January 2009 releases and 2008 highlights

**This note added 1/5: Happy birthday A. R. Rahman.**

Happy 2009!
Wishing you all the very best for a happy, healthy and safe year ahead. A big thank you to all of you for your role in making 2008 a great year, especially those who comment regularly and make blogging a fun, learning experience. December was expectedly the answer to box office woes. Congratulations Aamir Khan for yet another feather in the cap! Ghajini (discussing it in this post) set Bollywood's all-time opening week records, which is well-deserved for the amount of hard work that went into it.

Here are the new releases for the month. A recap of some highlights from 2008 is included below.

Looking most forward to Luck By Chance, which releases the 30th. Produced by Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani, directed by Farhan's sister Zoya Akhtar, and starring (get this) Farhan Akhtar opposite the ever-dependable Konkona Sen Sharma in a film reflecting on film -- the kind of film that can be quite good. It also stars Hrithik Roshan, Rishi Kapoor, Dimple Kapadia, Juhi Chawla (haaye Allah!), and Sanjay Kapoor (**Spoiler** And even Aamir Khan has a cameo in it! I believe his last was for Damini (1993) **End Spoiler**). Its soundtrack (Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, lyrics by Javed Akhtar) is by far the best of the month, and here's its theatrical trailer:

Among the other releases I look forward to is what its makers term 'Bollywood's first Kung-Fu comedy', Chandni Chowk to China (lots at the official website: cc2c-thefilm.com). Starring Akshay Kumar, Deepika Padukone, Ranvir Shorey and Mithun Chakrobarty, it releases the 16th. Its soundtrack is about average, and has a couple of songs with vibes similar to those from Singh is Kinng (2007), which is not surprising any longer given Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi last month tried its own rehashes.

The song Bombay Se Aaya Mera Dost, which made the soundtrack to my life and was remade by Bappi Lahiri (who also made the original) here, could have been better. And while Ms. Padukone was really quite good in Om Shanti Om (2007), for someone who has one successful film to her credit (Bachna Ae Haseeno (2008) was not special), she sure does love to talk a lot. It'd be nice to have her walk the talk and I want her to do well, so opposite Akshay offers a very good opportunity. Wouldn't be surprised at all if this were the first big hit of the year. Akshay and Ranvir are fine comedians. Should be fun!

Raaz - the Mystery Continues (official website: raazthefilm.com) is intriguing, but there's absolutely no way I'd check it out in theaters for the theme. Raaz (2002) starring Bipasha Basu and Dino Morea was good, but there seem to be a lot more freaky elements in this. Kangana Ranaut and Emraan Hashmi again should be interesting. They were quite good together in Gangster (2006). Hashmi is an underrated actor who is often ignored when discussing the new breed of actors. Jannat (2008) proved he can run a movie on his own.

Victory stars Harman Baweja, Amrita Rao, Gulshan Grover, and a bunch of all-pro (read: really, really good) cricketers from some major test-match-playing nations including India (of course), Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. Cricket fans can certainly appreciate this trailer, and I don't see how I'll stay away from it, regardless of the cast :)

Here's the complete list (source: IndiaFM):

  • Jan 9: Bad Luck Govind, Horn Ok Pleassss, Kaashh... Mere Hote, The President Is Coming
  • Jan 16: Chandni Chowk To China
  • Jan 23: Firaaq, Raaz - The Mystery Continues, The Murderer
  • Jan 30: Luck By Chance, Victory

The year that was
Here's a quick recap of 2008, then, based on the films I have seen. For discussions on all 2008 films discussed below, consult this A-Z listing. Yet again, I was quite pleased with the products of film by my favorites, director Ashutosh Gowariker and actor Aamir Khan -- Jodhaa Akbar and Ghajini were arguably the top two films of the year. A. R. Rahman clearly deserves the music accolades -- five soundtracks, each with a different flavor, each brilliant in its own right, with Yuvvraaj (lyrics by Gulzar) being my favorite. I hope he keeps up the frequency -- anything over two a year would be great.

