Call it the Avengers effect but the whole 'universe' concept is now heating up in Bollywood as well. With the world seeing how superheroes from different parts of the world and even different eras have managed to regale audiences so successfully in each of the installments of Avengers, Rohit Shetty was the first to design his cop universe with the troika of Singham, Simmba and Sooryavanshi. While that has taken shape indeed, the trend has only become far more widespread with not just a spy universe but also a horror universe in the making.
While Yash Raj Films spy universe will comprise of characters from the Tiger franchise, War and Pathan coming together, horror universe is the brainchild of Dinesh Vijan who has as many as four films being a part here - Stree, Roohi, Bhediya and Munjha.
Let's talk about the cop universe first. Bollywood superstars playing a cop is a trend that started with Amitabh Bachchan's Zanjeer and then saw one of the youngest superstars Ranveer Singh earning a blockbuster as well with Simmba. Rohit Shetty, who is capable of designing a comedy with as much élan as a cop action thriller, remade Tamil flick Singham with Ajay Devgn. Once that followed by Singham Returns turned into a major success as well, he decided to rope in the superstar in a special appearance for Simmba.
However, the masterstroke played by him was the inclusion of Akshay Kumar in the epilogue of the film where the superstar was introduced as Sooryavanshi. This is it; the sheer euphoria that was generated amidst audiences, industry and trade alike was to be seen to be believed. Rohit Shetty had at least three real life superheroes in his cop universe already and while one waits to see Salman Khan (Dabangg) and Rani Mukerjee (Mardaani) too making an entry to add all the more weight to the proceedings, Bollywood has already taken a first big step indeed.
This can well be seen from the fact that Yash Raj Films has already started integration plans for Tiger and War franchise into Pathan. Though Salman Khan and Hrithik Roshan had featured in standalone films which were not connected even remotely with each other, the current trend has already motivated the brain-bank at Yash Raj Films to bring the duo together with Shah Rukh Khan. While it is already confirmed that Salman Khan would be seen as Tiger in Pathan and vice versa would happen in Tiger 3, one waits to hear an announcement around Hrithik as well.
No wonder, for those who had been waiting for these superstars to share screen space with each other, the wish is being answered. After all, even though Salman and Shah Rukh have still worked with each other, Hrithik has time and again played solo. To have three of the top superstars to regale audiences together would be an unbelievable sight indeed.
What will make for a scary sight though is to see lead stars of several horror movies come together. This is what Dinesh Vijan is aiming at who, after the blockbuster success of Stree and the early positive response to the promo of Roohi, is already integrating characters into his next two horror films Bhediya and Munjha in such a manner that it also turns out to be seamless.
Stree featured Rajkummar Rao and Shraddha Kapoor in lead roles while Roohi has the former pairing up with Janhvi Kapoor. Though Rajkummar plays a different character in each of these films, he would be returning with Stree 2 which would have the universe elements from other films integrated. Moreover, Varun Dhawan is already signed up for Bhediya and the case of Munjha would be announced soon as well. While each of these four films would be working as standalone features, there are common threads being formed which is keeping the writers engaged.
One of the key advantages of these universes in the making is the equity that each of these films comes with. Of course, it's also the need of the hour that these films succeed too in quick succession so that the chain isn't broken. So far, each of the films that has been released as standalone has turned out to be a hit or a blockbuster. With some of the best in the business coming together to give shape to these universes emerging out of various franchises, it could well lead to many more similar experiments in the making by the other bigwigs.
Bollywood universes in the making
Cop universe: Singham, Simmba, Sooryavanshi
Spy universe: Tiger franchise, War, Pathan
Horror universe: Stree