On Day One of 2011, we surveyed a cross-section of distributors, exhibitors and trade analysts to arrive at the film that according to them deserves the tag of the most eagerly awaited film of the year. Predictably, it is Shah Rukh Khan’s RA.One, closely followed by Reema Kagti’s suspense thriller with Aamir Khan.
The curiosity surrounding RA.One is attributed to Shah Rukh’s absence from cinemas after My Name Is Khan in February last year and the fact that it’s one of this year’s Diwali releases. Analyst Komal Nahta of Film Information explains, “The film has kept Shah Rukh on his toes. It’s his most ambitious project so far and one of the most expensive films made in Bollywood. Heavy special effects and constant comparison with Robot have heightened expectations.”Director Kagti’s second film has become the talk of the town because Aamir, apart from playing the lead, is also co-producing it. Suniel Wadhwa, a distributor from the Central Province, believes that the actor’s entry in the suspense thriller genre has added to the trade’s eagerness for the release of the project. "He has a reputation of delivering bigger hits in successive years. So, we’re keeping our fingers crossed," he adds.
Power of 2
For the Khans, it’s also a year of two films each: RA.One and Don 2 for Shah Rukh, Bodyguard and Ready for Salman, and Dhobi Ghat and Kagti’s next for Aamir. Distributor Sanjay Mehta from Delhi believes that the Don sequel will be intriguing to watch because of its location and the fact that Don with Shah Rukh was a remake of the 1970s hit. “I’m also curious about Agneepath and Zoya Akhtar’s Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara with Hrithik Roshan. They should be worth the wait too.”
Saif Ali Khan, apart from Agent Vinod, will start filming Aarakshan; Imran Khan will be seen in Mere Brother Ki Dulhan and Short Term Shaadi; Akshay Kumar has his hopes pinned on Patiala House, Thank You and Desi Boyz; and Abhishek Bachchan is praying for either Game, Dum Maaro Dum or Players to put an end to his run of flops. Trade pundit Amod Mehra asserts that 2011 is poised to be the ‘biggest year’ for the industry because “at least Rs 2,000 crore is riding on ‘big ticket’ films, of which about Rs 400 crore is riding on Aamir, Salman and Shah Rukh’s films alone.”
Sanjay Ghai of Mukta Arts feels that Salman’s Ready will be lapped up with an increased hype closer to its release in May. “Salman also has Bodyguard which releases close to Eid. I’m quite hopeful that it could repeat the Dabangg success for him,” he adds.
The business brains in our survey agreed that the best has been saved for the second half of the year, as always. In the meantime, viewers have No One Killed Jessica, Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji, 7 Khoon Maaf, Delhi Belly and Players to choose from.
From the perspective of box office collections, Ashish Saxena of Big Cinemas states that after a lot of films crossed the Rs 50 crore mark last year, the expected stakes and returns on RA.One, Don 2, Ready, Bodyguard, Agneepath and Agent Vinod, to name a few, are higher this year: “We hope to do a lot better this year with a fleet of promising films from leading actors.”
— With inputs from Priyanka Jain
Shah Rukh Khan
Director: Anubhav Sinha
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Arjun Rampal
Plot: Touted to be a superhero fantasy, SRK plays a normal guy living in London with his family. A twist in the plot turns him into a superhero. Release: Diwali
Director: Farhan Akhtar
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Lara Dutta
Plot: According to SRK, the USP of the film is: “It is Don 2”. Need we say more?
Release: To be announced
Director: Reema Kagti
Cast: Aamir Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Rani Mukherjee
Plot: It’s a suspense thriller,
hitherto unexplored by the actor-filmmaker who’s lost a dozen kilos for his mustachioed cop character.
Release: To be announced
Director: Anees Bazmee
Cast: Salman Khan, Asin
Plot: A love story of Sanjana (Asin) and Prem (Salman) who thwarts her uncles’ plan of usurping her wealth. There’s also some well-choreographed action.
Release: May 27
My Love Story
Cast: Salman Khan, Kareena Kapoor
Plot: A Hindi remake of the Malayalam action romance Bodyguard, in which, unknown to Khan, Kapoor falls in love with Khan and wants to elope with him. But her friend provides the twist in the tale.
Release: August 31 (Eid)