Box-office hits and misses of the 2nd quarter of 2019
Romeo Akbar Walter
Released on: April 12
Backstory: Set during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, this Robbie Grewal film which starred John Abraham as a super spy, was smart on some counts — like Romeo Akbar Walter translating to ‘RAW’ — and had a few genuine twists and turns. But that wasn’t enough — despite quite a few shots of a bare-bodied John — to save Romeo Akbar Walter from having an average run at the box office.
Thumbs up: Some nerve-wracking moments, John’s action scenes, the edge-of-the-seat final 20 minutes.
Thumbs down: Boring in parts, had too much of a Bollywood look and feel for an espionage thriller.
The Telegraph review: Even with all the heroic patriotism, this is not a spy movie to rave about.
At the BO: Has fetched approximately Rs 50-crore on a Rs 35-crore budget.
Ayushmann Khurrana looks set to continue with his habit of throwing a curveball at the audience with Dream Girl. The rom com also stars Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety stunner Nushrat Bharucha. We are already loving the first-look poster.
Release date: September 13
Based on true events of the Indian Space Research Organisation’s successful launch of the Mars Orbiter Mission called Mangalyaan, this Jagan Shakti directorial, releasing on Independence Day, is spearheaded by Akshay Kumar, but it’s the film’s all-powerful female cast — Vidya Balan to Sonakshi Sinha, Taapsee Pannu to Kirti Kulhari to south star Nithya Menen — that we have our eyes on. Can’t wait!
Release date: August 15
Released on: June 21
Backstory: The Bolly remake of Telugu blockbuster Arjun Reddy — about an angsty surgeon (played by Shahid Kapoor) who free-falls into a life of drug and drink after losing out in love — has divided audiences ever since it hit screens. Dismissed by some as misogynistic, Kabir Singh — riding high on Gen Y loyalists — has turned out to be a blockbuster, entering the Rs 100-crore club in less than a week of release. With no big film due to release in the next two weeks before Super 30 powers in, this one looks set for a long run in cinemas.
Thumbs up: Stirring acts from Shahid Kapoor and Kiara Advani, a strong supporting performance from Calcutta boy Soham Majumdar, the music, led by Bekhayali.
Thumbs down: Misogynistic in theme and treatment, romanticises toxic masculinity, cringeworthy depiction of its women characters, celebrates its protagonist’s waywardness instead of condemning it.
The Telegraph review: Like Arjun Reddy, the lines between intense love and mental abuse, free-spiritedness and misbehaviour, flawed character and churlish persona become blurred in Kabir Singh.
What they told The Telegraph: “It’s just a story of two characters, flawed in their own ways, who fall in love. It’s universal because a love story is something we can all relate to in many ways.” — Kiara Advani.
At the BO: A humongous hit; has earned Rs 120-crore — and counting — on an approximate Rs 70-crore budget.
Released on: June 5
Backstory: Salman Khan roared in with his staple Eid biggie with Bharat, the desi adaptation of the Korean tearjerker Ode to My Father, in which the superstar aged from 30 to 70, with his journey as an individual being traced concurrently with India’s journey as a nation. Bharat, powered by Salman and a standout act from Katrina, had its moments, but failed to engage fully. But as expected, it’s a humongous hit — Rs 200-crore plus — and is still playing in cinemas.
Thumbs up: Salman’s act as a don’t-mess-with-me septuagenarian, a whistle-worthy turn from Katrina Kaif, the Salman-Kat chemistry, especially in their twilight years, some laugh-out-loud moments, mostly courtesy funnyman Sunil Grover.
Thumbs down: Boring in parts, strictly works through sentimentality, some emotional scenes are stretched to snapping point, the weak music.
The Telegraph review: While some of it feels heartfelt and genuine in a way that few films in the recent past have, in the end, Bharat turns out to be a film that’s let down by the weight of its own ambition.
What they told The Telegraph: “The important thing is that Salman and Ali (Ali Abbas Zafar, the director of Bharat) both felt there was something, a freshness and newness which we were achieving and feeling while we were all on set. And that’s good.” — Katrina Kaif.
At the BO: Has earned Rs 210-crore so far on a Rs 100-crore budget.
Student of the Year 2
Released on: May 10
Backstory: Six years after Student of the Year made stars out of Varun Dhawan, Alia Bhatt and Sidharth Malhotra, Karan Johar handed over the directorial reins to I Hate Luv Storys man Punit Malhotra for Part 2 of this Bolly high school musical. Tiger Shroff played the boy in the middle with debutantes Ananya Panday and Tara Sutaria vying for his attention, but Student of the Year 2 was all style, no soul.
Thumbs up: Tiger Shroff the action man, the fun first half, Ananya Panday’s screen presence, an assured turn from Aditya Seal as the Reggie in this Archie-Betty-Veronica tale.
