The year’s over. Well, almost over. And that time of the year has arrived, where the lists dominate the cyber space. Like every year, the Hindi film industry or Bollywood, as some folks may like to call it, came up with its fair share of movies. Some were plain bad and some were good. But unlike the previous year, this year was special. There were films that spoke about the changing preferences of the audience, their tastes. The Khans, had their fair share of brickbats, as their respective films had no taker. Hagiographic biopics became the instruments of brand correction. And let’s not talk about the money factor here. The amount of business a film does can never be a factor of whether the film is universally liked, though that’s what the trade analysts and the numerous fan boys would like to believe. A film, just like art and literature, forms the basis of a voice, aspiring to tell its story. This year, the stories were different and the wordsmiths were a class apart. This year was a rude reminder of what a genuine storyteller is capable of. So without much ado, we, at The Cinemawala bring you the path breakers, the rebels, the square pegs in the round hole – The Best Hindi Films Of 2018!
Directed by Anurag Kashyap, ‘Mukkabaaz’ is sports movie at the core, yet has the audacity of speaking about different problems that the sportsmen go through, in this country. Written and titular character portrayed by Vineet Kumar Singh, remembered as Danish of Wasseypur comes full circle and his talents take wings after meaty performances in ‘Ugly’ and the Bombay Talkies short – ‘Murabba’. He puts himself in fire and it shows on screen. He looks, walks and talks like a boxer. Zoya Hussain as the feisty Sunaina has a great debut. And as it always happens with Kashyap’s films, it’s the ensemble cast which performs superbly. Ravi Kishen again reminds you what phenomenal actor he is and it’s a pity that he has not been explored enough on screen. Jimmy Sheirgil does well as the big bad wolf Bhagwan Das Misra. It should be noted, in the garb of a sports movie, Kashyap ensured to draw parallels with real life. Be it the casteism issue, eating beef or the quota system in the Government jobs and the attitude towards sportsmen in general, nothing was spared from the masterful direction of Kashyap.
Love is complicated, yet the journey of life makes it simple. Sometimes love is not about the sweet nothings or the physical proximity. Love, in its supreme form becomes sacred. It makes people do stuff that’s unheard of. Some people spend their entire lives caring for their beloved, irrespective of their physical state. Some people leave their loved ones because they’re the reason for their unhappiness and they can’t bear it. Some people spend their lives, longing for their lost love. They live their life, yet they crave for their soulmate. October is about that kind of love. Selfless, unyielding, supreme, unrequited. Director Shoojit Sircar came up with a unique love story of Dan and Shiuli. Varun Dhawan was ethereal but the dead silence of Banita Sandhu spoke plenty.
Man and woman, parent and child, husband and wife: they all go through certain phases of life, that spell discontent. But why do complications arise? It’s often seen that problems, as they may seem, are created due to disagreements. We all tend to disagree with our loved ones. At times, it’s out of sheer overprotectiveness. Soon the disagreement turns into a feud, thanks to the ego we nurture in ourselves and eventually the relationship starts fading out. But isn’t being fickle just another aspect of life? By the time this realisation hits town, the loved one is either gone or the relationship reaches a point of no return. And we end up pondering, was it too late to say sorry? Was it too late to make amends? Director Akarsh Khurana’s ‘Karwaan’ gives you a glimpse of your own life and urges you to mend that broken piece of your heart. Starring Irrfan, Mithila Palkar and the southern superstar Dulqur Salman, ‘Karwaan’ is fresh, funny and at the same time, tugs the corner of your heart.
Greed. The sin that pays. And it makes people pay too. Sometimes with their lives. Human nature, the ficklest of all of God’s creation, often finds itself in the crossroads of life. On one path, strewn around are countless thorns, hardships and obstacles. The other path is rosy and seemingly easy. The fickle mind always chooses the later one. That’s the road of greed. Easy, quick and dangerous, often leading to annihilation. ‘Tumbaad’ tells the story of greed and how the human nature falls for it, despite being aware of its ultimate outcome. More than the story, it’s a straightforward nod to the undying desire for something that forces men to commit the undesirable. Stuck in what is known as ‘Development Hell’ for 6 years, the combined forces of Rahi Anil Bharve, Anand Gandhi, Aanand L Rai, Sohum Shah and Jasper Kyd brought alive the legend of Hastar.
