Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
The best (and worst) Bollywood films of 2012
(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author, and not those of Thomson Reuters)
This is what it all comes down to — a year of watching movies and writing about them distilled into one post. Here are my picks for the best and worst of 2012 from the Hindi film industry.
Gangs of Wasseypur (Part 1 and Part 2)
Five hours of blood, gore and fun. Anurag Kashyap’s epic revenge saga was, more than anything, a lot of fun to watch. Packed with smart dialogue, a script that didn’t let up and a director who was clearly having a blast while shooting the whole thing, “Gangs of Wasseypur” was an experiment that went right. The grime of the coal mines, the edgy characters and a great ensemble cast meant that audiences left the cinema sated.
Gauri Shinde got the language of her debut feature right. “English Vinglish” was one of those films that are difficult not to like. Sridevi, in her comeback movie, outshone any actress in any role this year and proved once again that you don’t need a male star to make a good Bollywood film. The next time you see someone speak haltingly in English, or any language for that matter, you won’t be so quick to judge.
There is one criterion for watching “Vicky Donor” – you have to have lived in Delhi, or visited the city to get the humour. Credit must go to writers Shoojit Sircar and Juhi Chaturvedi for making the year’s funniest film, that too on the subject of sperm donation without using double entendres. Especially when most ‘comedy’ films this year seemed to have lost the plot. Ayushmann Khurrana played the perfect Delhi boy, and Yami Gautam set quite a few hearts aflutter. Despite the somewhat predictable ending, this one was a winner all the way.
‘Ekla Chalo Re‘ in Amitabh Bachchan’s baritone and Vidya Balan looking down at a teeming Kolkata street is my lasting memory of Sujoy Ghosh‘s “Kahaani”. Ghosh used the chaotic vibrancy of the city during the Durga Puja festival to great effect in this thriller. Add to it an unusual protagonist (by Bollywood standards), some great characters (the bespectacled assassin is hard to forget) and short running time made up for the somewhat predictable ending.
Dibakar Banerjee’s chronicle of an India that is being left behind in the mad rush of urbanisation featured some stirring performances by Emraan Hashmi and Abhay Deol, but more than that, it was the story Banerjee told that was gripping.
How this movie got made is a mystery and the fact it got made is an insult to Indian audiences. Director Shirish Kunder tried to make us believe that humans with vegetables stuck on them looked like aliens, that a town could get basic amenities only if it convinced the government that crop circles had appeared. Nothing, and I mean nothing, in “Joker” made sense. Except the end credits.
This was one of the biggest disappointments of the year. What promised to be a quirky film about a middle-class girl looking for true love, turned into a bizarre film that had no head or tail. I am all for absurdity in movies, but director Sachin Kundalkar didn’t have the guts to go all out. Nor could he rein in the madness to make it coherent cinema.
Karisma Kapoor chose the wrong film to make a comeback. Perhaps she should have taken tips from Sridevi. This film about a love story that lasts three lifetimes was so bad, it was good. Watching Kapoor ask a doctor in all seriousness with her eyes wide open — “What is my soul trying to tell me?” — was one of my funniest movie moments.
Ram Gopal Varma should retire. That’s all. I wish all the people asking cricketer Sachin Tendulkar to retire would direct some of that energy towards Varma. The difference between “Bhoot’ and ‘Bhoot 2‘ is enough to convince even the staunchest Varma supporters. Special mention in the “it’s not scary, it’s funny category” – “Raaz 3“. Emraan Hashmi kissing a heroine after she has seen a ghost and flying cockroaches in 3D do not make a scary film.
Ekk Deewana Tha
By the end of this film, I was ready to pull my hair out. Just how many times did Prateik and Amy Johnson’s characters decide to stay together, separate, get back together and separate again? I had a tough choice picking the final “bad’ movie of 2012, and believe me I had many choices, but this one gets my vote for the most frustrating movie-going experience of the year.
I deliberately ignored the “keep your mind at home comedies” that Bollywood churns out, because then there wouldn’t be space for the others in the “worst” list. Housefull 2, Bol Bachchan, Son of Sardaar, Khiladi 786 and many others touched depths of humour I hope we don’t have to witness in 2013. Unfortunately, given how much money these films made at the box-office, I fear my wish isn’t coming true any time soon.