The first quarter of 2019 brought cheer to the Hindi film industry, with a lot of films being appreciated and doing well at the box-office, despite competition from superior content produced by streaming platforms. Trade reports say that this has been a particularly lucrative period for Bollywood. What is even better is that the films released have been in a variety of styles and genre. Total Dhamaal – which is a hit--and to a much lesser extent Fraud Saiyan, Amavas, Rangeela Raja and Hum Chaar, were the only films with the old-style Bollywood formulaic making.
Patriotism was undoubtedly the preferred flavour, with Uri: The Surgical Strike, Manikarnika: The Queen Of Jhansi, Kesari waving the flag, and even a small film like Batallion 609 doing its bit.
Attempts at political cinema produced The Accidental Prime Minister and Thackeray; the former shoddily made, the latter unexpectedly slick.
The favourite and most analysed film had to be Zoya Akhtar’s Gully Boy, about a Dharavi boy (played wonderfully well by Ranveer Singh) becoming a rap star, which was based on the lives of real musicians Divine and Naezy who also rose from underprivileged backgrounds.
Small town India continued to attract Bollywood and if Luka Chuppi did well, the well-made Ek Ladki Ko Dekha To Aisa Laga, Sonchiriya, Hamid, Notebook, had to make to with critical acclaim; Why Cheat India, Milan Talkies, Gone Kesh missed the bus. The very imaginative and entertaining Mard Ko Dard Nahin suffered due to a poor release and the much-awaited Ritesh Batra film, Photograph, disappointed.
The list of list of hits includes Badla, Sujoy Ghosh’s taut thriller, that appealed to fans of suspense films. The most promoted film had to be Junglee, that imported Hollywood director Chuck Russell to make an ordinary wild-life adventure.
The odd ones that popped up were Fakir Of Venice, made nearly a decade ago and better left in the cans; Bombairiya, also much-delayed, had its moments of zing, but not enough to be a sleeper hit; Mere Pyare Pime Minister, was a surprise dud from Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra.
Films like 706, The Lift Boy, 22 Yards indies that could have gone straight to web.
The nationalistic fervor continues into the next quarter which kicks off with John-Abraham-starrer, Romeo Akbar Walter.