2008 will not be remembered as one of the best for Hindi cinema, especially when compared to 2006 or 2001. But I'm confident a few years from now, we will remember it most for giving us some brand new talent that might well lead the next generation of artists. Some of my favorite d├ębutantes:

Imran Khan did well in Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, but the less successful Kidnap, in which I think he acted better, proved that he might well have arrived for the long term. He's often said he wants to be an actor first, celebrity second, and his first couple of film selections following Jaane Tu are very encouraging.

Farhan Akhtar, we were all familiar with because of his immensely successful directorial debut in Dil Chahta Hai (2001), followed by the stylish Don (2006). In Rock On, he was excellent not only as a director and actor, but also as a singer! His TV show Oye! It's Friday only proves he can do it all. Or maybe he's a nerd and I can relate to him.

Rajeev Khandelwal
completes the top three new actors of the year. Aamir (the film) was one of the most engaging of the year, and his performance fit like hand in glove for what newcomer director Rajkumar Gupta (he's really quite good) was trying to accomplish.

Asin and Anushka Sharma had the good fortune of starting their Bollywood careers opposite two of the biggest names in the business in Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan respectively. Asin was clearly in the better film (and opposite the better actor), and considering she worked in several films in another industry prior to the Hindi Ghajini, comparing them might not be fair. Asin especially has the tools to be around for a while. Her next film also stars Salman Khan. Salman had a disappointing 2008, but that he will be back in 2009 is one prediction I'm glad to make.

Time has come for some original and brilliant music direction! Amit Trivedi's soundtrack to Aamir (the film) was a thing of beauty, and would make veterans proud. One of the most complete soundtracks of the year, it included a qawwali with elements of beledi, which is among the finest compositions I have ever heard. Memo to A. R. Rahman: Please take Mr. Trivedi under your wing -- we could use more such influence, because the rest are in a different league (read: simply way behind).

Benny Dayal
and Rashid Ali: Both vocalists have major hits to their credit their debut year. Believe me when I say the most popular song of the year among the youth of India is Kabhi Kabhi Aditi by Rashid Ali (from Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na). Although I am somewhat tired of listening to it when around a friend named Aditi (seriously). Rashid, a guitarist in Rahman's music crew, finally got an opportunity and made the most of it. His other hit includes the title song to Ada - A Way of Life. It would not be surprising if he becomes to Imran what Udit Narayan became to Aamir Khan after their joint debuts in Qayaamat Se Qayaamat Tak (1988). Benny Dayal has Tu Hi Toh Meri Dost Hai from Yuvvraaj, and my pick for love song of the year, Kaise Mujhe from Ghajini.

And finally, Genelia D'Souza and Jiah Khan returned to success with Jaane Tu and Ghajini respectively. They aren't newcomers, and considering their careers didn't necessarily take off in their previous efforts, I'll be looking out for these lovely and feisty ladies, especially Genelia, who appears to be among the most natural on screen.

I'll be back with normal programming in about a week and a half. In the mean time, this would be a fair explanation of my absence :)


pitu said...

Dude! Happy New Yr, and yeah, I am DYING to watch Luck by Chance. It looks really promising. And Chandni Chowk seems hilarious-I love that Sidhu song. Not rly looking fwd to Victory coz that Baweja chap makes me gag! The Raaz 2 promos do look awesomely creepy! I think it'll be huge fun :-D Yenjoy the beach :-D

Darshit said...

I m really really looking forward to Luck By Chance. Especially after hearing its soundtrack. I'm reviewing it soon. Farhan is truly gifted actor. Rock On was clearly a winner.

Though I m not expecting much about cc2c. Soundtrack is so much disappointing. Maybe after seeing movie, it will pick up. And yes, Raaz seems to be good. Cause I love horror, and I love Kangna ;-D.

Why Mithya is not on your list??

