Abhishek starrer 'Players' - a remake of Italian Job

The New Year is set to kick off with the release of the crime caper, Players, starring Abhishek Bachchan as a charming rogue made famous by Michael Caine in the 1969 British thriller, The Italian Job, and Mark Wahlberg in the 2003 Hollywood remake. Two questions: will Abhishek make a good enough Charlie Croker and will 'The Indian Job' pass muster? No matter what, coming in the wake of a year when Mumbai's mainstream movies went several decades backwards in search of creative inspiration,the upcoming Abbas-Mustan flick, which also features Bobby Deol,Sonam Kapoor and Bipasha Basu, will only be strengthening the dominant trend of 2011.

Farhan back with Don-2

The year ended pretty much on expected lines, with Farhan Akhtar's eagerly awaited sequel to Don, toplined by Shahrukh Khan, hitting the screens amid a wave of excitement. The on-screen character, born in 1978 in the guise of Amitabh Bachchan, is an inveterate risk-taker, but playing safe was the name of the Bollywood game off the screen in 2011. So, not only did the industry seek refuge in narrative formulations and stylistic conventions of the kind that enjoyed currency in the1980s and earlier, it invested big time in its two most saleable superstars: Salman Khan and Shahrukh Khan. The strategy paid off.

Star Power

Ready and Bodyguard, both Salman Khan starrers, were the year's two biggest hits. SRK wasn't too far behind with two mega releases, RA.One and Don 2. These big banner films generated a huge amount of buzz-and profits- but strictly in terms of intrinsic merit, they were not necessarily the best films of 2011. Amid all the hype and hoopla triggered by the headline-grabbing 'war' of the superstars, the industry delivered several films that made hay while the sun shone, and did so, in certain instances, despite flying a touch under the media radar.

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Zoya Akhtar's seamless synthesis of a road movie, a buddy-buddy drama and a romantic comedy, helped the two-film-old director break into the Bollywood big league. What worked famously for the film was its easy-on-the-eye packaging, accentuated by a breezy, if somewhat facile, storytelling style. With stars like Hrithik Roshan and Katrina Kaif leading the way and the picturesque Spanish setting providing the icing on the cake, the feel-good tale embellished with beautiful bods and pretty frames was primed for commercial success.

Delhi Belly- sleeper hit of the year

If ZNMD was about the well-healed swish set, Delhi Belly cast its lot with a bunch of ragged losers who couldn't care less. Produced by Bollywood megastar Aamir Khan, the quirky film, like ZNMD, was about three male friends. But these were guys who threw caution to the wind in the act of negotiating the many challenges of life in a downbeat urban setting. In terms of look, feel and spirit, the Abhinay Deo-directed cinematic cracker belonged to a different planet altogether. ZNMD was about Spain; Delhi Belly was about crushing existential pain. A grimy backdrop, coarse language and in-your-face situations set Delhi Belly apart from run-of-the-mill Bollywood. While purists cringed in consternation, the youth segment lapped it up, making it the sleeper hit of the year.

Vidya's Breakthrough

Talking of sleeper hits, 2011 had the mother of them all: The Dirty Picture, produced by Ekta Kapoor and directed by Milan Luthria. Set in the seedy universe of the 1980s C-grade southern films that unabashedly peddled sex and sleaze riding on the voluptuous form of the ill-fated Silk Smitha, it literally redefined the physical contours of Vidya Balan as a star and an actress. Not since the days of Madhuri Dixit had a commercial Hindi film spearheaded by a female star rocked the box office quite in the manner that The Dirty Picture did. The well-endowed Balan made no bones about her body type and gave the art of seduction a full-blown shot.

Bhatts camp sizzles

Earlier in the year, the house of the Bhatts, with Murder 2, proved yet again that prurience never faces a dearth of takers. Relocated from Bangkok to Goa and with a completely new set of characters and actors (with the exception of Emraan Hashmi),the sequel raked in enough to justify the follow-up. The tale of a renegade cop on the trail of a sex-crazed serial killer had just enough titillation for the masses.

Singham rejuvenates action cinema

The instant popular appeal of Singham made it one of the year's biggest crowd-pullers. This angry super-cop drama was an out-and-out action potboiler that blended no-holds-barred action scenes with some solid performances. The film benefited no doubt from the timing of its release-Singham hit the theatres even as the nationwide movement against corruption gathered steam. Designed for wide mass consumption, director Rohit Shetty's smartly executed entertainer achieved its avowed goal without letting the effort show. An old-fashioned but rousing commercial Hindi film, it gave the much-maligned brand of cinema a fresh zing.

Talash-The Real Story Begins Now

While Aamir Khan will be seen in Reema Kagti's secretively-shot second film, Talash, reportedly a thriller that is a far cry from her Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd. Talash which is slated to be released on June- an eagerly awaited film of 2012. Mr. Perfectionist twice changed its title- first referred as The Act of Murder and Dhuan- finally end his long talaash. The movie also stars Kareena Kapoor and Rani Mukerji.
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