Thumbs down: Predictable treatment of a predictable underdog story, an insipid act from Tara Sutaria, absence of genuine “ishqwaala love” moments.
The Telegraph review: Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar was a real and rooted story of hopes and dreams, proving one’s worth in the world and playing for pride. SOTY 2 makes a token effort to touch upon ambition and aspiration, love and loss, but puts everything else on steroids.
At the BO: Earned close to Rs 90-crore on a Rs 70-crore budget.
Released on: June 14
Backstory: An avid gamer, played by Taapsee Pannu, finds herself pulling out all the stops to protect herself in this home-invasion thriller that successfully combined many genres — psychological horror, tech thriller and supernatural story — to deliver a paisa vasool time at the theatres. The bit that stayed with us? The film’s message: “Fight like a girl”.
Thumbs up: The thrilling theme and treatment, an A+ act from Taapsee, the multiple-climaxes-to-a-single scenario trope, the strong emotional base, the semi-voyeuristic camerawork.
Thumbs down: Not consistently intelligent, ludicrous in parts, the sloppy dubbing.
The Telegraph review: At the heart of Game Over is an emotional yet effortless turn from Taapsee who, yet again, portrays strength through vulnerability. With the camera mostly on her face at all times, Taapsee invests Swapna with grit and gumption, even as she takes on everything that life throws at her.
At the BO: Rs 18 crore approximately in a two-week run.
Released on: April 17
Backstory: Producer Karan Johar assembled the best of Gen X and Gen Y — Sanjay Dutt to Madhuri Dixit, Varun Dhawan to Alia Bhatt, supported by Aditya Roy Kapur and Sonakshi Sinha — in this generational love story set against the backdrop of Partition politics. But Kalank, powered more by spectacle than story, was a surprise box-office failure.
Thumbs up: The chemistry between Sanjay Dutt and Madhuri Dixit played out over a few minutes, the opulence of the locales and the sweeping scale of the narrative, Varun’s energy in the First class number, the title track composed by Pritam and sung by Arijit Singh, the powerful but overlong climax.
Thumbs down: Muddled in its portrayal of time and space, uneven performances, lacks soul.
The Telegraph review: Kalank overreaches on every count, but its story never lives up to its ambition, even if its scale does.
At the BO: Rs 145-crore on a Rs 150-crore budget.
Released on: June 28
Backstory: Mulk man Anubhav Sinha fashioned a scathing look at caste discrimination through the template of a corrosive police procedural in this film that’s powered by a power-packed act from Ayushmann Khurrana. Real and relevant, gripping and gutsy, Article 15 is easily one of the best films of 2019 so far.
Thumbs up: Pulls no punches and says it as it is, a deeply felt act from Ayushmann, a strong supporting cast, the effective camerawok and pulsating background score.
Thumbs down: Slightly niche, a depressing watch in parts.
The Telegraph review: Article 15 triumphs both as a cautionary tale and an urgent call to action. Director Anubhav Sinha makes the film work both as a compelling investigative drama as well as a scathing look at vote-bank politics and caste-driven agenda.
What they told The Telegraph: “Article 15 may not deliver a solution but at the same time it will make people acknowledge its existence.” — Ayushmann Khurrana.
At the BO: Has opened above average at the box office.
Nikkhil Advani directs John Abraham in this hard-hitting look at the 2008 real-life Batla House encounter case. The film, also starring Love Sonia actress Mrunal Thakur, jostles for space in theatres on the same weekend as Mission Mangal and Saaho.
Release date: August 15
The Tashkent Files
Released on: April 12
Backstory: Released in the run-up to the 2019 general elections and said to be “politically motivated”, The Tashkent Files, directed by controversial filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri, tried to spotlight the mystery behind the death of former Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri. Despite negative reviews, the film had long legs at the theatres and is still running in some cinemas, more than two months after release.
Thumbs up: The compelling narrative, the strong ensemble cast comprising Naseeruddin Shah, Pallavi Joshi and Pankaj Tripathi, an opportunity to watch Mithun Chakraborty on the big screen after a long time.
Thumbs down: Sacrifices truth at the altar of sensationalism, chaotic screenplay, half-hearted acts.
At the BO: Has earned approximately Rs 30-crore on a Rs 10-crore budget.
De De Pyaar De
Released on: May 17
Backstory: This May-December romance starred Ajay Devgn as a 50-year-old father of two who falls in love with a woman (played by Rakul Preet Singh), 24 years his junior. Though peppered with some refreshingly funny moments, De De Pyaar De was packed with ageist jokes and sexist jibes. But the rom com found its takers, laughing all the way to the Rs 100-crore club.
Thumbs up: Some laugh-out-loud moments, a luminous Tabu, a strong cameo from Jimmy Shergill.
Thumbs down: Thrives on misogyny and mansplaining, feels far longer than its 135-minute running time.
