Bollywood in 2020 wilted under the raging pandemic like any other industry. While movie theaters remained out of bound, what shocked the cine-goers is the yearlong news of deaths – from coronavirus to unnatural ones like the demise of Sushant Singh Rajput opening a Pandora’s box of movie world open secrets. Supriyo Hazra looks back alphabetically with a heavy heart.
Aamir Khan: No, this year we did not see any Aamir Khan movie releasing onscreen but fans are keeping themselves busy waiting for his next project Laal Singh Chaddha. The film is expected to hit the theater next year. An adaptation of the 1994 American film Forrest Gump, Laal Singh Chaddha stars Aamir Khan in the title role with the sensational Kareena Kapoor paired opposite him.
Amitabh Bachchan: Amitabh Bachchan gave his fans a scare when he contracted COVID-19 and spent several days in hospital. However, Big B defeated the virus and finally returned home, giving relief to his well wishers and showing the world that he still remains the ‘Shahenshah’ of India at the age of 78. His son Abhishek Bachchan, daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and grand daughter Aaradhya also fought the disease and won. Big B’s Gulabo Sitabo, opposite Ayushmann Khurrana, also became the first B-town movie to release on OTT platform since the cinema halls were shut down. Amitabh Bachchan earned praise with his comic timing in this Lucknow-based movie.
Akshay Kumar: He is a box office rockstar and Akshay Kumar’s horror comedy genre movie Laxmii, which hit the OTT platform due to COVID-19, made the biggest ever opening on the new platform of movie release. Meanwhile, he has unveiled the new poster of his upcoming movie Ram Setu, promising to deliver another entertainer in the year to come. He also won hearts with his Rs 25-crore donation to the PM Cares Fund.
Ayushmann Khurrana: Ayushmann has created his own set of fans over the years who love him and deliver one strong character after the other onscreen. In 2020, Ayushmann made yet another bold statement with the gay-themed Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan. In Gulabo Sitabo, the movie which was released on OTT platform, he once again touched the right chord of the audience sharing screen space with Big B.
Anushka Sharma: Anushka Sharma will surely remember 2020 with a smile on her face as she announced her pregnancy. Yes, Anushka and her husband Virat Kohli are expecting to be parents soon and even the Indian skipper has been given a leave during the Test series against Australia so that he can be on Anushka’s side during the special moment in their life. In the world of OTT, Anushka Sharma produced two successful ventures-Paatal Lok (web series) and Bulbbul (movie).
Kangana Ranaut: Bollywood’s ‘Queen’ of controversy, Kangana Ranaut lived up to her outspokenness this year. Rather she pushed the envelope with all guns blazing with the tragic end of actor Sushant Singh Rajput. Kangana stoked the fire when she alleged that the ‘Kedarnath’ actor did not suffer from any mental illness and was rather “murdered” by the cruelty of the “Bollywood mafia promoting nepotism”. As her battle raged with the Shiv Sena dispensation in Mumbai, Kangana found herself sucked into it further when in September a portion of her Pali Hill office was demolished by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) holding that it was an “illegal construction”. The act saw Kangana taking on Uddhav Thackeray head on on social media and warning him of the consequences in a rather pedestrian language. She got relief from the Bombay High Court on Nov 27 when it quashed BMC’s order on demolition. It also described BMC’s move as “mala fide”. Kangana even jumped into yet another row after tweeting a misleading post about an elderly woman in the ongoing farmers’ protest in the capital. The ‘Queen’ even engaged herself in a twitter battle with actor Diljit Dosanjh over the farmers’ protest. In the world of social media, Kangana also joined Twitter this year and keeps posting her controversial views on different issues, not even sparing industry veterans like Jaya Bachchan. Well on the workfront she wrapped up the year completing the filming of Thalaivi- the revolutionary leader, a biopic on late Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa.
Alia Bhatt: Alia Bhatt joined the shooting of SS Rajamouli’s film RRR. The film also stars Ram Charan, Ajay Devgn and Jr NTR in the lead roles. This year, Bhatt was seen in Sadak 2, which released in one Over-the-top (OTT) platform. However, the movie failed to create magic in the hearts of her fans or movie lovers. She was mercilessly trolled and attacked online by many grieved by the shocking death of Sushant Singh Rajput that triggered an almost never-ending debate on nepotism in film industry.
