With Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar, Bunty Aur Babli 2, Shamshera, Prithviraj, YRF sets a diverse slate for 50th year
As YRF enters into its 50th year, here is looking at how they can make a difference through their upcoming films in 2020.
Yash Raj Films has always stood tall among the film pioneers in India, even though it was established a good two decades after the craft had seen the light of day in the country. The production house stands instrumental in developing cinema narratives consumed en masse by millions across the world.
Yash Raj Films (YRF) has sealed multiple fates with its regular reshuffling of primary crew members in the form of new finds (directors, actors, musicians, and technicians). Established in 1970, YRF had then garnered an image (akin to Yash Johar's Dharma Productions) of producing cinema for the urban demographic.
Most early films dealt with protagonists having internal feuds, trying to navigate through intricacies of their relationships. Daag: A Poem of Love (YRF's first production venture in 1973), Kabhie Kabhie (1976), Doosra Aadmi (1977), Silsila (1981), and the like saw a brooding Amitabh Bachchan or Shashi Kapoor take on matters with silent resignation.
In the next three decades, the Bollywood juggernaut rolled out high-octane commercial entertainers with A-list stars and humongous production budgets. Darr (1993), Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995), Veer Zaara (2004), Bunty Aur Babli (2005) and the much-hyped Dhoom franchise — most films focused on larger-than-life central characters, determined to fulfill a compelling goal through the two and a half hours of runtime.
However, with its 50th year in the running, YRF seems to have fathomed the audience's pulse, and is on a mission to mix the best of both its previous worlds to push out entertaining yet thought-provoking realities through its cinema.
With a 2020 slate including projects such as Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar, Bunty Aur Babli 2, Shamshera, Prithviraj, and Jayeshbhai Jordaar, YRF has seemingly pushed its boundaries to encapsulate narratives with fresh perspectives. It is also no humble coincidence the production house has pumped new talent into these films with respect to its directors and actors.
Here is looking at how YRF may want to change its cinematic discourse in its golden jubilee year.
Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar (20 March)
Ever since the announcement of this cat-and-mouse black comedy, Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar has created considerable buzz. The film is a perfect reunion of YRF's dependable finds — Arjun Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra (both of whom broke through with Yash Raj Films' Ishaqzaade in 2012, and have gone ahead to be part of individual projects like Shuddh Desi Romance, Aurangzeb, Gunday, and Daawat-e-Ishq). Director Dibakar Banerjee also collaborated with YRF with Detective Byomkesh Bakshy in 2015.
But with Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar, YRF brings together a director known for his political cinema with two larger-than-life stars, weaving them into a single psychological joyride. While Arjun plays a Haryanvi cop in Delhi Police’s special unit, Parineeti's character has been kept strictly under wraps.
Kapoor, in an earlier interview, had divulged that Banerjee was attempting to depict the disparity between the urban and rural classes through this film, almost like a cheat sheet on the 'Bharat v/s India' discourse, if you will. This odd concoction of creators may well develop into a defining moment for YRF, especially since Banerjee seems to be on a fecund phase with his well-appreciated shorts on Netflix's Lust Stories (2018) and Ghost Stories (2020).
Kapoor joins YRF after his 2014 hit Gunday, while Chopra takes on the Yash Raj reigns from Meri Pyaari Bindu in 2017, which tanked at the box office. With Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar, the dynamic actors thus could only pull themselves from the slump and prove their mettle. The film is scheduled to release on 20 March.
Bunty Aur Babli 2 (26 June)
A sequel to the company's original 2005 blockbuster Bunty Aur Babli, the film has hit all the right chords of nostalgia when announced. A well-paced, almost bizarre caper comedy, Bunty Aur Babli was Bonny and Clyde's desi sibling. As Mukerji prepares to reprise the beloved role of a clumsy, OTT con-artist, Saif Ali Khan steps in to replace Abhishek Bachchan as Bunty, the small-town lad overzealous to make a quick buck.
But the sequel not only rings in the callback value. It dds fresh punch to the mix with Gully Boy breakout star Siddhant Chaturvedi, and newcomer Sharvari (most recently seen in Kabir Khan's Amazon Prime Video India Original war drama The Forgotten Army).
Varun Sharma (former assistant director on YRF blockbusters Sultan and Tiger Zinda Hai) has helmed the sequel, which fits well within the company's decade-marking tradition of encouraging new talent in the form of directors. Known for introducing directors like Shimit Amin (Chak De! India), Kabir Khan (Ek Tha Tiger), Sharat Kataria (Dum Laga Ke Haisha), Habib Faisal (Ishaqzaade), Maneesh Sharma (Band Baaja Baarat), Ali Abbas Zafar (Tiger Zinda Hai), and Shaad Ali (Saathiya), YRF has always tried to change the cinematic canvas by bringing in new perspectives.
Bunty Aur Babli 2 hits theatres on 26 June.
Shamshera (July, 2020)
Arguably, YRF's biggest gamble this year, Shamshera features Ranbir Kapoor as the leader of a dacoit tribe, set against a backdrop of British India in the 1800s. Co-starring another YRF find Vaani Kapoor (who made her debut with Shuddh Desi Romance), Shamshera narrates the story of a group of thieves, who rise up in rebellion against the British Raj in order to become independent.
Having treaded similar waters with Thugs of Hindostan, YRF's move to take Ranbir in such an unexpected role seemed like a double whammy. But the production house is more than confident about this collaboration, and has also released the first look of Kapoor's character in the film.
Trade business aside, after the dismal performance of Thugs of Hindostan at the box office, it is a bold decision for the banner to go ahead with Shamshera. Ranbir also delves into brand new territories with the period drama, and will be seen in a completely altered universe, compared to the ones his followers are used to seeing him in. The film is slated to release on 31 July.
Prithviraj (Diwali, 2020)
YRF's first venture into a full-fledged costume drama, Prithviraj will see Akshay Kumar essay the titular role, based on the life and heroism of the fearless Rajput warrior and king, Prithviraj Chauhan. Miss World 2017 Manushi Chhillar also makes her acting debut in the period film. In times of a biopic frenzy, Prithviraj comes as a pleasant surprise for Kumar's fans who are sure to celebrate his portrayal of yet another larger-than-life character after his much-successful stint with Dharma Productions' 2019 blockbuster Kesari.
Director Chandraprakash Dwivedi has a deft grasp on literature, politics, and philosophy. With works like Chanakya (TV series, 1990) and Mrityunjay (TV series, 1996), it is evident Dwivedi excels in portraying periodic characters through Indian history. The film is set to hit theatres in Diwali this year.
Ranveer Singh joins hands with his debut director Maneesh Sharma for this quirky comedy. YRF also launches two new talents with this film — Divyang Thakkar (director) and South Indian actress Shalini Pandey (who makes her Bollywood debut opposite Singh in the film).
From the first look of the film, Singh seems to have redefined himself to now slip into the shoes of a Gujarati man in Jayeshbhai Jordaar. Almost frail and harmless, Singh's Jayeshbhai is a far call from the macho-man in Simmba. Such a deconstruction on the actor's part may go a long way in establishing Jayeshbhai Jordaar as a nuanced piece of work.
In an earlier interview, Maneesh revealed Divyang had specifically wanted Ranveer to look like an 'everyday-man,' one very divorced from the concept of hyper-masculinity. Singh added Jayeshbhai was a compassionate, sensitive character — an unlikely hero who ends up doing extraordinary things when hurled into a threatening situation. The film is expected to release this year.
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