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2024: Treading on tried and tested grounds (Ajit Weekly News Column: B-Town)

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2024: Treading on tried and tested grounds (Ajit Weekly News Column: B-Town)

Mumbai, Jan 14 (Ajit Weekly News) It’s time now to check out the prospects for the Hindi film industry in 2024, following the retrospective of 2023 in the previous two columns.

One should hope for a lot from the new year, considering the figures of 2023, when, out of the 148 films released, 90 could not even collect a crore and 23 remained below the Rs 10-crore mark. That is one very distressing count.

The Hindi film industry has always had an 80:20 ratio of flops and earners. The earners accounted for those films that could manage to cover their investments and made at least some profit, and of course, those that were hits.

Yet, the scene was never as bad as it was last year when 113 films failed to recover the money invested in them.

There were small films that did not get exposure through cinemas, because the multiplexes either do not give them screen time, or, if they do, they give them odd time slot just to mark their symbolic presence.

The policy is not expected to change in the days to come.

With such a year behind us, one would look with hope towards a productive year ahead.

The first major big release of the year will be ‘Fighter’ on January 25, the Republic Day weekend. A Hrithik Roshan film after a longish gap of 16 months. The promos are out; the heat is yet to be generated.

Other major box office draws such as Salman Khan, Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan and Ranbir Kapoor have no films in the offing this year. Ajay Devgn has a list of 10 films either awaiting release or in the making; his two films that are most likely to hit the screens this year are ‘Maidaan’ and ‘Singham Again’ which also stars the who’s who of the film industry.

If the film works, the credit will be hogged by its director Rohit Shetty, though it also features Ranveer Singh, who has no solo release and features only in multi-starrers.

Akshay Kumar, who is known to accommodate four films a year, conveniently has as many films listed for release, including ‘Singham Again’ (he being one of the stars crowding the screen) and ‘Welcome To Jungle’, which can definitely be called a star-studded film.

A long list of other stars will also be seen in the film. They include Sanjay Dutt, Suniel Shetty, Arshad Warsi, Paresh Rawal, Johnny Lever, Rajpal Yadav, Tusshar Kapoor, Shreyas Talpade, Krushna Abhishek, Kiku Sharda, Daler Mehndi, Mika Singh, Rahul Dev, Mukesh Tiwari, Sharib Hashmi, Inaamulhaq, Zakir Hussain, Yashpal Sharma, Raveena Tandon, Lara Dutta, Jacqueline Fernandez, Disha Patani, and child actor Vrihi Kodvara. Ahmed Khan directs the film for Firoz A. Nadiadwala.

So, in the absence of the big stars in 2024, which are the films that the trade can rest its hopes on and raise viewer expectations? Before this column is published, Shriram Raghavan’s ‘Merry Christmas’ would have been released on the January 12. Though the film missed the Christmas 2023 release, it rests on Raghvan’s reputation he earned post-‘Andhadhun’.

The one with huge expectations would be the Hrithik-Deepika starrer ‘Fighter’ slotted for January 25. Siddharth Anand turns independent producer with this film and also directs the film.

Akshay Kumar is expected to herald his 2024 debut in February with a yet-to- be titled remake of the 2020 biopic ‘Soorarai Pottru’.

Ajay Devgn also has a remake to retell along with R. Madhavan and Jyotika. Vikas Bahl directs this as-yet-untitled film due in March. The film traverses the supernatural zone. Ajay also has a list of 10 films either awaiting release or in the making; his five films that are most likely to hit the screens this year are ‘Maidaan’, ‘Raid 2’, ‘Auron Mein Kahan Dum Tha’, ‘Shaitaan’ and ‘Singham Again’, which also stars the who’s who of the film industry.

‘Yodha’ with Sidharth Malhotra, Disha Patani and Raashii Khanna missed its 2023 release to avoid the crowded calendar and will hit the screens on March 15.

Akshay and Tiger Shroff will try to fit into the shoes of Amitabh Bachchan and Govinda in the newer version of ‘Bade Miyan Chhote Miyan’ (the original, also produced by Pooja Films, was released in 1998). Directed by Ali Abbas Zafar, the film is slated to be an Eid offering around April 10-11.

John Abraham wades into his favourite genre, a geo-political thriller titled ‘Teheran’. Arun Gopalan directs the film scheduled for an April 26 release.

Neeraj Pandey is working on a musical drama this time with ‘Auron Mein Kahan Dum Tha’. Also slated for an April 26 release, the film stars Ajay Devgn, Tabu and Jimmy Shergil.

Since sequels are considered safer, we have ‘Stree 2’ and ‘Bhool Bhulaiyaa 3’. ‘Stree 2’, a horror comedy, is due on August 30; ‘Bhool Bhulaiyaa 3’ is slated for a Diwali release.

Director Kabir Khan is readying his ‘Chandu Champion’ for producer Sajid Nadiadwala, aiming for a June 14 release. Based on the real-life story of a war hero and sportsman, the film stars Kartik Aaryan.

One more biopic in the offing this year is a court drama based on the 1919 massacre of Jallianwala Bagh.

When it comes to ‘Singham’ franchise, Ajay Devgn is a given. Director Rohit Shetty, however, has not only expands but also makes it a varied star cast. Along with Ajay, the film features Akshay Kumar, Ranveer Singh, Arjun Kapoor, Tiger Shroff, along with Karina Kapoor and Deepika Padukone.

A cop universe series film, it is expected to also feature a lot of cars being blown up.

Next, we have Abhishek Kapoor and Sandeep Kelwani directing ‘Sky Force’ with Akshay Kumar slated for October 2 release. It claims to be a real-life (but untold) story of India’s first air strike.

Shahid Kapoor will appear as a cop in ‘Deva’, directed by the Malayalam director Roshan Andrews.

Biopics, remakes, and sequels seem to be the preferred themes that the makers are depending on for 2024. Kind of, old wine in new bottles. Sequels worked well at the box office in 2023, so why not stick to them?

You might as well keep your fingers crossed since you are the ones going to spend your money to watch these movies.

–Ajit Weekly News

vinod/srb


News Credits – I A N S

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