At the tail end of the second quarter of 2018 comes 'Sanju,' the fate of which is pre-ordained. So it’s time to conduct the ritual survey of the last three months.
It was a rich period for diversity and really good for women-centric films. Salman Khan-starrer 'Race 3' may have made the quick bucks, and Ranjinikanth starrer 'Kaala' got some mixed reviews, but the film that won the most appreciation was Meghna Gulzar’s 'Raazi,' starring Alia Bhatt as a patriotic spy risking her life in Pakistan. It is the biggest hit of her already successful career, and is a box-office winner with her as a solo lead, since Vicky Kaushal is not yet an audience magnet.
Patroitism worked again with Abhishek Sharma’s 'Parmanu: The Story Of Pokhran', co-produced by its leading man, John Abraham, playing the man who led India to its successful testing of an atomic bomb, under the watchful eyes of CIA satellites and Pakistani spies.
The debate about whether Shashanka Ghosh’s 'Veere Di Wedding' was feminist or regressive is still on, but it took Hindi cinema a step ahead for women, since it had four leading ladies (Kareena Kapoor Khan, Sonam K Ahuja, Swara Bhaskr, Shikha Talsania) and no major male star. That it talked of women’s freedom of choice in matters sexual and matrimonial, struck a chord with young female audiences.
Shoojit Sircar’s 'October' toned down Varun Dhawan’s hyperenergetic persona and made him play an ordinary hotel employee whose life shifts on its axis when a fellow worker (Banita Sandhu) falls from a height and goes into a coma. Dhawan was sure of his popularity and star power to take on a role about which many actors would have second thoughts.
Harshvardhan Kapoor’s experiment with Vikramaditya Motwane’s 'Bhavesh Joshi Superhero', a dark vigilante film, unfortunately did nothing to advance his static career.
Actors who can be depended upon to act well no matter what, did not help Irrfan Khan starrer 'Blackmail,' Manoj Bajpayee-Tabu starrer 'Missing,' Rajkummar Rao’s 'Omerta' or Abhay Deol’s 'Nanu Ki Jaanu' — the last one being particularly disappointing, considering Deol’s otherwise impressively eclectic filmography.
Iranian film-maker, Majid Majdi, doing his first Hindi film 'Beyond The Clouds', after shooting some verbal arrows at Bollywood, failed to reach the Indian audience, though Ishaan Khatter made his debut, and will soon be seen in a proper mainstream romantic film, 'Dhadak', which will be make-or-break for him.
However, seniors Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor playing father and son, delivered the goods in Umesh Shukla’s stagey but quirky dramedy '102 Not Out.'
Among the also-rans – 'Mercury', 'Daas Dev', 'Hope Aur Hum', 'Angrezi Mein Kehte Hain', 'High Jack', 'Khajoor Pe Atke', 'Bioscopewala' (quite good, actually!) and 'Phamous.'