When we look back at 2012, it is with much affection but also profound regret. The year is one of the most decisive ones in the history of Bollywood. On one hand, 12 films became blockbusters. These are Agneepath, Rowdy Rathore, Ek Tha Tiger, Barfi, Housefull 2, Bol Bachchan, Oh My God, Kahaani, Raaz 3, Cocktail, Jab Tak Hai Jaan and Son Of Sardaar. On the other hand, it was also the year when one by one, showbiz lost many of its luminaries, including Rajesh Khanna, Yash Chopra, Dara Singh, B R Ishara, Dinesh Thakur, Ashok Mehta, Joy Mukherjee, A K Hangal, Jaspal Bhatti... Bichde sabhi baari baari...
A look at the top newsmakers:
>> Yash Chopra: His passing away on October 21, 2012 signalled the end of not just an era but the death of romance. Yashji defined the most tender moments on celluloid, weaving stories that glorified the pristine places of the heart as it drove wildly into the one-way street called love. Yashji continued to make news even when he was gone, though not particularly of the kind he would have liked. Ajay Devgn’s company sent a legal notice to Yash Raj Films, alleging unfair monopolistic practices while acquiring theatres for the screening of Jab Tak Hai Jaan. Caught in the middle, Kajol, the heroine of Yash Raj Films’ most successful product, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, did not attend the premiere of Jab Tak Hai Jaan. Some say she was not invited. Others say she had no choice but to be loyal to her husband Ajay. As the chaos continues, Yash Chopra must be smiling down from Heaven wondering if there’s a movie to be scripted based on his colleagues’ reactions to his final adieu.
>> Return of the Screen Queen: It was the year of the screen divas. Vidya Balan opened the doors in the end of 2011 with The Dirty Picture and then followed it up with her pregnant-woman-lost-in-Kolkata act in Sujoy Ghosh’s brilliantly-written Kahaani. She stunned critics and the aam junta, while the film smashed box-office records and paved the way for the return of the timeless Sridevi in first-time director Gauri Shinde’s lucid and transparent English Vinglish. Like wine (and never mind the whiny voice) Sridevi showed true beauty only gets more pronounced with age. Even before we could catch our breath at Sri’s ethereal return, Bipasha Basu redefined the screen vamp’s claws with her sharply diabolic performance in Raaz 3. Other lovely ladies included Rani Mukherjee in Sachin Kundarkar’s vapid and kinky Aiyaa, Kareena Kapoor in Madhur Bhandarkar’s audacious but unsuccessful Heroine and Karisma Kapoor in Vikram Bhatt’s Dangerous Ishhq. Though some of these ladies did not quite set the box office on fire, collectively this was the year of the Bollywood divas.
>> The Little-Big Film: Out-of-the-box films triumphed in 2012. Topping the list was Shoojit Sircar’s Vicky Donor. With its sensitivity and ingenuity, it caught the nation’s fancy and gave us a gallery of glorious performers, both old and new — Ayushmann Khurana, Yami Gautam, Anu Kapoor, Dolly Ahluwalia and Kamlesh Gill. Then there was Paan Singh Tomar, a biopic on the eponymous sprinter-turned-outlaw, directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia. Thanks to the film, Dhulia is suddenly being wooed by Bollywood A-listers. Debutant Sameer Sharma’s Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana does not quite qualify to be called a sleeper hit, but the foot falls it received was encouraging for makers of a ‘different’ kind of entertainment.
>> First steps: What a year it was for new talent! Director Gauri Shinde (English Vinglish), music composer Sneha Khanwalkar (Gangs Of Wasseypur) and some desperately-needed new acting talent: Arjun Kapoor in Ishaqzaade, Ayushmann Khurrana in Vicky Donor, Mehdi Nebbou in English Vinglish, Diana Penty in Cocktail, Ileana D’Cruz in Barfi, Siddharth Malhotra-Varun Dhawan-Alia Bhatt in Student Of The Year, child actor Mohammad Samad in Gattu, Richa Chadda and Huma Qureshi in Gangs Of Wasseypur, Parambrata Chatterjee in Kahaani... Thank God for the new order! Haven’t we seen enough of established A-listers in their 40s playing 20-somethings?
>> The Big Royal Wedding: So Saif Ali Khan finally made it legal with Kareena Kapoor. Saif tried every trick in the book to obscure the October 16 wedding date. He declared the couple was actually getting married in the Maldives in December. This was the same actor who had to hastily eat his own words after telling the press he was doing a film with Natalie Portman. Very confusing and highly unnecessary. Why not just get married like normal people?
>> Death of a Romantic: Rajesh Khanna’s death should not have shocked anyone. In his last days, one saw his estranged wife Dimple Kapadia and son-in-law Akshay Kumar around him. A woman claiming to be Rajesh’s live-in partner also surfaced. Maybe one of Kaka’s most famous songs ‘Yeh kya hua, kaise hua, kab hua, kyun hua...’ finds resonance here.
>> The Salman Factor: Salman Khan unconsciously causes a great deal of collateral damage. Now, take for example the question of Katrina Kaif and the kiss. Now we all know Salman and Shah Rukh cannot see eye to eye. But when comes the question of kissing heroines on screen, they are both on the same chaste page. But SRK changed his stand and kissed his heroine in Jab Tak Hai Jaan. And the lady at the receiving end of this ‘privilege’ was Salman’s special friend, Katrina Kaif. Is it any wonder then that the Salman-SRK rivalry remained the most talked about one in tinsel town in 2012? Fight on ye stars.
>> Comebacks galore: It was a great year for the return of the veterans. Rishi Kapoor made a strong impact as the slimy villain in Agneepath. Soon after, he was flooded with offers of villainous roles. Anu Kapoor struck a comic chord with the audiences through Vicky Donor. The controversial Girish Karnad made an appearance after a long time in Ek Tha Tiger.
Brawl of fame
They maybe way up the ladder when it comes to acting talent, but Shahrukh Khan and Saif Ali Khan made headlines for all the wrong reasons this year and came close to snatching the ‘Bad boy of Bollywood’ moniker from Salman Khan.
In January, Shahrukh created an uproar when he allegedly slapped friend-turned-foe Shirish Kunder at Sanjay Dutt’s party. Murmurs were that it had to do something with Priyanka Chopra but they remain unsubstantiated. A week of allegations and counter allegations later, the duo turned friends again. Such are the ways of B-Town.
Taking a leaf from SRK’s book, in February, Saif allegedly punched an NRI businessman at the restaurant, Wasabi. Of course, Saif claimed it was in retaliation to being punched first and he took the step only because the businessman abused the women he was dining with — Kareena Kapoor, Karisma Kapoor and Amrita Arora Ladak. He was arrested, released on bail and he apologised for losing his temper in public. There was speculation that it was a publicity stunt for his film Agent Vinod. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t but in either case, it sure didn't do the film or Saif’s image any favours.
SRK loses it, again
In May, it was Shahrukh's turn once again. While the slapgate didn’t affect his image – with Twitterati abuzz with jokes about how Kunder deserved it for making the monstrosity Tees Maar Khan – SRK lost face when he was embroiled in an ugly confrontation during the Indian Premier League (IPL) 5 tournament at Wankhede Stadium. A security guard claimed that the actor verbally abused him, while SRK claimed he was protecting his kids and their friends from being assaulted by the guard. Cops got into the fray as did officials of the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA). The latter ordered that SRK will not be allowed to enter the stadium for five years if he doesn’t apologise but Shahrukh refused to do so. Luckily for him, it all blew over by the time Jab Tak Hai Jaan released.