The first quintessential multi-starrer to arrive would be Total Dhamaal.
By Joginder Tuteja
There was a time back in the 70s and the 80s when multi-starrers were in vogue. It wasn't uncommon to see superstars of the era pairing up with each other, usually in a two or even three hero affair.
Various combinations of Amitabh Bachchan, Rishi Kapoor, Vinod Khanna, Dharmendra, Jeetendra, Mithun Chakraborty, Sunny Deol, Anil Kapoor and others were seen together for multiple films in quick succession. Pioneers in this brand of cinema were Manmohan Desai [Amar Akbar Anthony, Naseeb, Dharam Veer, Rajkumar Kohli [Naagin, Jaani Dushman, Raaj Tilak].
However, the trend changed in the 90s and then when the new millennial kick-started, most of the leading men preferred to go solo. Yes, there were a few exceptions with two hero films but with the advent of many a leading men choosing to do only one film a year, it was rudimentary that they chose to have focus only on themselves when eventually came on the big screen.
In 2018, some of the actors did feature in multi-starrers. However, surprisingly none of these films worked. Whether it was Race 3 [Salman Khan, Anil Kapoor, Bobby Deol], Thugs of Hindostan [Aamir Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, Katrina Kaif] or Yamla Pagla Deewana Phir Se [Dharemendra, Sunny Deol, Bobby Deol], none of it was accepted at the box office.
Ironically, the only multi-starrer that actually worked at the Indian box office came from Hollywood, what with Avengers: Infinity War turning out to be a smash success.
With Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Zoe Saldana and Chris Pratt among others coming together, the Hollywood biggie was well accepted in India.
Now it is expected that in 2019 the trend will change for Bollywood too, what with half a dozen multi-starrers up for release.
The first quintessential multi-starrer to arrive would be Total Dhamaal. It is expected that director Indra Kumar would be indeed bringing 'total dhamaal' on screen, what with the original Dhamaal team of Riteish Deshmukh, Arshad Warsi and Javed Jaffrey been joined by veterans Ajay Devgn, Anil Kapoor and Madhuri Dixit. There was a time when Anil Kapoor and Madhuri Dixit had delivered several hits together and now with the duo joining hands with another new entrant in the franchise, Anil Kapoor, audiences can well expect to be set for a treat.
Next in line is set to be even bigger, what with 2 States director Abhishek Varman making his next on an even bigger canvas. Producer Karan Johar is backing his vision and in the process has put together a dream cast that comprises of Sanjay Dutt and Madhuri Dixit no less. It is indeed a casting coup of major proportion as the duo is further joined by 'dulhaniya' team of Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt. This isn't all as Sonakshi Sinha too steps into this biggie along with Aditya Roy Kapur and Kunal Khemu gets another multi-starrer to his name after Golmaal.
As for the man who is delivering one successful film after another, Akshay Kumar, he would be seen in quite a few multi-starrers in 2019. The biggest of them is set to be Housefull 4 where he pairs up with his partner-in-crime Riteish Deshmukh for the fourth time in this Sajid Nadiadwala created franchise. What makes this Diwali film further strong is the inclusion of Bobby Deol and Rana Daggubati. As for the leading ladies, the house is indeed full, what with Kriti Sanon, Kriti Kharbanda and Pooja Hegde ensuring that Housefull 4 turns out to be fresh.
Meanwhile Akshay Kumar is not shying away from having an all-women force around him for his Independence Day release Mission Mangal. India's mission to space was heralded by a team of female scientists and that is given full credit in this Balki backed film that has Vidya Balan, Taapsee Pannu, Sonakshi Sinha, Kirti Kulhari and Nithya Menen joining Akshay Kumar. It would be interesting to see how the ensemble cast comes makes an impression in Mission Mangal.
Though Akshay Kumar's another release Good News can't be tagged as a major multi-starrer as yet, the fact still remains that other than Kareena Kapoor Khan been paired opposite him, there are also Diljit Dosanjh and Kiara Advani for good measure. Yet again, it is Karan Johar who has managed to pull this off, as is the case with his concluding release of 2019, Brahmastra.
Said to be a tale of current times meeting mythological elements, this one has Amitabh Bachchan towering the show as Brahma and Dimple Kapadia said to be playing Sarsawati. As for real life 'jodi' Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt, they are the lead protagonists in this Ayan Mukherjee multi-starrer that also features Nagarjuna Akkineni, Divyendu Sharma and Mouni Roy in key roles.
While all these biggies are set to arrive in 2019, the 'baap of all multi-starrers' is set for 2020. The film in question? Karan Johar's own directorial outing, Takht. The film boasts of a cast that goes all the way from Ranveer Singh, Alia Bhatt and Kareena Kapoor Khan, to Anil Kapoor and Janhvi Kapoor with Bhumi Pednekar and Vicky Kaushal joining in as well.
Will it get bigger than this? Well, it's the success of 2019 releases that could well pave the way for many more multi-starrers to arrive in time to come.(Joginder Tuteja is a trade expert and film critic, and loves to talk and write about anything that is related to films. Views are personal)