Bollywood Baatein: Newsmakers who made headlines in 2021

Akshay Kumar says he has reached a place in life where he does things because he wants to do them and not because he has to

Bollywood Baatein: Newsmakers who made headlines in 2021

Subhash K Jha

Pandemic or not, 2021 showed our entertainers zipping off for exotic holidays every three months in their best ‘airport looks’. In one way or another our stars insisted on remaining in the news. Moving away from the social-media butterflies here are the entertainers who made real unfixed headlines:

1. Tovino Thomas: There are heroes. And then there are super-heroes. And beyond them there are the Malayalam heroes. Kerala has a tradition of great actors, from Mammootty and Mohanlal to Prithviraj and Fahadh Faasil. Now there is another generation of great Malayalam actors ready to spawn the marquee. Tovino Thomas gave impressive performances in Guppy, Oru Mexican Aparatha, Godha, and Mayanadi. Tovino’s rise in 2021 snowballs from his antiheroic stunts in Kala to his super-heroic hijinks in Minnal Mural. To him goes the credit for being the first successful pan-India Indian superhero on screen. His popularity now cuts across the borders. He is the most interesting new talent seen in 2021.

2. Aryan Khan: Unlike many self(ie) made stars of Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan’s son made news in 2021 for no fault of his. Without trying Aryan became the most talked-about Khan of the year in the entertainment industry, when on October 2 he was arrested for possession/consumption (or whatever) of drugs.

During the month that he spent behind bars Aaryan became the poster-boy of privileged persecution. No one knows why he was arrested, or denied bail repeatedly. The Kafkaesque twist to the tale of persecution and imprisonment made Aryan the most sensational wannabe star of Bollywood. The boy has received offers from Aditya Chopra, Karan Johar, Sajid Nadiadwala and Ashutosh Gowariker.

3. Jacqueline Fernandez: Not much was seen of Jacqueline on screen. But she made headlines towards the end of 2021 when her name was linked to alleged scamster Sukesh Chandrashekhar. Typically, the actress denied knowing the incarcerated wheeler-dealer. And then clammed up, hoping that the troubles would vanish like a bad dream. But with pictorial evidence carpeting the internet, Ms Fernandez faces the stickiest situation in her career so far.

Bollywood Baatein: Newsmakers who made headlines in 2021

Jacqueline claims she wasn’t aware of Chandrashekhar’s business activities. He showered her with attention and expensive gifts. She fell for it. She probably didn’t check his identity. Which is as bad as Shilpa Shetty claiming she didn’t know what her husband was up to. If you’re dating/marrying someone you can’t be blind to what he does.

Years ago Raj Kapoor’s discovery Mandakini of Ram Teri Ganga Maili fame was caught in highly dubious company. It killed her career. Nothing as drastic is likely to happen to Jacqueline’s career. However, this is not a good time to be Jacqueline Fernandez. The Kick actress, said to be extremely close to Salman Khan, had to opt out of his Da-bangg concert in Riyadh on December 10.

Bollywood Baatein: Newsmakers who made headlines in 2021

4. Akshay Kumar: In these trying times of the pandemic and the lockdown, Akshay Kumar was seen in three films. In the tepidly received Bell Bottom which came earlier during the year, Akshay was an intelligence officer in the 1970s trying to look fashionably cool. In Sooryavanshi, the only box office hit in 2021, he was a cop. And at the year-end he was a ghost in Aanand Rai’s Atrangi Re. Quite a variety to choose from. Akshay says he has reached a place in life where he does things because he wants to do them and not because he has to.

5. Kartik Aaryan: From taking on Karan Johar’s might by refusing to work in a weak-scripted project, to delivering the first blockbuster on OTT from an A-lister, Kartik Aaryan’s rise in 2021 has been swift, steady and surefooted. He has proved his popularity among viewers of all ages. Going to No. 1 on the day it started streaming, the viewership for Dhamaka has grown exponentially, crossing the viewership of all previous premiers in Netflix featuring A-list superstars.

Bollywood Baatein: Newsmakers who made headlines in 2021

Dhamaka has shown an insane growth ever since it began streaming on November 19. Even when two bigscreen ventures Antim: The Final Truth and Satyameva Jayate 2 with A-listers Salman Khan and John Abraham in the lead, released the following week on November 26, Dhamaka remained steadfast in its supremacy. Kartik Aaryan’s rise to the top in 2021 was phenomenal.

(This article was first published in National Herald on Sunday)

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