A curious phenomenon seems to be afoot in Bollywood. Like always, a spate of big-budget films have been announced. And like always, the big male stars have been signed up for them. However, a whole bunch of these movies are still missing their female leads.
So, while the usual suspects — Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar and Ranbir Kapoor — make up half the star cast for some of 2013’s big films, no one seems to be sure who these men will be starring opposite. And the filmmakers are either clueless, or in no mood to reveal the names of their heroines. Case in point, Farah Khan, who told us about her Happy New Year: "No one is finalised for the female lead yet. I am making the film, but it’s the media that keeps deciding things for me."
Industry insiders say the situation has been caused by a dearth of A-list female stars. That would explain why a number of south film actresses are making Bollywood debuts right now. We look at the biggest stars and projects where heroine is still a vacancy that needs to be filled.
Director: Sajid Nadiadwala
Big factor: Salman joins hands with old pal Sajid, who has produced Salman’s films like Judwaa (1997) and Mujhse Shaadi Karogi (2004).
Rumour has it: The first name to come up was that of Deepika Padukone, who is believed to be eager to work with Salman. Later, there were reports of Katrina Kaif being in the running, following the success of Ek Tha Tiger. The latest name in this list is that of Anushka Sharma. Interestingly, there are no female actors finalised for Salman’s projects – Sher Khan and a remake of Telugu hit, Brundavanam.
Film: Remake of Thuppakki (Tamil)
Director: AR Murugadoss
Big factor: Murugadoss returns to Bollywood after a gap of five years. His last project was another remake, the Aamir Khan-starrer Ghajini (2008). The south original is a blockbuster hit.
Rumour has it: Although the film is slated to go on the floors early next year, its makers are yet to finalise the leading lady. Katrina, having churned out hits with Akshay in the past, is one of the frontrunners. However, Ishaqzaade actor Parineeti Chopra is also in the running, because she fits the character description well. Sonakshi Sinha’s name is also doing the rounds.
Shah Rukh Khan
Film: Happy New Year
Director: Farah Khan
Big factor: Farah joins hands with SRK after a gap of six years. Their last project together was Om Shanti Om (2007).
Rumour has it: Initially, Farah was believed to be deciding between Sonakshi Sinha and Parineeti Chopra. Later, she apparently dropped Sonakshi’s name after the actor went AWOL or remained uninvolved during the promotions of Joker. A few days ago, Priyanka Chopra’s name also joined the fray. The latest name to crop up is that of SRK’s Jab Tak Hai Jaan co-star Katrina Kaif.
Film: Imtiaz Ali-Sajid Nadiadwala’s untitled next
Director: Imtiaz Ali
Big factor: Ranbir and Imtiaz come back together after the success of Rockstar (2011). After the intense film, this one is slated to be a comedy.
Rumour has it: There is buzz that Deepika Padukone has already bagged the role, but there is no official declaration. The two are already working in Ayan Mukerji’s next, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani. Imtiaz’s film is slated to start next year.
Also in the offing
Director Sabbir Khan’s film may not have an established male lead. But his film has garnered attention for the latest star kid debutant, Tiger Shroff (son of Jackie Shroff). The initial female lead suggested was Suneil Shetty’s daughter, Athiya. Later, south star Tamannah’s (who makes her Bollywood debut with the Ajay Devgn-starrer Himmatwala) name entered the fray.