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Tribune Special

Posted at: Dec 30, 2018, 1:53 AM; last updated: Dec 30, 2018, 1:53 AM (IST)ENTERTAINMENT

Sterling ascents, epic let downs

Content reigned, web won hands down, and the Khans failed to impressed

Nonika Singh

In India, entertainment is synonymous with celluloid dreams. Only this year it had a new form and the stars a new calling card. Web series engaged our minds with as much force and impact as national pastime cinema does.

Sacred Games, the first Netflix original series in India, upped the game and raised the bar like never before. Phantom Films may have broken up following MeToo allegations against key member Vikas Bahl, the other two, Vikramaditya Motwane and Anurag Kashyap, delivered a tour de force. It had the viewers biting their nails with anxious trepidation devouring one after another episode of Sacred Games, which shocked and stunned in equal measure. If Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s Gaitonde act in Sacred Games was the riveting face of menace, Pankaj Tripathi followed close behind. When televisions series Powder streamed on Netflix, many dismissed it as a poor cousin of Narcos and Sacred Games. Yet, National Award-winning Pankaj shone, more so in Mirzapur. Adult content became the USP of many an uncensored series like Twisted and Gandi Baat. Rajshree Deshpande went topless in Sacred Games and trollers over the top. 

For Bollywood, the year began with aplomb. Sanju was a blockbuster on home turf and had a bumper opening in the UK, the US and Australia. Padmaavat earned a position in the coveted list of worldwide revenue earnings. The trade pundits couldn’t stop smiling and counting. It was about both safe bets and surprise hits. Ayushmann Khurrana affirmed his position as the new Mr Dependable while the original Mr Dependable,  Akshay Kumar, delivered with inspirational and real stories. Gold entered the Rs 100-crore club and Padman ran short of the magical figure, but was a hit nevertheless.

But the ever-reliable Aamir Khan failed the great expectations’ test. Viewers couldn’t believe their eyes as they saw Thugs of Hindostan flounder and ensured it fell like a thud. What was refreshing was the stream of small films like Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety, Stree, Mulk, Badhaai Ho and Andhadhun making megabucks as did a clutch of women-oriented films. Raazi established Alia Bhatt’s position as an actress of substance, not just a daughter of motor-mouth Mahesh Bhatt.

Bonafide stars were born too. Sridevi’s daughter Jhanvi Kapoor made a decent debut with Dhadak and it was a unanimous aye-aye for Sara Ali Khan in Kedarnath. 

That heroines can rule the roost was not just proved by Raazi, but Hichki and chick-flick Veere Di Wedding. Women continued to dazzle as well as rattle and ruffle feathers. Swara Bhasker raised hackles with her acerbic open letter to Sanjay Leela Bhansali with graphic reference to the V word but also with her self-pleasuring scene in Veere Di Wedding. Kangana Ranaut may not have picked the first stone in #MeToo movement, but as charges against Bahl gained ground, she minced no words and seconded the charges of harassment levelled against him. In the year to come, she will once again wield the sword in the biopic, Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi. That will determine whether she really is the queen of Bollywood. Fate of many more will hang in balance, including Anurag Singh whose Akshay Kumar-starrer Kesari will hit the screens.

Insomniacs will find reasons to stay awake if season two of Sacred Games keeps its date with the anointed hour. Game of addiction might turn serious with the Game of Thrones finale as actors of the much-hyped series have said you may need therapy after this one. Crown’s third season, too, might assuage your frayed nerves.

In the New Year, who will dethrone whom and who will be the new claimants to the crown of entertainment? To quote WH Auden: “Entertainment is intended to be consumed like food, forgotten, and replaced by a new dish.” Pastiche or potpourri, surprises will not be in short supply.

Reel vs real

Up and down: That is the story of Sanju Baba, who came to life like never before as a biopic on him hit the screens. Ranbir Kapoor nailed it as Sanjay Dutt. Whether Sanjay deserved a biopic or not, audiences clearly didn’t deserve Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster 3 where Dutt made yet another failed attempt at comeback.

They came, they conquered

One almost lost count of the number of Hollywood films that came home. Amid them, the one that stood tall on the BO meter was without doubt Avengers: Infinity War. If Black Panther became the highest superhero grosser in the US, it was a money spinner here too. Aquaman was even released in India ahead of the US.

India’s MeToo chapter

In a TV interview, Tanushree Dutta opened up about her MeToo ordeal involving actor Nana Patekar. Taking a cue from her, many women in the film industry dug out their buried stories. This time, not the victim, but the accused were put to shame. Raise a toast to Vinta Nanda, Sona Mohapatra and many more who showed guts.

A star and a husband 

When volcano of energy Ranveer Singh played Alauddin Khilji to perfection in Padmaavat, villainy sold like never before. He ended the year with a roar in Rohit Shetty’s Simmba. He won the Best Actor award and is working to be the best husband as he tied the knot with ravishing Deepika Padukone.

In the news

Zero game

All the Khans fell down. Salman-starrer Race 3 and Aamir’s Thugs of Hindostan were not the only disappointments of the year. Shah Rukh Khan, too, dashed hopes with Aanand L Rai’s Zero crash landing. Featuring Badshah Khan as a dwarf and Anushkha Sharma as a space scientist, Zero got its maths wrong, which trade pundits believe could also adversely affect collections.

Power puff PeeCee

Trollers shamed the age gap between her and her husband Nick Jonas, younger by 10 years, but there is no underscoring the might of being Priyanka Chopra. Rumour has it that she sold her wedding pics for a whopping Rs 18 crore. While Priyanka was a star guest at the British royal wedding in the UK, now Meghan Markle is expected to make it to Priyanka’s US wedding reception.


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