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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 April 2019

From big weddings to #MeToo: all the drama in Bollywood this year

Here's a look at the five topics that got people talking about the industry in 2018

Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone pose for photographs before their reception in Mumbai. Getty
Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone pose for photographs before their reception in Mumbai. Getty

Bollywood is a prolific machine: hundreds of films come out of the industry every year, but what got people debating in 2018? Here are the five moments and things that sparked the most conversation both in and around the Hindi film industry this year.

1. Sridevi’s death

The entire Kapoor clan was in the UAE to celebrate as actor Mohit Marwah and stylist Antara Motiwala tied the knot in Ras Al Khaimah, but the occasion ended tragically after legendary actress Sridevi died a few days later in Dubai. On February 24, the actress – who was married to producer Boney Kapoor, with whom she had two daughters, Janhvi and Khushi Kapoor – died in ­Jumeirah Emirates Towers.

Read more: Tributes pour in for Sridevi Kapoor on what would have been her 55th birthday

The death of such a huge star obviously took hold of the nation, but the way the Indian news media sensationalised it is also worth discussing. The official cause of death was drowning, but various reports blamed the tragedy on ­everything from Sridevi’s alleged alcoholism to her regular botox.

Many Indian news channels even tried to recreate the scene, with a bathtub in their studios.

Read more: Fans and celebrities line the streets to say final goodbye to Sridevi

Despite all this, the Kapoor family has put up a united front since her death. For years, the actress kept her distance from her husband’s children with his first wife – actor Arjun Kapoor and his sister, Anshula. But since Sridevi’s death, the older Kapoor cousins have been seen as guiding Janhvi, who made her Bollywood debut with Dhadak this year.

2. #MeToo movement

The movement, which exploded in Hollywood in 2017, was ignited in Bollywood this September by actress Tanushree Dutta, who accused actor Nana Patekar and director Vivek Agnihotri of inappropriate behaviour. Women who have worked in different capacities in Hindi film have since spoken out against men who had harassed, abused, blackmailed and threatened them.

While some women, such as writer-producer Vinta Nanda have talked openly about the abuse she suffered, many have chosen to remain anonymous, speaking through journalists and representatives. Some of the biggest names in the industry who have come under fire include directors Sajid Khan, Vikas Bahl and Subhash Ghai, as well as casting directors such as Mukesh Chhabra and Vicky Sidana, music director Anu Malik, writer Chetan Bhagat and singer Raghu Dixit.

Read more: On the coat-tails of #MeToo, is it finally time for a big Bollywood clean-up?

While the odd story still comes to light, the momentum seems to have slowed and some of the accused remain members of the film fraternity. However, 11 female directors, including Zoya Akhtar, Gauri Shinde and Kiran Rao, have formed a collective to support victims, and have vowed not to work with any “proven sexual offenders”.

3. Weddings

The past 12 months have definitely been profitable for Indian designers, with three big weddings in Bollywood. In May, Sonam Kapoor married her long-time businessman beau Anand Ahuja, with the Mumbai festivities spread out over a week. But in comparison to the two big weddings recently, Sonam’s celebration seems positively understated.

In November, actors Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh, alongside their closest friends and family, set off to Lake Como in Italy for a week of celebrations. The pictures from that look like a mix of stills from their film Bajirao Mastani and designer Sabyasachi’s catalogue. They came back to India and hosted four more receptions, and their finale, the big Bollywood night out, was held the same week as actress Priyanka Chopra and singer Nick Jonas’s wedding, which was the definition of “extra”.

The pictures from Priyanka’s wedding were sold to People magazine, and drip-fed on Instagram, and the fact that they so blatantly collaborated with brands for their wedding is raising some eyebrows. They also hosted two receptions in Mumbai, with a number of Bollywood stars in attendance. Rumour has it that Chopra and Jonas will also host another reception in the United States.

The big wedding for the daughter of India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, was not exactly a Bollywood event, but it got everyone talking – and not just because of mother-of-the-bride Nita Ambani’s robot dance moves (performed while she was decked out in jewels worth multimillions). A number of A-list Bollywood celebrities were spotted serving food, and dancing in the background during performances. They were basically the staff. It is the turn of Ambani’s son next. What can possibly top Bollywood heavyweights Aamir Khan serving guests sweets and ­Amitabh Bachchan doling out dal, as well as legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar recording mantras for the ceremony? Watch this space.

4. Underdogs

If you’ve seen any of the biggest hits this year – be it Raazi, Manmarziyaan or Sanju, or Netflix features Love Per Square Foot and Lust Stories – you will know of Vicky Kaushal already. He may not have played the lead in all of them, but he has displayed more range and talent in his five films this year than Salman Khan has in his entire career.

Vicky Kaushal, left, and Kiara Advani in Netflix film ‘Lust Stories’. Maajid Khan / Netflix
Vicky Kaushal, left, and Kiara Advani in Netflix film ‘Lust Stories’. Maajid Khan / Netflix

Kartik Aaryan was another actor whose star value shot up. He is known for his role as the frustrated boyfriend in Pyaar Ka Punchnama and its sequel, but his status was solidified by his turn in Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety, a bro comedy that went on to make big bucks.

Ayushmann Khurrana, right, in ‘Andhadhun’. Courtesy Viacom18
Ayushmann Khurrana, right, in ‘Andhadhun’. Courtesy Viacom18

However, the year truly belongs to Ayushmann Khurrana, who delivered two big hits – ­Andhadhun and Badhaai Ho. The actor has carved a niche for himself by being brave enough to star in films that tackle taboos. With two romantic comedies lined up next year, he is one to watch.

5. Nepotism

In 2017, actress Kangana Ranaut accused director and producer Karan Johar of being the flagbearer of nepotism in Bollywood, where it is infamously about who you know. That debate raged well into this year as a number of star kids made their debuts.

Many actors, such as Taapsee Pannu and Surveen Chawla – who entered the industry on their own merits – have spoken out against being replaced by star kids in films. Yes, there are a few actors, such as Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt, who may have got their first opportunities because their parents have clout in the industry, but they have also delivered strong performances. There have been others, such as Janhvi Kapoor, Aayush Sharma, Tiger Shroff and, to some extent, Sonam Kapoor, who quite frankly lack in the talent department, but continue to get opportunities because of their film star families.

The Suhana Khan ‘Vogue India’ cover. Courtesy Vogue India
The Suhana Khan ‘Vogue India’ cover. Courtesy Vogue India

There are different classes, even within star kids. Suhana Khan was on the cover of Vogue India despite having not appeared in any films, due solely to the fact that she is the daughter of Shah Rukh Khan. Janhvi Kapoor, however, fronted Vogue only once she had a film ­coming out.

With Ananya Pandey – the daughter of actor Chunky Pandey – set to make her debut in Student of the Year 2 next year, and rumours that Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan ready to act, it doesn’t look like the nepotism will end soon.

Updated: December 26, 2018 06:05 PM

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