There has never been a better time for the young and talented in Bollywood. As the gamut of films expands to embrace all genres—from mega-star blockbusters to content-driven independent films—the film industry and audiences are embracing new voices, ideas and stories. This year alone we have seen Bhumi Pednekar make size 18 cool in Dum Laga Ke Haisha and director Neeraj Ghaywan and writer Varun Grover put Varanasi on the world map with their Cannes-winner, Masaan. It won’t take much for Alia Bhatt to bounce back from the debacle of her latest release, Shaandaar. After all, she was the only one to get consistently positive reviews for her role in the film, which follows on the back of her successes in Highway and Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania. Varun Dhawan is on a high after Badlapur and ABCD2, and at 28, Kangana Ranaut’s achievements are commendable indeed. So far this year we have also seen the launch of new star kids Akshara Hassan, Sooraj Pancholi and Athiya Shetty, and impressive talents like Vicky Kaushal and Harshaali Malhotra. And we have another two months in which Bollywood might just spring a few more surprises.
Quite the spectacle
It was heartening to see Bollywood stars and filmmakers turn out in huge numbers to support Disney India’s foray into theatre, with the staging of the musical extravaganza Beauty and the Beast. From Ashutosh Gowariker and Sanjay Gupta, Sujoy Ghosh and Subhash Ghai, Vishal Bhardwaj and Imtiaz Ali to Nimrat Kaur, Soha Ali Khan and Kunal Kemmu, Emraan Hashmi with his family, and Shabana Azmi with family were there to watch a grand show that India has long been ready for. With wonderful sets and costumes and a range of talented performers (actors, singers, dancers) from across the country, Beauty and the Beast is a must watch for families. And in case you forget the lyrics, the programme helpfully carries the words to the title song.
Randeep keeps it real
It’s been a while since Randeep Hooda was seen on the big screen, but he’s back this week with Main Aur Charles, allegedly based on the life of
international criminal Charles Sobhraj. Directed by Prawaal Raman, it stars Richa Chadha as a law student in the 1970 and 80s who falls for Sobhraj’s legendary charm. She’s not the only one. Apparently several of the foreign ladies cast in various roles also fell prey to Hooda’s ways. The only one able to resist him was a Croatian actress cast as his lawyer who, naturally, had to be stoic and firm. Hooda, however, has left the berets and flared trousers behind to take on another biopic, Sarbjit, with co-star Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, in which he plays the titular role once more.
Writer-director Kanu Behl, the protégée of filmmaker Dibakar Banerjee, has been touted as one of the new talents to watch out for. His début feature, Titli, a hard-hitting family drama, opens today. Actors Ranvir Shorey and Amit Sial are joined by Shashank Arora and debutants Shivani Raghuvanshi and Lalit Behl (the latter happens to be the director’s father). The story of a dysfunctional family, Titli is the nickname of the youngest of three brothers who operate as carjackers in Delhi. Desperate to break away from his unhappy family life, Titli devises a scheme to escape. Even before Titli has released domestically, Behl has begun preparations for his second feature, titled Agra, a comedy about a man in love with a girl, his efforts to break free from his parents and the ensuing chaos. As for Arora, the actor playing Titli, he has also moved on and shot another independent film called B Naman, which also marks the movie début of industrialist Vijay Mallya’s son, Siddharth.