As it is almost a "yearly practice" for me on this blog, this post will be a comprehensive review of the year that was for Bollywood. Thankfully, this time I was in Bengaluru till this month, which means I could catch most of the year's biggest blockbusters in the cinema.
(Sidenote: I am back in Geneva, as I decided to leave Bangalore. Will post a Lifeblog post on this topic soon.)
On the whole, I must admit, 2015 has been a really good year for the Hindi film industry! There have been quite a few great movies, to watch on the big screen.
This mega-post will be divided in the following parts:
- 2015, Year in Review
- Watched, and liked/loved
- Not watched, but highly acclaimed
- Special mentions
- 2016, the Releases to look forward to
- Concluding Note
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2015, Year in Review
Watched, and liked/loved
Baby - A thriller involving Akshay Kumar and Neeraj Pandey, is one that is worth watching! This may not be as great as Special 26, but was still a very thrilling watch.
Badlapur - Sriram Raghavan's Badlapur puts Bollywood chocolate hero Varun Dhawan against the brilliant Nawazuddin Siddiqui, and ends up creating a suspense revenge drama movie, which brings out the best in Varun Dhawan. He pulls off the role of a lifetime, and impresses.
Dum Laga Ke Haisha - A Yash Raj Films productions that takes you back to the 90s, in a time where Kumar Sanu songs were enjoyed on audio cassettes. This movie sets up a very different kind of love story, between a simpleton played by Ayushmann Khuranna and his overweight wife, whom he is embarrassed of, played by debutant Bhumi Pednekar. Very heart-warming story.
Piku - Deepika Padukone plays the titular role; the daughter of a hypochondriac father, played brilliantly by Amitabh Bachchan, who is obsessed over his digestive problems. This movie blends in a lot of potty humor, a few touching scenes between Deepika and Amitabh, and the fun involvement of Irrfan Khan as the "third wheel" in the story.
Tanu Weds Manu Returns - What surprised me for this one, is that the director decided to make a sequel to his own movie which was not much appreciated by critics... and the sequel ended up becoming much more widely appreciated by one and all! Kangana Ranaut steals the show in this one, playing a double role. The movie features a lot of hilarious scenes, but also a lot of gripping dramatic scenes.
Dil Dhadakne Do - Despite the critics being a bit too critical for this one, I personally enjoyed this one a lot! Zoya Akhtar yet again pulls it off, by bringing a big starcast together, and putting them in a story that feels very "large", but which reaches out to you in a very deep manner.
ABCD2 (Any Body Can Dance 2) - This one is a treat for dance lovers. It basically takes the setting of the first Any Body Can Dance movie, and takes it a notch higher. Despite the story being a bit too cliché, watch this one mainly for the dance sequences, and elaborate production design.
Bajrangi Bhaijaan - Who would have expected Salman Khan to have acted in a decent movie, especially after the string of horrid movies he has been featuring in, year after year. This one is FINALLY the one where you see Salman in a movie with a very sincere storyline. A great package, with a great message of peace, you might even have tears towards the end of this movie. I rank it in my list of "all-time favorites". (And would have never expected a Salman Khan movie to enter that list!)
Brothers - A remake of the Hollywood movie Warriors, this one is high on drama and heavy dramatic music, but we end up with an "Indianized" version of the movie. But here again, two main aspects to look out for: firstly the incredibly shot fight sequences, and great production design, and secondly, the emotional moments between the brothers played by Siddharth Malhotra and Akshay Kumar, and the father played by Jackie Shroff. Directed by Agneepath's Karan Malhotra, who is now known to bring out a lot of emotions in his movies, this one might strike a chord in you.
Tamasha - Not Imtiaz Ali's best directorial venture, but if you leave aside the comparisons with his own previous movies, it was still very good cinema. Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone give solid performances in this one, and their acting is the highlight of this movie. AR Rahman's music also was as neat as always, despite not being as good as his previous collaborations with Imtiaz Ali.
Bajirao Mastani - Sanjay Leela Bhasali's much awaited project finally got executed, and this one will be really well enjoyed on the big screen. A fictional take on the great Maratha warrior Peshwa Bajirao, played magnificently by Ranveer Singh, and his second marriage with Mastani, played by Deepika Padukone, this one is technically very "perfect". On the writing front, the second half drags down the movie a bit, but still worth a watch for Ranveer's acting, as well as Priyanka's great performance as Kashibai, his first wife.
Not watched, but highly acclaimed
NH10 - Anushka Sharma's home production was highly acclaimed. A chilling revenge saga, with a great performance by Sharma herself, this one is on my hitlist.
Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! - Ace director Dibakar Banerjee's last product featured Sushant Singh Rajput in the titular role, based on the famous fictional detective.
Margarita with a Straw - This one was very highly acclaimed, and featured in many film festivals around the world. The movie is about a woman having cerebral palsy, and the kind of struggles she faces in her everyday life. What makes this all the more interesting to watch, is that the lead role is played by the formidable Kalki Koechlin.