Rajeev is booked for another movie, by Aamir's director, again. But Don't know much about it. And, are you talking about Haan Raham... as qawwali ? It was fabulous. Also another track from the film, Ek lau is just awesome. Also Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy did fantastic job in Rock On !! was I think, the most complete soundtrack.

Have you forgotten Javed Ali ? Beautiful Jashn-e-Baharaa & Guzaarish were damn good. And yes, RDB's Guitarist Rashid Ali is a STAR now. I hope Rahman will not stop taking him like he did with Naresh Iyer .Thank god the movie Ada , didn't got released. Cause by promos, the movie seems not *that* good as its music is.

And Genelia ........................ WOW. What a girl !!! I just can't get enough of her. Still watching Jaane Tu... twice a week.

Darshit said...

P.S.: It's time to update your sidebar and title bar now..
[I hate making p.s., but can't resist :-) ]

Rashmi said...

Luck By Chance is definitely my most anticipated film this month, and since I'm going to India at the end of this month, I'll get to see it in theatres, which is always nice. :) (Where I live, Bollywood movies don't release in cinemas - hell, Hollywood movies release here about a month or two later than they do every where else.)

ajnabi said...

I am SO looking forward to Luck by Chance; it just looks awesome. And have a lovely time on vacation!

Filmi Girl said...

Happy New Year! I'm looking forward to all the January releases - (yes, even Razz...)!

I've got a good feeling about 2009...!

theBollywoodFan said...

Thank you all for your comments! Hope you have a great start to the year.

Pitu: Fingers cross for Luck By Chance and Chandi Chowk. Should have mentioned that I really like the song 'Tere Naina' from the latter. I'm such a sucker for cricket films, I'll probably watch Victory just for all the cricketers, although Harman will be difficult to root for, despite the Indian jersey and all, LOL...

Darshit: Farhan was surprisingly good in Rock On, and if the trailers are any indication to go by, he'll be very good here too. I was hoping the CC2C soundtrack would be better, it is disappointing. Expecting good integration, as you say.

Really enjoyed Mithya, don't recall any debuts, though. Yay to Rajeev and the Aamir (film) crew! Javed Ali too, should have added him. Ada's non-release is as much a mystery as its soundtrack which was made over six years, LOL.

Have you seen Genelia in Bommarillu? The review is in the A-Z list. I *loved* it. It's not my favorite genre, so trust me, it's good :)

theBollywoodFan said...

Hi Rashmi: Have fun in India! Watching it in theaters will surely be an awesome experience. I can relate to being somewhere Bollywood films do not release in theaters. It can be very testing. But hey, there are DVDs!

Ajnabi: The trailer of Luck By Chance played before Ghajini, and I went from, "Oh, look, Farhan," to "Oh look, Konkona," and "Haaye Allah!" ;) So much talent, it'd be disappointing if it were a dud. The hols have been fun, just trying to make the most of it. Spent some time in Santa Barbara and Solvang, and am basically driving around (it's gorgeous), exploring areas and beaches within a 200 mile radius of Los Angeles before heading away for a bit :)

Filmi Girl: I can be very easily disturbed (read: frightened, LOL) with horror films in a theater, so I'd better stay away. I cannot imagine staying away entirely, though. Fingers cross for 2009, hoping for the best!

Nicki said...

I swear, I hate commenting from work cause it seems like it never goes through.

Horror films is one of my fave genres. I love it. Can't wait for Raaz 2. It does have more freaky elements and I am excited!! But I may wait for the dvd cause I have a feeling it won't take long to release on dvd.

Actually so many films I'm looking forward to in 2009. I still have to watch some more films from 2008 first before making my list but I can't help it. I keep re-watching some oldies!

veracious said...

Farhan Akhtar is a total nerd and I love him for it! I think in some ways film nerds can make the best directors - their love of movie can show in the final product so well.

Very nice highlights overall. :D

Saurabh said...

I don't think it is a good start to 2009, especially the films releasing on 9th Jan. Films like Rab Ne, Ghajini and Slumdog Millionare have raised the standards even higher. So these films don't fulfill our expectations.

