A Year in Bollywood – 2008: Part Three

Here are the heroines who I think had a great 2008 (the heroes are below – ladies first and all that!)

images-101Priyanka Chopra – Now here is a turn up for the books. Her last release in 2007 Salaam E Ishq was a flop. And then she had six releases in 2008 – the first four (Love Story 2050, Chamku, God Tussi Great Ho, and Drona since you ask) flopping with no mercy despite Piggy Chops doing a good job in each of them. But then the tide turned with Fashion – a good performance topped with those ravishing looks not only signalled an about turn for PC but also led to some hailing a new trend whereby a film is publicised using its actresses rather than lead actors (also see Katrina Kaif).

But the best was saved for last – with a career best performance in Dostana, Priyanka stole the show and finishes the year on a high, showing the only way is up for this gal. 2009 sees her in Ashutosh Gowariker’s What’s Your Rashee and there are also rumours of a Yashraj flick with Uday Chopra (I’ll reserve my judgement on that one!) and Kamminay, directed by Vishal Bhardwaj and teamed with Shahid Kapoor – a relatively fresh pairing. How 2009 will fare for PC is anyone’s guess but for now, 2008 was her year.

images-111Katrina Kaif – Apparently, the most searched for star on the internet and till Yuvraaj, a lucky mascot, Miss Kaif carried on riding the wave of popularity and success from 2007, especially with the goodwill of Welcome carrying over into 2008. Her first release Race did very well, with Kaif getting accolades for her modelling of pencil skirts and saucy secretary apparel but sadly, her acting was unnoticed (though to be fair, her role was sketchy).

Then came one of the biggest hits of the year, Singh Is King which pushed Katrina’s popularity sky high and cementing Akki-Kats status as one of the hit jodis of recent times (Humko Deewana Kar Gaye, Namaste London and Welcome all being massive hits). Again, Kats performance was nowt to write home about but a hit is a hit is a hit said the industry.

Then came Yuvraaj, which saw Katrina as the face for the film, being plastered on all the posters promoting the film, leaving co stars Anil Kapoor and Salman Khan literally out of the picture. But despite its cast, director and underrated but worth a listen music by A.R. Rehman, the film flopped, ending Katrina’s impressive unbroken run of hit films.

For 2009, Katrina has 5 films on the anvil, each an exciting proposition: first there will be Yashraj’s first release of 2009 New York alongside John Abraham and Neil Nitin Mukesh, Blue with Akshay, Sanjay Dutt and Lara Dutta, Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani with Ranbir Kapoor, De Dhana Dhan avec Senor Kumar (again) and Prakash Jha’s Rajneeti with Ajay Devgan and Ranbir Kapoor (again). Luckily, she seems to have emerged from the failure of Yuvraaj unscathed but having now established herself, Kats still has not had that stand out role which has proved her as an actress. People may make noise about Namaste London but that was by no means a standout performance. Less masala, more content is the prescription for Kats for 2009. But for 2008, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad at all.

images-12Bipasha Basu – Here’s another actress whose stock fluctuates more than than the FTSE. After a lacklustre 2007, which saw Goal with boyfriend John Abraham and the long stuck in the cans Nehlla Pe Dehlla, both failing to cash in on the Dhoom 2 hype, 2008 saw a return to form for Bips. First, there was Race, which saw Bips reunited with Abbas Mastan and taking the lion’s share of the three heroine allowance in the film – admittedly, not amongst her best but enough to put her in the reckoning. Then came the ace up her sleeve – Bachna Ae Haseeno. Playing the aspiring dancer/bitch superstar paid divedends for Bips and took us all by surprise with a stellar performance that overshadowed everyone in the film, again, taking the lion’s share of the three heroine allowance…(anyone seeing a theme here?)

But unlike one time rival Kaif, our Bips is also changing gears and experimenting with different roles, with a part in ace director Rituparno Ghosh’s Bengali film Shob Charito Kalponik as well as an offbeat role in the film Pankh. This willingness to experiment is a step in the right direction and the way to sustain a career that is initially built upon oomph factor. Bips wrapped up the year with a cameo in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, as a sixties heroine in the tribute song to Hindi cinema ( and looking seriously good doing so).

In 2009, Bips has Pankh and Lamhaa opposite Sanjay Dutt on the anvil which may not sound too exciting on paper but no doubt the less is more mantra has worked well for Bipasha over the past few years so it will be interesting to see what other projects Bips takes on and how 2009 shapes up for her. But for now, 2008 saw a return for form for Bips and not a moment too soon either.

images-13Kareena Kapoor – It’s funny, how when you mention certain names, others come to mind. Mention Katrina and one thinks of Salman(her boyfriend) or Bipasha who doesn’t get on with her, mention Bipasha and you think of one time rival/costar Kareena (note to self: is this the chain reaction effect?To be discussed at a later date!) Now, like many others, Kareena had a great 2007 with Jab We Met being her best performance/biggest solo hit and also is part of a super couple with Saif Ali Khan. With two out of the five Yashraj films in her kitty, 2008 looked promising. First came Tashan, and if you still don’t know the fate of the film by now, see under Saif Ali Khan and Akshay Kumar in the heroes post below! Like Akshay, Kareena managed to emerge from the film unscathed, smartly playing up her abilities as a fashion icon and creating a national debate by flaunting a size zero figure in the daring Chaliya number.

