Look-back at Cinema 2023

The Kerala Story—The Adah Sharma film made only 12 times its investment globally and was the biggest hit in ROI terms—the time-tested parameter of hits—the cost-to-profit ratio. Photo:Trailer Video Grab

Cinema 2023 was, as usual, a mixed bag with some standout headliners among events as well as people. Here’s a quick look at the year gone by.


Animal is proving the highest grosser of the year. It has already crossed Rs. 540 crore net in India alone (and counting) and ‘officially’ (as in its credit titles!) has also declared Ranbir Kapoor as a super-star. Ranbir also gets an ‘A’ for excellence in this performance of the year.

The 100-crore club has now become redundant with the sudden ascent of the ‘500 Crore Club’. Hitherto touched only by the Hindi version of Bahubali2—The Conclusion six years back, it spiraled with four more members—Pathaan, Gadar 2, Jawan and Animal. Never mind buzz that such figures were “impossible to attain given the number of screens and shows”.

However, Sunny Deol made a whopping comeback at 66 and Gadar 2 received a lot of love for the brand and its iconic character of Tara Singh and was made on a slender budget of Rs. 60 crore, It thus stands, by time-tested (since the beginning of the movies!) parameters of Return of Investment (ROI) the second biggest hit of the year after The Kerala Story, which got back over 12 times the moneys invested in production!

Other hits and successes included Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani, OMG2, Tu  Jhoothi Main Makkaar, Mrs. Chatterjee Vs. Norway, 12th Fail, Tiger 3, Fukrey 3, Satyaprem Ki Katha, Dreamgirl 2, Zara Hatke Zara Bachke and now Sam Bahadur has picked up while Dunki is doing decent business.

The biggest disasters were Adipurush, Kisi Ka Bhi Kisi Ki Jaan, Selfiee, Tejas, Shehzada, Bholaa and Ganapath.

The only undeserved disaster was The Vaccine War. Other films that did not deserve being ignored and flopped were Gumraah and Mission Raniganj and the small-budget movies Dono, Jogira Sara Rara, Love All and Farrey (all let down by misleading titles!), Bad Boy (a decade or more dated in its feel-good content!) and Sajini Shinde Ka Viral Video (sans face value). All these small movies also suffered from zero to near-zero awareness in terms of promotions.

Varun Dhawan and Janhvi Kapoor in Bawaal. Photo: Publicity Photo

OTT movies

Seven movies, in alphabetical order— Apurva, Bawaal, Jaanejaan, Kathal, Khufiya, Mission Majnu and Tumse Na Ho Payega stood out in the crowd of films directly streamed on OTT. Of these, Mission Majnu, which was all about using investigative skills rather than guns and mayhem for espionage, would have been a winner in the theatres. The rest, in terms of content and face value, were best suited for home viewing. Some of year’s most powerful performances came in these movies—especially of Sanya Malhotra in Kathal, Sidharth Malhotra in Mission Majnu, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Jaideep Ahlawat in Jaanejaan and Tara Sutaria in Apurva.

Rani Mukerji in Mrs Chatterjee Vs Norway. Photo: Publicity Photo


Among the slew of great big-screen performances, I would rank, in no particular order, Dharmendra, Shabana Azmi, Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt in Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani, Bobby Deol besides Ranbir Kapoor in Animal, Akshay Kumar in Mission Raniganj, Deepika Padukone in Jawan, Rani Mukerji in Mrs. Chatterjee Vs. Norway, Pankaj Tripathi in OMG2, Vikrant Massey in 12th Fail and Nana Patekar in The Vaccine War. Among supporting artistes, standing the tallest was Pavan Malhotra in OMG2.

For me, the best movies were clearly Rocky…, OMG2, 12th Fail and The Vaccine War with Bawaal and Kathal on OTT. Karan Johar returned to peak form in Rocky…, Vidhu Vinod Chopra did a Rajkumar Hirani in 12th Fail, and Amit Rai carved excellence in OMG2 by tackling a supposedly ‘Adults Only’ subject in a universal way. Tinu Suresh Desai was very good in Mission Raniganj and ditto Sujoy Ghosh in Jaanejaan and Nitesh Tiwari in Bawaal. From newbie directors, Mikhil Musale scored high in Sajini Shinde Ka Viral Video, Nikhil Nagesh Bhat in Apurva and Yashowardhan Mishra in Kathal.

Sahil Mehta & Alizeh Agnihotri in Farrey. Photo: Trailer Video Grab


The newbies were mostly about the alleged nepotism in quantum! On merit, I would rank Agastya Nanda (The Archies) and Namashi Chakraborty (for the challenging role of a quintessential hero that involves every aspect of acting in Bad Boy) highest. Among the girls, Alizeh Agnihotri (Farrey), Paloma (Dono) and Khushi Kapoor and Suhana Khan (both in The Archies) were standout, strictly in that order. Rajveer Deol (Dono) showed promise for the future. From outside the industry, Vedang Raina and Mihir Ahuja scored high in The Archies.

The three Deols made phenomenal comebacks. Photo: Publicity Photo

Year of the Deols

Speaking of the Deols, Dharmendra, Sunny Deol and Bobby Deol, in ascending order reverse to their ages, made a triple comeback with Rocky Aur Rani…, Gadar 2 and Animal respectively. Together their three films grossed an incredible Rs. 2600-plus crore as the worldwide gross, and Animal is still running!

From Sunny’s sons, Karan Deol got married, and Rajveer Deol made his debut. As for Dharam-ji’s second family, Hema Malini celebrated her 75th birthday, while daughter Esha Deol’s co-production and starring vehicle, Ek Duaa, won the National award this year for 2021 in the Short Film category. It was a total tour de force for the Deols.

Significant departures

The industry lost Phalke laureate K. Vishwanath, veteran filmmaker Rajkumar Kohli, actor-director Satish Kaushik, director Sanjay Gadhvi, one-time iconic child artiste Mehmood Jr., character artistes Nitesh Pandey, Gufi Paintal, Javed Khan, Seema Deo, lyricist Dev Kohli and production designer Nitin Desai.

What’s to come

As we sail into 2024, let’s glimpse at some exciting fare to come. From the BadlapurAndha Dhun director Sriram Raghavan comes another quirky thriller, Merry Christmas, while Hrithik Roshan and Deepika Padukone pair up for the first time in Siddharth Anand’s Fighter. Both these films are due in January.

Espionage master Neeraj Pandey directs a love saga spanning two decades in the Oscar winner M.M. Kreem’s musical, Auron Mein Kahan Dum Tha, with Ajay Devgn and Tabu, and 2024 will end with Welcome to the Jungle, a crazy multi-star romp in the forest from the Welcome franchise.

Sequels can also be expected of Andaaz (2003), Stree, Love Sex And Dhoka, Life In A…Metro and Bhool Bhulaiyaa.

And many more will obviously hit screens.









Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here