Masaan - A drama film set in Banaras, this one's trailer looked very appealing, and was very highly acclaimed, doing great in film festivals. Anurag Kashyap's Phantom Films produced this one.
Manjhi - The Mountain Man - This one features Nawazuddin Siddiqui in the titular role, based on the real life story of Manjhi, a man who "broke a mountain for love". A lot of positive buzz was gathered around this movie.
Talvar - This movie is based on the murder case of young girl Aarushi Talwar, in which the parents were accused of the murder. With a top starcast, and directed by Meghna Gulzar, produced by Vishal Bharadwaj, this one received a lot of positive reviews.
Titli - A very dark and violent movie, this one did really well in film festivals, as it premiered in Cannes in 2014, as the Indian release happened only in October this year. It was produced by Yash Raj Films as well as Dibakar Banerjee, and directed by Kanu Behl.
Angry Indian Goddesses - A movie themed around women empowerment, this one was promoted as India's first "female buddy film", featuring a neat starcast. Received a lot of positive reviews.
Varun Dhawan really impressed one and all with his spectacular performance in Badlapur, which was a shocker to most people who have seen his previous movies. Having acted in "chocolate boy" roles mostly (which I also used to enjoy), he broke the mould and stepped out of his comfort zone to finally play the role of a cold and creepy disturbed person seeking revenge on his family's killers.
The unexpected act: Salman Khan in Bajrangi Bhaijaan
Salman Khan movies were known to have a climax where he rips his shirt off, and fights off the baddies heroically. But here, the climax was a rather touching one, and a movie where Salman can reach out to you emotionally, without needing to flex his muscles, is one that is probably a keeper (since you wouldn't expect these kind of movies to come often from him!)
Best Bollywood soundtrack of the year: Hamari Adhuri Kahani
In terms of music, Bollywood had a GREAT year, with a lot of brilliant soundtracks coming out of the industry. If I had to pick my favorite album of the year, I would go for Hamari Adhuri Kahani, which boasts of this year's best songs, within the same album!
Shocking directorial flop: Shaandaar
The director who brought us Queen, made a horrible movie called Shaandaar this year, which looked promising through its trailer, but ended up being bashed by critics and audiences.
Disaster of the Year: Prem Ratan Dhan Payo
I would rank this as the worst movie I have seen this year. I just couldn't stop rolling my eyes every now and then, since the movie brings out the most cliché scenes. I don't mind cliché moments, I tend to love a lot of movies that are known to be "cheesy", but this one was a bit too much. Very disappointing follow-up by Salman Khan, after the amazing Bajrangi Bhaijaan.
Best actresses of the year: Deepika Padukone for Piku, Kangana Ranaut for Tanu Weds Manu Returns
I like to point out my favorite performances by actresses in Bollywood, as it is still a very male-dominated industry. This year, my favorite performances were clearly of Deepika in Piku and Kangana in Tanu Weds Manu Returns. They stole the show in these respective movies!
The guilty pleasures: Hamari Adhuri Kahani, Phantom, Katti Batti, Welcome Back, Dilwale
So these are the movies I know were not "great cinema", but were actually bashed by critics and even audiences... but I still enjoyed them!
Hamari Adhuri Kahani was a bit too dramatic, but the emotions got to me, and I really loved the movie.
Phantom was thrilling and fun to watch, but the whole "emotional" side of the movie made a lot of people's eyes roll.
Katti Batti was ripped off from some Hollywood romantic movies, it seems, but I still loved the way the movie progressed.
Welcome Back contained a lot of stupid jokes, but was still fun to watch the chemistry between Anil Kapoor and Nana Patekar.
And Dilwale may be heavily trolled by fans on social media, but it was not ALL THAT bad, in my opinion. Yes, it stole a lot of cliché moments, but it was still an entertaining experience in the cinema.
2016, the Releases to look forward to
Directed by Abhishek Kapoor, starring Aditya Roy Kapur and Katrina Kaif, based on Charles Dickens' novel Great Expectations
Directed by Shakun Batra, starring Sidharth Malhotra, Alia Bhatt and Fawad Khan
Ki and Ka
Directed by R. Balki, starring Kareena Kapoor and Arjun Kapoor
Directed by Anurag Basu, starring Ranbir Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, and Govinda
Directed by Abhishek Chaubey, starring Kareena Kapoor, Shahid Kapoor, Diljit Dosanjh, and Alia Bhatt
Directed by Ashutosh Gowariker, starring Hrithik Roshan, and Pooja Hegde
Directed by Vishal Bharadwaj, starring Shahid Kapoor, Saif Ali Khan, and Kangana Ranaut
Directed by Ali Abbas Zafar, starring Salman Khan
Ae Dil Hai Mushkil
Directed by Karan Johar, starring Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, and Aishwarya Rai
Directed by Karan Malhotra, starring Varun Dhawan, and Alia Bhatt
Directed by Nitesh Tiwari, starring Aamir Khan