The Bollywood films to look forward to in 2021: from 'Brahmastra' to 'Takht'

The year ahead promises some big-budget films featuring the best talents from the Hindi film industry

Laal Singh Chaddha. Courtesy Aamir Khan Productions & Viacom18 Studios

Just like many around the world in 2020, a number of big-budget movies in the Hindi film industry have had their release dates pushed back to 2021 due to the pandemic.

But with a bumper list of titles now pegged for release next year, here are some of the most anticipated Bollywood films heading for the big screen:

'83'

Kapil Dev and Ranveer Singh in 83 (2021). IMDb

A sports drama that takes its name from the year that India won the Cricket World Cup, 83 boasts a cast that includes Ranveer Singh (as Kapil Dev), Deepika Padukone (as Dev's wife Romi Bhatia), Tahir Raj Bhasin (as Sunil Gavaskar), Harrdy Sandhu (as Madan Lal) and Saqib Saleem (as Mohinder Amarnath), among others. The on-screen recreation of the historic moment in Indian cricketing history, coupled with Singh's on-point depiction of Dev, has made this one of the most anticipated releases of the year.

'Pathan'

The star cast of this film alone has garnered a lot of public interest. Shah Rukh Khan, Hrithik Roshan, Salman Khan, John Abraham and Deepika Padukone are brought together on this project for the first time. Shooting for the film, which was stalled due to the pandemic, is set to start again soon, and according to Indian media, chunks of it will be shot at locations in Abu Dhabi in early 2021. Not much is known about the plot of this Yashraj film, except that Shah Rukh Khan plays a special agent, joined by Salman Khan as Tiger (from the Ek Tha Tiger series), while Abraham will play the antagonist.

'Shamshera'

A big-budget period action drama set in the 1800s, Shamshera tells the story of a dacoit tribe who fight for their rights and independence against the British. It stars Ranbir Kapoor in a double role, Vaani Kapoor and Sanjay Dutt, and was originally due for release in summer 2020.

'Brahmastra'

Alia Bhatt and Ranbir Kapoor in Brahmastra (2021). IMDb

Real-life couple Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt make their first appearance on the big screen together in this three-part fantasy action film, the first instalment of which is due out in 2021. Also starring Amitabh Bachchan and Nagarjuna, director Ayan Mukerji has claimed that Kapoor’s character was inspired by the famous poet Rumi, and that the script has been six years in the making. The film will be released in Hindi, Tamil, Telegu, Kannada and Malayalam.

'Gangubai Kathiawadi'

Sanjay Leela Bhansali's next film is a biographical crime drama that sees Alia Bhatt take on the role of Gangubai Kothewali, who features as a chapter in Hussain Zaidi's book, Mafia Queens of Mumbai. It tells the story of a young girl sold into prostitution in Mumbai's Kamathipura by her boyfriend, and how she rises up in the ranks to eventually become the woman in charge.

The combination of Bhatt and Bhansali makes this film particularly exciting. The young actress has a flair for getting into the skin of every role – whether as the flamboyant spoilt rich girl Shanaya in Student of the Year, or the stoic secret spy in Raazi, but Kothewali is unlike any role she has done before.

It will be also interesting to see how Bhansali, known for his opulent and detailed sets, will showcase the mean, gritty streets of Mumbai.

'Laal Singh Chaddha'

Aamir Khan in Laal Singh Chaddha (2021). IMDb

Aamir Khan takes on the titular role in this Indian adaptation of Forrest Gump. Popular South Indian actor Vijay Sethupathi makes his Bollywood debut with this film, which also stars Kareena Kapoor Khan. The original script has been overhauled to give the story an Indian context, but Khan was quoted saying that even though the original film came out more than two decades ago, certain themes are still relevant today.

'Takht'

A period drama set during the Mughal era, Takht  tells the story of the enmity that develops between two brothers Aurangzeb (Vicky Kaushal) and Dara (Ranveer Singh) as they fight for the throne. It boasts an ensemble cast featuring the who's who of Bollywood, including Anil Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor, Alia Bhatt and Janhvi Kapoor. Directed by Karan Johar, it will be interesting to see how this big budget drama performs at the box office, especially since Johar was at the receiving end of backlash as a result of a nepotism debate that sparked following the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput in June.

'Sooryavanshi'

A Rohit Shetty action comedy, it is the fourth in a series of the director's cop dramas. The first and second, Singham and Singham Returns, featured Ajay Devgn; the third, Simmba, saw Ranveer Singh take on the lead role, and in the latest, Akshay Kumar dons the uniform. An out-and-out entertaining caper, these films are known for over the top fight sequences and dramatic (and some very cheesy) dialogues, but they seem to do very well at the box office.

'Rashmi Rocket'

Ajay Devgn in Maidaan (2021). IMDb

Not much is known about this sports drama, which sees Taapsee Pannu take on the role of an athlete, but it has been generating a lot of buzz as the actress is training hard to prepare for her role in this film. Rashmi Rocket will be chaired by Akarsh Khurana, who also directed Irrfan Khan in 2018's Karwaan.

'Maidaan'

Another sports drama, this Ajay Devgn biographic sports film is based on the golden era of Indian football – from 1952 to 1962. Devgn takes on the role of former player and football coach Syed Abdul Rahim, who is regarded the architect of modern Indian football.