It’s time to plan your 2019. Presenting a list of prospective films you might like to catch in the theatres in the first half of the year.
Preview 2019: Here is what you can expect from Hindi cinema in the new year
Mumbai - 07 Jan 2019 21:16 IST
The start of every cinematic year brings a giddy thrill, almost like the start of a new school year, though there is less of a thrill there. With all new films lined up, there is the hope that we will be enchanted again, by a catchy song, or a certain scene, or be drawn to watch a film again and again, just to find something new each time.
We begin 2019 with that excitement. There is plenty to look forward to, with historicals to take you back to the past, lots of stars pairing up for the first time, and even Hindi cinema’s first mainstream LGBTQIA story.
So here is what you can look forward to in 2019. Please note that the release dates are subject to change as filmmakers are liable to reschedule them in their quest for the best release window possible for their films.
Uri: The Surgical Strike
Release date: 11 January
Director: Aditya Dhar
Cast: Vicky Kaushal, Paresh Rawal, Yami Gautam, Kirti Kulhari, Mohit Raina
An adrenaline-filled action thriller from Ronnie Screwvala's RSVP Movies, Uri: The Surgical Strike brings to life the tactical strikes on terrorist camps across the Line of Control in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir following a terrorist attack on an army base at Uri in Jammu & Kashmir.
Vicky Kaushal, the darling of 2018 with Raazi, Lust Stories, Sanju and Manmarziyaan, is seen for the first time in a physical, action-filled role. First-time director Aditya Dhar, who also wrote the film, adds actresses Yami Gautam and Kirti Kulhari to the operation in key roles critical to its success. Based on true events, Uri officially kicks off the new year.
The Accidental Prime Minister
Release date: 11 January
Director: Vijay Ratnakar Gutte
Cast: Anupam Kher, Akshaye Khanna, Suzanne Bernert, Aahana Kumra, Arjun Mathur, Vipin Sharma, Divya Sethi
At the other end of the spectrum, on the same day, we have another first-time filmmaker Vijay Ratnakar Gutte’s film, a political drama that explores former prime minister Manmohan Singh's two-term leadership from 2004 to 2014.
The film stars Anupam Kher as Manmohan Singh and Akshaye Khanna as Sanjaya Baru, his former media adviser on whose memoir the feature is based. The film will likely give a behind-the-scenes look at the Gandhi family and the workings of the Congress party. Kher’s physical transformation seems impressive, but we are still not convinced about his turn as the former leader.
Release date: 18 January
Director: Soumik Sen
Cast: Emraan Hashmi, Shreya Dhanwanthary
The brazen posters for Emraan Hashmi’s next, Cheat India, state ‘Nakal Mein Hi Akal Hai', or cheating is the smart thing. Soumik Sen, director of Gulaab Gang (2014), sets up Hashmi as cheating entrepreneur Rakesh Singh who puts in place a system whereby rich students can buy their seats at the country’s top institutes and poor students can benefit through their intelligence by posing as them.
However, the get-rich-quick scheme through cheating does not have a good future as Rakesh Singh gets tangled up in an operation that grows out of hand pretty quickly. The drama, highlighting the problems with our educational system, has some tough competition with Thackeray and Manikarnika being released a week later.
Release date: 25 January
Director: Abhijit Panse
Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Amrita Rao
One of the first high-profile biopics of the new year is Thackeray starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui. The National award-winning actor goes against type to step into the shoes of the late Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray. The film follows the politician from his life as a cartoonist, founding the Shiv Seva and leading his party and Bombay through tumultuous times such as the Babri Masjid demolition and the Mumbai riots.
While Siddiqui looks the part, will he be able to convince audiences of the power and confidence of the charismatic rabble-rouser? We are eager to find out.
Manikarnika: The Queen Of Jhansi
Release date: 25 January
Director: Radha Krishna Jagarlamudi and Kangana Ranaut
Cast: Kangana Ranaut, Jisshu Sengupta, Suresh Oberoi, Ankita Lokhande, Danny Denzongpa, Atul Kulkarni, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub
Actress Kangana Ranaut’s period film was mired in controversy all of last year, with director Krish and artistes Sonu Sood and Swati Semwal leaving the project just as the actress came on board for reshoots.
