The Best of Bollywood In 2018

Listing the ten best films I have seen emerge from Bollywood last year could be a little deficient as I could not get around to watch a few generally acclaimed films like 3 Storeys and Love Sonia in time. Nevertheless, here’s my list of 10 best films that were made in Bollywood in the year gone by.

Honorable mention goes to Rajkumar Gupta’s Raid for an engaging account of a…raid and Hichki where Rani Mukherjee overcomes a clichéd script to deliver a watchable movie.

                                                                10. Kuch Bheege Alfaz
I am not a big fan of coincidences as a plot point, and the entire premise of KBA rests on coincidence. But if you are willing to look beyond that, this is a nice, gentle romance. Bollywood specializes in this genre, but rarely do you feel the romance yourself. A combination of good writing, direction and acting achieve this rare feat.
(Disclosure: The writer of this movie Abhishek Chatterjee also contributes to this website)

9. Stree
Horror and comedy often go together by in most cases, the end result is a spoof of the horror genre. Rarely do they complement each other. The horror in Stree follows the standard tropes expected in a film like this, but it’s the funny bits in between that make the movie. The film features good performances by everyone, including Shraddha Kapoor. A confident feature debut by director Amar Kaushik.

8. Raazi
The one flaw that I thought Raazi had was that the husband’s character wasn’t developed strongly enough. With a capable counterpart, Alia Bhatt’s spy would have seemed more credible. But this minor quibble apart, Raazi is a good watch with an apt balance of drama and thrills. Surely, Alia Bhatt can do not wrong from this point on in her career.

7. Sui Dhaaga
Having sort of honed his skills paying a small town bumpkin in the Dulhania duology, Varun Dhawan lends a humane touch and some maturity to his character here.  He is ably supported by Anushka Sharma. The story of the triumph of the underdog may have been done many times in the past, yet Sharat Katariya’s take on it makes for an interesting watch. If nothing else, I hope it puts Raghuvir Yadav back in the reckoning as a sought out actor.

6. Karwaan
While watching this movie, I was constantly reminded of Richard Linklater’s Last Flag Flying where three individuals carry a dead body across a road trip. The more showy role here is played with aplomb by Irfan Khan. Dulquer Salman, in his Hindi debut, is the under playing anchor of the ship and Mithila Palkar is the loose cannon who makes the age gap seem obvious. This is a nice feel-good black comedy. 

5. Veere Di Wedding
Four friends at different stages of matrimonial life is a premise for some witty writing. Add to that good performances by the four leading ladies (Swara Bhaskar steals most scenes) under Shashank Ghosh’s able direction and there isn’t a dull moment in this film.

4. Manmarziyan
The story of the woman settling for an arranged marriage despite a passionate affair is a template already covered by the Woh Saat Dins, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanams and Dhadkans of the world. Yet writer Kanika Dhillon and director Anurag Kashyap find ways of adding complications to the story. Not all of it made sense to me but then I don’t suppose it was meant to. Superb acting by Taapsee Pannu, Vicky Kaushal and Abhishek Bachchan; in fact this must be Bachchan’s best role in years. He is more suited to these ‘serious types’ than comedy.  

3. Badhaai Ho 
This is a perfect example of choosing the right actor for the right role. What an ensemble cast this is! A late and unexpected pregnancy puts everyone in the household in an embarrassing situation leading to much mirth. Is this the same Amit Sharma  who directed Tevar a few years ago? You don’t say!

2. Kaalakaandi
I laughed so much with this movie my sides hurt. Three stories run parallel over the span of one fateful night. It’s a no brainer that they will come together at some point. This union is completely forced but by the time it comes, you are beyond the point of caring. Akshat Verma, who wrote the no-holds barred Delhi Belly, makes his directorial debut with even an even more ribald comedy. Sad it barely got noticed at the time of its release.

1. Mukkabaaz
By now it may seem that I am an Anurag Kashyap fan boy. But really, what’s not to like about this story about a boxer who has to rise above caste politics to claim his right to fight. As always, the dialogues in Kashyap’s films are peerless. No one gets these North Indian landscapes right better than him. Vineet Kumar puts in a performance that should make all filmmakers sit up and take notice of his raw talent.


Hereditary Movie Review (2018): Great Technique, Yet Somewhat Dissatisfactory

Director: Ari Aster
Rating: ***Continue reading “Hereditary Movie Review (2018): Great Technique, Yet Somewhat Dissatisfactory”

The Revenant (2015) Movie Review: A Magnificent Bore!

