MUMBAI—Hindi cinema is set for another optimistic foray into listeners’ hearts. Hopefully, this year will be more uniform than the last. After a quick look at the first month, let us then proceed to the 2018 “Film Festival of Indian cinema!”

January in the movies:

The first commercial film of the year is “1921,” the fourth part of the “1920” franchise. But producer-director Vikram Bhatt asserts that the film is in the same zone but “sufficiently dissimilar” to a “damaged franchise” (with the 2016 fiasco “1920 London” and is thus named “1921.” He also insists that there is “horror in a love story” here rather than a love story as the background for a horror film. Zareen Khan and Karn Kundrra star in it.

This film releases on Jan. 12, and along with it will come the small Anurag Kashyap film “Mukkabaaz” about a lower-caste boxer trying to make it big. Vinith Kumar Singh and Zoya Hussain make debuts in this film co-produced by Aanand L. Rai. The third film is “Kaalakandi,” which is written and directed by Akshat Verma, who wrote “Delhi Belly.” Saif Ali Khan leads an ensemble cast in this dark comedy of six people, each with his own story. Jan. 19 will see three small-budget thrillers: “My Birthday Song” directed by Samir Soni, “Vodka Diaries” starring Kay Kay Menon and “Nirdosh” starring Arbaaz Khan.

But the real McCoy will come in January 25, Republic Day eve, with the clash of two giants, “PadMan” from R. Balki as a Twinkle Khanna production starring Akshay Kumar, Sonam Kapoor and Radhika Apte, and Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s epic “Padmavat” starring Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor. As Balki succinctly puts it, “We had planned this release date fourth months back. It is sad that in this industry, no one cares for another person’s business or even his own.”

And now for the A to Z (literally) of films 2018:

“Aiyaary”

Neeraj Pandey’s espionage epic was to clash with “PadMan.” Now it will release Feb. 9. Sidharth Malhotra and Manoj Bajpayee lead a powerful cast of Anupam Kher, Naseeruddin Shah, Rakul Preet Singh, Pooja Chopra and others. Pandey reveals that Juhi Babbar will make a great comeback.

“Baaghi 2”

Ahmed Khan directs this sequel to the 2015 hit “Baaghi” with Tiger Shroff. This time the heroine is his real-life flame, Disha Patani, with Pratik Babbar (as the antagonist) in a comeback. The Babbar progeny sure seems to be in season!

“Batti Gul Meter Chalu”

Directed by Shree Narayan Singh (of “Toilet—Ek Prem Katha” fame), this Aug. 31 release is based on the theme of corruption in power bills. The T-Series-Kriarj Entertainment presentation stars Shahid Kapoor, Shraddha Kapoor and Yami Gautam.

“Bhavesh Joshi”

This long-delayed Vikramaditya Motwane film will be the second release of Harshvardhan Kapoor after the catastrophic “Mirzya.” It releases May 25.

“Dhadak”

“Dhadak” is a Karan Johar co-production directed by “…Dulhania” franchise director Shashank Khaitan. It is a remake of the Marathi hit “Sairat” and introduces Jhanvi Kapoor, Sridevi’s and Boney Kapoor’s daughter, with Ishaan Khattar. It arrives July 16. The original composers, Ajay-Atul, are retained.

“Drive”

A testosterone-driven actioner, “Drive” (Mar. 2) stars Sushant Singh Rajput with Jacqueline Fernandez and is directed by Tarun Mansukhani for Karan Johar – the director’s first after “Dostana” a decade ago.

“Fanne Khan”

A musical drama about a father’s dream to give his daughter everything he could never have, this Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s film (coming Jun. 16) is directed by Atul Manjrekar and stars Anil Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Rajkummar Rao.

“Gold”

Ritesh Sidhwani and Farhan Akhtar produce this biopic of the sportsman who won India its first Gold Medal in the Olympics. Akshay Kumar stars in this Reema Kagti-directed movie opposite TV actress Mouni Roy.

“Happy Bhag Jayegi Returns”

This Aanand L. Rai-Eros collaboration stars Sonakshi Sinha and Punjab’s Jassie Gill, with the complete original cast of “Happy Bhag Jayegi”—Diana Penty, Jimmy Shergill, Ali Fazal and Abhay Deol. Muddasar Aziz directs again. But the release date is not fixed.

“Junglee”

This October 19 action adventure about a man and an elephant is coincidentally produced by Junglee Pictures – a rare case of a banner sharing its film’s name! Hollywood director Chuck Russell directs Vidyut Jammwal in this Thailand-based movie.

“Kedarnath”

Dec. 21 is the date we have with a love story that introduces Sara Ali Khan (Saif Ali Khan’s and Amrita Singh’s daughter) opposite Sushant Singh Rajput. Directed by Abhishek Kapoor, this film shot in the famous town of Kedarnath, has also been filmed at exotic places (for cinema) like Triyuginarayan Temple and the Akhand Dhuni Temple, which is held in reverence for the belief that Lord Shiva married Parvati here. Amit Trivedi scores music.

“Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi”

Kangana Ranaut’s biopic on the warrior queen is co-produced with her by Zee Studios and is directed by Krish from the South. The April 27 release is also written by another South big name, V. Vijayendra Prasad of “Bahubali” and “Bajrangi Bhaijaan” fame. Sonu Sood and Ankita Lokhande co-star.

“Namastey England”

Vipul Amrutlal Shah’s next in the “Namastey London” series reunites Arjun Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra after “Ishaqzaade,” that marked Kapoor’s debut and was Chopra’s first solo lead.

“October”

Director of substance Shoojit Sircar now presents a love story with Varun Dhawan and newcomer Banita Sandhu. The April 13 film is looked upon as another 100 crore grosser after Dhawan’s recent record.

“Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas”

Sunny Deol’s directorial stars Saher Bamba, a new face, opposite Deol’s debut-making son Karan Deol. This Deol production is presented by veteran Dharmendra and titled after the veteran’s evergreen song from “Blackmail.” It releases Oct. 2.

“Pari”

“Pari” is a horror film starring Anushka Sharma and Parambrata “Kahaani” Chatterjee, directed by debutant Prosit Roy. This is Anushka's third home production and will now have to fend for itself Feb. 9 against “Aiyaary.”

“Parmanu– The Story Of Pokhran”

This dramatized tale of India’s first nuclear explosion and what went into it is a John Abraham co-production with Diana Penty and Boman Irani. While the premise of the film is based on true events, the characters are fictitious and the film releases Feb. 23.

“Raazi”

Karan Johar joins hands with Meghna Gulzar for a patriotic thriller inspired by real life about an Indian girl (Alia Bhatt) and her Pakistani husband (Vikcy Kaushal). It releases May 11.

“Race 3”

The Eid bonanza is Salman Khan’s first lead role with Tips Films after “Auzaar” and “Jab Pyaar Kisise Hota Hai” in the ‘90s. The franchise is now in for a change: Jacqueline Fernandez has a different role from “Race 2,” Anil Kapoor is no longer a private eye but plays Khan’s father, and Bobby Deol, Saqib Salim and Pooja “Mohenjo Daro” Hegde co-star. Remo D’Souza steps into Abbas-Mustan territory. So when’s Eid 2018? As early as Jun. 15!

“Raid”

Ajay Devgn’s period thriller based on real happenings is T-Series’ most promising production this year. Coming on May 16, this action thriller is directed by Rajkumar Gupta, of “No One Killed Jessica” fame, with Ileana D’Cruz as Devgn’s leading lady.

“Saaho”

The Tamil-Telugu-Hindi biggie is directed by Sujeeth with Prabhas, Shraddha Kapoor, Neil Nitin Mukesh and Jackie Shroff. Produced by UV Creations, it promises to be a technology-heavy mega-action spectacle.

“Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar”

YRF repeats their “Ishaqzaade” pair of Arjun Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra in this comedy directed by Dibakar Banerjee for producer Maneesh Sharma. The film was shot in Delhi in its worst days of smog last year. Aug. 3 is the release date. This pair will also be seen in “Namastey England” as written above.

Sanjay Dutt biopic

Rajkumar Hirani’s biopic on his friend, Sanjay Dutt, may be named “Sanju,” “Dutt” or something else. This hitherto infallible director’s film has Ranbir Kapoor as Dutt, with Paresh Rawal, Sonam Kapoor, Manisha Koirala (as Nargis) and others. It arrives Jun. 29.

“Simmba”

Now, this one’s gonna be big! Ranveer Singh redefines heavy-duty action as a dirty cop in this last release of the year (Dec. 28), directed by Rohit Shetty and co-produced by him with Karan Johar.

“Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety”

T-Series’ cute romantic comedy repeats the “Pyaar Ka PunchNama” quartet of writer-director Luv Ranjan, actors Kartik Aaryan and Sunny Singh and actress Nushrat Bharucha.

“Sui Dhaaga: Made in India”

A message film from Yash Raj Films, it is produced by Maneesh Sharma and directed by Sharat Katariya. Varun Dhawan enters YRF terrain and has Anushka Sharma for (first-time) co-star in this Sep. 28 release.

“Super 30”

Hrithik Roshan’s only release in 2018 is directed by Vikas Bahl and reportedly also stars Bobby Deol and Aditi Rao Hydari. It is the biopic of mathematics wizard Anand Kumar.

“Thugs of Hindostan”

Vijay Krishna Acharya, Aditya Chopra, Aamir Khan and Katrina Kaif come together again after 2013’s biggest hit “Dhoom:3” in this mammoth period action adventure. Amitabh Bachchan heads the cast, Fatima Sana Shaikh co-stars, and Ajay-Atul score music.

“Total Dhamaal”

The vintage (!) hit pair of the 1980s and early ‘90s – Anil Kapoor and Madhuri Dixit-Nene— come together with Ajay Devgn, and the “Dhamaal” franchise madcaps Riteish Deshmukh, Arshad Warsi, Aashish Chowdhry and Jaaved Jafferi in this third installment of Indra Kumar’s clean comedy franchise. It releases on Dec. 7.

“Two Point Zero” (“2.0”)

Another of the biggest films of 2018 as well as of all time, this Shankar directorial is a follow-up to the 2010 “Robot” and stars Rajinikanth and Amy Jackson. The ‘Thalaiva’ is opposed in the film by a crow, played by none other than Akshay Kumar!

“Veerey Di Wedding”

This is the Shashanka Ghosh-directed film on female bonding. The comedy features Kareena Kapoor Khan, Sonam Kapoor, releases May 18 and is produced by Ekta Kapoor and Shobha Kapoor for Balaji Telefilms.

“Yamla Pagla Deewana Phir Se”

Despite the abysmal faring of Part 2 in the franchise, the Deols unleash part 3 of their comedy series in this rather differently plotted film in which Dharmendra is not their father and to the best of current knowledge, neither Sunny nor Bobby are brothers. Co-starring Kriti Kharbanda, the film releases Apr. 2 and is directed by ace Punjabi film director Navaniat Singh.

“Zero”

Last but not the least, Shah Rukh Khan appears as a dwarf in Aanand L. Rai’s next directorial, also featuring Katrina Kaif and Anushka Sharma. Much is expected from this film because of the unique and first-time collaboration of the successful and innovative director and a beleaguered superstar who has admitted to having no hits in almost five years!

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