Welcome 2021: Brand new actor-director combos strive to strike gold at the box office

Hindustan Times | ByJuhi Chakraborty
Jan 08, 2021 05:38 PM IST

While frequent collaborators surely keep the momentum going, it’s the new actor-director combos that keep fans intrigued every year including, Ranbir Kapoor and Sandeep Reddy Vanga, Ayushmann Khuranna and Abhishek Kapoor, Kartik Aaryan and Ram Madhvani, Deepika Padukone and Shakun Batra.

What constitutes a great film? Many believe it’s the chemistry between the actor and the director off screen that translates on screen. While frequent collaborators surely keep the momentum going, it’s the new actor-director combos that keep fans intrigued every year . And 2021, too, has many such names teaming up for the first time.

Actor Shah Rukh Khan is working with director Siddharth Anand for Pathan.
Actor Shah Rukh Khan is working with director Siddharth Anand for Pathan.

The New Year began with the announcement of Arjun Reddy (2017) and Kabir Singh (2019) director Sandeep Reddy Vanga first collaboration with Ranbir Kapoor for Animal. Then there’s Ayushmann Khurrana who has worked for the first time with Kedarnath (2018) director Abhishek Kapoor’s upcoming romantic drama, Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui.


One association that fans are most keenly awaiting is that of Shah Rukh Khan and Siddharth Anand for Pathan. While the director is coming out of the mega success of his film War (2019), the actor hasn’t had a release since Zero (2018).

“We always talk about how we want newer combination, newer star cast, newer teams to work together and collaborate on a film. These are all great combinations — Shah Rukh and Siddharth, Kartik Aaryan and Ram Madhvani for Dhamaka. Even Salman Khan and Mahesh Manjrekar (for Antim),” shares trade analyst Taran Adarsh.


After collaborating with SRK in his last, director Aanand L Rai is working with Akshay Kumar in his next, Atrangi Re, making it a rather unconventional director-actor pair. The film will also see him collaborate with Sara Ali Khan also for the first time. Vicky Kaushal has a string of films where he’s teaming up with a director for the first time — Shoojit Sircar in Sardar Udham Singh and Vijay Krishna Acharya for a comedy.


Taapsee Pannu and Akarsh Khurana have come together for a sports film Rashmi Rocket. Khurana who has earlier helmed Karwaan (2018) and web series Mismatched (2020), is looking forward to see how fans react to his collaboration with Pannu.

“This is a female-led film, very wholesome, and I was very happy to try something new myself. It’s a great privilege for me to work with Taapsee right now who’s on top of her game. It’s wonderful to see her drive and commitment towards the film and the amount of hard work she’s putting in,” he says.


Deepika Padukone and Kapoor & Sons (2016) director Shakun Batra are also working together for the first time in an upcoming film. Alia Bhatt has two interesting collaborations with two very different directors — SS Rajamouli for RRR and Sanjay Leela Bhansali for Gangubai Kathiawadi.

Producer Anand Pandit feels that the audience crave to watch new combinations and it’s the job of every filmmaker to deliver on that front. “Yes, there are some hit actor-director combinations, but cinema is changing and so things need to change accordingly. The audience wants to see newness and freshness whether it’s story, casting or director and actor collaborations,” he explains.


Echoing the same sentiment, trade analyst Atul Mohan says, “There are no reservations anymore. Actors are now open to face challenges, work with new directors who can extract the best from them and the same goes for directors. They’re no longer banking on one actor with whom they have had a success rate or good box office results. Directors are trying new avenues.”

Ajay Devgn, who has worked with Amitabh Bachchan in several films, is set to direct the latter in Mayday.

Adarsh further adds, “These are not seen before, each of these directors and actors have established themselves over the years. The end result would be interesting to see in 2021.”

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