Then came Yashraj’s Roadside Romeo but again, the film fell under the radar despite being a quality product. Like boyfriend Saif, it was Kareena’s non Yashraj flick that clicked – Golmaal Returns which used Kareena as its main selling point. Though her performance didn’t show off her abilities, a hit is a hit etc and Kareena ends 2008 on an ascending note, with 2009 seeing an impressive roster of films opposite nearly all the top heroes in the industry. First, there is an item number in Priyadarshan’s Billo Barber which starts Shah Rukh Khan and Irrfan Khan. Then there is Rajkumar Hirani’s Three Idiots with Aamir Khan and Sharman Joshi, Main Aur Mrs Khanna with Salman Khan, Kambakkht Ishq with Akshay Kumar and Dharma Productions untitled venture with Saif Ali Khan and Vivek Oberoi. 2009 will see Kareena joining the select group of heroines who have worked with all three Khans (Aamir, Shah Rukh and Salman) but whether this makes her the number one heroine (that was declared earlier this year) remains to be seen. Still, to have one hit and still be in a strong position is no small achievement – let’s see if Kareena can sustain this…

images-14Preity Zinta – She had one release in 2007 – Jhoom Barabar Jhoom and that was universally panned, despite a cracking soundtrack. But JBJ also reminded us that we were getting bored of seeing Preity in the same get up. Reinvention was needed and the sooner, the better. But Preity rose to the challenge and gave us The Last Lear, which may not have worked at the box office but it was certainly the boost Preity needed. Then came a mindblowing cameo in Sameer Karnik’s Heroes which not only stole the show from all the main leads in the film but undid all the JBJ damage and put Preity back in the reckoning. Add to that a cameo in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, where she looked cute as a button as Mumtaz and 2008 sees Priety end the year stronger than how she started it.

2009 sees Preity continue to appear in some interesting films. There is Deepa Mehta’s Heaven On Earth which saw Preity win an award at a film festival in Toronto in 2008, there is Har Pal with Shiney Ahuja and a guest appearance in Main Aur Mrs Khanna with Salman and Kareena. In addition to managing her cricket team in the IPL, one hopes Preity will continue to sign on some interesting projects and continue to surprise the audience with amazing performances and encouragingly, be known as actor first rather than a star.

images-15Aishwarya Rai Bachchan – Perhaps Bollywood’s most well known star, thanks to the now former L’oreal contract (how time flies – when I drafted this, Ash had the contract, now whilst editing, she has been replaced by Sonam Kapoor!) and Bride and Prejudice, Aishwarya has been enjoying a rosy period since the success of 2006’s Dhoom 2. First, her sole Hindi release in 2007 Guru with then hubby to be Abhishek saw one of her best performances to date and along with her eventual marriage to Abi, sustained her profile throughout the year, even seeing off the debacle of The Last Legion. Then 2008 started with a bang with Jodhaa Akbar which saw another amazing performance from Ash, challenging co star Hrithik to match her steps in the film. Then we saw her in Sarkar Raj in an assured performance and did well at the box office meaning Ash is the only one to hit the bullseye twice in a single year, and especially in these tough times, that is no mean feat.

2009 will see Ash teamed up with hubby again in Mani Ratnam’s Ravaana, as well as a Hollywood outing in The Pink Panther 2 with Steve Martin and John Cleese (again – this was in my draft but I have since learned all of Ash’s portions in the film have been edited out. Oh dear!). Most excitingly of all, Ash will be teaming up again with the director who put her on the map – Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Pairing her opposite Hrithik Roshan, SLB’s Heera Mandi could be the third mega hit in a row for both Hrithik/Ash and SLB/Ash. It seems while the competition rages on around her, Ash is oblivious to it all and still continuing to do well which is an enviable position to be in right now. Never mind losing all the contracts and endorsements Ash – concentrate on the acting and they will come crawling back to you!

images-91Deepika Padukone – I must admit, I try hard not to be biased but I was reluctant to include Deepika on my list as I am not a fan of hers. Still, a hit is a hit etc. After a dream debut in Om Shanti Om last year (that was topped by Anushka Sharma’s debut – oh alright, I won’t make any digs then) Deepika kept her hit record intact with this year’s Bachna Ae Haseeno. Bipasha Basu may have stolen the show but for Deepika, her part in the film did her no harm. Nor did hooking up with Ranbir Kapoor, her co star in the film. Fast attracting large amounts of media attention, Deepika is certainly in an enviable position for someone with two films under their belt.

2009 isn’t looking too bad for her either with the slow and steady approach firmly in mind. First up, there is Chandni Chowk To China with Akshay Kumar, directed by Nikhil Advani and produced by Warner Bros, then there is a cameo in Billo Barber opposite Shah Rukh Khan and finally, Imitaz Ali’s follow up to Jab We Met, with Deeps opposite Saif Ali Khan in what is rumored to be a remake of the Jennifer Aniston-Vince Vaughan film The Break-Up. So far, it must be said, like Katrina, Deepika has made it so far on luck and like most newcomers, will soon need to prove herself with a standout performance to show she is not just a pretty face. Well, if Priyanka Chopra can do it, there should be no reason that Deepika can’t!

Agree or disagree? Did I miss anyone out? (well, I should have perhaps mentioned Genelia, Asin and Anushka Sharma but I think we need to wait and watch with these ladies….) Post your own below!

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