As the year comes to an end, it is very difficult to escape from the temptation of creating “Best of the year” lists. 2016 had seen some of the very remarkable movies in Hindi – the superstars shed their star status and took a step back for the story to lead, the real-life heroes were resurrected and small budget movies made their mark with strong content. If making good movies was enough, Bollywood did reasonably well but the industry was hit many issues beyond the control of filmmakers – political decisions affected everyone and the entertainment industry couldn’t escape the repercussions of it.
BEST MOVIE OF 2016: PINK: It is the movie that we all needed. The movie focuses on only one point to drive home and it does with such a passion and command that you would never forget ever – “No would mean No. A simple word which is not just a word but a complete sentence in itself. It doesn’t matter where it comes from, it deserves to be respected” The lesson on morality that teaches the way we treat our women comes with very strong and memorable performances from Mr. Bachchan and Taapsee.
Direction: Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury | Written: Ritesh Shah | Producers: Shoojit Sarcar
Top Movies of 2016 [in no particular order]:
Saala Khadoos: Piggybacking solely on the reputation of R. Madhavan, the movie originally made in Tamil and dubbed into Hindi set the tone right very early in the year that witnessed more sports dramas than usual. Directed by Sudha Kongara, the movie had stellar performances from R Madhavan playing a coach trying to revive women boxing in India and an equally, if not more brilliant, Ritika Singh, the underdog ragged girl who set her heart in the right place probably not entirely by choice.
Direction: Sudha Kongara | Production: Raj Kumar Hirani
Sultan: If Shah Rukh Khan can do, so can he. Salman Khan enjoyed blockbuster success like no one in the recent years. Despite the commercial success that his recent movies had, there were a few movies that were memorable. If last year’s heavily successful “Bajrangi Bhaijaan” was an early indication of transformation we expect of him, “Sultan” stamps his intentions loud and clear. Playing Sultan Ali Khan who loses himself in the success, only to regain ground and win back himself as he quotes in the movie “Asli pehalwaan ki pehchaan akhaade mein nahi, zindagi mein”
Direction: Ali Abbas Zafar | Producers: Yash Raj Films
Dangal: The more you think of it, the movie you find the similarities between the movie that set the tone this year in sports dramas and the movies that closed the year – Saala Khadoos and Dangal. Both deals with girls that were not interested in the sport in their early days have a coach/ father who was once very reputed as the best in the country only to succumb to his issues and the success of underdog driven by passion and hard work. Both the films let the stars take a step back and let the girls take central stage. Aamir Khan often referred as a “perfectionist” proves once again the extremes that he could hit to make the movie work. The real-life story of two sisters from the state of Haryana where female feticide is among the highest in the country, sends out a message loud and clear.
Direction: Nitesh Tiwari | Producers: Aamir Khan, Siddharth Roy Kapur
Neerja: Based on the true story of a young, aspirational, everyday girl who made a hero of herself by saving lives of many passengers. 359 passengers, to be precise, who were onboard on a hijacked Pan Am Flight 73 in 1986 were saved. This story was meant to be told and we would have missed it if not for an excellent screenplay by Saiwyn Quadras and direction by Ram Madhvani. Sonam Kapoor surprised everyone breaking her usual second fiddle roles in movies dominated by superstars. This is her movie and only hers.
Direction: Ram Madhvani | Producers: Atul Kasbekar, Bling Unplugged, Fox Star Studios
Aligarh: Bollywood didn’t welcome a few revolutionary changes with open arms, especially representation of homosexuals, who were often stereotyped by their personalities, body languages and even horrible gestures and dialogue. Aligarh attempts to break the stereotype and it does graciously with Manoj Bajpai at its center, a professor whose only mistake was to be a gay. Supported by Rajkummar Rao, Aligarh offers a very welcome change.
Direction: Hansal Mehta | Written: Apurva Asrani | Producers: Sunil Lulla, Shailesh R. Singh
Udta Punjab: Talking about off-screen influences on cinema, no film had to undergo the wrath of political influences as much as “Udta Punjab”. Dealing with the sensitive subject of drug issue in the state of Punjab, the CBFC was first said to have suggested making 89-93 cuts in the movie which was later revised after heavy public lashing. On screen, as the movie progresses, there is a sense of banality about it. Rock music, heavy drug overdose, an immigrant, some police officer whose own mission transformed by an issue in his own family- the movie just takes off but keeps its foot tightly fixated to ground reality
Direction: Abhishek Chaubey | Producers: Balaji Motion Pictures and Phantom Films
Fan: When you are a superstar in India, your stardom doesn’t end in movie theaters. It penetrates the lives of every individual that admired you, who follow you very closely and even imitate you to the level that their features match you. They etch your names and they paint their bodies. The expectation from them is only a smile is return and that is what Gaurav Chandna expected from his star Aryan Khanna. What follows is a thriller where there is a hunt seeking nothing but an apology. This is the core of Maneesh Sharma’s “Fan” excellently portrayed by Shah Rukh Khan, from both sides of the coin.
Direction: Maneesh Sharma | Producers: Yash Raj Films
Nil Battey Sannata: The story of Ashwini Iyer Tiwari’s “Nil Battey Sannata” was the one that we all needed where the narration is filled with an atmosphere and nuances that we all probably might not have experienced ourselves but it doesn’t take a lot to explore that territory. These women and children are who we meet every day in almost every walk of your life but chose to happily ignore what goes behind those veiled smiles.
Direction: Ashwini Iyer Tiwari | Producers: Anand L Rai
Ae Dil Hai Mushkil: Another film that had to experience the wrath of the political situation in the country. Karan Johar who was known for the love stories and romantic entertainers this time gets himself entangled with the political resistance and was forced to put a disclaimer at the beginning of the movie. There are many ways an individual reacts to a love failure and most films chose the easiest options – alcoholism or revenge. But, “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” does something different which might or might not be the realistic reaction to the loss but is definitely the difficult one to portray and Ranbir Kapoor despite his poor run of form delivers the performance that is spot on.
Direction: Karan Johar | Producers: Dharma Productions
Honorary Mentions: Kapoor and Sons, M S Dhoni: The Untold Story, Raman Raghav 2.0, Dear Zindagi and Parched.
Performer of the Year: Alia Bhatt: This year had witnessed some of the spectacular performances by Alia Bhatt. Since her debut in 2012, Alia Bhatt surprised everyone with each passing year. Coming off a lean period in 2015 with only pathetic ‘Shandaar’, she essayed the role of Tia Malik in ‘Kapoor and Sons’ followed it up with even brilliant Bauria in ‘Udta Punjab’ and closed the year with a performance that stole the show from ever charming SRK as Kaira in ‘Dear Zindagi’.