2016, The Year In Review for Bollywood
Watched and liked/loved
Airlift - The first "good movie" of the year, and what a movie it was. Featuring Akshay Kumar in what could be one of his best roles ever, this one is a gripping edge-of-your-seat drama thriller based on the real-life evacuation of Kuwaiti-based Indians during the invasion by Iraq in 1990.
Neerja - Directed by Ram Madhvani, this was another inspiring tale of bravery based on a real incident; the captivating story of a young flight attendant, who stepped forward while a Pan Am 73 flight was taken hostage in Karachi, in an attempt to save as many passengers as she can. Sonam Kapoor delivers her best act in this one.
Kapoor & Sons - A family drama movie directed by Shakun Batra, but with the most relatable, subtle and well-executed drama portions (which is rare for Bollywood movies), this one is a feel-good movie with some heartwarming moments, and some neat acting by Rishi Kapoor, Ratna Pathak Shah, Alia Bhatt, Fawad Khan and Sidharth Malhotra.
Fan - Despite not having a humungous collection at the box office, this was the best Shahrukh Khan has ever acted in a long time, in a thriller pitting SRK against himself, as he plays both the Bollywood superstar and the obsessive mad fan. Keeping aside the occasional loopholes, it was a very refreshing change to see King Khan sink in a quality role.
Waiting - A small budget movie with a very large heart and some excellent acting by Kalki Koechlin and Naseeruddin Shah, who play two strangers who try to overcome the pain of seeing their spouses in a critical medical condition together, as they bond during very relatable moments at the waiting room of the hospital.
Udta Punjab - After all the censorship hullabaloo, the hype was worth it, as the final product ended up being a good package. Set in a realistic setting of the drug addiction scene in Punjab, it shows how various parties get involved in the causes and consequences of it - from the police and political parties to the doctors. Features some great portrayals by Alia Bhatt and Diljit Dosanjh.
MS Dhoni: The Untold Story - Despite not living up to the hype of the trailers which looked very promising, and barring a few elements which could have been bettered or presented differently, it still has Sushant Singh Rajput who nails the role of the iconic cricket legend to the T - from the body language, to the speech delivery, to even the batting technique. Not perfect, but worth a watch for SSR's performance, especially for Dhoni fans (like me).
Rustom - Akshay Kumar's second patriotic-ish role this year, it has him playing a righteous Indian Navy commander named Rustom Pavri who murders someone after he finds out that person was involved in an affair with his wife. But the movie, based on true events, pulls you in the midst of the courtroom drama, in an attempt to show you all the factors involved in what was initially perceived as a passion crime.
Pink - One of the very best movies of the year, it delivers a strong message of woman empowerment, in what is a very relatable urban setting in Delhi. Amitabh Bachchan plays a lawyer who gives his heart and soul to help three women - played amazingly by Taapsee Pannu, Kirti Kulhari and Andrea Tariang - who were sexually harassed but still get accused in a legal case; Big B truly defines the notion of heroism without needing to remove his shirt, beat up a dozen goons, or show his dance skills and the likes.
Ae Dil Hai Mushkil - Not deviating too much from his usual formula movies, this still remains a captivating, entertaining and crisp package from director Karan Johar. Ranbir Kapoor gets it right as he always does, as he laughs, dances, sings, cries and truly lives the part of Ayan. The movie also features an excellent soundtrack by Pritam, which truly gives even more life to the narrative and all the emotions.
Not watched, but heard good/great things about them
Aligarh - Manoj Bajpai plays an award winning and highly esteemed professor who gets sacked from his university, simply because of his sexual orientation, in this movie directed by National Award-winning Hansal Mehta, also featuring Rajkummar Rao
Nil Battey Sannata - Tells a heartwarming story of a mother and a daughter, who have differences over the latter being a bad student, while the former is managing various jobs as a household maid to earn the bread and butter for the family, but not wanting her daughter to end in such a career path.
Phobia - Bollywood not having given memorable horror films off late, as they end up becoming laughable products, it feels good to include Phobia in this list, which was a generally well-received horror flick with Radhika Apte in the lead.
Dhanak - Director Nagesh Kukunoor delivers a successful and acclaimed film, through a heartwarming story of two small siblings who embark on a journey to meet superstar Shahrukh Khan, in order to get him (being a goodwill ambassador in their eyes) to restore the eyesight of the blind younger sibling.
Te3n - Featuring Amitabh Bachchan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, and Vidya Balan, this thriller produced by Sujoy Ghosh indeed attracted a lot of attention, for featuring such a stellar set of actors in the lead.
Raman Raghav 2.0 - Anurag Kashyap's take on the real-life assassin Raman Raghav, this one has the promising Nawazuddin Siddiqui as the antagonist, and the talented Vicky Kaushal as the cop.
Parched - The movie seems to be one which gives its own take on the topic of forced patriarchy, as it features a strong message of woman empowerment, through a story of four women who try to overcome their difficulties.
Dear Zindagi - Gauri Shinde's second directorial venture after English Vinglish bravely takes on the sensitive topic of therapy and counseling, with none other than Shahrukh Khan himself in the role of the sweet and inspiring counselor, and Alia Bhatt as the one requiring the help to gather herself.
Kahaani 2 - Set in a very similar setting as in Kahaani, its sequel also opened to a positive response generally, thanks to what seemed to be yet another powerful act by Vidya Balan.
Dangal - A movie which many christened as THE best film of the year (and ironically a movie which I couldn't watch, as it didn't release in my city), starring Mr. Perfectionist himself, Aamir Khan, as one can truly trust him to deliver a real treat for his fans at the very end of the year. Moreover, it is YET ANOTHER much-needed movie in favor of female empowerment, telling the real-life story of the Phogat sisters who were trained to become wrestlers by their own father.
2017 - The Releases To Look Forward To
Directed by Subhash Kapoor, starring Akshay Kumar, Huma Qureshi, and Annu Kapoor.
Directed by Sankalp Reddy, starring Rana Daggubati, Taapsee Pannu, and Kay Kay Menon.
Directed by Vishal Bharadwaj, starring Shahid Kapoor, Saif Ali Khan, and Kangana Ranaut.
Directed by Shashank Khaitan, starring Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt.
Directed by Ram Gopal Varma, starring Amitabh Bachchan, Manoj Bajpayee, Yami Gautam, Amit Sadh, Ronit Roy, Rohini Hattangadi.
Directed by Anshai Lal, starring Anushka Sharma, Diljit Dosanjh, Suraj Sharma.
Directed by Shivam Nair, starring Taapsee Pannu and Akshay Kumar.
Directed by Shree Narayan Singh, starring Akshay Kumar and Bhumi Pednekar.
Directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, starring Shahid Kapoor, Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh, Aditi Rao Hydari.