2016’s not been the best year, but it’s not been the worst of years for Bollywood either, seeing a fair share of forgettable, overlooked, undervalued and oh-so-over-rated films too. As the year draws to a close, it’s time to look back at the best of the year – a list that is entirely my own, based on Hindi films I have seen this year (in random order).
Director Raja Menon walks the tightrope between drama, emotion and patriotism in this biopic, which also saw a nuanced performance by Akshay Kumar as the arrogant millionaire who gets in touch with his humane side when he empathises with his stranded and helpless compatriots in Kuwait.
Sonam Kapoor presents a studied portrait of the brave Neerja Bhanot who is remembered for her selfless heroism in the face of adverse danger. Director Ram Madhvani recreates the tension on the hijacked aircraft in this touching tribute.
Manoj Bajpayee turns in a tour de force performance as the professor persecuted for his sexuality in this film directed by Hansal Mehta. Rajkummar Rao plays the intrepid reporter who follows the story and befriends Professor Siras, harassed by a narrow-minded moralistic society.
Nil Battey Sannata
wara Bhaskar and Ria Shukla play mother and daughter in this wonderful film by Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari, which conveys lessons about aspirations, motivation, relationships and sacrifice.
A genre film, Pavan Kripalani’s supernatural thriller was surprisingly satisfying, not least because of the mood he created, but also for the remarkable performance by Radhika Apte, supported by Satyadeep Mishra and Yashaswini Dayama.
A heartfelt look at the mind-space of two people who strike up an unexpected friendship in a hospital waiting room. With the talents of Naseeruddin Shah and Kalki Koechlin, director Anu Menon explores the emotions that run through in those hours and days as lives hang on the precipice..
Powerful and sharp, Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury’s drama took on the subject of equality, gender discrimination, women’s rights and consent to poke raw wounds. Robust performances by a sincere ensemble cast led by Amitabh Bachchan contributed to Pink being a film that made people think.
Worlds collide as substance abuse and the drug trade overrun certain lives in Abhishek Chaubey’s drama. Shahid Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Kareena Kapoor and Diljit Dosanjh bring an edge to this frightening world. Udta Punjab also has one of the best soundtracks of the year (by Amit Trivedi).
Nagesh Kukunoor’s fable tells the story of a brother and sister who set off on a life-changing journey, and Pari is determined to fulfill her promise to her younger brother Chotu. Great locations, music and memorable cameos enhance the narrative.
Nitesh Tiwari respectfully crafted the story of Mahavir Singh Phogat and Aamir Khan painstakingly bulked up to play the part of the wrestler/trainer. The four girls Zaira Wasim, Suhani Bhatnagar, Fatima Sana Shaikh and Sanya Malhotra, who played his daughters Geeta and Babita, worked hard to get into the skin of the young wrestlers, trained by their father with an iron fist. A simple biopic that touched all the right chords while also delivering a message.
Picking only 10 films is tough, so a few films just about didn’t make the cut. Honourable mentions, therefore, for Kahaani 2, Island City, M S Dhoni – The Untold Story, Kapoor and Sons, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, Sultan and Fan. Most of these had notable performances, such as by Vidya Balan (Kahaani 2), Shah Rukh Khan (Fan) and Sushant Singh Rajput (Dhoni), or showed fine promise (Ruchika Oberoi’s Island City) or celebrated the best Bollywood tropes (Ae Dil Hai Mushkil) or tried to break stereotypes (Kapoor and Sons).
Director: Gareth Edwards
Cast: Felicity Jones, Mads Mikkelsen, Diego Luna
This is the latest spin off from the Star Wars franchise. Although not tied directly to the character arcs of the original movies, it is set in the same universe. Felicity Jones does her part well as Jyn Erso, a young girl trying to steal the plans to the super weapon — the Death Star. Although replete with impressive special effects, it lacks the depth and characterisation of the originals.
— Team Indulge
Director: Nitesh Tiwari | Cast: Aamir Khan, Sakshi Tanwar, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Sanya Malhotra
Based on real-life wrestler Mahavir Singh Phoghat and his daughters Geeta and Babita — both of whom are champion wrestlers, this biographical film is a must-watch! It’s the screenplay that delivers a punch and aesthetically highlights problems of rural India. Though Khan’s performance is being appreciated by all, the two debutantes — Fatima and Sanya too deserve a pat on the back. — TI
Director: Apurva Kasaravalli
Cast: Bhavana, Kiran Srinivas, Aindrita Ray, Rahul Bose
This Kannada film banks huge-ly on a tried-and-tested comm-ercial film formula. A young man falls in love with an older, married woman who is neglec-ted by her husband. Though the narrative lets the charac-ters develop and explores extra-marital relationships, the film does not really live up to the hype. Watch it only if you are a sucker for dialogues and good music, else, you could give it a pass.