Barring wrestling dramas “Sultan” and “Dangal“, Bollywood struggled to get its act right in 2016 as big budget movies “Mohenjo Daro”, “Fitoor” and “Fan” failed at the ticket window despite the star presence.
Salman once again lived up to his ‘fail-proof’ tag with “Sultan”. The film, which saw him as a wrestler who rises from despair to emerge victorious, was the biggest blockbuster this year and had a record opening figure at Rs 36.54 crore.
Aamir’s film “Dangal”, a true-life inspired story of wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat, earned the second-highest opening at the box office by making Rs 29.78 crore last Friday.
The Nitesh Tiwari-directed film has already entered the Rs 100 crore club by earning Rs 106.95 crore in three days. It is set to end the year on a good note for Bollywood.
Sushant Singh Rajput’s impressive performance as Indian skipper M S Dhoni in the Neeraj Pandey-directed biopic, Karan Johar’s controversy-ridden “Ae Dil Ha Mushkil”, starring Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma and Aishwarya Rai, “Rustom” and “Airlift” were among the handful hit movies in the year full of disappointments.
Shah Rukh’s “Fan” did not get the required box office numbers despite the critical acclaim coming his way for the dual role of an obsessed fan and a superstar.
“Dilwale”, which released at the fag end of 2015, was a debacle for the actor who now seems to be moving away from conventional romantic hero roles to characters-driven stories, be it his latest release “Dear Zindagi” or his upcoming drama “Raees” that will see him returning to action after a long time.
“Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” faced trouble for Pakistani actor Fawad Khan’s cameo as Maharashtra Navnirman Sena threatened to stall its release to capitalise on anti-Pakistan sentiments.
Johar released a video, promising he will not cast any Pakistani actors in future.
A controversial negotiation was brokered between the producers and Raj Thackeray by Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to allow the film to release. Ajay Devgn’s “Shivaay”, which clashed with “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil”, was a disappointment, largely due to its huge budget.
It was a bad year for Hrithik Roshan both on personal as well as professional front. The actor’s image took a major hit due to the ugly public fight between him and his “Kites” co-star Kangana Ranaut.
Hrithik’s ambitious big screen outing “Mohenjo Daro” despite its huge budget and a director like Ashutosh Gowarikar, sank without a trace at the ticket window. The movie was panned by critics as well for getting its facts wrong and Hrithik’s tanned look.
The film also had to compete with Akshay Kumar’s “Rustom”, which made its run at the box office even more difficult.
Mohenjo Daro’s fate seemed sealed when its trailer was trolled online whereas Akshay managed to rope in major celebrity endorsements for his movie, inspired by the Nanavati murder case.
Akshay had a marked growth as a bankable star in Bollywood by collaborating on projects that had the right mix of commerce and content with a dash of nationalism. Both “Airlift” and “Rustom” did well at the box office while his third release “Housefull 3” turned out to be an average.
Disney, which had to close its Bollywood movie production due to the losses suffered by Hindi movies “Mohenjo Daro” and “Fitoor”, tasted major success with “The Jungle Book”, which crossed the coveted Rs 100-crore line thanks to the strong nostalgia associated with the story.
The studio ensured that the movie, starring a young Indian-American Neel Sethi, reaches out to the masses by roping in big stars from India to voice the characters in different languages.
Success of “The Jungle Book” proved that Hollywood movies are slowly gaining ground in India, something that should worry filmmakers.
“For us, this year has been truly spectacular, especially with our Hollywood slate. Movies like The Jungle Book set trends with its performance like no other Hollywood film has ever seen, while Captain America: Civil War and Doctor Strange reignited audience’s love for the superhero film genre…,” Amrita Pandey, VP, Studios, Disney India said.
Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s “Mirzya”, starring Anil Kapoor’s son Harshvardhan in his debut role alongside Saiyami Kher, too sank without a trace.
Farhan Akhtar’s sequel “Rock On 2” biopic “Azhar”, “Saala Khadoos”, Amitabh Bachchan-Nawazuddin Siddiqui-starrer thriller “Te3n”, action drama “Dishoom”, “Veerappan”, “Jai Gangajal”, Sidharth Malhotra-Katrina Kaif’s “Baar Baar Dekho” and Nawaz’s “Freaky Ali” suffered similar fate.
Interestingly, while the audience rejected formula stories, it was a good year for movies that offered content and while male stars stuck to their image, many actresses surprised by opting for challenging roles.
Sonam Kapoor, despite her long career in Bollywood, was not taken seriously as a performer but that changed with her portrayal of Neerja Bhanot in “Neerja”. The film, a box office as well as critical hit, is certainly a turning point in Sonam’s 9-year-old career.
“Pink”, starring Amitabh Bachchan as a lawyer, and actress Kirti Kulhari, Taapsee Pannu and Andrea Taring, was a major winner with the audience. The movie, which raises the issue of consent and slut-shaming of women, will go down as one of the most important releases in Bollywood this year.
Vidya Balan returned to form after a string of bad releases with “Kahaani 2” as a woman, a victim of child abuse, trying to save a girl from a similar fate. Sujoy Ghosh wrapped the issue in a thriller with Vidya giving one of her best performances.
“Nil Battey Sannata”, a small but notable release, starring Swara Bhaskar and Ratna Pathak Shah, beautifully narrated the story of a woman struggling against odds to get her daughter an education.
Alia Bhatt is slowly turning into a formidable performer at the box office. “Dear Zindagi” was a big win for her so was her performance in Abhishek Chaubey’s “Udta Punjab” that almost did not see the light of the day thanks to censor board’s meddling.
Bhatt was impressive as a migrant Bihari, who stumbles into the drug trafficking business. The movie, which raised the issue of the growing drug menace in Punjab also marked the Bollywood debut of Pujabi singer-superstar Diljit Dosanjh.
Shahid Kapoor and Kareeena Kapoor were also impressive in their roles.
Radhika Apte, playing a woman who becomes agarophobic after being molested by a taxi driver, gave an unforgettable performance in “Phobia”. It is among the most under-rated movies of the year.
(With inputs from PTI)