Even with an ongoing pandemic, theatres in many states functioning at 50 per cent occupancy, a quieter social life and fewer movies, Bollywood still managed to pack in plenty of drama and trauma, fun and festivity, love and war into the year.
The first part of an A to Z guide to a year that will soon become history, as chronicled by Rediff.com Senior Contributor Roshmila Bhattacharya.
A for ARYAN
Not even a scriptwriter with the wildest imagination would have come up with a scenario where Shah Rukh Khan's eldest son Aryan would go for a cruise party and just hours later be arrested in a Narcotics Control Bureau drug raid for his 'involvement in consumption, sale and purchase'.
The 23 year old aspiring director, who has just completed his studies abroad, was in jail for 26 days till dad marshaled the best defence, including former attorney general Mukul Rohatgi, to argue his case for bail.
Following a December 15 ruling by the Bombay high court, Aryan is now exempt from making weekly appearances at the NCB office.
Last heard, he will assist on his dad's films and work with the country's top production houses.
Chunky Pandey's daughter, Ananya, who is Aryan's sister Suhana's best friend, was also in the dragnet over alleged drugs-related Whatsapp chats with Aryan. However, with Maharashtra Minister Nawab Malik turning the spotlight on NCB Zonal Director Sameer Wankhade's alleged career blemishes, her questioning came to an abrupt end.
B for BIKINI
Ever since the pandemic-enforced lockdowns, the bikini has emerged as a sign of fun, frolic and most importantly, freedom.
Sara Ali Khan, who goes off the radar every few months to surface in the blue waters of the Maldives, has even come up with a verse encapsulating the feeling, 'Khara samundar, salty sea, adventure time for hum three, hair flying, choppy waves, but feeling so free.'
Alia F took her freedom and bikinis to Goa and then the Maldives, diving into the deep sea to get over her phobia of open waters.
Disha Pattani's Perfect 10's body overshadowed even Tiger Shroff's packs. Taking a cue from the dolphins, she asserted, 'A life in captivity is no life at all.'
C for CON
How was Jacqueline Fernandez to know that the Gucci and Chanel bags, Hermes bracelets, Louis Vuitton shoes, a horse and a Mini Cooper (reportedly returned) and several other pricey gifts and loans could lead to question-answer sessions with the Enforcement Directorate?
Her Richie Rich admirer, Sukesh Chandrashekhar, who would send a private jet to ferry her, is the main accused in a Rs 200 crore/Rs 2 billion money-laundering case.
Jackie claims she had believed he was the owner of Sun TV and chatted with him almost every day.
Sukesh, who has been in the con game since he was 17, has reportedly named over 10 actors, some from Bollywood during his questioning. Chats have been accessed of Nora Fatehi dismissing a luxury ride with a Rs 2 crore/Rs 20 million plus price tag as a 'rough use car' and eventually settling for a BMW. She claims it was given to her by Sukesh's wife sometime actress Leena Maria Paul for participating in an event and describes herself as a 'victim' in this con game.
D for DIVORCE
The Family Man 2 may have made Samantha Ruth Prabhu a pan-India star, but it took away her real-life family man Naga Chaitanya who reportedly felt let down by her sex scene in the Web series. And a four-year fairytale marriage ended unhappily.
Aamir Khan and Kiran Rao terminated their 15-year-marriage in July, but stated that they will continue to be connected as parents.
Kirti Kulhari and Saahil Sehgal quietly announced their separation while Shalini Singh divorced rapper Honey Singh after 10 years of marriage amidst accusations of domestic violence and adultery.
E for ENDINGS
Dilip Kumar fell two years short of his centenary birthday, taking his last curtain call on July 7.
Mandira Bedi performed the last rites of her husband, Director Raj Kaushal while COVID claimed Major Bikramjeet Kanwarpal, Abhilasha Patel, Kishore Nadlaskar, music director Shravan Rathod and Ayushmann Khurrana's Dream Girl co-star Rinku Singh Nikumbh.
Bigg Boss 13 winner Siddharth Shukla, who was at the peak of his popularity, passed away at 40. His grieving lady love Shehnaaz Gill is Google's Top Searched Female Personality of 2021 and the third most Googled personality in India.
F for FALLOUT
Kartik Aaryan's Dostana with Karan Johar officially ended with Dharma Productions announcing that 'due to professional circumstances, on which we have decided to maintain a dignified silence -- we will be recasting =Dostana 2, directed by Collin D'Cunha.'
The film has subsequently been shelved.
The actor has remained tight-lipped on this fallout, preferring to create a Dhamaka instead with Ram Madhvani's action thriller.
G for GOLD
After winning the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics, javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra was a 'hero' across India.
Once back in Delhi, National Award-winning Director Madhur Bhandarkar asked him if he had ever thought of acting. Neeraj told him straight that right now he needs to focus on his sport and win more medals for the country.
In 2018, the champ had shared that he would like Randeep Hooda or Akshay Kumar to play him in a biopic.
After his big win, the Internet was flooded with memes of Khiladi Kumar with a stick in his hand suggesting that he had started practicing. Quick on the uptake, the actor informed that it was an old picture from the Saugandh sets and quipped that he would be happy if the athlete played him if a film was ever made on his life. Touche!
Meanwhile, Neeraj has shot down all speculation of a biopic saying it should be on hold till he is still an athlete.
Jaya Bachchan has returned from a self-imposed hibernation in her golden jubilee year. Guddi has been paired opposite her first film hero, Dharmendra, in Karan Johar's Rocky On Rani Ki Prem Kahani.
H for HOMECOMING
Who would have ever imagined that the friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man would appear on screen, unmasked, no longer able to separate his normal life from the high-stakes of being a superhero?
Spider-Man: No Way Home, ,which brings the curtains down on the Jon Watt's Homecoming trilogy, was one of the most hyped films of the year and in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The Tom Holland and Zendaya starrer, which opened in India on December 16, dubbed in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu, has drawn into its web Willem Dafoe, Alfred Molina, Jamie Foxx and Jon Favreau as Norman Osborne, Dr Otto Octavius, Max Dillon and Happy Hogan.
Jacob Batalon appears as Ned Leeds, Marisa Tomei as Aunt May Parker and Benedict Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange replaces Tony Stark as Peter's mentor.
Spider-Man turned out to be the blockbuster of the year, earning 3.5 times more than the 2019 Spider-Man: Far from Home. It is the biggest opening for a Hollywood film in India, smashing records despite 50 per cent occupancy in theatres because of the on-going pandemic. With a debut weekend of $260 million in North America, it stands at Number 2, just behind Avengers: Endgame's $357 million.
That's some web Spidey is spinning.
I for INTERNATIONAL EMMYS
The International Emmy Awards, which honours excellence in television programming produced outside the United States, was hosted in New York City on November 23. There were 44 nominees across 11 categories from 24 countries, three from India.
Delhi Crime had bagged the 'Best Drama Series' last year and Sushmita Sen's Aarya was expected to repeat the feat. But it lost out to the Israeli thriller Tehran.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui was nominated in the Best Performance by an Actor category for Serious Men. David Tennant won for his seamless act in the UK show Des.
Vir Das's comedy special on Netflix, Vir Das: For India, was nudged out by France's Call My Agent Season 4 in the Comedy category.
Still after three Emmy nominations -- Four More Shots was nominated in the Best Comedy Series category while Arjun Mathur was nominated in Best Actor category for Made In Heaven, besides the win for Delhi Crime in consecutive years, this is one hat-trick we need to celebrate.
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