This year, Bollywood will see a variety of films and hopefully equally strong performances from the actors. Even as masala-action continues to be the dominating genre, a slew of actors will be seen in films and characters which are completely opposite to what they have been known for so far. Here’s a look at a few probable powerhouse performances.
The reel iron lady Priyanka Chopra
Film: Yet-untitled Mary Kom biopic
Makers: Sanjay Leela Bhansali (producer) and Omung Kumar (director)
What’s special: It’s the first time a female Bollywood actor is playing a boxer in a commercial film
Preparations: To play an athlete, Priyanka is apparently working hard to develop abdominal muscles to portray Mary perfectly. As a result, if she doesn’t get time in the day to work out, she hits the gym even in the middle of the night. Apparently, it was Priyanka who convinced the makers about her look. Also, she is also believed to have met Mary and even lived with her and her family in Manipur to learn more about the boxing champion.
Trade verdict: “Priyanka is a fine actor. Plus, we haven’t had an authentic film on a female athlete in Bollywood. The curiosity has already been built up. Now, everything depends on the script and the director,” says trade expert Vikas Mohan.
The track star Farhan Akhtar
Film: Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
Makers: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra (director)
What’s special: The director-turned-actor portrays the life and rise of legendary athlete Milkha Singh, also known as Flying Sikh.
Preparations: To start with, he grew his hair and beard to be able to play an authentic sardar. Besides, he started training six months before the filming started. Not many know that he had a regular training session every morning from 6.45 to 9 am. He also avoided late night parties for the period. Initially, he was trained by a trainer who trains Central Railways athletes. Also, in order to shoot easily in Ladakh — in the low-oxygen level areas — he was also worked out at a training centre in the suburbs, which specialises in training people to adapt themselves to such harsh conditions. And while in Ladakh, he would sprint for hours together by tying a rope to his waist and do a high-intensity tyre and rope workout.
Trade verdict: “The first teaser-trailer of BMB has created the right amount of buzz. And Farhan has clearly worked hard on his look and character. After Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011), I am sure Farhan will impress the audiences with his strong performance in the film. And since he is a director himself, he knows what does and what doesn’t work in a character,” says trade expert Komal Nahta.
The cold-blooded gangster John Abraham
Film: Shootout At Wadala
Makers: Ekta Kapoor (producer) and Sanjay Gupta (director)
What’s special: John, known for his glamorous image, plays real-life slain gangster Manya Surve.
Preparations: For starters, John not only worked on his physique but also brushed up his colloquial Marathi with some help from Mahesh Manjrekar. In terms of physique, the actor shed 20 kg to play Manya. John also went on a strict diet of fish, sushi, protein shakes, juices and soups to achieve the look, which will be seen in the first half of the film for which he underwent a complete transformation all over again.
Trade verdict: “It’s not an easy role for John because it’s completely different from his very western and modern image he has always portrayed. It’s a very desi character and I really hope he can pull it off,” says trade expert Komal Nahta.
The Mumbai don Akshay Kumar
Film: Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai 2
Makers: Ekta Kapoor (producer) and Milan Luthria (director)
What’s special: Akshay, for the first time, will be seen playing a gangster. His character is apparently based on Dawood Ibrahim.
Preparations: Akshay is known for his spontaneous acting style. And for his new outing as the gangster, the actor is believed to have had intense discussions with the director — months before the sequel to the 2010 hit went on the floors — about the intricacies of his role. Apparently, the director had done extensive research for Akshay’s part by going through several gangster films like Scarface (1983), The Godfather (1972) and even Big B’s starrers like Deewar (1975) and Trishul (1978). Besides Akshay, the film’s other actors’ (Imran Khan and Sonakshi Sinha) parts are also believed to be inspired by Chota Rajan and Mandakini’s lives respectively.
Trade verdict: “Akshay is a seasoned star and he knows how to get a grip on characters. Plus, the fact that he is an action star will also help him since the film will have a lot of action and stunts. And till date, he has experimented with a range of roles so audiences know that he will deliver in his films,” says trade analyst Vikas Mohan.
The mean machine Aamir Khan
Makers: Aditya Chopra (producer) and Vijay Krishna Acharya (director)
What’s special: Aamir probably gets into the grey, negative avatar (albeit stylishly) for the first time in his career.
Preparations: To play a gymnast in the film, Aamir has learnt acrobatics to get fitter. To achieve the look, the actor has been following a strict diet and vigorous training schedule for a while. A few daysback, he told HT Café, “I have six small meals a day and my food is accurately measured, so that I know how many calories I am consuming.” Last year, an online video showed how Aamir had been working out really hard to achieve a leaner look for Dhoom:3. In fact, to make sure that Aamir doesn’t miss out on his training, the instructor Dheepesh Bhatt had accompanied the actor to Pondicherry where he was shooting for Talaash. Later, he also hired a French trainer to teach him acrobatics before Aamir learnt how to dive like a professional.
Trade verdict: “I am sure he will be good. Although he is playing a different role, I am sure Aamir will play it perfectly. Plus, since the film franchise in itself is very massy in nature, audiences are sure to love him in the new avatar,” says trade analyst Vinod Mirani.
Also on the list
Sunny Deol: In I Love NY, which is a romantic comedy the original brawny star of Bollywood will be seen in a role that’s completely opposite to his raw action image. The film also stars Kangana Ranaut opposite him.
Vidya Balan: After The Dirty Picture (2011) and Kahaani (2012), the actor will dabble in comedy with back-to-back comic ventures like Raj Kumar Gupta’s Ghanchakkar and Shaadi Ke Side Effects also starring Farhan Akhtar in the lead.
Madhuri Dixit: The screen diva returns to Hindi cinema with the sequel to the 2009 hit, Ishqiya titled Dedh Ishqiya. Besides, she will also be seen in a lead role in Anubhav Sinha-produced social drama,Gulab Gang.