Bollywood Mange More South Stars
South Indian actors are suddenly in humongous demand in Bollywood. Thanks to the success of the Bahubali franchise, KGF Chapter 1, and Pushpa-The Rise, the Hindi film industry is confidently investing in and making Pan-India movies with regional stars playing the central roles. Dharma Productions is launching Arjun Reddy star Vijay Deverakonda in Bollywood with a Puri Jagannadh Pan-India boxing drama, Liger, and has already started discussing the second Hindi film with him. Goodachari actor Adivi Sesh is waiting for his Pan-India debut with Sony Pictures India’s Major, based on the life of the 2008 Mumbai attacks martyr Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, and even before the biopic releases in theatres, the actor has signed two more Hindi films, one of which will go on floors this year itself.
Prabhas has already established himself as a Pan-India superstar with Bahubali and Saaho and has five big movies with established Bollywood and South Indian directors lined up for the coming years. Vijay Sethupathi will make his Hindi debut this year with three projects, including one with Katrina Kaif and another with Shahid Kapoor. Samantha Ruth Prabhu, who made her Pan-India debut with Raj & DK’s The Family Man Season 2 last year, has signed yet another big-scale web series for Amazon Prime Video, and is in advanced talks with Taapsee Pannu’s production company for a women-led thriller. Telugu superstar Venkatesh is returning to Hindi cinema after 25 years with Netflix India’s action-comedy series Rana Naidu. He’s also doing Salman Khan’s Bhaijaan for Sajid Nadiadwala’s banner.
Rashmika Mandanna is also in demand after the blockbuster success of Pushpa. While she has already shot for her two Bollywood vehicles-Mission Majnu with Sidharth Malhotra and Vikas Bahl’s Good Bye with Amitabh Bachchan-she is in advanced talks with Dharma Productions for her third outing. Raashii Khanna has signed two web series to mark her Hindi debut, and while Disney+Hotstar’s Rudra: The Edge of Darkness sees her alongside Ajay Devgn, she is sharing screen space with Shahid Kapoor in Raj & DK’s Amazon Prime series. Raashii is also making her feature Bollywood debut this year with Sidharth Malhotra’s Yodha. Regina Cassandra is doing three Hindi web series after her debut film, Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga, failed miserably at the box office.
Malayalam superstar Prithviraj Sukumaran is also gearing up for his Hindi debut with a web series on India’s Biscuit King, Rajan Pillai. He will direct and star in this Yoodlee Films production that’s scheduled to go into production in mid-2022. Dhanush, who recently enthralled audiences with his powerful act in Aanand L Rai’s Atrangi Re, has signed yet another action-packed love story for Rai’s company and will begin shooting for it after completing his assignments down South. Furthermore, Allu Arjun and Ram Charan are also believed to be in talks with several Hindi filmmakers for pan-India movies.
Welcome Zayed Khan In Doghouse!
Zayed Khan is returning to the big screen. The actor known for his films like Main Hoon Na, Dus, Blue and Tezz is finally making his comeback this year with Yamla Pagla Deewana director Samir Karnik’s next comedy caper, Doghouse. The Viacom18 Studios production stars Sanjay Dutt, Suniel Shetty, Jaaved Jaaferi, Saurabh Shukla, and Esha Gupta in pivotal roles besides Zayed, who has been missing from the movies since his last small-budget, slice-of-life drama, Sharafat Gayi Tel Lene in 2015. Zayed was earlier supposed to end his acting sabbatical with the biopic of Brigadier Mohammad Usman, which was being directed by his filmmaker father, Sanjay Khan, but the project was put on the backburner post the COVID-19 pandemic.
Doghouse is an out-and-out comedy along the lines of the Academy Award-winning Hollywood classic, No Country for Old Men (2007). It revolves around everyday characters, and their mishaps lend themselves to a comic narrative. The film has been in development since 2019 and was previously slated to star Sanjay, Suniel, R Madhavan, and Paresh Rawal in the lead roles, along with a cameo by MS Dhoni. However, the film was indefinitely delayed for some unknown reasons before it was brought back on track last December with a fresh set of actors. Sanjay Dutt is also co-producing this film under his banner, Sanjay Dutt Films.
One, Two, Three… of Us!
Paatal Lok director Avinash Arun’s next feature film, starring Shefali Shah and Jaideep Ahlawat, has been titled 3 Of Us. The Sanjay Routray production is a well-crafted relationship drama set in Maharashtra and features actor and lyricist Swanand Kirkire in the third lead. The film went on floors in December and was wrapped up last week in Mumbai. This is the sixth project Shefali has shot for since the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, and it will most likely be released directly on an OTT platform. Shefali was recently seen in Disney+Hotstar’s medical thriller series, Human, and has four projects lined up this year, including the highly-anticipated second season of Netflix’s Delhi Crime.
Jaideep Ahlawat is also looking for a promising 2022 and has three projects scheduled for release in theatres as well as on streaming platforms. His first release of the year will be Applause Entertainment and BBC’s Indian adaptation of the British series, Guilt, and then he will be seen in Siddharth P Malhotra’s YRF historical Maharaja, which launches Aamir Khan’s son Junaid Khan into showbiz. Jaideep is also doing Ayushmann Khurrana’s An Action Hero and Sujoy Ghosh’s thriller film with Kareena Kapoor Khan that goes on floors in April 2022!