From artists we finally we got more of, to weddings we couldn’t get enough of, 2018 proved to be a great year for Hindi cinema. Many unwritten industry rules that were once blamed squarely on cine-goers were no longer written in stone.
Rules such as audiences finding married and/or older actresses “undesirable,” supporting actors being fit only for bit roles and heroines leaving the job of making a film successful to the male lead, are now considered broken-down beliefs belonging to a different generation. The checklists next to Hindi “hero” and “heroine” are also thankfully changing and roles of substance are giving style a run for its money.
Women Ruled the Box Office
2018 was the year we saw literal and figurative queens on the silver screen who produced gold at the box office. Padmaavat, Hichki, Veere Di Wedding, Raazi, and Stree were super hits, and in some cases blockbusters, making 2018 the year women ruled the box office.
What made the success of Hichki sweeter was that a forty-something actress who took maternity leave returned with a bang after a four-year absence — a feat many trade pundits thought impossible. Nothing succeeds like success in the movie biz and sizable profits mean more stories focused on females, with diverse backgrounds and motivations, will be made.
Wedding Belles!It wasn’t too long ago that Hindi film actresses would have small, clandestine weddings only to make a marriage announcement once news of their pregnancy hit tabloids. But now A-list weddings not only pronounce a couple has tied the knot, but also provide testimony to their popularity and industry clout.
Sonam Kapoor’s wedding provided content on social media for days and the recent marriages of Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra had fans anxiously waiting for official photos to be released. Now with the majority of top actresses married, who dares to say audiences prefer their wedded leading ladies to leave acting and become homemakers?
Priding herself on being relatable, this Delhi-girl made a name for herself in Telugu and Tamil cinema before making a real splash in Hindi with 2016’s Pink. The year 2018 saw not one but four Hindi feature films, out of which Manmarziyaan and Mulk cemented her status as an actress par excellence.
Her fiery yet vulnerable portrayal of Rumi in Manmarziyaan was described as “the performance of a lifetime in a role of a lifetime,” and come awards season, Pannu will certainly be in the running for Best Actress.
Since his successful debut in 2012’s Vicky Donor, Ayushmann Khurrana’s core career strategy has been letting films speak on his behalf. Last year’s Bareilly ki Barfi and Shubh Mangal Savdhan did wonders at the box office and 2018’s successful Andhadhun and Badhaai Ho proved the audience has been taking him for granted for too long. Having two hugely successful films at the box office playing simultaneously is certainly a feat for the Hindi movie history books and now all eyes are on the actor whose name has become synonymous with stellar content.
Supporting Actors Take Center Stage
The phrase “Past Their Prime” had little meaning in 2018. Veteran actress Neena Gupta made news last year for declaring on social media she was looking for good work. As the saying goes, “Ask and you shall receive.” Gupta’s 2018 included Badhaai Ho in which she and her onscreen husband, actor Gajraj Rao, and onscreen mother-in-law, actress Surekha Sikri, not only had substantial roles but also walked away with accolades. In Stree, actor Pankaj Tripathi stole every scene he was in and further strengthened his standing as an artist who makes onscreen moments work with his mere presence.
A surprise entry into this year’s 100 Crore Club was 102 Not Out based on the relationship between a 102 years young father and his 76-year-old son, respectively played by legendary actors Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor. Here’s hoping these films inspire more screenwriters to write more meaty roles for actors who remain in their prime.
2018 marked only the third year of Vicky Kaushal’s career as a leading man, and what a busy, fruitful year it has been. He is one of a few actors who chose to be present on Netflix in Love Per Square Foot and Lust Stories, and on cinema screens in feature films Raazi, Sanju, and Manmarziyaan. Kaushal uniquely straddles the line of being a supportive lead actor who isn’t afraid to be paired opposite female leads with meatier roles.
Sanju is a bright feather in the actor’s cap as it remains 2018’s biggest grosser, and many would argue it was Kaushal who got the most applause as actor Sanjay Dutt’s Gujarati confidant. And judging by the way his looks get plenty of “likes” Vicky’s popularity will only continue to grow.
The #MeToo movement addressing sexual assault and harassment in everyday life, and decades of allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, put a greater focus on workplace harassment in the entertainment industry. Many observers proclaimed the movement would never come to India. But what started in October 2017, in Hollywood, came to the Hindi film industry in September of 2018.
— UN Women (@UN_Women) October 10, 2018
Actress Tanushree Dutta reminded the public of being harassed by actor Nana Patekar in 2008 and this time her voice was heard. Since then women have come forward with allegations against actors, directors, casting agents, dance directors and more. While many have proclaimed disciplinary action against a few is a mere drop in the bucket, it is hopefully a start to making the industry a safer place for artists.
* * *
Shivani cannot remember a time when she wasn’t madly in love with Indian cinema, which now inspires much of her writing. She lives in both New York City and Twitterpur at @Shivani510.