The clock is ticking slowly. Another year is bidding an inevitable goodbye. Filmgoers will remember 2019 fondly since Bollywood lived up to their expectations this year. Big-budget entertainers released in thousands of screens came to town.
So did small-budget films with offbeat themes and smaller stars that were lapped up by the choosy viewer.
2019 was a year in which the average viewer did not get swayed by what the critic felt and wrote. Audience feedback opposed the expert’s take frequently, resulting in a mammoth success like War, Siddharth Anand’s lavishly mounted action drama starring Hrithik Roshan and Tiger Shroff. The biggest blockbuster of the year, War, which is about a soldier who must track down his former mentor who has gone rogue, grossed in the region of Rs 480 crore.
Criticised for glorifying toxic masculinity and misogyny, Sandeep Vanga’s drama Kabir Singh turned out to be the biggest hit of Shahid Kapoor’s career. The story of a surgeon with anger management issues who drinks, does drugs and heads towards self-destruction after his girlfriend is forced to marry someone else, Kabir Singh was a disturbing film. But it did great business, surprising many forecasters who had felt that the film had no hope at the box-office.
Jingoistic films have been finding audiences in recent times.
Aditya Dhar’s Uri: The Surgical Strike starring Vicky Kaushal and based on the surgical strike conducted by India in response to the 2016 Uri attack engineered by terrorists from Pakistan was one such film. It became the third biggest grosser of the year, which also surprised many forecasters Veteran Salman Khan proved that writing him off is a dangerous thing. The megastar played the central role in Ali Abbas Zafar’s Bharat, which traces India’s post-independence history through the eyes of a commoner. Bharat was a blockbuster, which was great news for Salman’s fans.
Akshay Kumar’s star power and Vidya Balan’s performance propelled the success story of Jagan Shakti’s Mission Mangal.
Inspired by the story of scientists who contributed to the Mars Orbiter Mission, a space probe orbiting our neighbouring planet since 24 September 2014, Mission Mangal was criticised for its simplistic treatment of the subject. Still, it was a well-intentioned film that deserved its success.
Hyped because of its subject, Zoya Akhtar’s Gully Boy, a coming-of-age drama inspired by street rappers Divine and Naezy, attracted viewers to the ticket counters. Selected to represent India at the Oscars in the Best International Film category, the film lost the race quite predictably. But it made for a good watch and also found many new fans for Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt.
Two franchise comedies, both bad, made it to the list of the ten biggest blockbusters of the year. Farhad Samji’s ensemble cast film Housefull 4, which was ripped apart by many critics, managed to attract footfalls at the theatre. So did Indra Kumar’s lacklustre comedy Total Dhamaal, which made terrible use of its talented cast while doing good business.
Nitesh Tiwari could not emulate the matchless success of his pop classic Dangal with Chhichhore, his latest outing. But the coming-of-age drama starring Sushant Singh Rajput and Shraddha Kapoor was a well-made film that impressed many viewers. On the other hand, Vikas Bahl’s Super 30, the biographical drama in which Hrithik Roshan played mathematician Anand Kumar, failed to make popular impact.
Still, the film worked and was Hrithik’s second big success of the year.
Many filmgoers would insist that Ayushmann Khurana, who experienced three successes with the brilliant Article 15, Dream Girl and Bala was the best thing to have happened this year.
Some others would affirm that Kartik Aaryan, who starred in two box-office hits (Luka Chuppi and Pati Patni Aur Woh) was the latest ‘big’ star in the horizon. The biggest consequence of their success was that Bollywood found two bankable young stars capable of delivering commercially viable films.
Viewers will remember 2019 for several films they might have watched during the year. This writer cannot help thinking about Ashutosh Gowariker’s historical drama Panipat, which turned out to be a disappointment and crashed.