The long-in-the-making film is grand in scale, reminding us of the Baahubali films. It features strong roles for artistes Atul Kulkarni, Ankita Lokhande and Danny Denzongpa. But it remains to be seen if Ranaut, in an all-consuming role as the queen of Jhansi, will win over audiences with her royal turn as actress and director.
Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga
Release date: 1 February
Director: Shelly Chopra Dhar
Cast: Anil Kapoor, Sonam Kapoor Ahuja, Rajkummar Rao, Juhi Chawla
This eagerly awaited film gives a new look to love in Hindi cinema, focusing on the coming-out story of its lead character Sweety, played by Sonam Kapoor Ahuja. Turning the timeless RD Burman romantic number from 1942: A Love Story (1994) on its head, the romance is the directorial debut of Shelly Chopra Dhar, sister of Vidhu Vinod Chopra.
While the drama reunites 1990s stars Anil Kapoor and Juhi Chawla, it also casts the veteran actor on screen with daughter Sonam for the first time. Actor Rajkummar Rao rounds out this appealing casting for Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga as Sonam’s friend and prospective suitor.
Release date: 8 February
Director: Abhishek Chaubey
Cast: Sushant Singh Rajput, Bhumi Pednekar, Manoj Bajpayee, Ranvir Shorey, Ashutosh Rana
All of filmmaker Abhishek Chaubey's films so far — from Ishqiya (2010) to Udta Punjab (2016) — have been promising. His next, Sonchiriya, set in the Chambal valley, takes us into the world of dacoits, played by Manoj Bajpayee, Sushant Singh Rajput and Ranvir Shorey.
Actor Ashutosh Rana seems to be on the opposite side of the law, chasing the Man Singh gang. The hard and gritty teaser promises guts, glory and gore. We can’t wait!
Release date: 14 February
Director: Zoya Akhtar
Cast: Ranveer Singh, Alia Bhatt, Kalki Koechlin, Siddhant Chaturvedi, Vijay Raaz, Amruta Subhash, Vijay Verma
Zoya Akhtar’s fourth feature film will be premiered at the Special Gala section of the 69th Berlin International Film Festival. The long-awaited film brings the pairing of Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt on screen for the first time.
Inspired by the lives of Indian rappers Divine and Naezy, the musical has a refreshingly different look from Zoya’s previous films. The small lanes of Dharavi are a far cry from the cruise ship of Dil Dhadakne Do (2015) or ‘Bagwati’ from Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011). Having seen Zoya go stark in her short film from this year’s Netflix anthology, Lust Stories, we have full faith that the filmmaker will deliver with Gully Boy.
Release date: 22 February
Director: Indra Kumar
Cast: Anil Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit, Ajay Devgn, Riteish Deshmukh, Arshad Warsi, Jaaved Jaaferi
For Hindi film fans of the 1990s, the casting of Anil Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit Nene and Ajay Devgn in Indra Kumar’s Total Dhamaal is bound to induce nostalgia. However, this is no love story, just the latest film in Indra Kumar’s comedy franchise after Dhamaal (2007) and Double Dhamaal (2011). Riteish Deshmukh, Arshad Warsi and Jaaved Jaaferi reprise their roles from the original. With this combination, the end result is sure to be entertaining!
Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar
Release date: 1 March
Director: Dibakar Banerjee
Cast: Arjun Kapoor, Parineeti Chopra
Last year, Kapoor and Chopra were paired up on the disastrous Namaste England (2018) where their once winsome chemistry failed to excite audiences. Their next film together will be Dibakar Banerjee’s dramatic thriller where Kapoor plays a cop from Haryana while Chopra is a straight-laced corporate professional. The pair "represent two completely different Indias" and are distrustful of each other.
For their next year to begin on a good note, both Kapoor and Chopra, along with director Banerjee, need Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar to work.
Release date: 1 March
Director: Laxman Utekar
Cast: Kartik Aaryan, Kriti Sanon, Aparshakti Khurana, Pankaj Tripathi, Vinay Pathak
Sandeep and Pinky have competition from a new pair, Kartik Aaryan and Kriti Sanon, who are pairing up for the first time in the Laxman Utekar film. In the romantic drama, Aaryan, the new breakout actor of 2018, stars as a popular TV reporter who meets the headstrong local girl (Sanon), recently returned to her hometown in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh. Naturally, sparks fly.
