What’s common between Deewar (1975), Parinda (1989), Satya (1998), Vaastav (1999), Shootout At Lokhandwala (2007), Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai (2010) and Shootout At Wadala (2013)? They are all gangster dramas which set the box office on fire. Although Bollywood has always had a special affinity for gangster films, right from the black-and-white era, after a brief reprieve, Hindi films are back to telling tales of the underworld once again.
For starters, filmmaker Sanjay Gupta has again entered the gangster space with Mumbai Saga, which will be followed by the third part of the Shootout franchise. Then, filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali is working on the Alia Bhatt-starrer gangster drama, Gangubai Kathiawadi. Reportedly, director Zoya Akhtar’s next is also in the same “dark, gritty” space, and may star Ranveer Singh along with Katrina Kaif.
Then, filmmakers Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani are backing a web series directed by Shujaat Saudagar (of Rock On 2; 2016), an adaptation of author S Hussain Zaidi’s book Dongri to Dubai: Six Decades of the Mumbai Mafia. Also, actors Sanjay Dutt and Arshad Warsi are likely to reunite in a new film about a blind gangster and his accomplice, to be helmed by Sajid-Farhad.
“It’s all about which genre or subject a filmmaker gets excited about. But usually, there’s a lot of style and spice in such films as they are set in different times, something that people haven’t seen,” says trade analyst Taran Adarsh. Ask Gupta about his next and he is “as excited about it as his first film”. “It’s my most ambitious film [till date]; one story that needs to be told on screen,” says the filmmaker.
For exhibitor-distributor Akshaye Rathi, it’s about the “intrigue factor.” He says: “People have heard, or keep hearing about gangsters/underworld through TV and newspapers, so it will always be very intriguing for them. Plus, gangsters as well as cops in such stories are always very larger-than-life.”
Actors, on their part, are also kicked. For instance, Mumbai Saga actor Emraan Hashmi finds it “amazing how Gupta delves into the underworld space and always does something marvellous with it.” “No one would imagine that I am playing a cop but for this policeman, he is like a gangster, which is a very entertaining pitch for a character,” he says.
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