The genre has made a definite comeback to the Hindi film industry. And going by the trend meter, it looks like it’s going to stay for a while. What started off with films like Vicky Donor and Piku was swung off the field by the likes of Tumhari Sulu, Qarib Qarib Singlle, and Shubh Mangal Saavdhan last year. And now, movies like Badhaai Ho, Mulk, Manmarziyaan, and Stree have consolidated the innings.
Along with sharp writing, realistic set-ups, and some stolid performances, these films have, quite suddenly, made the movies interesting again.
What 2018 waved in was the new everyman – the new Amol Palekar, Farooq Sheikh and Deepti Navals if you will – actors who can create real and ordinary characters on screen and go beyond stardom to strike a genuine chord with the audience. And four actors are leaving the rest behind in this game – Taapsee Pannu, Ayushmann Khurrana, Vicky Kaushal and Rajkummar Rao.
Taapsee Pannu seems to be slowly but steadily defining the middle class everywoman in Bollywood – something not easily definable in this day and age.
The actor has been creating a range of strong, vulnerable and believable women which go beyond the regular offering of cardboard roles.
Taapsee gave us Harpreet Kaur (Soorma), Aarti (Mulk), and Rumi (Manmaziyaan) this year. While Soorma was average in many respects, it gave us an ambitious hockey stick-wielding leading lady – a trait partially carried over by Rumi. Aarti and Rumi on the other hand are deeply memorable characters – independent, brittle, strong, and conflicted.
With films like Badla, Tadka and Mission Mangal coming up in 2019, it would be interesting to watch if she would weave this tapestry some more.
My USP Is That the Average Girl Relates to Me: Taapsee Pannu
Ayushmann Khurrana is probably the one who started it all. The revival of the everyman in Bollywood that is. From Vicky Donor and Dum Lagake Haisha, he has gone from strength to strength with Shubh Mangal Saavdhaan and Bareilly Ki Barfi to this year’s double bonanza – Badhaai Ho and AndhaDhun.
Whether it’s a small-town smart aleck or a typical Dilli boy, Ayushmann has quite surprisingly made each of his characters in this genre stand out and more importantly, not seem carbon copies of each other. And boy, does he have a hand on the box-office pulse!
What’s perhaps really working for him is his willingness to leap into the unknown – albeit intelligently. And the man is a gambler alright.
From picking original scripts that address taboo topics (weight, sperm donation, impotency, middle-age sex life) in what are thorough entertainers (take that, moral police!) to jumping genres with an AndhaDhun, Ayushmann is killin’ it.
With Dream Girl and Bala on the floors, this guy seems to have a road plan mapped out.
I Want to Break the Mould With ‘AndhaDhun’: Ayushmann Khurrana
Vicky Kaushal is clearly this year’s rising star. He has had five releases in 2018 – Netflix’s Love Per Square Feet and Lust Stories, followed by Raazi, Sanju, and Manmarziyaan. And you get a glimpse of his range right there.
Slipping from role to role like a chameleon, the actor has created true-to-life characters that are often an odd mix of sincerity, vulnerability and ambiguous. He has the rare gift of blending in with the crowd and yet become that one face that grabs your attention.
Compare the clueless romantic in Lust Stories with the unsophisticated but warm as cake Kamli in Sanju, and then the irritating yet lovable man-child in Manmarziyaan – this is an actor to raise a toast to and to watch out for in the years to come.
Coming up in Vicky’s kitty is Uri: The Surgical Strike, for which the actor has undergone considerable physical transformation, and The Vanishing Act (which will pitch him again with Nawazuddin Siddiqui after Raman Raghav 2.0).
‘Masaan’ to ‘Manmarziyaan’, the Many Faces of Vicky Kaushal
Rajkummar Rao of course proved his acting chops a long time back.
But now the actor seems to be making a conscious effort to consolidate his territory with the masses. His acting chops and ability to get into the skin of a character makes him the perfect choice for playing rooted and real everyday men.
And his wildly funny turn as the timid and bullied guy-turned-gali ka dada Pritam Vidrohi in Bareilly Ki Barfi paved the way to one of this year’s blockbusters, Stree.
The horror-comedy had him playing Vicky, a sweet tailor who falls for a mysterious woman even as the men of the small town disappear under the spell of an ancient curse. From the accent to the comic timing to portraying a nuanced character, Rajkummar nailed it just right.
And now, the actor is gearing up for an exciting 2019 with Stree 2, Made in China, Mental Hai Kya and Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga – all of them walking the middle road between commercial and critical films.