2018 was unlucky for Bollywood giants
The previous year saw the unimaginable happening. Bollywood’s ruling trio, the Khans, Aamir, Shah Rukh and Salman, all bombed at the box office. The mighty troika fumbled, and left the industry wondering…is the reign of the Khans as the absolute kings of the box office finally over?
The previous year saw Shah Rukh Khan- the ultimate romantic hero- making yet another effort to salvage his image with a risky venture, portraying the role of a dwarf in Zero. The film also starred Katrina Kaif and Anushka Sharma. But the weak script and predictable screenplay overshadowed the performances by the leads and crashed with a resounding thud. The film cost two billion to produce and could only make 1.25 billion.
Which means that Shah Rukh’s previous major hit is 2014’s Happy New Year. In the preceding four years, Bollywood’s Badshah has not been able to recreate the magic which took him to his peak. Every great actor has to contend with a period when their traditional style does not click with the audiences anymore and they have to switch to something different. Perhaps that time has now arrived for Shah Rukh.
Despite being a resounding flop, Zero was not the biggest disappointment of the year. That title is reserved for Thugs of Hindostan, the film that proved that yes, even Aamir Khan can make a terrible movie. The cringe worthy riff off The Pirates of the Caribbean was so awful that even the lure of watching Amitabh Bacchan and Aamir Khan together for the first time did not work. Aamir was forced to apologize to his fans. But the damage was done by then. The movie could barely gross 1.45 billion.
But what of Midas himself, Salman Khan? Surely Sallu Bhai, whose broad shoulders can carry any film to success, did not bomb at the box office. Unfortunately, yes, he too bombed and badly. After Saif’s departure from the Race franchise, Salman stepped in and was supposed to revive the faltering series. But Race 3, shot in the UAE was too nonsensical even for Bhai’s fans. The film managed to make 1.65 billion, a figure far less than what Salman starrers usually make.
If the Khans need inspiration, they won’t have to look far. Akshay Kumar proved himself to be a different type of Khiladi when he switched over towards films made on true stories. Both of Akshay’s 2018 ventures, Pad Man and Gold, proved that the action star can act, and act well at that. Even his over the top performance as the supervillain in Rajnikanth’s 2.0 was a welcome change from the run of the mill fare that his contemporaries were doling out.
The other old war horse, Ajay Devgan, also had a good year with his realistic acting winning him laurels for the political thriller ‘Red’ and ‘Simmba’, both of which went on to do well at the box office despite mixed critical reviews.
Another movie that did not receive praise form the critics was Tiger Shroff’s Baaghi 2. However it did go on to make 165 crores, so perhaps the audience didn’t care for the critics’ opinion.
One critical favorite who did have a great year was Nawazuddin Siddiqui. In the acclaimed Netflix series ‘Sacred Games’ and in Nandita Das’ venture ‘Manto’, Nawazuddin Sidduqui once again showed why he is leagues ahead of his contemporaries. In fact, for me Manto was one of the best five films of the year.
So who ruled the roost? Well, none other than Ranveer Singh. Both his films this year ‘Padmavat’ and ‘Simmba’ grossed 300 crores, and in both Ranveer stole the show. He is a real threat to the Khans’ rule as the undisputed kings of Bollywood.
But there was one name that made a mark for himself despite Ranveer’s reign at the top of the pile. In ‘Sanju’ Ranbhir Kapoor finally proved himself a worthy heir to the Kapoor legacy, putting in a performance so raw that even the real Sanju, Sanjay Dutt, broke out in tears many times while watching the movie. The film was also a superhit, thus bringing Ranbhir to the top to share in Ranveer’s spotlight.
After years and years, Bollywood had a year where the Khans were not at the top of their game. The throne of the king lies unoccupied. Here’s hoping 2019 brings us a healthy competition for the crown.