Zoya Akhtar’s The Archies will single-handedly launch six new actors while many new faces will follow during the rest of the year. Here are a few debuts to look forward to. 

Shantanu Bagchi with Mission Majnu

Shantanu Bagchi, who has had a significant career as an ad filmmaker, will debut as a Bollywood director with Mission Majnu. The film is “based on true events” according to the makers and stars Sidharth Malhotra as a kohl-lined spy during the 1971 India-Pakistan war, alongside Rashmika Mandanna. The film is produced by RSVP and Guilty by Association. Initially slated to release in theatres in mid-2022, it faced several delays before finally announcing its premiere on Netflix on 20 January 2023. Given the film’s fast-paced narrative, star power and the backing of a streaming giant, Bagchi has the stage set for making a memorable directorial debut. “Doing my first with RSVP and GBA, working with such talented actors like Sidharth Malhotra and Rashmika Mandana and finally seeing all of this come to life with Netflix has been such a surreal experience,” he shared with a publication

Aasmaan Bhardwaj with Kuttey 

One of the most anticipated releases of the year, Aasmaan Bharadwaj’s Kuttey promises a crime caper with dark humour and shares an aesthetic resemblance to his father and director Vishal Bhardwaj’s Kaminey. (We also don’t mind the kinship between the two titles). Featuring a terrific cast – Tabu, Konkona Sen Sharma, Arjun Kapoor, Naseeruddin Shah and Radhika Madan – the film also sees Vishal Bhardwaj donning the hat of a co-writer, music composer and co-producer; for the latter, Bharadwaj teamed up with Luv Ranjan films and T-Series. Talking about the debutant director, lead actor Arjun Kapoor said in an interview, “When Vishalji and Aasmaan narrated the film, what drew me was that he wasn’t trying to ape his father. There is reminiscence of the learnings he has had from his dad.” It sounds like Aasmaan Bhardwaj is out to pave his own path and we’re here for it. Kuttey releases in theatres on 13 January 2023. 

Akshat Ajay Sharma with Haddi

A quick search of Akshat Ajay Sharma’s name will throw up his frequent collaboration with director Anurag Kashyap – he was the second unit director on AK vs. AK, Mannmarziyaan, Lust Stories and Sacred Games Season 2. While the budding filmmaker has a feature-length Telugu spoof action comedy to his credit, Haddi will mark his Hindi directorial debut. The film stars Nawazuddin Siddiqui in the role of a transwoman. While this can seem concerning given the Hindi film industry’s largely shameful representation of transgender people, Siddiqui has expressed his desire to refrain from playing the character as a caricature. We hope Sharma’s screenplay, which he has co-written with Adamya Bhalla, supports the actor in this notion. 

Vardhan Ketkar with Gumraah

Vardhan Ketkar acted as an assistant director on projects like Kapoor and Sons (2016) and Brothers (2015) before he landed Gumraah, the official remake of the hit Tamil film Thadam (2019). The film revolves around a murder investigation, with two suspects who look alike. Aditya Roy Kapur is set to shoulder his first-ever double role, while Mrunal Thakur will play the investigating cop. The recent spate of failed remakes is yet to dampen the Bollywood spirit and we hope the film follows in the footsteps of its more successful predecessors. 

Randeep Hooda with SwatantrayaVeer Savarkar 

SwatantrayaVeer Savarkar will see actor Randeep Hooda donning the director’s hat for the first time. The actor decided to expand his contribution to the film – along with playing the lead – after Mahesh Manjrekar stepped down as the director. The responsibility has reportedly left Hooda with “a newfound respect” for all his directors. SwatantrayaVeer Savarkar is based on the life of controversial freedom fighter Veer Savarkar, most popularly known for developing the political ideology of Hindutva. “Vinayak Damodar Savarkar is the most misunderstood, debated and influential of unsung heroes and his story must be told,” said Hooda. The film is slated to release on 26 May 2023.

Suhana Khan, Khushi Kapoor, Agastya Nanda, Dot, Vedang Raina and Yuvraj Menda with The Archies 

A short teaser of The Archies renewed hot takes on the famous nepotism debate and it’s easy to see why – the Zoya Akhtar film is set to launch six new faces, three of whom are star kids. Amitabh Bachchan’s grandson, Agastya Nanda will be playing the titular role of Archie Andrews; Shah Rukh Khan’s daughter Suhana Khan will be essaying the role of Veronica Lodge and Sridevi’s daughter and Janhvi Kapoor’s sister, Khushi Kapoor will be playing Betty Cooper – cementing the iconic comics’ holy trinity in star power. Debuting alongside them are Yuvraj Menda, a fashion influencer, who will be playing the role of the nerdy Dilton Doiley; Vedang Raina as the rich and spoilt Reggie Mantle and Aditi Dot, who already has a niche fan following for her music, will play Ethel Muggs. The movie will mark the first-ever feature film adaptation of the Archies comics and thanks to the comics’ lifelong fans, the film has the potential of carving out a global cult following. 

Shanaya Kapoor with Bedhadak 

After her brief appearances in The Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives, Sanjay and Maheep Kapoor's daughter Shanaya Kapoor is set to make her Bollywood debut with Bedhadak this year. Written and directed by Govinda Naam Mera’s Shashank Khaitan, the film is to be bankrolled by Dharma Productions. Kapoor will be debuting alongside two new actors, Gurfateh Pirzada and Lakshya Lalwani. Kapoor has previously also worked as an assistant director on Janhvi Kapoor’s Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl. The actress hopes that her debut is the first step in a long career. “I want my performance in this film to make people feel that I earned this opportunity- that I didn't waste it or that I didn't take it for granted,” she said in an interview

Pashmina Roshan with Ishq Vishk Rebound 

In 2003, Shahid Kapoor graced the big screen for the first time with Ishq Vishq. A huge hit, the film launched Kapoor’s career into the stardom we know today. Two decades later, the film is set to have a sequel – Ishq Vishk Rebound – this time launching Pashmina Roshan, superstar Hrithik Roshan’s cousin. The film also stars Rohit Saraf and Naila Grewal, along with Jibraan Khan, who now looks wildly different from back when he played Kajol and Shah Rukh Khan’s son in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham. Ishq Vishq Rebound will be a romantic drama – hopefully providing a much-needed revival of the beloved genre. 

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