Sanon and Aaryan are both likeable and we are looking forward to their inevitable chemistry in the Dinesh Vijan-produced film.
Release date: 8 March
Director: Sujoy Ghosh
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Taapsee Pannu
After Pink (2016), Amitabh Bachchan and Taapsee Pannu are on screen opposite each other for Sujoy Ghosh’s next, Badla, an official remake of the Spanish film Contratiempo (2017). Bachchan has worked with Ghosh before, but Pannu has not. And the synopsis of Contratiempo, wherein a businessman, framed for murder, has to come up with a way to prove himself innocent, has already raised our expectations for the Indian version.
The crime thriller is co-produced by Shah Rukh Khan's Red Chillies Entertainment and makes us wonder if the superstar will be making a special cameo in the feature.
Mere Pyare Prime Minister
Release date: 8 March
Director: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra
Cast: Anjali Patil, Makarand Deshpande, Om Kanojia
The subject of Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra's next is not new. Last year, we were disappointed by Nila Madhab Panda's Halkaa (2018) where a young boy from the slums wanted to build a toilet. Here, too, young Om Kanojia wants to make a toilet for his mother, played by Anjali Patil. However, he enlists the help of the prime minister to make his dream come true. If done right, this could succeed where Halkaa failed.
De De Pyaar De
Release date: 15 March
Director: Akiv Ali
Cast: Ajay Devgn, Tabu, Rakul Preet Singh
It has been a while since we have seen Ajay Devgn in a romantic avatar. The action star steps into first-time filmmaker Akiv Ali’s romantic comedy opposite Rakul Preet Singh. To make matters more interesting, actress Tabu, who wowed us in 2018 in Sriram Raghavan’s Andhadhun, joins the Luv Ranjan production in a key role. There is not much we know about the film or its premise, but its casting is already on point.
Romeo Akbar Walter
Release date: 15 March
Director: Robbie Grewal
Cast: John Abraham, Mouni Roy, Jackie Shroff
After the success of his production, Parmanu: The Story Of Pokhran (2018), actor-producer John Abraham is once again heading to the past for his next. This period espionage drama set in the 1970s, directed by Robbie Grewal, is about the unsung war heroes and the secret agents. John will be joined by veteran actor Jackie Shroff and actress Mouni Roy in her second film after Gold (2018).
The film, which has been shot all over India and Nepal, looks to pick up the buzz created last year by Raazi (2018), another film which highlighted the difficult, treacherous lives of spies.
Release date: 21 March
Director: Anurag Singh
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Parineeti Chopra, Mohit Raina
Dharma Productions is banking on historicals in 2019 and 2020. In their first big production, Kesari, Akshay Kumar plays Havildar Ishar Singh who fought bravely against the Afghans for the British Indian army, which was badly outnumbered, in the Battle of Saragarhi of 1897.
The actor has been a roll recently picking diverse, social subjects, and this historical feels like it will follow in the footsteps of films like Bajirao Mastani (2016) and Padmaavat (2018), but without any footage released by the makers, it’s hard to know whether it will connect with all audiences. Actress Parineeti Chopra has also been cast in the male-dominated film, directed by Anurag Singh.
Mental Hai Kya
Release date: 29 March
Director: Prakash Kovelamudi
Cast: Rajkummar Rao, Kangana Ranaut
The Queen (2014) co-stars Rajkummar Rao and Kangana Ranaut reunite for this frankly out-there black comedy from Balaji Motion Pictures. The posters of the two, in various states of madness, show no clarity about the film’s plotline, only hinting that sanity is overrated, and that it’s time to bring the crazy out.
But more than the casting, we are intrigued by the combination of Telugu filmmaker Prakash Kovelamudi making his Hindi film debut with wife Kanika Dhillon's script on Mental Hai Kya. Mental illness has never been an open subject in India and this satire might just help to demystify it to a larger audience.
Release date: 29 March
Director: Nitin Kakkar
Cast: Zaheer Iqbal, Pranutan Bahl
Salman Khan, as producer, is backing yet another love story and new faces with his next production, Notebook. Khan will introduce Zaheer Iqbal, son of Khan's childhood friend Iqbal Ratnasi, and Pranutan Bahl, daughter of actor Mohnish Bahl and granddaughter of the late actress Nutan, in this love story set in Kashmir.
