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Shahid-Bhansali, Shah Rukh-Aanand L Rai, Ranveer-Rohit Shetty: New combos galore

This year in Bollywood, several top actors and directors have teamed up for new projects. Trade experts say that when such biggies come together, the audience also has higher expectations.

bollywood Updated: Jan 25, 2018 17:50 IST
Monika Rawal Kukreja
Monika Rawal Kukreja
Hindustan Times
Shahid Kapoor,Sanjay Leela Bhansali,Rohit Shetty
Filmmaker Aanand L Rai and actor Shah Rukh Khan have teamed up for the film, Zero.

As content outweighs star power in Bollywood, the tried and tested actor-director pairings are making way for new collaborations. In the past, Shah Rukh repeatedly worked with filmmaker Karan Johar; Govinda and director David Dhawan made for the perfect combo; and Salman Khan was the face for many Sooraj Barjatya films. However, with changing times and actors looking for variety — in both script and roles — many fresh actor-director pairings are lined up in 2018.

Releasing on January 25, Padmaavat sees Shahid Kapoor for the first time in a Sanjay Leela Bhansali film. Then, R Balki, who helmed Paa, has directed Akshay Kumar in Pad Man, releasing on February 9. Aanand L Rai of Tanu Weds Manu fame is directing Shah Rukh Khan in Zero, slated to release on December 21. Rohit Shetty, the man behind the Golmaal franchise, has cast Ranveer Singh for Simmba, which will come out later this year. And Rajkumar Hirani who gave us gems such as the Munnabhai films, 3 Idiots, and PK, has worked with Ranbir Kapor for the Sanjay Dutt biopic, releasing on June 29.

How these films fare at the box office can’t be predicted, but there’s contentment in working with someone who knows the craft well. Glad to have worked with Akshay for the first time, Balki says, “There’s a different comfort when you work with someone of Akshay’s stature, [someone] who doesn’t need to be told repeatedly what he needs to do in front of the camera. He understands the character and makes it his own, and brings his own individuality and uniqueness to the screen.”

Experts feel it’s a great move that actors are not sticking to the same directors and are teaming up with other innovative filmmakers. Bollywood trade analyst Sanjay Mehta states, “Definitely, when big names come together, it creates a lot of buzz, as they bring in their positive points and their style of working.”

Praising all the new pairings, trade expert and producer Amul Vikas Mohan says, “It’s a dream scenario if an actor who’s doing well in his own zone teams up with a director who’s known for making brilliant cinema. It’s a great new trend and the industry needs that for its longevity and for the way it wants to play out in the next few years.”

However, last year when Shah Rukh Khan and Imtiaz Ali teamed up for Jab Harry Met Sejal, the film stumbled at the box office despite all the hype. Trade experts say that some actor-director combinations create an exceedingly high level of expectations among the audience, and maybe the films can’t live up to that.

“As an audience, the anticipation around such big projects is sky-high,” says Mohan. “And where there’s anticipation, people tend to over-anticipate or overrate the film — and when they eventually watch it, they feel underwhelmed. That’s a natural phenomenon.”

Bollywood film critic Omar Qureshi points that big marquee names need to live up to audience expectation of them irrespective of any teaming up. “Our stars are loved, pampered and paid astronomical sums because they are expected to draw in the crowds and more so when they do big movies,” he says.

Mehta says that sometimes genres make it difficult for an actor to perform. “If you bring an action hero into a comedy film, it actually puts double pressure on the artist, because the director would still stick to his way of making a film. Now, even if the actor tries and does his bit, the biggest challenge is whether the audience would receive the performance well or not,” he says.

Fresh actor-director collaborations in 2018
  • Shahid Kapoor and Sanjay Leela Bhansali: Padmaavat
  • Akshay Kumar and R Balki: Pad Man
  • Ranbir Kapoor and Rajkumar Hirani: Sanju
  • Varun Dhawan and Shoojit Sircar: October
  • Shah Rukh Khan and Aanand L Rai: Zero
  • Sidharth Malhotra and Neeraj Pandey: Aiyaary
  • Salman Khan and Remo D’Souza: Race 3
  • Arjun Kapoor and Dibakar Banerjee: Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar
  • Hrithik Roshan and Vikas Bahl: Super 30
  • Sushant Singh Rajput and Abhishek Kapoor: Kedarnath
  • Ranveer Singh and Rohit Shetty: Simmba

Furthermore, these new collaborations make way for new partnerships. Otherwise, if actors continue to work with the same set of directors over and over again, there’s a risk of sameness and monotony. “So, it’s not just one name you need to keep working with,” states Mohan. “You need to really push yourself as a filmmaker and try to experiment, because if you don’t, you won’t know how new working relationships can be formed.”

Interact with Monika Rawal Kukreja at Twitter/@monikarawal

First Published: Jan 25, 2018 17:45 IST