After the dry spell that was 2020, with cinemas shuttered across India as well as most of the globe, the world's busiest film industry is hoping to reclaim 2021 with a spate of theatrical releases, many featuring big stars and even bigger productions.
The release of Bollywood holdovers from 2020 will mean fans get to see their favourite stars in several films. The influx of titles also sets the stage for the inevitable box office clash, something stars and distributors often try to avoid.
Already lined up for competition for the Eid Al Fitr holidays are superstar Salman Khan's Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai as well as actor John Abraham's Satyameva Jayate 2. Both films are set for a May 13 release.
Khan, who is known to release many of his blockbusters during Eid, returns to his action hero persona in Radhe, directed by Prabhudeva. But he will have to contend with competition from Abraham's patriotic action flick Satyameva Jayate 2, a sequel to the hit 2018 film.
Last week, the horror comedy Roohi, starring Rajkummar Rao, Janhvi Kapoor and Varun Sharma, became the first major Bollywood film to be released since cinemas closed in the wake of the pandemic. While the film has received mostly negative reviews, distributors say its performance at the box office is a sign audiences are slowly beginning to return to the movies.
Sport is a hot topic as many of this year's releases centre on athletic heroes: Saina is based on the life of Olympic badminton champion Saina Nehwal, while 83 is about India's historic Cricket World Cup win in 1983. Maidaan, starring Ajay Devgn, meanwhile focuses on little-known Indian football hero Syed Abdul Rahim in the 1950s.
Here is the list of confirmed Bollywood releases for 2021. Scroll down to learn more about each film:
- Saina – March 26
- Chehre – April 9
- Bunty Aur Babli 2 – April 23
- Thalaivi – April 23
- Sooryavanshi – April 30
- Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai – May 13
- Satyameva Jayate 2 – May 13
- BellBottom – May 28
- 83 – June 4
- Jhund – June 18
- Shamshera – June 25
- Shershaah – July 2
- Gangubai Kathiawadi – July 30
- Jayeshbhai Jordaar – August 27
- Liger – September 9
- Bhoot Police – September 10
- Anek – September 17
- Tadap – September 24
- Dhaakad – October 1
- RRR – October 12
- Maidaan – October 15
- Jersey – November 5
- Prithviraj – November 5
- Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 – November 19
- Laal Singh Chaddha – December 24
‘Saina’ (Friday, March 26)
Cast: Parineeti Chopra and Manav Kaul
Chopra will take on Indian badminton hero Saina Nehwal in this biopic tracing her rise to Olympics glory. The film faced a few delays after actress Shraddha Kapoor was first cast as Nehwal, but then dropped out because of health issues.
‘Chehre’ (Friday, April 9)
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan and Emraan Hashmi
Indian acting legend Bachchan returns to the big screen in this thriller, about a man who shelters from a snowstorm in the home of a retired judge. When he agrees to humour the older man and his friends in a test of wits, he soon realises he's trapped in a game of cat and mouse.
‘Bunty Aur Babli 2’ (Friday, April 23)
Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Rani Mukerji, Siddhant Chaturvedi and Sharvari Wagh
A sequel to the 2005 hit comedy about two small town residents trying to con their way to success, this film brings back Mukerji and pairs her with Ali Khan, who replaces Abhishek Bachchan in the original. Rising star Chaturvedi also stars along with debutant Wagh. Portions of the film were shot in Abu Dhabi in March over 10 days at two locations: the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club and Emirates Palace.
‘Thalaivi’ (Friday, April 23)
Cast: Kangana Ranaut
Based on the life of the late J Jayalalithaa, the actress-turned-politician who served as chief minister of Tamil Nadu state six times, Ranaut takes on a once-in-a-lifetime in this biography. The film has been beset by controversies, with Jayalalithaa's family members firmly opposed to it.
‘Sooryavanshi’ (Friday, April 30)
Cast: Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif
Rohit Shetty, known for his entertainers starring larger-than-life cops, teams up with Kumar and Kaif for this one. Kumar plays an officer trying to stop a planned attack on Mumbai. Actors Ranveer Singh and Ajay Devgn, who both starred in Shetty's other cop films – Simmba and Singham – will make special appearances.
‘Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai’ (Thursday, May 13)
Cast: Salman Khan, Disha Patani and Randeep Hooda
While little is known about this film's plot, we know it's a remake of Korean crime drama The Outlaws, about a policeman trying to keep the peace between two warring gangs. Director Prabhudeva reunites with Khan following the 2019 hit Dabangg 3.
‘Satyameva Jayate 2’ (Thursday, May 13)
Cast: John Abraham, Divya Khosla Kumar
In the 2018 film, Abraham played a vigilante who kills corrupt officers with a police officer, played by Manoj Bajpayee, hot on his heels. This time, Abraham will face off with himself as he plays both cop and vigilante.
‘BellBottom’ (Friday, May 28)
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Vaani Kapoor, Huma Qureshi and Lara Dutta
Not much has been revealed about this film except for the fact it's a spy thriller set in the 1980s. Kumar, known for picking real-life stories and turning them into successful films, says it is based on a true story.
'83' (Friday, June 4)
Cast: Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone, Tahir Raj Bhasin and Saqib Saleem
One of the most awaited films of 2020, this sports drama has everything going for it: superstars as leads who are also a real-life couple, and India's favourite sport of cricket. The film documents the country's historic first Cricket World Cup win in 1983.
