When searching for an appropriate metaphor for Bollywood, you can’t beat the stock market as one which encapsulates the (ahem) highs and lows the industry folk go through in a year. As one person’s stock drops alarmingly in the space of one film while others don’t even have to release a film to have their own stock hit new heights, with the world going recession crazy, here is a look at the heroes who I think had a great 2008 (with Heroines to follow in Part Three!) :
Saif Ali Khan – If you wanted to take a gamble on the stock market, you could have done worse than to put your money on this man. With four releases this year, three of them being Yashraj projects, it was always going to go one way or another for Saif at the box office. Interestingly, it was his non Yashraj film Race that clicked with the audiences this year, garnering a place in the all time top 5 biggest openers at the box office. Then came Tashan which didn’t hit the spot, despite some average numbers. Shame really, as his best performance this year was in Thoda Pyar Thoda Magic but the film released at the wrong time, meaning it didn’t get the audience it deserved. Similarly, Roadside Romeo was not marketed in the best way and lost out at the box office (hmmm – two Yashraj films, both decent products poorly marketed – are Yashraj paying attention?)
However, Mr Ali Khan generated more column inches for his real life relationship with Tashan co-star Kareena Kapoor, leading them to become one of Bollywood’s super couples and ultimately, acting as a teflon protection layer from all the fallout of the flop films and keeping the value of his stock at A-list level. Next year sees Saif in two different projects: the first is Imitaz Ali’s untitled project with Saif opposite Deepika Padukone and then Renzil D’Silva’s untitled film for Dharma Productions with girlfriend Kareena Kapoor and Vivek Oberoi in tow, plus Saif will be setting up his own production company in 2009. But for 2008, one out of four isn’t a bad score at all and if anything, Saif can only get better as time goes by.
Imran Khan/Ranbir Kapoor – You know how some people’s fates are entwined? These two seem to be one of those pairs. One had the dream debut, the other a follow up to his dismal debut that put him back in the reckoning. For Imran, it doesn’t matter too much that his Kidnap did not do too well at the box office – as seen with Kareena Kapoor and Jab We Met, the goodwill generated through a film like Jaane Tu…Ya Jaane Na will see this newcomer through to his next film at least. Helped by having a famous uncle (what do you mean you didn’t know who his uncle is?) and capturing that all important Gen X vote, 2009 will be a crucial year in Imran’s career as he begins to build upon the success of his debut. Next year, we’ll see Imran in uncle’s home production Delhi Belly, directed by Abhinay Deo and then Luck, directed by Soham and co-starring Kidnap colleague Sanjay Dut
Similarly, Ranbir may have been written off by some after Saawariya but Bachna Ae Haseeno crept up on us all stealth like and again, captured the imagination of the young generation and old ( giving Yashraj something to smile about) and put him squarely at the front of the newcomer pack. Giving a good performance coupled with the fact he is dating co-star Deepika Padukone (yet another supercouple in the making?), Ranbir’s stock is fast rising and 2009 will also see Ranbir trying to sustain the success of 2008. Though Ranbir and Imran may have succeeded portraying modern lover boys, whether they will be able to act in more challenging roles will be interesting to see. Next year, Ranbir has Dharma Productions Wake Up Sid! with Konkona Sen Sharma and Rahul Khanna, Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani with Katrina Kaif and Rajneeti, directed by Prakash Jha with Ajay Devgan, Katrina Kaif and Arjun Rampal in lead roles. Could 2009 see Ranbir and Imran reach new highs?
Akshay Kumar – Many say he is the new king of Bollywood, others say he is on par with SRK but whatever you may think of him, our Akki has had an amazing 2008 to follow up his dream run in 2007. First, emerging unscathed from Tashan (some websites even defended him from criticism!) and then giving us the entertaining super hit Singh Is King meant Akshay is still has a clean chit when it comes to box office clout. Though SIK was not the most accomplished of films, one could not fault its appeal to all sections of the audience. Furthermore, it was Akki who (rightly) won all the praise for the film.
2009 sees an interesting roster of films for Akki – as well as the much anticipated Chandni Chowk To China with Deepika Padukone, there is also Kambakkht Ishq with Kareena Kapoor, Blue with Sanjay Dutt, Lara Dutta, Katrina Kaif (and apparently an item number with Kylie Minogue!) Plus, there’s more masala in store with De Dhana Dhan with Kaif again, HouseFull and Hera Pheri 3, and an arty turn in Nagesh Kukonoor’s Eight By Ten. So more action, comedy, and a smattering of seriousness – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it seems to be the mantra for AK and why not? In 2009, if Akki commits to some more arty films, we could see him ruling the roost for some time to come.
