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Opinion | Can Bollywood Deliver More Pathaans Soon?

By: Biswadeep Ghosh


Last Updated: January 29, 2023, 16:28 IST

New Delhi, India

A still from Jhoome Jo Pathaan song from Shah Rukh Khan starrer Pathaan.

A still from Jhoome Jo Pathaan song from Shah Rukh Khan starrer Pathaan.

Bollywood has released a bunch of fairly impressive trailers of big-budget films recently. It is the films, however, that face the real challenge of pleasing the modern-day viewer

There is euphoria in the air. Siddharth Anand’s spy-action drama Pathaan is a blockbuster. Success, however, cannot be a one-time occurrence. Teasers and trailers of upcoming big-budget films reveal an emphasis on mass entertainers as the industry hopes to hit the jackpot more often in the coming months.

History cannot get created every week. Although most viewers posting their thoughts online have found the trailers impressive, the films face the real challenge of becoming crowd-pleasers.

Focus on the hero

Salman Khan has been around for more than three decades. Farhad Samji’s action drama Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan shows him in an action-packed avatar that shares similarities with Shah Rukh Khan in Pathaan for a while. Salman is bearded, has long hair and even sits on his knee during an action sequence like the latter does in Pathaan. Director Samji’s last film was Bachchhan Pandey, the Akshay Kumar actioner that had tanked at the box office. He will be hoping for better luck this time. So will Salman as he plays the brother, falls in love, and takes on his adversaries as the action hero.

Rohit Dhawan’s upcoming comedy Shehzada will be a test for Kartik Aaryan. Popular among the masses as a romantic hero because of his theatrical releases, Aaryan, in Shehzada’s trailer, is shown as a bidi-smoking young man who drives a scooter and takes on his opponents in impossibly unreal action sequences. The young star is a gifted performer, but it will be interesting to see how he fares as the larger-than-life hero of a typical entertainer in which the focus is entirely on him.

Too many remakes

In Lokesh Kanagaraj’s gripping Tamil language action drama Kaithi, a character tells his companion (the protagonist played by Karthi) during a perilous late-night journey, “Nowadays, films work only if they have a good story.” Kaithi does have what its character talks about: a good story. The result is Bholaa, the remake of Kaithi directed by Ajay Devgn, in which one cannot help but notice Tabu’s character of a cop, Deepak Dobriyal’s antagonist, Devgn’s titular character, and fantastic action sequences. Devgn is an underrated director, and what is in evidence suggests an exciting theatrical experience.

Bholaa, however, is susceptible to comparisons with the original. Remakes, apart from Abhishek Pathak’s Drishyam 2, have not worked in recent times either. The recent release of trailers of remakes, however, is a reminder that the industry will continue to make such films — if it is not assailed by many more failures.

Samji’s KKBKKJ is a remake of Siva’s Tamil action-drama Veeram, while Shehzada is a remake of Trivikram Srinivas’s Telugu action comedy Ala Vaikunthapuramaloo. The latter stars Allu Arjun as a man who has never seen his real wealth because he has been brought up in a lower-middle-class household after getting exchanged at birth. Can Aaryan match the swag of Arjun in the Hindi remake? His fans will hope he does.

Another remake, whose trailer has been released recently, is Raj Mehta’s Selfiee which stars Akshay Kumar and Emraan Hashmi. A remake of Lal Jr’s Malayalam film Driving Licence starring Prithviraj Sukumaran as a superstar and Suraj Venjaramoodu as a motor vehicle inspector, the story is about what happens after its protagonists engage in a clash of egos. Selfiee is a crucial film for Kumar, who experienced a series of setbacks last year. Playing the superstar, he makes the viewer smile by taking a dig at the real Akshay Kumar when he talks about his much-criticised prolific output in the trailer. Will Selfiee be as entertaining as Driving Licence? All one can say at the moment is Kumar and Hashmi have been well cast in the roles of an actor and a commoner, respectively.

A rom-com

Luv Ranjan’s Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar is not a remake. The romantic comedy starring the two Kapoors, Ranbir and Shraddha, is naughty, witty and urban. The story focuses on its fun-loving protagonists, who believe that getting into a relationship is easy in modern times but getting out of it is difficult! Ranbir and Shraddha look perfect for their roles, and the trailer is all it takes to prove that they share great onscreen chemistry. A big surprise in the film is the presence of stand-up comedian Anubhav Singh Bassi in the role of Ranbir’s friend. Bassi is hugely popular among followers of stand-up comedy, and his unique style of delivery and presence might make an impact.

The recent release of several trailers is a reminder of what lies ahead. Film buffs, who love to celebrate blockbusters in crowded theatres, must be hoping that another Pathaan is on the way.

The author, a journalist for three decades, writes on literature and pop culture. Among his books are ‘MSD: The Man, The Leader’, the bestselling biography of former Indian captain MS Dhoni, and the ‘Hall of Fame’ series of film star biographies. Views expressed are personal.

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first published:January 29, 2023, 16:25 IST
last updated:January 29, 2023, 16:28 IST
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