‘Jhund’ (Friday, June 18)
Cast: Abhishek Bachchan
Nagraj Manjule, best known for his acclaimed Marathi language films, makes his Bollywood debut in this movie about a professor who motivates street children to play football.
‘Shamshera’ (Friday, June 25)
Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Vaani Kapoor and Sanjay Dutt
This period epic is set in the 1800s in India, where a small tribe leads a fight against British colonisers. Ranbir is set to play a double role.
‘Shershaah' (Friday, July 2)
Cast: Sidharth Malhotra and Kiara Advani
This biographical war film is based on the life of Captain Vikram Batra, who at age 24 led a team of soldiers during the Kargil War of 1999 and died on the front lines. He was posthumously awarded India's highest military honour for wartime valour. Malhotra plays the war hero.
‘Gangubai Kathiawadi’ (Friday, July 30)
Cast: Alia Bhatt and Vijay Raaz
Loosely based on the book Mafia Queens of Mumbai, Bhatt plays a woman who was sold into prostitution as a child, and who becomes the madam of a brothel in Mumbai. Sanjay Leela Bhansali, known for his period epics, directs the film.
‘Jayeshbhai Jordaar’ (Friday, August 27)
Cast: Ranveer Singh, Shalini Pandey, Boman Irani and Ratna Pathak Shah
Singh is back at his goofy best in this comedy film, the third to feature him this year. "Jayeshbhai is an unlikely hero, an ordinary man, who ends up doing something extraordinary when he's hurled into a threatening situation," he told India Today. "Jayeshbhai is sensitive and compassionate. He believes in equal rights between men and women in a society that is deeply rooted in patriarchal ideals, practices and doctrines."
‘Liger’ (Thursday, September 9)
Cast: Vijay Devarakonda and Ananya Panday
South Indian heartthrob Devarakonda makes his Bollywood debut in this romantic action film. He plays a kickboxer with a stutter and trained for months in Thailand to add authenticity to the role. Liger, he explains, is a cross between a lion and a tiger.
‘Bhoot Police’ (Friday, September 10)
Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Arjun Kapoor, Jacqueline Fernandez and Yami Gautam
Very little is known about this film’s plot besides that fact it’s a horror comedy. Khan called it “clutter breaking” while Kapoor told fans on social media they would “scream with laughter”. Director Pavan Kirpalani is an old hand at the horror genre.
‘Anek’ (Friday, September 17)
Cast: Ayushmann Khurrana
Khurrana pairs up again with his Article 15 director Anubhav Sinha for this action thriller that was extensively shot in India's north-east region. It's a subject that has never been explored in Hindi cinema, Khurrana said in an interview.
‘Tadap’ (Friday, September 24)
Cast: Ahan Shetty and Tara Sutaria
Another Bollywood star son makes his film debut. Ahan Shetty, the son of action star Suniel Shetty, stars in this remake of the hit Telugu romantic action film RX 100. In the original, two lovers are torn apart by their families, but audiences soon find out their romance is not what it seems.
‘Dhaakad’ (Friday, October 1)
Cast: Kangana Ranaut
Ranaut plays Agent Agni in this action film, which she has called "one of a kind". "Dhaakad is not only a benchmark film for my career but will be a turning point for Indian cinema as well," she said when announcing the film.
'RRR' (Tuesday, October 12)
Cast: NT Rama Rao Jr, Ram Charan, Alia Bhatt and Ajay Devgn
From SS Rajamouli, the man behind the record-breaking Baahubali film series, comes this period film starring two of the biggest Telugu stars, and featuring the South Indian debut of Bollywood star Bhatt. Set in the 1920s, this Motorcycle Diaries-inspired film will focus on the lives of Indian freedom fighters Alluri Sitarama Raju and Komaram Bheem.
‘Maidaan’ (Friday, October 15)
Cast: Ajay Devgn, Priyamani and Gajraj Rao
Another sports film, but this time based around football, this biographical film is set in the 1950s. Devgn plays former Indian football coach and manager Syed Abdul Rahim, who led his country to the semi-finals at the 1956 Olympics despite numerous challenges.
‘Jersey’ (Friday, November 5)
Cast: Shahid Kapoor and Mrunal Thakur
Following his 2019 hit Kabir Singh, which was a remake of a Telugu hit, Kapoor returns with another remake of a South Indian film. In this drama, he plays a down-and-out cricketer who gets a shot at redemption later in life.
‘Prithviraj’ (Friday, November 5)
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Manushi Chhillar and Sanjay Dutt
This period film will mark the Bollywood debut of Miss World 2017 Chhillar. The film is based on the life of Prithviraj Chauhan, a 12th-century Rajput king known for his bravery and battles against the Mughals.
'Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2' (Friday, November 19)
Cast: Tabu, Kartik Aaryan and Kiara Advani
A sequel to the 2007 hit directed by Priyadarshan, this follow-up to the horror comedy will be helmed by Anees Bazmee.
‘Laal Singh Chaddha’ (Friday, December 24)
Cast: Aamir Khan and Kareena Kapoor Khan
Another much-awaited film, this is Bollywood's official remake of the Oscar-winning movie Forrest Gump. Khan takes on Tom Hanks's character in what promises to be a sure-fire entertainer, going by the Bollywood star's past projects.
Film release dates are subject to change. While all dates mentioned are for India, most Bollywood films release a day earlier in the UAE