Thankfully, this production is helmed by filmmaker Nitin Kakkar, who earlier directed the delightful Filmistan (2014) and hilarious Mitron (2018). However, all the newcomers Salman Khan has launched have since struggled in the industry. So we will place a hold on this one until a trailer surfaces.
Release date: 5 April
Director: Abhishek Sharma
Cast: Sonam Kapoor Ahuja, Dulquer Salmaan
Sonam Kapoor Ahuja’s second film of the year brings back Dulquer Salmaan, who made his Hindi cinema debut last year with Karwaan (2018). Here, the leads star as Nikhil and Zoya, two attractive personalities thrown together against the backdrop of the national obsession, cricket.
Sonam is Zoya, an advertising professional born at the exact time the Indian team first won the cricket World Cup in 1983, while Dulquer plays Nikhil, the captain of the team who doesn’t believe Zoya is their lucky charm. Yet, every time she has breakfast with the team, they go on to win the match. So the cricket board takes no chances and sends her across with the team to Australia for the next World Cup.
This romantic drama, based on the best-selling novel by Anuja Chauhan, looks perfect for a country that loves both cinema and cricket.
Release date: 5 April
Director: Chuck Russell
Cast: Vidyut Jammwal, Akshay Oberoi
Mixed in amongst the romances and historicals is this family film set in the jungle that revolves around the friendship between man and elephant. The most iconic Hindi film featuring an elephant was Haathi Mere Saathi (1971), starring Rajesh Khanna, but here in Junglee, actor Vidyut Jammwal plays a veterinarian on an elephant reserve who takes on international poachers and protects his animal friends, no matter what the cost. With the teaser providing The Jungle Book vibe and a wonderful score by Sameer Uddin, this Indian debut by Hollywood filmmaker Chuck Russell will be one to watch!
Release date: 19 April
Director: Abhishek Varman
Cast: Sanjay Dutt, Madhuri Dixit, Varun Dhawan, Alia Bhatt, Aditya Roy Kapur, Sonakshi Sinha
Another historical by Dharma Productions, this co-production with Fox Star Studios and Sajid Nadiadwala looks to bring the multi-starrer back in vogue. It pulls off a coup of sorts, reuniting 1990s stars Sanjay Dutt and Madhuri Dixit Nene, along with a slew of younger stars like Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan, Aditya Roy Kapur and Sonakshi Sinha.
Helmed by Abhishek Varman, the film was originally conceived by producer Karan Johar’s father Yash 15 years ago, but never got beyond the pre-production stage. Set in the 1940s, the film might delve into Partition, a painful chapter of the country’s past that few films have explored.
Release date: 3 May
Director: Rohit Jugraj
Cast: Diljit Dosanjh, Kriti Sanon, Varun Sharma, Ronit Roy
This quirky comedy reportedly finds Diljit Dosanjh romancing the much taller Kriti Sanon. The pair play a police officer and a journalist, respectively. The film, produced by Dinesh Vijan, is the second from filmmaker Rohit Jugraj who has largely directed films in Punjabi and has worked with Dosanjh on Sardaarji (2015).
Actor Varun Sharma is part of the film, also playing a police officer and comedy sidekick to Dosanjh and Sanon. The comedy features yet another new pairing for 2019.
Student Of The Year 2
Release date: 10 May
Director: Punit Malhotra
Cast: Tiger Shroff, Ananya Pandey, Tara Sutaria
While Karan Johar’s Student Of The Year (2012) launched Varun Dhawan, Alia Bhatt and Sidharth Malhotra, this second instalment is only launching two new faces — Ananya Pandey and Tara Sutaria — opposite Tiger Shroff. The sequel, directed by Punit Malhotra, looks at a new batch of students, along with their trials and tribulations. The film also has a special appearance by Hollywood star Will Smith in a song. Judging by Shroff’s fan base, and the growing likes for Pandey and Sutaria on Instagram, this one, too, looks set to pass with flying colours.
Release date: 17 May
Director: Prashant Singh
Cast: Sidharth Malhotra, Parineeti Chopra, Aparshakti Khurana, Sanjai Mishra, Jaaved Jaaferi
Hasee Toh Phasee (2014) co-stars Sidharth Malhotra and Parineeti Chopra are back together again for Jabariya Jodi, set in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. Malhotra plays Abhay, a rakish character who helps to abduct grooms for brides' families to avoid dowry while Chopra is Babli, a modern girl in northern India whose path crosses with Abhay's.
