In 2016, the biggest stars on Indian screens chose scripts with great content. Shah Rukh Khan’s Fan did middling business at the box-office, but brought back on screen the fine actor that Khan is. Rajinikanth did Kabali, a drama that belonged more to the director Pa Ranjith than to Rajinikanth’s superstar power. Alia Bhatt stunned the audience with an extraordinary performance in Udta Punjab. Salman Khan repeated his box-office success with Sultan, where he played an ordinary man who struggles his way to the top and performs extraordinary feats.
The number of well-written, well-executed films was easily bigger than previous years. Akshay Kumar did Airlift, a well-made drama based on a real-life incident. Nawazuddin Siddiqui wowed the audience with Raman Raghav, where he played a psycho killer, and with Manjhi, The Mountainman, where he played a real-life hero who moved a mountain for love. Vidya Balan returned to the silver screen with another brilliant Kahaani. Amitabh Bachchan teamed up with three young girls to make Pink, a riveting thriller-drama about sexual abuse. The film not only won critical acclaim, but also performed well at the box-office.
Mohanlal did Janata Garage and Oppam, which were critical and commercial hits, and Puli Murugan, a giant commercial hit that didn’t impress critics much. Down south, another superstar emerged – Nayanthara, with a number of sensible, performance-oriented roles, became one of the most bankable actors in south India.
In fact, the Indian box-office continued becoming bigger and less exclusive. One of the most widely discussed films in the country was from the Marathi industry. Sairat, a tragic love story directed by Nagraj Manjule, won hearts and box-office alike. Regional language films have now started getting wider release, with subtitles.
Looking ahead, there are several such projects in the pipeline; Bollywood and regional films that are worth waiting for. Here’s a roundup of the most awaited films scheduled to release in 2017.
Shah Rukh Khan is playing a liquor baron named Raees Alam from Ahmedabad in this thriller-drama directed by national award winning director Rahul Dholakia. Joining him in the lead cast is Nawazuddin Siddiqui, who plays an honest police officer hell-bent on bringing down Raees’ empire. The film’s trailer was an instant hit on internet, and Khan’s portrayal of the protagonist, a character with many dark shades, seems to be on point. The film also stars Pakistani actress Mahira Khan.
Release Date: January 25
Jagga Jasoos (Hindi)
The trailer of this Anurag Basu film was as quirky as his previous release, Barfi! (2012). Warm colours, exotic locations, and a lead pair with stellar chemistry are a few of the things that make Jagga Jasoos one of the most awaited films this year. In Jagga Jasoos, Ranbir Kapoor reunites with Anurag Basu after Barfi! and with Katrina Kaif after Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahaani (2009) and Rajneeti (2010). The film tracks the adventurous journey of a young man in search of his father.
Release Date: April 17
Jolly LLB – 2 (Hindi)
Akshay Kumar’s next release Jolly LLB 2 is the second film of a semi-realistic court drama franchise. Kumar plays the titular character, an ordinary advocate from Lucknow who takes on big villains. Saurabh Shukla returns as the good-humoured judge. Other cast members include Huma Qureshi and Annu Kapoor. The film is directed by Subhash Kapoor and produced by Fox Star Studios.
Release Date: February 10
Kaatru Veliyidai (Tamil)
Ace director Mani Ratnam’s next film, starring Karthi Sivakumar and Aditi Rao Hydari, is a love story set in Kashmir. Kaatru Veliyidai (Breezy Expanse) has Mani Ratnam’s regular collaborators composer AR Rahman and cinematographer PC Sreeram. The film’s first look poster was widely discussed, and given that the director is known for sublime romantic movies (Mounaraagam, Geetanjali, and Roja), the hype around Kaatru Veliyidai is huge.
Release Date: March, 2017
Director Kabir Khan joins hands with Salman Khan again, after Ek Tha Tiger and Bajrangi Bhaijaan, for a war-drama set on the Indo-China border. The film narrates a love story between an Indian soldier and a Chinese girl against the backdrops of the 1962 Sino-Indian War. The film stars Chinese actress Zhu Zhu as the female lead.
Release Date: Eid 2017
Baahubali 2 (Telugu)
In 2017, the question of ‘Why did Kattappa Kill Baahubali” will be finally answered. The second part of the epic war-drama, directed by SS Rajamouli, will be released in 2017. Baahubali, The Conclusion, has reportedly been made on a more grand canvas than the first part. The film will feature Prabhas as Amarendra Baahubali, the just and valiant ruler of the ancient kingdom of Mahishmati, while Anushka Shetty plays his wife Devasena, and Rana Daggubati plays his evil cousin, Bhallalla Deva. Ramya Krishnan plays their mother, Sivagami.
Release Date: April 28
Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum (Malayalam)
After the brilliant Maheshinte Prathikaram (The Revenge Of Mahesh), director Dileesh Pothen and actor Fahadh Fazil have begun work on their next film, a drama centred around a middle-class family in Kasargod district. The cast includes 25 real-life policemen from different parts of Kerala. Rajeev Ravi, one of contemporary cinema’s most acclaimed director-cinematographer, is handling the camera. The film is written by Sajeev Pazhoor. Other cast members include Suraj Venjarammoodu, Alencier Ley, Soubin Shahir, and Nimisha.
Release Date: Not Known
When a film has Nawazuddin Siddiqui in it, some amount of quirkiness is guaranteed. Haramkhor, directed by Shlok Sharma, has a hilarious trailer. It is love triangle story – the weirdest of its kind on Indian screens. Siddiqui plays a teacher at a rural school. Married and definitely not a youngster, Shyam falls in love with a girl in his class. Her classmate, a boy, forms the third angle of this triangle. Needless to say, the story has already become controversial.
Release Date: January 13
Trapped & Bhavesh Joshi
Often termed as one of the most intelligent writers in Bollywood, Vikramaditya Motwane stepped into direction a few years ago with two excellent films – Udaan and Lootera. Now, his third film, Trapped, is set to release this year. The film premiered at Mumbai’s MAMI film festival in 2016 and earned rave reviews. National Award-winning actor Rajkummar Rao plays the lead character, who is trapped in a room for about 25 days in an apartment in Mumbai. The film was shot in a span of less than a month in Mumbai last year.
Also expected to release in 2017 is Bhavesh Joshi, Motwane’s fourth film, starring Radhika Apte and Harshvardhan Kapoor. Produced by Phantom Films, Bhavesh Joshi is a high-octane action-drama drastically different from Motwane’s previous films.
Release Date: Not Known
Velai Illa Pattathari 2 (Tamil)
After the success of Velai Illa Pattathari (Unemployed Graduate), Dhanush is back with the second instalment of the franchise. Velai Illa Pattathari 2, directed by Soundarya Rajinikanth, Dhanush’s sister-in-law, features actress Kajol as the antogonist. This marks the actress’ return to Kollywood after Minsaarakkanavu, a romantic-comedy directed by Rajeev Menon in 1997. Amala Paul, who was part of the first part, will play a pivotal role in this film as well.
Aneethi Kathaigal (Tamil)
Thiyagaraja Kumararaja, whose debut directorial Aaranya Kaandam (2010) is regarded as one of the finest neo-noir gangster films produced in the country, has started shooting his next, a dark-thriller titled Aneethi Kathaigal (Stories of Injustice). The film will star Vijay Sethupathi and Fahadh Fazil. Veteran cameraman PC Sreeram and composer Yuvan Shankar Raja are also part of the project. The dialogue has been co-written by Kumararaja, director Mysskin, and director Nalan Kumarasamy.
Release Date: Not Known