Director: Alejandro G Inarritu Rating: ***

Sometimes a film comes with such a huge build up that you are under pressure to like it, irrespective. From celebrated director Alejandro Inarritu and starring Leonardo DiCaprio who is finally pegged to break his Oscar jinx, the film has been nearly universally acclaimed. Add to that the pedigree of being the most nominated film of the year. So when I found myself not completely hooked to the film, I forced myself to concentrate harder. And the more attention to detail I paid, the more flaws I seemed to see.Continue reading “The Revenant (2015) Movie Review: A Magnificent Bore!”

In Conversation with Filmmaker Raam Reddy: On Thithi and More

Amongst the films every MAMI Film Festival attendee is gushing about this year is Thithi that won the Jury Grand Prize in the International Competition section. A story about three generations of a family in the Mandya district of Karnataka and how they react when the great-grandfather passes away. It features what has to be the most interesting dead character in a movie since Satish Shah in Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron.Continue reading “In Conversation with Filmmaker Raam Reddy: On Thithi and More”

Mad Max: Fury Road Movie Review: Keep Your Helmets On!

Director: George Miller
Rating: *****

Which is the best car chase sequence you have seen? Steven McQueen driving the Ford Mustang through the streets of San Francisco in Bullitt. Or Gene Hackman chasing a train in Brooklyn in The French Connection. Or maybe you like the CGI laden chase in Matrix: Reloaded. How long do these sequences last? Some for five minutes, some for ten, some others for fifteen minutes. Now imagine if these were to be stretched to two hours worth of movie length. With all the ferocity and rip-snorting thrills that made them memorable in the first place. That’s Mad Max: Fury Road for you.Continue reading “Mad Max: Fury Road Movie Review: Keep Your Helmets On!”

Badlapur Movie Review: Random Acts of Violence

Director: Sriram Raghavan
Rating: **

“Don’t Miss the Beginning”, the posters of the film ordered. Dutifully, I landed up at the first day first show screening. A Sriram Raghavan film is usually something to look forward to. Ek Hasina Thi and Agent Vinod have their sets of fans and naysayers. But Johnny Gaddaar is universally liked. True to its claim, the film begins with a terrific ‘post-heist’ scene. A casual shot of a road in Pune ends up as a double murder of a mother and child. The sudden shift from calm to violence will have your heart pounding. One of the perpetrators, Vinay Pathak escapes with the loot and the other one, Nawazuddin Siddiqui has no option but to surrender. We learn that the aggrieved father/husband is Varun Dhawan who for once, emotes the way one would emote in real life. Without resorting to theatrics. Nawazuddin denies he had anything to do with the murder and does not divulge details of his partner in crime. He is sentenced to twenty years in prison.

Continue reading “Badlapur Movie Review: Random Acts of Violence”

American Sniper (2014) Movie Review: Short of Bullseye

Director: Clint Eastwood
Rating: ***

Perhaps it’s war movie fatigue that I am not absolutely impressed by a film that does not have anything new to offer in the way combat scenes are executed. Go,go,go – Bang – Git yurr ass down – Bang, bang, bang – Man down. Man down – Bang, bang – Aww, this looks ugly – Bang, bang – Don’t you worry. You’re gonna make it man. We have seen it all before. But that’s not to say that American Sniper is a bad film. Clint Eastwood is incapable of making a movie that’s altogether trash. Just that it’s not up to his usual high standards.Continue reading “American Sniper (2014) Movie Review: Short of Bullseye”

The Worst Of Bollywood: 2014

Most of these films are no longer playing in the cinema halls. Thank God for that. But don’t even bother watching them when they play on television. You can thank me for that.

This is not Sajid Khan’s worst. That honour still belongs to Himmatwala. The trouble with his movies is that he casts his actors in his own mould. He makes them behave in the exact same way he himself did when he used to appear on TV. Which is more goofy than witty. Few jokes, very few, hit the mark. But the ones that don’t, miss the target by a mile. Sajid has virtually patented the multiple-characters-leading-to-exaggerated-confusion formula. Each time, it’s tiresome after a point.Continue reading “The Worst Of Bollywood: 2014”

Average Bollywood Films: 2014

As mentioned in my previous article on the Best of Bollywood, this hasn’t been a good year. So much so that I cannot even find ten films to fit into the average bracket. There are a few films like Mardaani and Shaadi Ke Side Effects that lie in the netherworld between Good and Average, hence not included here. The rest are mentioned below in alphabetical order.Continue reading “Average Bollywood Films: 2014”