Deepika Padukone: Deepika Padukone shocked her fans by transforming herself to Malti, an acid-attack survivor, onscreen. The Indian actress surely won hearts by portraying the agony and resilience of a victim/survivor in the Meghna Gulzar movie. She will soon be seen in the movie ’83’, opposite husband Ranveer Singh in the sports drama. But she was also in the news for the wrong reasons- drugs in Bollywood- after the death of Sushant Singh Rajput opened a Pandora’s box.
Jacqueline Fernandez: Apart from remaining busy posting new images on Instagram for her fans, Jacqueline surely was the talk of the town with her foot-tapping performance in rapper Badshah’s song ‘Genda Phool’. During lockdown breaks, Salman Khan and Jacky also teamed up to shoot a video song “Tere bina”. Jacqueline also remained busy shooting for her upcoming movie Bhoot Police at the end of the year in Himachal Pradesh.
Karan Johar: Netizens trolled and slammed director Karan Johar for days and months after the debate over nepotism once again haunted Bollywood following the death of Sushant Singh Rajput. Fans blamed Karan Johar for supporting only star kids over outsiders like Sushant. Netizens blamed Karan and many other Bollywood A-listers for nepotism and for not standing by SSR in his time of crisis. As expected Kangana Ranaut joined the debate and attacked Karan by calling him again “the flag-bearer of nepotism”. An old video of Kangana targeting Karan on the ‘nepotism’ issue while she appeared in his chat show Koffee With Karan went viral on social media ever since the debate got reignited this year. Things reached a stage that the Bollywood giant had to unfollow almost everyone on Twitter, including actors like Alia Bhatt. He currently follows only 12 people on Twitter, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and actors Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar and Shah Rukh Khan. He was also dragged into the Bollywood and drugs nexus row with his house party video of 2019 with top stars coming under the lens of Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) for allegedly being drug-fuelled, a charge he junked as “baseless”.
Priyanka Chopra: Priyanka Chopra is back with her new Hollywood movie and this time she will be seen in the project We Can Be Heroes. Recently, she made the announcement by sharing a teaser and posters of the movie on Instagram.
Ranbir Kapoor: Ranbir Kapoor will surely want to forget 2020 as he lost his father and Bollywood veteran Rishi Kapoor on April 30. With his upcoming film Brahmastra’s release postponed by Covid-19, he actually had no release in 2020.
Ranveer Singh: Bollywood’s poster boy Ranveer Singh kept teasing his followers with his Kapil Dev look for his upcoming sports-based movie ’83’. Fans are eagerly waiting to see the onscreen chemistry between Ranveer and his wife Deepika Padukone in the movie. As a matter of fact, ’83’, directed by Kabir Khan, is one of the most awaited movies of 2021 when he will also appear in two more movies- Sooryavanshi and Jayeshbhai Jordaar. Raveer’s look from Jayeshbhai Jordaar has already been unveiled to his fans. Now it is time to wait and let the calendar turn to 2021.
Saif Ali Khan: The Nawab of Pataudi will soon be a dad again as Saif and Kareena Kapoor Khan are expecting their second child. In the world of his works, Saif Ali Khan featured in three movies-Tanhaji, Jawaani Jaaneman and Dil Bechara. Next year will be interesting as he will be seen in the much-awaited sequel of 2005 hit film Bunty Aur Babli. Saif has replaced Abhishek Bachchan but Rani Mukherji will once again be seen in the movie that is expected to tickle the funny bones of moviegoers.
Sara Ali Khan: If daddy remained so busy in 2020, then Sara Ali Khan can’t be far away as the gorgeous beauty was busy recreating 90s magic with Varun Dhawan in their upcoming movie Coolie No. 1. The comedy film, which originally featured Karisma Kapoor and Govinda, will release online this December. The trailer, first look and even few songs of the movie have been released by the makers, generating excitement around it. However, she is again another actress of Bollywood hogging limelight in 2020 for the all the wrong reasons- the drug abuse in Bollywood triggered by the death of Sushant Singh Rajput, her debut hero (in the 2018 film Kedarnath) with whom she allegedly had a relationship for a while.
