The last few days of the year is always fascinating. This is the time when instead of looking ahead, we all ruminate about the year gone by. I have always looked forward to those ‘best of’ end-of-the-year lists. You can make a list of anything — from ten best haircuts of the year, to ten best sad moment of the year — well, anything.
What I like most, however, are the movie lists. They tell me if I was an observant viewer. Usually, I am an indiscriminate viewer. I will see any film, as long as it’s a film. The lists help to find the pearls among the junk.
This year, I thought, let’s do a list of best Bollywood films of 2010. I took out pen and papers and started scribbling names that deserve a chance. I assumed it would be a long list. After one hour, after a lot of thinking, and some furious googling, in case I have forgotten some names, I could come up with worthy name that did not even fill a page. Pity! But I was not the one to give up. I prodded along and finally came up with the following list: Have a look.
The year started as the year of King Khan, who asserted that his name was indeed Khan. Just when you thought SRK is unconquerable, came another Khan, with loads of attitudes, a veritable entertainer. Salman Khan is the boss. In between them, Akshay Kumar tried to sneak in to woo the crowd, but his attempts were more ‘khatta’ than ‘meetha’. Even ‘fail-safe’ Farah Khan and his lucky mascot Katrina Kaif could not ‘bail’ him out as ‘Tees Maar Khan’ bombed. Someone surely having the last laugh, eh SRK!!
THE TOP TEN
Twenty years after his debut, Salman Khan still dominates our hearts like nobody’s business. He is the ultimate superstar. People go to theatres to see Salman Khan, not his films. So, when a film projects Salman Khan as the object in itself, you have a sure-shot winner. Abhinav Kashyap strikes gold in his family drama-action-romance-Salman Starrer, supported by his brother, and sister-in-law in a sizzling number about a pain balm, introducing Shatrughan Shinha’s daughter Sonakshi and also starring Sonu Sood, Mahie Gill, Vinod Khanna, Dimple Kapadia.
Sanjay Leela Bhansali is back, and blue is still is favourite colour, and he still gets his inspirations from foreign films (‘Whose Life Is it Anyway?’ ‘The Sea Inside’... the debate rages on). Yet, you cannot deny that he is the master of visual poetry. Here, he is reunited with his lucky mascot Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, and is ably helped by the acting talent of Hrithik Roshan. Aishwarya-Hrithik is the new Kajol-SRK jodi in Bollywood. The film also marks Bhansali’s debut as a music director, and boy, is he good?
3. “My Name Is Khan”
As Karan Johar swaps mush for message, the film courts controversy for all the wrong reasons. Though it drags in bits, its too long, and at times becomes preachy, there is no denying the skills of Johar as director, and the charm of the Shah Rukh Khan-Kajol jodi.
4. “Love Sex Aur Dhokha”
Dibakar Banerjee does a Steven Soderbergh (‘Sex, Lies and Videotape’) about voyeurism and our fascination for movies and camera, and the audiences identify with it. The glossy Bollywood peels away to reveal it murky underbelly in handheld cameras and grainy images. And yes, we are still prudish about sex.
He was hailed as one the rising talents of his generation when ‘Damool’ was released so many years ago. Of late however, he has become a hit-and-miss director, sometimes succeeding, sometimes not. However, his retelling of ‘The Mahabhrata’ is a confident piece of cinema, which works at most parts, with a to-die-for ensemble star cast, including Nana Patekar, Ajay Devgan, Ranbir Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Manoj Bajpai, Arjun Rampal and Naseeruddin Shah.
6. “Once Upon a Time in Mumbai”
There is nothing in this film that you haven’t seen before. But the way Ajay Devgan plays the don with a golden heart is something else altogether. Without much fuss, Ajay Devgan has proved again and again what a charismatic actor he is. As the Khans and the Kapoors and the Kumars continue to fight it out, Devgan is a breed apart. Add to that director Milan Luthria’s eye for details in recreating 1970s Bombay. It’s not a retro trip in a camp manner (a trend that Farah Khan popularised), but a guided trip to nostalgia. Also stars Emraan Hashmi, Kangna Ranaut, Prachi Desai and Randeep Hooda.
7. “Peepli [Live]”
It’s not every day that a first-time director gets Aamir Khan as producer. Anusha Rizvi’s satire on media in our time is biting funny. However, what makes the film memorable is how people actually flocked to the theatres to see this small, semi-art film, thanks to you-know-who. Whatever Mr Khan touches turns to gold, literally.
The only film to be selected for the Cannes film festival last year from India in a long time. An assured telling of urban relationships or the lack of it. Vikramaditya Motwane is a director to watch out for.