‘Mulk’ aims to ask some difficult questions to the audience. And it is successful in creating doubts in the heads as well. There’s a constant pressure building up, as the scenes unfurl. And as audience, you start getting involved in the proceedings. It is an important film in today’s times, where mandates and opinions are dictated by the social media. It compels you to have an argument about the prejudices and presumptions about an entire religion being involved in terror activities. You may or may not agree with the film, but it will lead you to question the society and the system around us. Not pseudo jingoism but a reality check. And that’s what is really needed. Starring Rishi Kapoor, Neena Gupta, Manoj Pahwa, Tapsee Pannu and Ashutosh Rana, director Anubhav Sinha’s ‘Mulk’ is the film everyone needs to see.
Director Amit Sharma’s ‘Badhaai Ho!’ talks about a middle aged couple’s dilemma about accidental pregnancy and so called societal stigma attached to it. It’s a wonderful satire about how we perceive our elders and their private lives. In the film, the couple is shown to be the subject of ridicule of the town and their family members. The couple is laughed at, criticised even chastised for their decision to have the baby. The general apathy for the couple makes the viewer ponder about general consensus of the society. The film particularly highlights the fact about how the society and even the family members ridicule a middle aged couple’s late pregnancy. A fine leading cast of Gajraj Rao and Neena Gupta ensured that that the audience enjoyed this mad cap tale of the Kaushik family.
I have watched ‘Stree’ 5 times ! The sheer joy that I got while watching the film, cannot be expressed in mere words. No film is perfect. Even the staunchest of reviewers will admit that. Despite the flaws that ‘Stree’ has, one is willing to overlook it, for the value of entertainment it provides. But once the entertainment part gets over and the grey matter inside that thick head starts ticking, one gets to see multiple layers in the story. In the garb of entertainment, ‘Stree’ is a social commentary about women, the way men perceive women in general and how changing one’s opinion brings in the revolution. Debutant director Amar Kaushik’s horror comedy not only raked up moolah at the box office but also found a mention in the prestigious newspaper ‘The Washington Post’ about its unique take on women.
‘Manmarziyaan’ opens up with a shot of a young man, jumping over roofs, to answer a bootie call, made by her girlfriend. They are hopelessly in love and being physical is just a way of expressing theirselves to themselves. Everyone in the town knows about them but this unique couple consisting of a Neela Kukkad and Lal Pari, literally give a fuck ! Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the world of Anurag Kashyap, where relationships and life, both are chaotic and complicated. Here, love and passion are more than a four letter word. And everything is run, by the whimsies of the heart. Kashyap’s second film on this list, starring Vicky Kaushal, Abhishek Bachchan and Tapsee Pannu, perhaps this is one of his finest films ever !
Director Nandita Das explores the enigma behind the man who brought the horrors of partition alive through his articles. It’s an important film for the generation who perhaps doesn’t know him. If you don’t know Manto, you’ll get to know him through this film. If you had known Manto previously, then it will make you wonder about the man who walked through the streets of Bombay in flesh and blood and had fallen in love with it. Eventually it will bring you face to face with a man, who dared to put the shackles on an intolerant society. Starring Nawazuddin Siddqui, Rasika Duggal, Tahir Raj Bhasin and Rajshri Deshpande and and an envious ensemble cast featuring many stalwarts of the Hindi cinema, ‘Manto’ is one of the finest films of this year.
“Can the perfect film exist?”
“Hold my glass”, said Sriram Raghvan !
A good thriller requires patience to sit through it so that the director can unravel the mystery, in layers. But a great thriller demands attention and devotion, for it wants the audience to get involved into the story. It savours the audience’s awe as they frantically try to untangle the mystery. And eventually when the curtains come down, the story teller takes a bow, amidst the roaring applause of the audience, for they have been part of a magnificent and enthralling tale. Ladies and Gentlemen, the Baap Of Noir is back with vengeance – ‘AndhaDhun’ is the film of the year and the credit goes to its master story teller – Sriram Raghavan.
Honourable mentions –
These are the ones, who missed the list by a whisker!
Pari, Raazi, Kedarnath, Omerta, Laila Majnu, Patakhaa, Padmavat, Bhavesh Joshi Superhero, Veere Di Wedding, Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety, Blackmail and Sanju.