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7 big-ticket movies on my 2023 theatre watch-list

Wish I could book my seats for these right away

YEAR OF COLOUR: Still from Jawan, Kabzaa, Oppenheimer
YEAR OF COLOUR: Stills from Jawan, Kabzaa, Oppenheimer.

The year 2022 was a great one at the movies, with Kannada cinema turning out to be a pleasant surprise. I ended up watching not one but two Kannada films in theatres (albeit Hindi-dubbed). Both impressed me equally with their writing, intelligence, and conviction.


While I’d love to watch every single 2023 offering on the big screen, that’s only feasible financially if I’m compensated for these outings. Until that happens, I’m reserving my money and seats for these 7 right now. Let me know your picks in the comments:


Salaar

Salaar is likely to boast a strong emotional core underlying its adrenaline-pumping action sequences.
Salaar is likely to boast a strong emotional core underlying its adrenaline-pumping action sequences.

Image: IMDb


K.G.F: Chapter 2 stands as my 2022 favourite, thanks to its disciplined writing and strong emotional core underlying even the most adrenaline-pumping action sequences. Its rumoured sibling is hitting cinemas this September, with Prabhas in the lead. Considering both films share Prashanth Neel as their director, Salaar obviously has me excited. Especially when the filmmaker’s screenwriting tips have resonated with me. Plus, it’s the scale that’s simply irresistible. If the buzz is true and “Rocky Bhai” Yash does make an appearance in this Tollywood actioner, it’s just the cherry one needs on top of this larger-than-life icing.


Salaar

Written & directed by: Prashanth Neel

Cast: Prabhas, Shruti Haasan, Prithviraj Sukumaran, Jagapathi Babu

Releasing on 28 September 2023

Jawan

Jawan casts SRK in an LCU-like setting.
Jawan stars SRK in an LCU-like setting.

Image: IMDb


Tamil mass cinema is truly a genre of its own. Few can replicate those killer action set pieces accompanied by well-suited background scores. Directors such as Shankar, Lokesh Kanagaraj, and Atlee have emerged as masters of this genre (pun unintended). And now the latter auteur has teamed up with the king of Bollywood, promising a quirky yet wholesome combination. Exuding Vikram vibes, especially with Anirudh Ravichander’s signature compositions, this pan-India Bollywood film looks like a feast best enjoyed in the theatre. And if SRK and my current favourite Vijay Sethupathi are poised to have an out-of-this-world on-screen face-off as news reports go, it completely seals the deal.


Jawan

Written & directed by: Atlee

Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Nayanthara, Vijay Sethupathi, Sanya Malhotra

Releasing on 2 June 2023


Watch the title-announcement teaser here:


Pushpa 2: The Rule

Pushpa 2: The Rule pits Pushparaj (Allu Arjun) and Bhanwar Singh Shekhawat (Fahadh Faasil) together.
Pushpa 2: The Rule pits Pushparaj (Allu Arjun) and Bhanwar Singh Shekhawat (Fahadh Faasil) against each other.

Image: IMDb


One of my biggest regrets this year was my inability to watch Pushpa: The Rise in cinemas. Ill health was to blame, but the high-octane, high-energy tone of the film when I viewed it on Amazon Prime Video helped boost my recovery. No wonder I call this Allu Arjun-starrer my “healing film”. To repay the unwitting favour, I’m catching Part 2 on the big screen. Though, it’s also my intrigue about what happens next between Pushparaj (Arjun) and Bhanwar Singh Shekhawat (Fahadh Faasil) that puts this much-awaited Telugu flick on my list. Yes, the women characters deserve better treatment, and I especially cannot wait to see how badass/wicked the antagonist Daksha (Anasuya Bharadwaj) can get in the sequel. But the overall writing and flow I’ve witnessed in the first instalment are enough to drive my decision.


Pushpa 2: The Rule

Written & directed by: Sukumar

Cast: Allu Arjun, Fahadh Faasil, Rashmika Mandanna, Anasuya Bharadwaj

Release date unannounced


Oppenheimer

Oppenheimer features a nuclear-blast scene shot with IMAX cameras.
Oppenheimer features a nuclear-blast scene shot with IMAX cameras.

Image: IMDb


When a film assures a nuclear-blast scene captured using IMAX cameras minus any VFX or CGI, it’s just the hook needed to make you book your theatrical spot for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Also, it’s Christopher Nolan who’s helming this one, with the underrated Cillian Murphy in the lead. No need to say anything else.


Oppenheimer

Written by: Kai Bird & Martin J Sherwin (official adaptation of their book American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer), Christopher Nolan (screenplay)

Directed by: Christopher Nolan

Cast: Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Robert Downey Jr, Matt Damon

Releasing on 21 July 2023


Watch the official trailer here:


Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One


Tom Cruise returns as Ethan Hunt in the globe-trotting Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One.
Tom Cruise returns as Ethan Hunt in the globe-trotting Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One.

Image: Screengrab from video by Paramount Pictures’ YouTube account


Despite my best attempts, I’ve never watched a Mission: Impossible film in theatres. I’m all set to rectify my mistake this year by heading to this one. While I avoid watching trailers, I’m glad I made an exception in this case. Good locations, check. A suave Tom Cruise in control, check. Killer visuals, check. Whether the writing falls in place or not is something that can only be found out upon watching the film. But given the history of MI’s bang-on screenplays, this one looks slicker than ever.


Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One

Written by: (Late) Bruce Geller (official adaptation of his television series Mission: Impossible), Christopher McQuarrie (screenplay)

Directed by: Christopher McQuarrie

Cast: Tom Cruise, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson

Releasing in July 2023


Watch the official teaser here:


Merry Christmas

Katrina Kaif and Vijay Sethupathi is just the pairing Bollywood needs.
Katrina Kaif and Vijay Sethupathi is just the pairing Bollywood needs.

Image: Instagram account @katrinakaif


Katrina Kaif and Vijay Sethupathi is the pairing we’ve always wanted. And if they’re playing a couple in this one, it will truly be one of Bollywood’s most interesting moments. Besides, the director is Sriram Raghavan, whose Andhadhun was a blast. As long as the film isn’t out-and-out horror, I’m totally jumping on this ride.


Merry Christmas

Written by: Anukriti Pandey, Sriram Raghavan

Directed by: Sriram Raghavan

Cast: Katrina Kaif, Vijay Sethupathi, Vinay Pathak, Sanjay Kapoor

Release date unannounced


See updates here:


Kabzaa

Kabzaa boasts just the scale and canvas that warrant a theatrical watch.
Kabzaa boasts just the scale and canvas that warrant a theatrical watch.

Image: IMDb


All set to continue Sandalwood’s winning streak at the pan-India box office is this gangster drama, starring Upendra, Kichcha Sudeepa, and Shriya Saran. While the film is strongly reminiscent of K.G.F, particularly with BGM king Ravi Basrur’s score, I find it more similar to Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes ventures. The scale and canvas are large enough to opt for an in-cinema screening.


Kabzaa

Written by: R Chandru (story & screenplay), M Chandramouli (dialogue), Ram Lakshman (dialogue)

Directed by: R Chandru

Cast: Upendra, Kichcha Sudeepa, Shriya Saran, Kabir Duhan Singh

Releasing in February 2023


Watch the official teaser here:


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