Salman Khan: Salman Khan was back as a singer when he created a music video during lockdown to help his fans forget their lockdown gloom. Moreover, the original Bollywood rockstar was also busy hosting popular TV show Bigg Boss that remained equally interesting even after 14 seasons. Next year, Khan will be seen in Radhe, returning to the big screen after a pandemic imposed break of one year. He also had his share of abuse from the fans of late Sushant Singh Rajput after the latter’s unnatural death (suicide according to police) triggered a debate on nepotism and bullying of outsiders in Bollywood.
Shah Rukh Khan: The King Khan of Bollywood remained absent from the big screen in 2020 amid pandemic onslaught but his Kolkata Knight Riders team surely featured in Indian Premier League. But it failed to deliver a tournament winning performance even this year.
Pankaj Tripathi: Actor Pankaj Tripathi is slowly emerging as the next big thing in Bollywood with his repeated powerful performances in movies as well as web series. He appeared in movies like Angrezi Medium, Ludo and Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl in 2020. However, Pankaj perhaps gained more appreciation as he returned to play the character of Akhandanand “Kaleen Bhaiya” Tripathi in the high-octane web series Mirzapur 2.
Vidya Balan: From appearing in a short movie ‘Natkhat’ to her performance in Shakuntala Devi, Vidya Balan made her presence strongly felt among movie buffs in this eventful year otherwise marred by the pandemic. Natkhat premiered on YouTube as part of the We Are One: A Global Film Festival.
The year 2020 witnessed a massive digital transformation in the world of movies and entertainment as new films were released on OTT platforms with theater remaining shut due to the pandemic. The new platform definitely emerged as a game changer and web series even witnessed the debut of several top Bollywood actors who found a new medium to entertain their fans.
Abhishek Bachchan: He may have been down with COVID-19 this year but Abhishek Bachchan will love to remember 2020 as one transforming moment in his life when he delivered strong performance with his appearance in the web series Breathe : Into the Shadows. His performance in the series was appreciated by netizens and Abhishek once again won hearts with his acting prowess. He played the role of a psychiatrist with a split personality in the web series. Abhishek is also busy shooting for his upcoming movie The Big Bull. The movie is expected to hit OTT platform soon. The Junior B was also seen in another OTT platform released movie Ludo this year. The movie featured Aditya Roy Kapur and Rajkummar Rao in the lead roles.
Sonu Sood: Despite his good looks and robust body, Sonu Sood in “A-listed” Bollywood movies was mostly a villain or a second fiddle to the heros. But the pandemic brought the best out of him and he emerged as the true hero of the film world and India. So go to his Wikipedia bio and you now find him introduced as “an Indian film actor, producer, and humanitarian who …… Well Sood would now on be known as the humanitarian who pooled all his resources to send back home hapless people- read migrant workers- stuck in the big cities like Mumbai- amid the raging Covid-19 lockdown. In September 2020, Sood was chosen for the prestigious? SDG Special Humanitarian Action Award’ by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for his humanitarian works during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kiara Advani: Kiara remained one of the busiest actresses of the Bollywood industry in 2020. The gorgeous lady made her first major appearance this year with her Netflix released movie Guilty. The film follows the story of a songwriter whose boyfriend is accused of rape during the era of #MeToo movement. She also appeared in another OTT platform released movie-Laxmii. The film featured Akshay Kumar in the lead role. Kiara and her Indoo Ki Jawani will hit the theatre this month, marking one major Bollywood release post COVID-19 lockdown era.
Karisma Kapoor: Karisma may have dominated the big screen in 90s but after remaining silent for many years, the blue-eyed beauty made her web series debut with ZEE5 and ALT Balaji original show Mentalhood. Her much-awaited digital debut has been appreciated by netizens. In the web series, she was seen playing the character of a mother to three kids and a blogger too.
Bobby Deol: After remaining away from films for several years, Bobby is back with a bang in the web series Aashram. He played the character of a fake godman Kashipur Waale Baba Nirala aka Monty.
