Films to look out for in the first half of 2014

January:

Dedh Ishqiya

The sequel of the much-feted “Ishqiya” is the first cracker of 2014. Khalujaan and Babban are back to their bumbling ways till Khalujaan loses his senses to yet another mysterious widow, Begum Para. The lady has a way with words and is looking for man who shares her love for verse. Madhuri Dixit returns to the hinterland from hibernation and is paired with Naseeruddin Shah, who never had this opportunity when Madhuri was at the top. Arshad Warsi and Huma Qureshi form the second pair of this volatile franchise of Vishal Bharadwaj helmed by Abhishek Chaubey. With Gulzar and Vishal once again getting the metre right, the film is all set to run on the broad gauge.

Jai Ho

It seems like a hurriedly put together project by Sohail Khan to satiate the hunger of Salman fans. Said to be a remake of the Telugu hit Stalin, it is about how helping others in need should become a chain reaction. It goes well with Salman’s well-crafted off screen image. The film has Tabu playing Salman’s sister. In the promos, Khan looks weathered, the action feels dated and the heroine Daisy Shah doesn’t ignite any interest but then when did Salman fans need a story or a heroine? They come for the Bhai, period. Remember Ready?

February:

Highway

There is nobody like Imtiaz Ali to capture the journey of love. More than six years after Jab We Met, Imtiaz takes us on another road trip with an unusual pair of Randeep Hooda and Alia Bhatt. Imtiaz says the story was with him for 15 years and he intended it to be his first film. He is aware of the fact that critics will look for similarities with Jab We Met, and that’s why he had to write numerous drafts of the story of the two characters from diverse backgrounds who take this journey of self discovery through six states in a truck. Shot in digital mode, Imtiaz says the girl is city bred who has never been out and guy has seen life from close quarters. That explains the casting and A.R. Rahman and Irshad Kamil will keep the boredom away on the long patches of wilderness on the road.

Gunday

Bollywood’s fascination with the kitschy past continues as Ali Abbas Zafar mounts Gunday, a tale of friendship set against the backdrop of the coal mafia of Calcutta. Even the posters look vintage ’80s with Priyanka Chopra sitting seductively in a corner. Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor play Bikram and Bala, two small town coal thieves who go on to head the coal smuggling business in Calcutta of the ’60s and ’70s. The two have a penchant for punch lines and share a soft corner for a cabaret dancer Nandita, played by Chopra. The counterpoint is provided by Irrfan Khan whose booming voice as a narrator has prepared us well for the bloody duel.

Shaadi Ke Side Effects

The second edition of Saaket Chaudhary’s comedy on matrimony is the third big release of the month. The chemistry of Farhan Akhtar and Vidya Balan in the promos has already created a buzz.

March:

Happy Ending

No, it has nothing to do with the end of the financial year; it is yet another quirky comedy by Krishna DK and Raj Nidimoru with Saif Ali Khan and Illeana d’Cruz set in the world of literature. Saif, who is fond of books, is playing an author who develops a chemistry with his rival, played by Illeana. The film has an interesting support cast in the form of Govinda, Ranvir Shorey and Kalki Koechlin. Govinda is playing a superstar in the film. Kareena Kapoor, whose presence with Saif hasn’t been successful, will appear in a cameo.

April:

2 States

After making a mark as the boy on the edge, this screen adaptation of Chetan Bhagat’s novel will test Arjun Kapoor’s viability as a romantic hero, as a clean shaven Dharma boy. Backed by Karan Johar and directed by Abhishek Verman, it is the story of a couple hailing from two different states in India. The two face hardships in convincing their parents to approve of their marriage. Alia Bhatt is cast opposite Arjun after Priyanka Chopra and Deepika Padukone backed out and Asin was allegedly dumped. Parents play a pivotal role in the story and hence we will see the formidable pairing of Ronit Roy and Revathy, and Amrita Singh.

May:

Action Jackson

Bollywood will ring in the school holidays with yet another formula feast from Prabhu Deva where the hero will play himself. Well almost. Known as AJ among his close friends, Ajay Devgn has come up with a title that will take his action image forward and keep Prabhu’s dancing shoes in momentum. Ajay will be paired opposite Sonakshi Sinha, who doesn’t seem to have a ‘no’ in her dictionary when it comes to these masala flicks. Yaami Gautam will get to taste the waters of the mainstream and Himesh Reshammiya will return to his true calling.

June:

P.K.

Arguably, the most sought after film of the year will see Raj Kumar Hirani pairing with Aamir Khan once again to take on the demigods of society. At a time when Asaram is in jail and many other self-styled gurus under a cloud, Hirani with his unique sense of humour and drama is expected to strike a chord with the viewers with his tale on god and godmen. In 2012, Umesh Shukla started a conversation with the audience on similar lines with Oh My God. Hope Hirani comes with a fresh take. As always, the Vidhu Vinod Chopra team is secretive about the details. The film will see Anushka Sharma opposite Aamir, with Sanjay Dutt and Sushant Singh Rajput in supporting roles.

Small budget big surprise

Lakshmi by Nagesh Kukunoor starring Maonali Thakur and Shefali Shah

Miss Lovely by Ashim Ahluwalia starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Niharika Singh

Queen by Vikas Bahl starring Kangna Ranaut and Raj Kumar Yadav

Mango by Abbas Tyrewala starring Chandan Roy Sanyal and Swara Bhaskar

Citylights by Hansal Mehta starring Raj Kumar Yadav