The Telegraph review: Misogyny sells and De De Pyaar De will probably laugh its way to the bank. But is this the kind of film we should really be endorsing? With or without Alok Nath in the casting credits.
What they told The Telegraph: “The film also has an underlying emotion and message but it’s presented in a humorous way.” — Rakul Preet Singh.
At the BO: A hit; earned approximately Rs 140-crore on a Rs 75-crore budget.
Released on: May 3
Backstory: Yesteryear actress Simple Kapadia’s son Karan — who is also Dimple Kapadia’s nephew and Twinkle Khanna’s cousin — made his Bolly debut in the unconventional role of a suicide bomber. But Blank — despite the presence of Sunny Deol and a post-credits song appearance by Akshay Kumar — fired blanks on all counts.
Thumbs up: Sporadically intriguing, Karan Kapadia’s action avatar.
Thumbs down: Runs out of steam after an interesting start, a perpetually screaming Sunny Deol, feels too long.
Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas
Sunny Deol’s son Karan makes his acting debut with this romance that’s being directed by his dad and co-starring newcomer Saher Bamba. Will Karan prove to be a chip off the old block in this film named after the famous song picturised on grandfather Dharmendra? Let’s wait and watch!
Release date: September 20
Sidharth Malhotra and Parineeti Chopra, last seen together in Hasee Toh Phasee, come together for this film based on the ‘tradition’ of groom kidnapping, prevalent in Bihar. Will Jabariya Jodi — also starring Aparshakti Khurana and Sanjai Mishra — give both Sid and Pari the hit that’s been evading them for some time?
Release date: August 2
Dangal man Nitesh Tiwari directs an ensemble cast comprising Sushant Singh Rajput, Shraddha Kapoor, Varun Sharma and Tahir Raj Bhasin, among others, in this intriguingly titled film whose poster — all the stars are depicted in their young and old avatars — has us hooked already.
Release date: August 30
PM Narendra Modi
Released on: May 24
Backstory: An attempt to map Narendra Modi’s rise and rise from his humble beginnings to the country’s top political chair was made in this Omung Kumar film which felt more hagiography and less biopic. Released a day after the BJP thumped back to power with a resounding win, PM Narendra Modi failed to cut ice with the audiences and was an average earner at the box office.
Thumbs up: An earnest act from Vivek Oberoi as Modi.
Thumbs down: A reverential depiction of a protagonist with no warts and no grey areas, cringeworthy dialogues, the laughable climax, too many product placements.
The Telegraph review: This is cinema clearly used as propaganda but even if you judge it purely as a film, PM Narendra Modi falls short.
At the BO: Earned Rs 23-crore. Budget: Rs 10 crore.
The Zoya Factor
Anuja Chauhan’s bestseller centred on cricket is all set to come to the big screen in this romantic comedy in which Sonam Kapoor plays the chirpy Zoya Singh Solanki and Dulquer Salmaan essays the role of the dashing cricket skipper Nikhil Khoda. Sonam has the penchant to go overboard playing the bubbly girl (remember Khoobsurat?), but in Dulquer we trust.
Release date: September 20
Mental Hai Kya
Queen co-stars Kangana Ranaut and Rajkummar Rao reunite for this slice-of-life comedy that puts the focus on mental health. There’s been some outcry against the posters that seem to treat a serious subject in a flippant manner (the film’s title is supposed to change soon, on orders from the censor board) but we are looking forward to the magic of the Kangana-Rajkummar jodi. Originally scheduled to clash with Super 30, a war of words between Camp Kangana and Camp Hrithik meant that Roshan was forced to prepone the release of his film.
Release date: July 26
Response to the trailer of Super 30 has been mixed, with criticism coming in for Hrithik Roshan’s faux accent and the deliberate darkening of his skin colour. The man, coming in with a release after more than two years, steps into the sandals of Anand Kumar, the real-life ‘superhero’ teacher from Bihar who coached under-privileged aspirants to IIT success, in this Vikas Bahl-directed film.
Release date: July 12
Prabhas fans are in for a treat with the Bahubali man promising an action-packed and adrenaline-pumping watch with his Independence Day biggie. Also starring Shraddha Kapoor, the teaser of Saaho — a lean and mean Prabhas vrooming on a bike is all kinds of #win — has piqued interest already.
Release date: August 15
India’s Most Wanted
Released on: May 24
Backstory: Raj Kumar Gupta — who has earned his filmmaking stripes with real-life thrillers like No One Killed Jessica and Raid — attempted to tell the true story of a band of bravehearts who took on the onerous task of bringing ‘India’s Osama’ to book. But despite stellar direction and some sparkling moments, India’s Most Wanted failed to hit the high notes.
Thumbs up: A compelling premise, some noteworthy acts from the supporting cast, the picture-perfect frames.
Thumbs down: A listless turn from leading man Arjun Kapoor, the languid pace.