Jaaved Jaaferi and Sanjai Mishra play the fathers of Malhotra and Chopra respectively. While the film is written by Raaj Shaandilyaa, Prashant Singh makes his directorial debut. Malhotra and Chopra's chemistry has worked before and so their fans will be looking forward to this Balaji Motion Pictures romantic comedy.
India’s Most Wanted
Release date: 24 May
Director: Rajkumar Gupta
Cast: Arjun Kapoor
In between Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar and the December historical Panipat (2019), actor Arjun Kapoor dons a new look as intelligence officer Prabhat in Rajkumar Gupta's film, India's Most Wanted (2019).
The action thriller, which rests entirely on Kapoor's shoulders, is based upon true events. Kapoor is an Intelligence Bureau (IB) officer who leads his team on an important mission to capture India's most wanted criminal without bloodshed. Arriving at the end of the summer holidays, this could break through if it follows the pattern of Gupta's last film, Raid (2018), starring Ajay Devgn.
Release date: 7 June
Director: Ali Abbas Zafar
Cast: Salman Khan, Tabu, Katrina Kaif, Disha Patani, Sunil Grover, Nora Fatehi
Actor Salman Khan's big Eid release for 2019 is the period drama Bharat, helmed by his Sultan (2016) director Ali Abbas Zaffar. Actress Priyanka Chopra famously left the project for personal reasons and Katrina Kaif walked in to replace her.
The film has been adapted from the popular South Korean film Ode To My Father (2014), which traced the country's history over five decades. The Indian version is said to span from Independence in 1947 till 2010.
Besides Khan and Kaif, a whole host of artistes from Tabu to Sunil Grover are part of the ensemble cast. Judging from last year's big Eid release Race 3 (2018), this ambitious big-budget release had better play all its cards right, or it just might lose its audience.
Release date: 21 June
Director: Sandeep Reddy Vanga
Cast: Shahid Kapoor, Kiara Advani
The Hindi remake of the super successful Telugu film, Arjun Reddy (2017), finds actor Shahid Kapoor taking on a high-strung role as an alcoholic with anger management issues. Director Sandeep Reddy Vanga returns to adapt his film to Hindi.
In the southern film, Vijay Deverakonda went on to win the Filmfare award for Best Actor, Telugu, for his performance. It remains to be seen if Kapoor is up to the challenge to replicate Deverakonda's intensity as the doctor with issues.
Release date: 29 June
Director: Tarun Mansukhani
Cast: Sushant Singh Rajput, Jacqueline Fernandez, Vikramjeet Virk, Sapna Pabbi
Drive, starring the hot new pair of Sushant Singh Rajput and Jacqueline Fernandez, has reportedly been set in the never-seen-before world of street racing. Producer Karan Johar had previously stated that the film, shot in Israel, would be the first in a series for Dharma Productions. Director Tarun Mansukhani’s last was the hit comedy Dostana (2008).
Release date: Likely in March
Director: Vikas Bahl
Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Mrunal Thakur, Pankaj Tripathi
The buzz around Super 30 has been unfortunate from the beginning. First the film was downgraded from biopic to drama, after its subject, Anand Kumar, was accused of falsifying his claim of training 30 talented students from less privileged backgrounds for the IIT-JEE exam every year.
Then the #MeToo movement hit India and the film's director was accused of sexual harassment. The film's star Hrithik Roshan spoke out in support of the victim and since then, the film has been in a state of flux on whether Bahl will remain director on the project.
Hrithik Roshan plays a mathematician who inspires his students to be their best selves. The film was earlier due for release on the Republic Day weekend alongside Cheat India, Manikarnika: The Queen Of Jhansi, and Thackeray.
Release: Likely during the summer
Director: Indrajit Lankesh
Cast: Richa Chadha, Pankaj Tripathi, Ester Noronha, Rajeev Pillai
For actress Richa Chadha, the biopic Shakeela could be an important turning point in her career, just like A Dirty Picture (2011) was for Vidya Balan. Chadha plays Southern actress Shakeela, who was a star in B-grade Malayalam cinema. Actor Pankaj Tripathi is also part of the cast as an over-the-top Southern star alongside Chadha.