Naseeruddin Shah: Like many of his B-town colleagues, Shah made his digital debut with the Amazon Prime Video original show Bandish Bandits. He played the character of Pandit Radhemohan Rathod in the series.
Sushmita Sen: The Miss Universe teased her fans earlier this year about her digital debut and she finally made it later on with the web series Aarya. In the crime drama, Sushmita could be seen playing the titular role who is caught in a web of lies and deceit within her family. Aarya remained one of the much loved web series of the year.
Sushant Singh Rajput:
Celebrity death which shook Bollywood
Sushant Singh Rajput left his fans shocked one Sunday afternoon when he supposedly committed suicide in his Mumbai residence, triggering a tsunami of events that almost felled big Bollywood names and dragged several top stars and personalities into controversies ranging from nepotism, bullying of those from non-film backgrounds and drugs. An engineering dropout, Sushant came to Bollywood from a middle-class background but went on to deliver many memorable movies, including the biopic on former Indian skipper MS Dhoni. The entire country was left shocked when on June 14 the actor was found dead in his Bandra flat. He had allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself to death. A CBI investigation into the incident is still on. The death left a deep impact in Indian society as a section of people saw the instance as a wake-up call to introspect on the functioning of the entertainment industry in Mumbai.
The death triggered debates on issues like favouritism, insider versus outsider, and nepotism like never before. With Bollywood actors making strong remarks and observations on the death at that point of time, it was actress Kangana Ranaut who created a massive controversy by saying that Sushant’s death was “a planned murder”.
She even questioned the role of “Bollywood mafia” in his alleged suicide. The actress alleged that the film industry sidelined Sushant despite putting up strong show in several films like Kai Po Che, MS Dhoni: The Untold Story, Kedarnath, and Chhichhore. A major divide was witnessed within the industry when several prominent actors like Abhay Deol, Abhishek Kapoor, Raveena Tandon, Shekhar Kapur, Abhinav Kashyap, Ranveer Shorey spoke out on the imbalance of power, nepotistic and bullying culture and privilege club in Bollywood.
They mentioned how these practices make it difficult for the real talents with no film connections to sustain and thrive in the Bollywood industry. Soon the case took a turn when Sushant’s family alleged that the actor was murdered and lodged FIR against the actor’s girlfriend and actor Rhea Chakraborty. The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) is even investigating into the drug angle connected to the death of the actor. His last film Dil Bechara was released online after his death.
Rishi Kapoor: One of Bollywood’s most loved actors, Rishi Kapoor, who kept entertaining his fans with his evergreen performance onscreen, died on Apr 30. He was 67.
Irrfan Khan: A day before Rishi Kapoor died, Bollywood’s international star Irrfan Khan passed away at a hospital in Mumbai on Apr 29. Irrfan will always be remembered for his exceptionally strong acting skills.
Wajid Khan: Wajid Khan, of composer duo Sajid-Wajid fame, died on June 1 at the age of 42, leaving behind a bouquet of memorable songs that will keep buzzing in the hearts of movie lovers for years to come. He was corona positive.
Basu Chatterjee: Filmmaker Basu Chatterjee died due to age-related ailments on June 4 at the age of 90. He is best remembered for directing movies like Chhoti Si Baat (1975), Chitchor (1976), Rajnigandha (1974), Piya Ka Ghar (1972), Khatta Meetha, Chakravyuha (1978 film), Baton Baton Mein (1979) among others.
Saroj Khan: Veteran Bollywood choreographer Saroj Khan, who was the woman behind Madhuri Dixit’s silver screen success as a dancer, died at the age of 71 on July 3.
SP Balasubrahmanyam: 74-year-old singer SP Balasubrahmanyam, who sang several evergreen Bollywood songs, died in Chennai on Sept 25.
Asif Basra: Shocking his fans, actor Asif Basra was found dead at a house in Dharamshala on Nov 12. He was reportedly found hanging when police reached the spot. The cause behind his death is still known and the police have started investigating into the case.
Soumitra Chatterjee: Legendary Bengali actor Soumitra Chatterjee left his fans grieved when he passed away aged 85 at a hospital in Kolkata on Nov 15. A Dadashaheb Phalke winner, he was late movie legend Satyajit Ray’s favourite actor. (TWF)