Following a spate of high-profile flops ever since cinemas reopened after a year's hiatus due to Covid-19, Bollywood is raring to go again. And it's thanks mostly to Shah Rukh Khan and his spy flick Pathaan, which has been smashing records since its release last month.
The action thriller, which also stars Deepika Padukone and John Abraham, is now the second highest-grossing Hindi film in history, having already collected more than 9.99 billion rupees ($120 million) at the global box office, and still running to packed theatres.
The pressure is now on coming releases to top Pathaan's success, with the slate filled with big stars, including two more titles from Khan. The superstar is also set to appear in a cameo in Tiger 3, the third film in the hit franchise fronted by Salman Khan. Shah Rukh will play his character from Pathaan in Tiger 3, returning the favour to Salman, whose appearance in Pathaan as Tiger was one of the highlights of the film.
Here are all the top Bollywood films to watch out for this year:
Release date: February 24
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Emraan Hashmi, Diana Penty and Nushrratt Bharuccha
A remake of the hit Malayalam film Driving Licence, this comedy-drama stars Kumar and Hashmi as two men whose lives are upended by a small misunderstanding. Kumar plays a film star while Hashmi is a transport officer and his obsessive fan. When the two men meet through a twist of fate, their interaction does not go down well, leading to a feud that threatens to destroy their personal and professional lives.
Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar
Release date: March 8
Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Shraddha Kapoor, Dimple Kapadia and Boney Kapoor
Director Luv Ranjan, known for his unique romantic films such as Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety and Pyaar Ka Punchnama pairs stars Ranbir Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor for the first time. While details of the plot are sketchy, the trailer's description says it's about a "player in the world of romantic relationships [who] finds a girl who's a worthy opponent".
Veteran producer Boney Kapoor is set to make his acting debut with this film.
Mrs Chatterjee Vs Norway
Release date: March 17
Cast: Rani Mukerji and Anirban Bhattacharya
Based on a true story, acclaimed actress Mukerji plays an Indian mother living in Norway whose children, aged 2 and four months, are taken from her and placed in foster care after she's deemed unfit to care for them. The film focuses on her long legal battle to win back custody of her kids amid the breakdown of her marriage.
Release date: March 24
Cast: Rajkummar Rao, Bhumi Pednekar, Dia Mirza, Ashutosh Rana and Pankaj Kapur
Known for his gripping social themes in films such as Article 15 and Thappad, director Anubhav Sinha returns with a story set during the Covid-19 lockdowns. While little is known about the plot, lead actor Rao called it a "social drama, shedding light on the dichotomy and complexities through the toughest times our country faced".
Rao and Pedneker reunite following their well-received comedy Badhaai Do which was released last year.
Release date: March 30
Cast: Ajay Devgn, Tabu and Sanjay Mishra
Devgn returns to the director's chair with this action thriller, starring himself and Tabu in the lead. A remake of the hit Tamil film Kaithi, it tells the story of a father and ex-convict who is given the task of driving a lorry filled with injured policemen to the hospital in exchange for reuniting with his only daughter. Unbeknown to him, the lorry is also loaded with high-value contraband, and a few dangerous gangs want a piece of the precious cargo.
Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan
Release date: April 21
Cast: Salman Khan, Venkatesh and Pooja Hegde
Another remake of a South Indian film, Khan's Eid release has all the elements fans would want in a holiday movie — big action, lots of drama and stunning song-and-dance sequences.
The Tamil original, Veeram, told the story of a generous man who refuses to marry as he believes it would bring discord between him and his siblings. His four younger brothers, meanwhile, who have each found their partners, scheme to get him to fall in love, but soon find out the real reason behind their brother's hesitance.
Release date: June 2
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Nayanthara and Vijay Sethupathi
Another highly anticipated film, this action thriller pairs Khan with one of the biggest female stars in the country, South Indian actress Nayanthara, who's making her Hindi film debut. It also marks acclaimed Tamil director Atlee's Bollywood debut, while Khan's Pathaan co-star Padukone is set to make a cameo.
The film is said to be about a man who sets out to exact revenge on the people who punished him for a crime he did not commit.
Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani
Release date: July 28
Cast: Ranveer Singh, Alia Bhatt, Dharmendra, Jaya Bachchan and Shabana Azmi
Initially scheduled for a February release, production for this film had to be halted following lead star Alia Bhatt's pregnancy. Bhatt, who is married to actor Ranbir Kapoor, gave birth to baby girl Raha in November.
While not much is known about the plot, Karan Johar, who returns to directing after seven years, said it was "a love story at its heart with the soul of family values".
Release date: August 11
Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Anil Kapoor, Bobby Deol, Rashmika Mandanna and Tripti Dimri
Directed by Sandeep Reddy Vanga, this crime drama promises to showcase Kapoor like he's never been seen before. No details about the film are available except that Vanga is best known as the writer and director of the highly-divisive but hugely successful film Kabir Singh and its Telugu original Arjun Reddy.
Release date: November 10
Cast: Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif and Emraan Hashmi
Khan and Kaif return to reprise their roles as spies from India and Pakistan respectively who fall in love but also work for a common good. Plot details have not been unveiled for this Diwali release, but the two previous Tiger films have been hugely successful and followed the lead stars on various international missions.
Tiger 3 is also part of the so-called YRF Spy Universe, which now includes Hrithik Roshan's War and Shah Rukh's Pathaan — and both stars are set to make cameos as their respective characters.
Release date: December 2
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Taapsee Pannu and Boman Irani
Director Rajkumar Hirani, known for memorable blockbusters such as 3 Idiots, PK and Sanju, is teaming up with Shah Rukh for the first time in this "social drama" that centres around immigration. SRK, who shot portions of the film in Neom in Saudi Arabia last year, told Deadline that it's “a story of people who want to come back home when you finally get the calling.
“It’s a big journey film and goes through different areas around the world and finally comes back home to India,” he said.
More details of the film are yet to be revealed.
— Release dates are subject to change