Of all the tentpole films that missed their date with theatres in 2020 due to the pandemic and waited till 2021 to say hello to audiences, Lokesh Kanagaraj's Master, starring Vijay, Vijay Sethupathi and Malavika Mohanan, is the first in line — it releases for Pongal, and 100 per cent occupancy has been permitted in Tamil Nadu theatres. Here's a listing of the other big films due to release this year.
Director: SS Rajamouli
RRR is, perhaps, the biggest Telugu multi-starrer, as on date. Though Acharya features Chiranjeevi and Ram Charan, it won't be measured on the same level as this movie, since the Rajamouli action drama brings together two contemporary A-listers from the industry for the first time. And, more importantly, this movie arrives on the heels of the success generated by the Baahubali franchise. With the addition of Alia Bhatt and Ajay Devgn in the cast, the makers are definitely looking to strike big across the country, and the world.
Director: Koratala Siva
Every film of Koratala Siva's has become a blockbuster. He's also respected by the public as a writer. His films are not just commercial masala ventures, but also come coated with a lot of messaging. This Chiranjeevi, Ram Charan and Kajal Aggarwal starrer will certainly have a larger-than-life element embedded in the narrative. And, that's not all! Fans are eagerly waiting to catch a glimpse of the Megastar dancing to Mani Sharma's upbeat tunes.
Director: Radha Krishna Kumar
Right from the costumes to the posters, Radhe Shyam screams "vintage". Prabhas, who should have starred in at least a handful of films by now, after devoting five years of his time to Baahubali, has only appeared once on the big screen in the terribly-written and executed Saaho. Hence, the expectations have skyrocketed for this film. If the film is true to the out-and-out romantic nature of the posters, this will be a feast for pandemic-sore eyes.
Sarkaru Vaari Paata
Mahesh Babu is currently riding a success wave. His recent films have all done well at the box office. Both Geetha Govindam that Parasuram directed, and Sarileru Neekevvaru that Mahesh Babu starred in received mixed reviews from the critics, but the audiences kept the cash registers ringing. Sarkaru Vaari Paata may follow the same course and end up as another bright star on their shoulders.
Master (January 13)
Director: Lokesh Kanagaraj
A handful of filmmakers has already released movies in theatres and tested waters. So, Master, headlined by Vijay, Vijay Sethupathi, Malavika Mohanan and Andrea Jeremiah, has got nothing to fear. It's the first massive movie to open this year, and it is likely people will be happy to catch it on the festival day and spread the holiday cheer. Now that 100 per cent occupancy has been allowed in Tamil Nadu's theatres, viewers need to follow protocol since the pandemic is still very much around.
Director: H Vinoth
Fans of actor Ajith are pestering producer Boney Kapoor to tell them what's happening with the movie. But Kapoor has refused to divulge any information regarding the project. As a result, there has been no talk on official posters and trailers yet. But Valimai is being made by a promising director, so there's hope that it'll turn out well.
The filming of Rajinikanth-starrer Annaatthe had to be recently stopped as some team members tested positive for COVID-19. It's an unfortunate occurrence, and the makers cannot possibly risk the lives of the cast and crew to make the movie. But whenever it gets completed, it'll be a treat to movie-goers. Just look at the star cast – Nayanthara, Meena, Khushbu, Keerthy Suresh, Prakash Raj and Jackie Shroff.
Director: Lokesh Kanagaraj
There are two Lokesh Kanagaraj films on this list and both of them look equally exciting. While Master is all set to entertain viewers from next week, Vikram will take a while to reach theatres. This Kamal Haasan-starrer is a heavy-duty action thriller, for which Anirudh Ravichander will score the music. Kanagaraj seems to be paying a nostalgic tribute to the 1986 Tamil movie of the same name, headlined by a younger avatar of the Ulaganayagan.
Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham (March 26)
Priyadarshan and Mohanlal have been teaming up since the 80s and churning out hits, one after another. Their success formula remains unknown to this date, but it's rumoured to involve trust, chemistry, and a lot of comedy. Marakkar is a historical epic, so there's going to be a lot of action and special effects. Moreover, the director has roped in many actors from the neighboring states, making it suitable for a pan-Indian audience.
Director: Srinath Rajendran
Many biopics have been made on the lives of criminals. People such as Ted Bundy and Charles Sobhraj have inspired moviemakers from around the world. Kurup, which is based on the criminal activities of one of India's most wanted men Sukumara Kurup, stars Dulquer Salmaan in the eponymous role. The actor is making a nice departure after featuring in a series of romantic comedies. If this captures the hearts of the young and the old, then Malayalam writers and directors won't hesitate to dig up the stories of thugs from other eras.
Adapting a novel into a screenplay is always tricky, because the written form is different from the visual medium. More often than not, the movie version won't live up to the standard set by the novel. But Aadujeevitham, which has been adapted from the highly-acclaimed work of the same name by Benyamin, seems to be making the right noise. With Prithviraj Sukumaran and Amala Paul in the lead, one needn't be worried about the actors' capabilities to pull off the gloomy factor of the original story.
Director: Mahesh Narayanan
C U Soon, which Narayanan directed last year, was a really good thriller that used digital screens (laptop, phone, CCTV…) as a narrative device. And that wasn't the only big deal — it was shot and released on an OTT platform while theatres were shut due to the pandemic. Mālik, unlike C U Soon, is being made on a larger budget and is fronted by Fahadh Faasil and Nimisha Sajayan.
K.G.F: Chapter 2
Director: Prashanth Neel
The world of KGF won't be the same again. The action dosage has been doubled as the second part includes Sanjay Dutt, Prakash Raj, and Raveena Tandon. If things had gone smoothly, the movie would have released last year itself. But, it's better late than never. Baahubali, which was also made in two parts, didn't have too many new faces in the sequel. That way, the makers have explored an interesting angle here.
Yuvarathnaa (April 1)
Director: Santhosh Ananddram
Puneeth Rajkumar reportedly plays a college student in Yuvarathnaa. It's not uncommon for 40+ year-old men to star as students. From Aamir Khan to Mahesh Babu, they have all done it. But here's the icing on the cake – Rajkumar will be joined by a slew of stars such as Sayyeshaa, Sonu Gowda, Dhananjay and Prakash Raj.
Director: Kiranraj K
The companionship between a dog and man has been depicted in several movies before. If Hollywood has Turner & Hooch, Tamil cinema has Naaigal Jaakirathai. Along those lines, Kannada cinema will soon get its own version of a buddy film with Rakshit Shetty (as Dharma) and a dog named Charlie. Shetty and his collaborators have been regularly sharing posters and teasers on social media.
Director: Anup Bhandari
Fantasy films in India are rarely made with A-listers since they would then have to be made on enormous canvases. But Phantom is trying to bust that myth by bringing Sudeep on-board. Filming has begun already and the genre would be a breath of fresh air for South Indian cinema, that revels in the action, horror, comedy and drama genres. Of course, Phantom will also have action and adventure. But it'll aim for the skies beyond!