9. “City of Gold”
Originally made in Marathi as ‘Lalbaug Parel,’ Mahesh Manjrekar’s film is an original Mumbai tale that Bollywood would never make, they dare not. The story of an impoverish family during the mill workers’ strike is told in bold strokes and without much melodrama. (We cannot really purge melodrama from our films, can we?)
10. “The Japanese Wife”
Aparna Sen’s poetic adaptation of Kunal Basu’s novel is not “Mr and Mrs Iyer.” It’s a lazy film told lovingly, to reinforce the fact that love means to lose it all. With Rahul Bose, Raima Sen, Chigasu Takaku and Moushmi Chatterjee.
Dir. Abhishek Chaubey. Starring: Naseeruddin Shah, Arshad Warsi, Vidya Balan. In the badlands of rural India, you cannot trust anyone, and anything goes.
Dir. Chandan Arora. Starrting: Siddharth Narayan, Aditya Pancholi, Ankur Vikal, Anupam Kher, Seema Biswas. In Mumbai slums carrom becomes a young man’s passport to change his destiny.
“Karthik Calling Karthik”
Dir. Vijay Lalwani. Starring: Farhan Akhtar, Deepika Padukone, Ram Kapoor, Shefali Shah. Love story meets schizophrenia.
Dir Dev Benegal. Starrting: Abhay Deol, Satish Kaushik, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Mohammed Faisal Usmani. The film disappoints since you had high expectations. Yet.
Dir. Sanjay Puran Singh. Starring: Chauhan Aanaahad, Shraddha Das, Farooq Sheikh, Nafisa Ali. A film that won awards but nobody seemed to have seen.
“Well Done Abba”
Dir. Shyam Benegal Starring: Boman Irani, Minissha Lamba, Sameer Dattani, Ravi Kissen. Not the classic Benegal, but a Benegal film nonetheless.
Dir: Sudipto Chattopadhyaya Starrting: Bipasha Basu, Maradona Rebello, Mahesh Manjrekar, Ronit Roy. Okay, the film did not work. But, Kudos, they at least tried. Better luck next time.
Dir. Mani Ratnam Starring: Vikram, Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai, Govinda, Nikhil Dwivedi. The most talked about film of the year, a beautiful-looking picture which lost its soul.
“Tere Bin Laden”
Dir. Abhishek Sharma Starrting: Ali Zafar, Barry John. India’s got talent, far superior than all those comedy circus shenanigans.
Dir. S. Shankar Starrting: Rajinikanth, Aishwarya Rai, Danny Denzongpa. Need we say more!
Dir Priyadarshan. Starring: Akshaye Khanna, Bipasha Basu, Ajay Devgan, Reema Sen, Paresh Rawal. Priyadarshan can also make meaningful cinema, and better than many others.
“Rakta Charitra Part I”
Dir. Ram Gopal Verma. Starring: Vivek Oberoi, Surya, Shatrughan Sinha. Bollywood goes unapologetically visceral. Blood, blood, some more blood.
“Allah Ke Banday”
Dir. Faruk Kabir. Sarrting: Sharman Joshi, Naseeruddin Shah, Faruk Kabir. A ‘Saalam Bombay’, ‘Slumdog’ mishmash, beautifully made film that loses its zing halfway through.
“Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey”
Dir Ashutosh Gowariker. Starring: Abhishek Bachchan, Deepika Padukone. Somebody give Gowariker the ‘Bollywood Historian’ award. Pronto.
Dir. Anees Bazmee. Starring: Anil Kapoor, Akshay Khanna, Kangana Ranaut, Neetu Chandra, Sushmita Sen, Paresh Rawal, Sanjay Dutt, Sunil Shetty. Bazmee is still there somewhere.
“Toonpur Ka Superrhero”
Dir Kireet Khurana. Starring: Ajay Devgan, Kajol. Interesting effort.
I put the following list at the insistence of my friend, a champion of middle-of-the-road cinema. I would like to use the word Independent cinema, but the concept is not there in Bollywood; anyway, one of them was produced by Yash Raj, no less...
"Antardwand": A commentary on “groom kidnapping"
"Band Baaja Baaraat": A sweet lowkey rom-com situation in middle class India, involving the great Indian past-time, marriage.
"Do Dooni Char": Rishi and Nitu Kapoor returns to screen after eons, and their chemistry is still palpable. Another middle class fare.
“Dunno Y Na Jaane Kyon...” Bollywood attempt to make a ‘gay’ movie, which nobody saw, not even the gay crowd.
“Kchichdi The Movie”: They turned a funny TV serial into a film. Very funny.
“Lafange Parindey”: I mean, what was wrong with the picture?
Phas Gaye Re Obama: Forget the obvious references. The film about the impact of recession in, again, middle class India, is genuinely funny.
“Shahrukh Bola Khoobsurat Hai Tu”
“The Great Indian Butterfly”