2011 has been another challenging year for Bollywood due to the continual global economic down turn greatly affecting cinema footfalls.
But that did not stop the film industry from diversifying into many genres and also delving into 3D digital technology.
First half of 2011 saw only four releases raking in over half million mark at the UK box office.
This included the Deols’ musical comedy Yamla Pagla Deewana (*£530,822) and Akshay Kumar’s Southall-based Patiala House (*£708,447 proving to be popular amongst audiences.
Akshay’s all out comedy Thank You (£461,567) and the Salman Khan’s Thailand-based musical romance Ready (£624,556) also got the box office tills jingling again!
Yet some critically and commercially viable films opened below expectations. These included Rani Mukerji’s No One Killed Jessica (£181,225), Aamir Khan’s real life social issues-based drama, Dhobi Ghat (£229,903), Abhishek Bachchan’s slick whodunit Game (£117,865) and Deepika Padukone’s edgy dramatic thriller Dum Maro Dum (£211,818).
Summer releases proved to be more successful with the action romance Bodyguard (£1,414,971) getting its mega Eid release, love story Mausam (£381,666) and Mere Brother Ki Dulhan (£472,871).
But the cinemas digital rollout during the last quarter proved taxing for distributors getting to grips with 3D and 2D digital technology.
Even so the Hindi sci-fi Diwali release Ra One (£1,480,092) headed by King Khan established itself as the biggest commercial blockbuster in 3D format.
On the other hand highly charged Rockstar (£365,611) did not fare well but proved Ranbir Kapoor’s acting prowess whilst the small budget film The Dirty Picture (£80,000) with Vidya Balan caught everyone by surprise critically and commercially.
As predicted King Khan’s Christmas crime thriller Don 2 ended 2011 on a high note with its producers laughing all the way to the bank!
Despite recession hitting the industry very hard big Bollywood releases have been lined up for 2012.
Remake of the Hollywood flick Italian Job which is Abbas-Mustan’s high octane thriller Players stars Abhishek Bachchan, Sonam Kapoor, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Bipasha Basu and Bobby Deol.
Bollywood’s latest couple Ritesh Deshmukh and Genelia D’Souza will star in Tere Naal Love Ho Gaya a comic caper with kidnapping confusions and mistaken identities.
Hrithik Roshan steps into Amitabh Bachchan’s shoes in the 1990s remake of the revenge crime drama Agneepath with Priyanka Chopra as his love interest and Sanjay Dutt as the menacing villain.
Anil Kapoor is a police officer in the action thriller Tezz revolving around a bomb planted on a train travelling from London to Glasgow also starring Ajay Devgn, Kangna Renaut, and Sameera Reddy.
Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu is a romantic comedy based in Las Vegas with Imraan Khan as a straight forward guy falling for Kareena Kapoor a feisty and disorderly female who changes his life forever.
Karan Johar is also back with three newcomers instead of King Khan in the romantic musical comedy Student Of The Year.
Darjeeling forms the backdrop for Barfee a romantic murder mystery showing Ranbir Kapoor as a deaf and mute guy. Priyanka Chopra is also said to play a similar challenging role in the movie which comes from the director of Kites.
Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif who play a couple in the romantic thriller Ek Tha Tiger directed by Kabir Khan of Kabul Express fame revolves around a scientist who is suspected of leaking information about nuclear missile technology.
And Bollywood’s most talked about couple, Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor will appear in Agent Vinod a realistic action thriller based on the story of a spy.
Prateik Babbar of Dhobi Ghat fame is starring in Ek Deewana Tha, a romance between a Hindu Telugu boy and a Malayali Christian girl focusing on the troublesome role of religion in their relationship.
Meanwhile Bipasha Basu and Madhavan will take the role of counsellors helping youngsters with relationship problems in the drama Jodi Breakers also starring Omi Vaidya and Milind Soman.
Director Sujoy Ghosh deviates from his sci-fi flick Aladin to bring us an action revenge thriller titled Kahaani. Vidya Balan plays a pregnant woman all out to settle an old score with the people who betrayed her.
Last appeared in Dhobi Ghat, Aamir Khan returns as a police officer in the suspense drama Talaash tackling the sensitive issue of prostitution also starring Kareena Kapoor and Rani Mukerji.
Directed by famous dancer Prabhu Deva, Akshay Kumar stars alongside Dabanng girl Sonakshi Sinha in the action thriller Rowdy Rathore. Both stars will also join Shreyas Talpade and Minissha Lamba in the 3D action comedy Joker.
Diwali 2012 release will also see Akshay in the comic caper Khiladi 786 with Himesh Reshammiya and Paresh Rawal. Also expected to release on this auspicious day is yet-to-be titled but keenly awaited Yash Chopra directed romantic drama starring Shah Rukh Khan, Katrina Kaif and Anushka Sharma.
Fans who remember Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s 1979 comedy Gol Maal will be treated with a remake titled Bol Bachchan. Abhishek Bachchan will essay Amol Palekar’s role and Ajay Devgn Utpal Dutt’s.
So popular of his realistic portrayal of life in his movies director Madhur Bhandarkar will make his presence felt with the satirical drama Heroine starring Kareena Kapoor, Arjun Rampal, Randeep Hooda
And there is sequels aplenty in-store too! Tusshar, Riteish, Bipasha sets the screens alight in the comic caper Kyaa Super Kool Hain Hum.
Housefull 2 will once again see the escapades of Akshay Kumar, John Abraham, Riteish Deshmukh and Bipasha Basu.
Meanwhile Emraan Hashmi, Randeep Hooda and Prachi Desai play the leads in the crime thriller Jannat 2. If Raaz 2 was the scariest movie, then expect Raaz 3 to be even more chilling from Mahesh Bhatt and his lead hero Emraan Hashmi.
And cop thriller Dabanng 2 ends 2012 with a bang as good old Chulbul Pandey moves from his dusty village to the city where his arrogance clashes with the rich and elite. It looks like 2012 is going to be even better than its previous years with a diverse range of releases for Bollywood fans!
Manish Gajjar is one of UK’s leading Bollywood authorities working as a Hindi film adviser for VUE cinemas in the UK.
*Box office figures courtesy of Rentrak Corporation