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    With the release of Bajirao Mastani and Dilwale last week, we saw the final big names make their way to the Bollywood marquee. This Friday is now clear for the mega event: Star Wars The Force Awakens. So as we bring down the curtains on 2015, here is my list of the top 10 films of the year (in random order).

    Badlapur
    Varun Dhawan smouldered and stooped as he went head-to-head with the indomitable Nawazuddin Siddiqui in Sriram Raghavan’s revenge drama. Based on a novel by Italian crime writer Massimo Carlotto, this redemption saga was a showcase for the college-crush Dhawan to display his acting chops, and he did not disappoint. But the villain of the year could easily go to Siddiqui for his mercurial Liak.

    Margarita With A Straw
    Director Shonali Bose’s film follows Laila (Kalki Koechlin), a self-assured and feisty teenager at the cusp of sexual awakening. Bose treats Laila’s disability (cerebral palsy) and confinement to a wheelchair with respectful disregard as we follow her to university in USA and entering into a relationship with the spunky, visually-impaired Khanum (Sayani Gupta). The film is warm, entertaining and Koechlin is remarkable.

    Piku
    Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan and Irrfan Khan are the powerhouse talents that make this father and daughter story so relatable and enjoyable. As the father enters his twilight years, Piku finds herself taking on the parenting role in Shoojit Sircar’s charming film, with one of the finest scripts of the year.

    Tanu Weds Manu Returns
    This film makes my list simply for one reason: Kangana Ranaut. In a double role, she stands head and shoulders above her co-stars as the buck-toothed young athlete Kusum. Director Anand L Rai and writer Himanshu Sharma capture the nuances of small town India and provide Ranaut with equally capable and impressive co-stars such as Jimmy Sheirgill, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub,
    Deepak Dobriyal and Swara Bhaskar.

    Bajrangi Bhaijaan
    This Salman Khan starrer skates into my list for two reasons: Kabir Khan’s success in directing Khan and getting him to act, and for the incredible child actor Harshaali Malhotra—as the mute Munni lost on the wrong side of the border. Not without resorting to preaching on being neighbourly, Bajrangi Bhaijaan is an unashamed Bollywood movie that pushes all the right buttons.

    Masaan
    Neeraj Ghaywan’s debut film came with Cannes Film Festival kudos as interconnected stories unfolded on the banks of the Ganges in Varanasi. Vicky Kaushal, Richa Chadda, Sanjay Mishra, Shweta Tripathi pitch in with impressive performances. Avinash Arun’s cinematography captures Varanasi in all its moods, to bring alive Ghaywan and Varun Grover’s poetic study of restrained contemporary Indian society.

    Drishyam
    Ajay Devgn steps into the role of cable TV operator, Vijay Salgaonkar, in the Hindi remake of the Malayalam film, which was criticised for borrowing heavily from Keigo Higashino’s novel The Devotion of Suspect X. Yet that is a small gripe for a riveting story full of twists and turns, in which director Nishikant Kamat gets full marks for casting Tabu as the bereaved yet hardnosed inspector general.

    Talvar
    Meghna Gulzar and Vishal Bhardwaj teamed up to make a hard-hitting and complex film that explored various sides to the crime story that shook the nation, when a teenage daughter was found murdered in her bedroom. Besides the outstanding performances and the script, Talvar has the added achievement of having one of the best scenes of the year—as two opposing investigating teams engage in caustic verbal sparring.

    Titli
    Another debut film that is bold and moving. Writer-director Kanu Behl’s family drama is violent, claustrophobic, atmospheric, disturbing and uncompromising. Shashanka Arora, Shivani Raghuvanshi, Ranvir Shorey and Amit Sial are as sharp in their interpretation of the material as Behl and Sharat Katariya’s script is sizzling.

    Tamasha
    Reactions to Imtiaz Ali’s love story were dramatically polarised, but in my opinion, this Deepika Padukone and Ranbir Kapoor film is layered, clever, insightful and thought provoking. It’s the crackling chemistry between Kapoor and Padukone that brings alive these two flawed yet relevant characters.

    Honorable mentions
    Bringing up the rear are Angry Indian Goddesses, Rahasya, Gour Hari Dastaan, Bajirao Mastani and Manjhi The Mountain Man. While I really wanted to include Baahubali in my top 10, it doesn’t make the cut as it’s not a Hindi film. Nor does Court which is in Marathi. The star of 2015: undoubtedly Deepika Padukone with three films in the top.

    Bajrangi Bhaijaan
    This Salman Khan starrer skates into my list for two reasons: Kabir Khan’s success in directing Khan and getting him to act, and for the incredible child actor Harshaali Malhotra—as the mute Munni lost on the wrong side of the border. Not without resorting to preaching on being neighbourly, Bajrangi Bhaijaan is an unashamed Bollywood movie that pushes all the right buttons.

    Udita Jhunjhunwala

     

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