Hrithik Roshan – Despite only having one release and a cameo this year, Hrithik was still able to have a fantastic 2008. Firstly, after no releases in 2007 (the super success of Dhoom 2 and Krrish carrying Hrithik through Akshay and SRK’s reign with ease), the first big release of 2008, Jodhaa Akbar saw one of Hrithik’s best performances to date and box office success. Then there was his item number in papa Roshan’s production Krazzy 4 which didn’t create the expected dhoom but also was not a total write off. With his first international project, the billingual Kites with Barbara Mori and Kangana Ranut on the cards, plus signing on Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Heera Mandi (with Aishwarya Rai -will it be a trio of super success for the hit pair?) , along with Akshay, SRK and Aamir, Hrithik is one of the only consistent performers at the box office. Will 2009 see Hrithik scale new heights?
Aamir Khan – Now, here’s another one who needs not do anything and can still make the headlines. After the huge success of Taare Zameen Par, this was topped off with TZP being put forward as India’s entry for the Oscars. Needless to say, if anyone can do it, Aamir can and what a well deserved triumph it would be. It was not just the nomination that made headlines – when Aamir shaved his head for Ghajini or called his dog Shah Rukh, the media went crazy. All, it must be noted, released through his blog which continues to make news with every post. Then there was the super successful debut of nephew Imran Khan in Jaane Tu…Ya Jaane Na (which reminded many of Aamir’s own debut film)
With Ghajini releasing on Christmas Day, and Rajkumar Hirani’s Three Idiots with Kareena Kapoor on the floors in readiness for 2009, Aamir is perhaps the only Bollywood A-lister who has success on his own terms and continues to innovate with every film. There is also his home production Delhi Belly with nephew Imran Khan which looks set to do well.
Shah Rukh Khan – Originally, I wasn’t sure if King Khan should feature in this list. But then I saw Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi and solely on the basis of his performance, I think SRK deserves a spot on this list. This year, he was in the news more for his fight with Salman Khan at Katrina Kaif’s birthday party and recently, being slated for not speaking up about the recent Mumbai terrorist attacks. There is a lot riding on Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi to do well, not only for Yashraj but to put Bollywood into the black for 2008. If anyone can do it, SRK can!
Abhishek Bachchan – Initially, Abi baby was going through a bit of a rough patch at the box office. In 2007, after giving a hit with wifey Aishwarya in Guru, we got the boring Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, followed by the yawnsome Laaga Chunari Mein Daag (though to be fair, Abs gave a good account of himself) – two Yashraj flops in a row. But come 2008, things turned around with Sarkar Raj doing well. Sadly, many pointed out Abs only performed best when coupled with Papa Bachchan and wifey Ash. For a while, the naysayers had a point when his guest appearance couldn’t save Mission Istanbul and Drona, touted as a fantasy blockbuster was a box office disaster.
But you can never underestimate Abs and he came back with an undisputed hit in form of Dostana with a decent performance and Papa and wifey nowhere to be seen in the film. If there is anything the audience love, it is a fighter and no matter how people try to put Abi down, he comes back stronger and more assured. Next year sees him in Rakesh Omprakash Mehra’s Dilli 6 with Sonam Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor and Waheeda Rehman and Mani Ratnam’s Ravanna with the missus. Clearly, the less is more approach suits Abi and 2 out of 3 (discounting the guest appearance) is still a very respectable score to end the year on.
John Abraham – Ok, ok, if it wasn’t for Dostana, John wouldn’t be in this list but it has been ages since he had a decent hit and with the leading ladies stole the show in Water, to come from 2007’s Goal to being the toast of this year and being sought out by Hollywood makes for a successful year in my book. OK, so in Dostana, John may have been applauded more for his ability to model underwear and low v necks but hey, if Katrina Kaif can forge a career being a clothes horse, then why the double standard for men?
2009 sees some exciting projects for John. First up is Yashraj’s first release of the year, New York with Katrina Kaif and Neil Nitin Mukesh and directed by Kabir Khan. Then there is Nagesh Kukonoor’s Aashayein which has been ready for release for a while now as well, and Hook Ya Crook directed by David Dhawan and opposite Amrita Rao to look forward to. Then there is a Hollywood/Bollywood link up in American Empire which also stars Arjun Rampal and Jeremy Piven as well as Deepa Mehta’s next Exclusion. With an impressive bunch of films on the horoizon, for John, 2008 could not have finished on a better professional high.
Do you agree or disagree with my list? Post your thoughts in the comments below!