Hindi Cinema 2021: The Headliners

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The industry has had a checkered year in 2021. Nonetheless, we had so many film luminaries and trends hitting the headlines for multiple reasons.

Aamir Khan

The most amusing buzz before Christmas (this week has seen the release of most Aamir Khan bonanzas, Dangal included) was his third marriage to protégé Fatima Sana Shaikh, to be announced after Laal Singh Chaddha is released! A portal claimed that daughter Ira had said that she would go into “depression” if the news was true (!). In actual fact, Khan and Ira spent a great day celebrating with her beau Nupur Shikhare!

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Akshay Kumar

The actor gave us the year’s biggest hit in Sooryavanshi and a success in BellBottom. He signed an incredibly assorted bunch of movies (Rakshabandhan, Ram Setu, Operation Cinderella, Gorkha, OMG 2) and was heavily involved in charitable moves during the pandemic, especially for doctors and law-enforcers.

Biopics

Biopics and dramatized real stories continued—Shershaah on Capt. Vikram Batra, Bhuj:The Pride Of India on Squadron Leader Vijay Karnik, Sardar Udham, Saina, Thalaivi, The Big Bull on Harshad Mehta, 83 on the Indian cricket team’s World Cup win, BellBottom and State of Siege: Temple Attack.

Shershaah was one of the many patriotic movies as well as biopics this year. Hype PR Photo.

Divya Khosla Kumar

Bhushan Kumar’s wide Divya Khosla Kumar, who had quit after just one film in 2004, Ab Tumhaare Hawaale Watan Sathiyo, made a comeback with the much-hyped Satyameva Jayate after being credited with co-producing many T-Series films and directing a couple. But the film tanked.

Fardeen Khan

The underrated Fardeen Khan reinvented himself and has signed Sanjay Gupta’s thriller Visfot, his first film in 12 years after Dulha Mil Gaya in 2010.

Harnaaz Sandhu

She brought back the Miss Universe crown to India after 21 years. But instead of acting coy about a future career and then finally taking up acting, she admitted that she was open to working in films. In fact, she has already done some films in Punjabi!

Kangana Ranaut

Kangana Ranaut kept making more headlines with her activities than with her sole movie Thalaivi. She had a heated exchange with Diljit Dosanjh over what were originally Rihanna’s remarks supporting Indian farmers, and then rubbed many the wrong way by stating that India “really” achieved Independence only in 2014. In-between, she had a defamation case filed against by her by Javed Akhtar. And all this came along with the Padma Shri being conferred on her!   

Katrina Kaif Kaushal

Yes, we have coined this possible future name for the actress after her wedding to Vicky Kaushal! The lady acted in the year’s highest grosser Sooryavanshi. But she also made news with her marriage to Vicky Kaushal. The couple has sold their wedding rights to Amazon Prime Video for a mind-boggling eight billion rupees!

Neetu Kapoor

The uber-talented wife of Rishi Kapoor returns to the marquee eight years after Besharam with Karan Johar’s Jug Jug Jeeyo. Her co-star is Anil Kapoor, her late hubby’s distant cousin.

Pankaj Tripathi

Pankaj Tripathi showed his range as an actor from lead to supporting roles, and from films to web series. Publicity Photo

He shown bright as a hero (Kaagaz), a key character artiste (Mimi, 83) and even on the web (Criminal Justice: Behind Closed Doors), all diverse characters. Tripathi’s going places.

Patriotism

Patriotism was in high gear with Sooryavanshi, Shershaah and Bellbottom all succeeding, 83, Bhuj: The Pride of India, State of Siege: Temple Attack and more.

Rohit Shetty

Sooryavanshi, argue observers, is a Rohit Shetty hit rather than one because of his stars. They point out that other movies created on the classic masala film template (Radhe, Satyameva Jayate 2, Tadap) all bombed. Only Shetty knows how to mix the magic of the old with the new and engage all audiences in the movies. The film was his ninth consecutive film in 12 years to enter the 100-crore club.

Rohit Shetty gave his 11th consecutive 100-crore grosser in Hindi cinema in 14 years. Universal Communications photo.

Sequels

Though Pushpa: The Rise—Part 1 is aiming at a sequel, and Bob Biswas was a spin-off of the 2012 hit Kahaani, sequels by themselves failed to work (Satyameva Jayate 2, Hungama 2, Bunty Aur Babli 2).

South Indians

South Indians continued to deepen their influence pan-India. Apart from Allu Arjun’s Pushpa… again, we have Prabhas starring in Radhe Shyam and Adipurush, S.S. Rajamouli’s RRR, probably the most anticipated film today, and Vijay Sethupati signing Merry Christmas with Katrina Kaif. There are a slew of South remakes helmed by the original film’s directors like Gowtam Tinnanuri and Pushkar-Gayathri. Prominent Southern actresses like Rashmika Mandanna are also striking the Hindi film path. And Samantha Ruth Prabhu was a rage in the web series The Family Man 2.

Shah Rukh Khan

The actor made news for the right (beginning work for Pathan and signing some more movies with Atlee and Rajkumar Hirani, and also producing Bob Biswas) and wrong (his son Aryan Khan getting embroiled in drugs and arrested for a while) reasons. Like Aamir Khan, Anil Kapoor, Hrithik Roshan, Ranbir Kapoor and Varun Dhawan, he had no release as an actor, however.

Shilpa Shetty Kundra

Her husband, Raj Kundra, was arrested for his alleged involvement in pornography. Professing ignorance of the same, Shilpa Shetty even gave an emotional interview distancing herself from him, but soon welcomed him home and was back to being the affectionate Mrs. Kundra after he was out on bail. They even had a family vacation. Her professional comeback, Hungama 2, did not work, however.

Vaani Kapoor

The glamour girl from the Yash Raj Films stable of protégés made a mark with her thunderbolt turn in Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui as a woman who was physically born a man. Suddenly, everyone saw talent too in her! For good measure, there was BellBottom too.

Vicky Kaushal

His performance was the saving grace of his dreary Sardar Udham, a biopic that should have been as fiery as popular perception of this dynamic freedom fighter. But he scored a “hit” with his wedding.

T-Series

The music company that is now the Numero Uno in India also impressed with a record 14 films as movie producers!

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