Now I've started hating Akshay Kumar for the reason that he only does commercial films. The latest example is Jumbo. I mean, he should try a different genre.

I've seen a horror film for a long time, so Raaz 2 should be good for me :)

The Comic Project said...

Happy new year ... and a great roundup of 2008. Discovered your blog only today and looking forward to read the archives and following this year

theBollywoodFan said...

Nicki: You must surely be looking forward to Raaz 2, then! The songs are quite decent, must say. Hashmi and Bhatt are usually up to something interesting, so I'll look forward to the DVD. Been on quite a streak with oldies too...funnn!

Veracious: Thank you. Agreed on film nerds delivering fine products as directors. A segment of the media seem to be unkind to Farhan's TV show. I really like it, because it's totally aligned with my sense of humor. :)

Saurabh: I guess I'm just optimistic about January 2009. Let's not compare expectations of films with newbies to those with Aamir or Shah Rukh or Akshay. Glad with Akshay Kumar's success -- he's been around a long time, and deserves every bit. I too wish he'd make better films, just like I wish Shah Rukh would make better films :) Haven't seen Jumbo, but releasing it alongside Ghajini was a bad move. And if Rab Ne raised any standards, I totally missed it my friend.

The Comic Project: Welcome and thank you very much for your comment! Hope you find the content interesting :)

Kanan said...

Happy 2009! :)
Beach is the place I wanna go but it's too darn freezing. Even San Diego was cold last week. I'm guessing you weren't around LA land then.

Thanks for the recap and info about upcoming movies. How about Delhi-6? Looks interesting with both tall ppl in it. I'm also looking forward to Luck By Chance. And need some courage to watch Rock On. I hate movies where people die. Ghajini is next to be watched in theater.

The Comic Project said...

Came back to say that the translations are lovely and so are the film reviews. More power to you
TCP - www.thecomicproject.blogspot.com

theBollywoodFan said...

Kanan: Thanks for the wishes. It's been cold, but as long as the sun and surf are up, beaches work for me! What I really like about beaches here is the proximity to rock climbing, which I enjoy more than swimming. ;)

Delhi 6 (releasing in February) will be a lot of fun indeed. Music by A. R. Rahman and a film by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra!!! I'm with you on death in film, but as we will eventually die, so must some characters, given how films mirror emotion and life, na?! I really enjoyed both Rock On and Ghajini, and hope you like them too.

TCP: Thank you, thank you!

Darshit said...


Why have u ruined biggest surprise of the year? Cant you put spoiler alert before Aamir's cameo news?

I m very disappointed visiting ur blog this time.

theBollywoodFan said...

'Why?' would be better answered by the director of the film (Zoya Akhtar), Darshit! Didn't include it initially, but it's been all over front page news today and half the world seems to know already (in case you missed it). Here's Zoya discussing it.

I'm sorry for your disappointment in the blog (and I've included a spoiler alert), but I will encourage you to appreciate that it is something the director seems to want to discuss, and seems to think will only add to the film's value beforehand :)


The Comic Project said...

@TBF: The Mr.India comic book is up already. grrr. For 1 week. grr grr. Sorry..the grrs are my style of showing affection while hiding the real intent ;-) http://thecomicproject.blogspot.com/2009/01/mrindia-comic-book-full.html

Looking forward to the next post

theBollywoodFan said...

Hi TCP, and thank you for the link! I know it's been up there for a few days now, just decided to not take my computer with me as I vacation, and the smaller screen of my phone will only do so much justice to what I am sure are brilliant pages full of Mogambo and Co.! Hope to return to posts this coming weekend. Cheers.

Bhargav Saikia said...

I can't wait for Delhi 6! It looks superb and has many good actors like Waheeda Rehman, Divya Dutt and of course the leads. Do take a look at my blog too. It's at www.bhargavsaikia.com


theBollywoodFan said...

Hi Bhargav and thank you for your visit and comment. Delhi 6 looks very very promising! Really can't wait. The music releases soon too! Yay!