New Delhi, Dec 14: Leading stars played safe in Bollywood but the young brigade cemented its position by navigating between potboilers and script-backed roles in 2014, which also heralded the arrival of female leading ladies in a big way.
It was particularly a good year for young stars like Arjun Kapoor, Deepika Padukone, Siddharth Malhotra, Varun Dhawan, Shraddha Kapoor, Fawad Khan, Patralekha, Ali Fazal, Darshan Kumar and Alia Bhatt.
2014 had its usual share of big budget commercial fares that the dream factory of Bollywood churns out at regular intervals, often driven by superstars.
The two Khans, Salman and Shah Rukh, who seem to be back on friendly terms, did not disappoint by making it to the Rs 100 crore club with their releases 'Jai Ho', 'Kick' and 'Happy New Year'. Salman had his first release with 'Jai Ho' which managed to do decent business despite getting a bashing from critics. He upped his box office collection with his Robin Hood act in 'Kick'.
Shah Rukh was close with his multi-starrer, much hyped 'Happy New Year' that saw him returning with director Farah Khan after their brief fallout. Like every year, Aamir's fans will have to wait till the end of the year to watch 'PK'.
Keeping his track record of hits in mind and his pairing with Rajkumar Hirani after '3 Idiots', the film is expected to hit the bull's eye. Hrithik Roshan, who faced personal setbacks with injuries and his divorce from wife Sussanne Khan while making 'Bang Bang', managed to help the film sail through despite dismal reviews.
The other young and old entrants in the 100 crore club included Arjun Kapoor-Alia Bhatt's romance saga '2 States', Siddharth Malhotra-Shraddha Kapoor's 'Ek Villain', Ajay Devgn's 'Singham Returns', Akshay Kumar's 'Holiday' though the actor's second outing 'Entertainment' did not entertain the audience and neither did Devgn's 'Action Jackson'.
Amid the star-driven masala entertainers, small-budget films created some elbow room for themselves. 'Queen', Hansal Mehta's 'CityLights', Vishal Bhardwaj's Shakespearian adaptation of 'Hamlet' in Kashmir-set 'Haider', 'Highway', 'Dedh Ishqiya', 'Finding Fanny', 'Ankhon Dekhi', 'Filmistaan' and 'Bobby Jasoos' were praised by critics though not all of them were box office hits.
The year started with 'Dedh Ishqiya' which failed to find many takers despite great performances by its leading stars Naseeruddin Shah, Arshad Warsi and Madhuri Dixit in her Bollywood comeback.
Dixit's 'Gulaab Gang', where she was pitted against her '90s rival Juhi Chawla, too failed to impress. 'Hasee Toh Phasee', starring Malhotra and Parineeti, was noticed for its story and their chemistry though the actress failed to score another hit this year despite two releases 'Dawat-e-Ishq' and 'Kill Dill'.
Malhotra and Shraddha showed star potential with the success of 'Ek Villain'. 'Haider', which got Shahid Kapoor much-needed attention, was also an important landmark in Shraddha's young career who managed to hold her own opposite Tabu's impressive performance. 'Queen', a coming-of-age drama about a girl travelling on her honeymoon alone after getting dumped just before her wedding, raised the bar with its endearing storyline and Kangna's performance.
The film, widely hailed as 2014's best movie, was also an indication of how the year would play out for heroines. Ranaut's second act in 'Revolver Rani' did not find similar success, however. Priyanka Chopra earned critical acclaim for fronting the biopic on boxing champion Mary Kom while Rani returned to the big screen post her marriage to Aditya Chopra with her intense cop act in 'Mardaani'.
Vidya Balan put behind the failure of 'Shaadi Ke Side Effects', with her act of an earnest but naive small-town detective in 'Bobby Jasoos'. Though undeserved by the story, Balan managed to sail through with her breezy performance while newcomer Fazal got noticed in his role of the neighbourhood heartthrob.
Arjun and Ranveer Singh made their entry into the year with the not-so-impressive 'Gunday', the '70s set drama about two coal smuggling friends-turned-foes. Alia, who became a butt of online jokes for her lack of general knowledge on Karan Johar's show, started the year with Imtiaz Ali's 'Highway'. The film helped the young actress showcase her acting chops.
She went on to score another hit in romantic comedy '2 States' with Arjun, who surprised critics with his serious turn in 'Finding Fanny'. Deepika continued her winning streak by balancing SRK's 'Happy New Year' and off-beat 'Finding Fanny' in the same year.
Rajat Kapoor's 'Ankhon Dekhi', a small-budget beautiful film, unfortunately got lost in the crowd of big Bollywood releases despite a memorable performance by Sanjay Mishra. The forgettable films of this quarter were 'Total Siyappa', Sonam Kapoor-Ayushmann Khurana's 'Bewakoofiyaan', 'Lakshmi', 'Dishkiyaoon', 'O Teri' and 'Youngistaan'. 'Ragini MMS 2', a mix of horror and erotica, did well. Varun charmed with his antics in his father David Dhawan's 'Main Tera Hero' despite the film's nonsensical storyline.
He and Alia got back together after 'Student of the Year' for another hit with 'Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhaniya'.