This is, in many ways, the most exciting time of the year for any cinephile. It’s that time to look ahead at the what ifs and if onlys and what the year has in store.
At first glance, 2019 appears to be a year of big bets and ‘magnum opuses’. Of spectacle, scale and, hopefully, substance. Suffice to say, the Baahubali effect appears to have finally come to fruition with more period dramas and tent poles than you can count.
Some of Hindi cinema’s most exciting filmmakers such as Zoya Akhtar, Ritesh Batra and Abhishek Chaubey are due to bring forward their next ventures, not to mention newcomers and lesser known names with equally promising projects in the pipeline. Some will exceed expectations, many may fall short and others will come from nowhere and steal the year, but at this stage, the mere thought of the limitless possibilities is a tantalising one.
So, let’s dive in shall we?
1. Gully Boy
Zoya Akhtar. Need I really say more? As one of the most talented mainstream voices, Gully Boy sees Akhtar embark on her most ambitious venture to date with the story of Mumbai’s underground hip-hop scene loosely based on the inspiring rags to riches journeys of rappers Naezy and Divine. Add a Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt at the lead and throw in a World Premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival and what you get is one of the most anticipated movies of the year. Catch the beat drop on our screens February 14th.
Far removed from his urban-rooted comfort zone, Ayan Mukherji has opted for a fantasy spectacle – the first part of a planned trilogy – which is touted to be in the superhero mould, the likes of which Hindi cinema may well have not seen before. With Ranbir Kapoor, Alia Bhatt and Amitabh Bachchan at the fore, Christmas 2019 is the date you want.
Ritesh Batra’s next. Sold yet? He’s arguably one of our most successful crossover filmmakers with two critically acclaimed Hollywood films featuring some of the world’s finest talents such as Charlotte Rampling, Jane Fonda and Robert Redford. Photograph stars Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Sanya Malhotra and centres on the unlikely connection between two people in Mumbai. Batra’s film will have its World Premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in February.
4. Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota
Vasan Bala’s curiously innovative ode to action movies has been making waves world over in the festival circuit. Following its World Premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival where it won the Grolsch People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award, the film met with a glowing reception at the Mumbai Film Festival and continues to travel the festival circuit. Bala’s film is a fine example of an Indian film which seems to have global audiences buzzing with audiences closer to home eagerly awaiting their turn. Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota is slated for an early 2019 release.
5. The Sky Is Pink
A family drama from Margarita With A Straw’s Shonali Bose starring Zaira Wasim, Farhan Akhtar and the grand return of Priyanka Chopra? Suffice to say, this film had me at hello. The film is based on a true story of Aisha Chaudhary (played by Zaira Wasim), who became a motivational speaker at the age of 13 after being diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis. Chopra and Akhtar play Aisha’s parents in the film. That the film will be co-produced by Ivanhoe Pictures (which bankrolled Crazy Rich Asians) along with Siddharth Roy Kapur’s Roy Kapur Pictures and Ronnie Screwvala’s RSVP Movies, makes it all the more intriguing.
Director Abhishek Chaubey of Ishqiya, Dedh Ishqiya and Udta Punjab fame, returns with an earthy dacoit drama. Boasting of an electric cast including Sushant Singh Rajput, Bhumi Pednekar, Manoj Bajpayee and Ranvir Shorey this one promises guns and gundas in all their violent glory. Sonchiriya releases on February 8th.
7. Kabir Singh
Bollywood remakes of films from the South haven’t always made for the best results. However, when they’re helmed by the same director it does tend to give you more faith (see Shubh Mangal Saavdhan). A remake of one of 2017’s most talked about Indian films, the Telugu hit Arjun Reddy, it’ll be interesting to see what director Sandeep Vanga does to adapt his original to a Bollywood landscape. The film features Shahid Kapoor in the titular role as the medical student who’s turbulent love story leads him down a path of self-destruction. Kabir Singh is slated to release in June.
There’s something about an all-star cast in Hindi cinema that still feels like something of a novelty. After a promising debut with his 2 States (2014), Abhishek Varman seemed to have all but disappeared. But this year he resurfaces helming one of the most talked about multi-starrers of 2019. A period drama featuring the Varun Dhawan, Alia Bhatt, Aditya Roy Kapur, Sonakshi Sinha, Madhuri Dixit and Sanjay Dutt, Kalank is due to release on April 19th.
Not much is known about Navdeep Singh’s next apart from the fact that it will apparently see Saif Ali Khan as a Sadhu out for revenge. Hell of a one-liner wouldn’t you say? Singh’s previous NH10 remains hauntingly etched in our memories and if he comes anywhere close to capturing that same energy, coupled with Khan’s apparent resurgence, it’s hard not to be intrigued.
As one of mainstream cinema’s masters of thrillers, Sujoy Ghosh returns with his next starring Amitabh Bachchan and Taapsee Pannu. While Ghosh recent projects haven’t quite matched up to his Kahaani glory, the hope is Badla will do just that. Co-produced by Red Chillies Entertainment, Badla is said to be an adaption of Spanish film The Invisible Guest and is due for release on March 8th.