A ten on ten? Some hits, misses...

The decade gone by has been one where content was the kingmaker and platform, the king, writes Rajiv Vijayakar
Last Updated 28 December 2019, 19:29 IST

It is always a tough call to pick the best movies of an entire decade. In the running are films across genres and scales. To hunt for the best, in theory, is a subjective exercise, for popular art has no mathematical parameters.

However, there are always criteria that can be reliably followed to overrule the subjective aspect, and since this decade was the most significant ever in Hindi cinema, one of the most important was how creativity and innovation blended with content across demographics, and how much they worked as stories rather than in technique, art and craft.

The 10 worst films naturally had antithetic parameters, but these choices were easier, because the bigger disasters were easily more qualified in the way they took the viewer for granted.

10 best movies

Chillar Party (2011)
Nitesh Tiwari & Vikas Bahl

This timeless delight had you smiling, chortling or guffawing from the first frame to last, Chillar Party is arguably the first-ever genuine kids’ film ever made in Hindi for mainstream release that was not preachy, melodramatic or moralistic. The children — and the dog in it — were totally normal. It won a National, the Golden Elephant (the jury comprised children) and an Asian Award for Best Children’s film.

Kahaani (2012)
Sujoy Ghosh

Effortlessly, Kahaani will go down in history as one of our best suspense sagas. With a crackerjack finale, this electric thriller saw Vidya Balan dazzle as a simple hausfrau searching for her missing husband in Kolkata. Sujoy Ghosh emerged as one of the finest craftsmen in this space. Opening dismally at morning shows, it zoomed to capacity houses by evening.

English Vinglish (2012)
Director: Gauri Shinde

Subliminally, this film brought about a paradigm change in society — Sridevi and director Gauri Shinde later spoke of so many real-life husbands and children who confessed to taking wives and mothers for granted. It was a beautiful depiction of a widespread reality, told with humour and warmth.

2 States (2014)
Abhishek Verman

An issue that refuses to die down in India is our thinking on parochial lines. In this subtly hard-hitting North-South romance, the script, based on Chetan Bhagat’s autobiographical bestseller of the same name, also examined parent-child and husband-wife relationships besides the obvious cultural chasms.

Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015)
Director: Kabir Khan

Anyone who did not like this film would probably be sub-human. Salman Khan played an incorrigible idealist who is hell-bent on taking a mute little girl back to her parents in Pakistan, without knowing who and where they are. An unforgettable climax cements this fabulous film. Salman and Harshaali (as the kid) were unforgettable, and the Indo-Pak angle added to the emotional quotient.

Neerja (2016)
Ram Madhvani

The grammar was mainstream, the story and treatment very real. The biopic on slain air hostess Neerja Bhanot packed a punch with Sonam Kapoor. The gritty
film pulled the viewer in, as if he were watching this saga of unparalleled valour first-hand in that ill-fated aircraft.

AndhaDhun (2018)
Sriram Raghavan

This convoluted thriller from our own Hitchcock has also been called a black comedy, and the peeling layers kept us guessing at what and how many twists would come next. Ayushmann Khurrana, Tabu and Radhika Apte dazzled in Sriram’s most accomplished thriller.

Badhaai Ho (2018)
Amit Ravindernath Sharma

Immensely real and relatable, with magnificent performances, especially from Surekha Sikri, Neena Gupta and Gajraj Rao, and a sensationally progressive message, this straight-from-the-heart story of late pregnancy had a consistently upward graph to a whopper of a climax.

Parmanu: The Story Of Pokhran (2018)
Director: Abhishek Sharma

Few films make your chest swell with national pride, and Parmanu, about how India joined the nuclear club, was one. Told in an excitingly racy, yet intense fashion with judicious dramatisation, this tale can be watched again and again. In these times of three-day wonders, the film actually ran for over 75 days.

Chhichhore (2019)
Director: Nitesh Tiwari

A young boy survives his academic failure-driven suicide attempt thanks to his estranged parents’ college friends, who assemble from all corners of the world to tell him home-truths about life. Like some heart-warming fairytale, Chhichhore opened slow and by word-of-mouth, soon tore into the super-hit bracket.

The 10 Worst Movies

7 Khoon Maaf (2011)
Director: Vishal Bhardwaj

Honesty compelled Vishal Bhardwaj to admit (in public at the MAMI festival), that none of his many directorials had connected with the audience — till date. And 7 Khoon Maaf is a perfect example of why so. Gimmicky “dark”, wannabe-‘noir’ storytelling made for supreme boredom by interval point: after that, it only got worse.

Himmatwala (2013)
Director: Sajid Khan

Remakes rarely work as they need changes because of the passage of time as well as for a modicum of “originality”, and few can master that balance. Nothing could have been worse for the original 1983 blockbuster than this irreparably botched-up 30th anniversary “gift” masquerading as a tribute.

Humshakals (2014)
Director: Sajid Khan

The man known for the Housefull franchise went one worse than Himmatwala with this expensive film in which all the three leading men had triple roles. The calibre of humour wavered between the infantile and the plebeian. This one was worse than insufferable.

Bombay Velvet (2015)
Director: Anurag Kashyap

While mainstream directors from V Shantaram to contemporary times have proved they can make good offbeat cinema when given the chance, the reverse has never held true. Bombay Velvet is a standout example of this. The film was shot (and then re-shot) on a colossal budget, but is unanimously considered one of the top debacles of this decade.

Mohenjo-Daro (2016)
Director: Ashutosh Gowariker

We never figured out exactly what Ashutosh Gowariker wanted to say in this “epic”. A formula pot-boiler (hero-heroine-villain-back story) plot merely set in the BCE showed that
the director probably had no idea either.

Baar Baar Dekho (2016)
Director: Nitya Mehra

Time travel has been tried before in Hindi cinema, but never as pointlessly as in this one. The over-long ‘bore-a-thon’ featured Katrina Kaif and was
inexplicably co-produced by Karan Johar. As for Sidharth Malhotra, it heralded the start of a long bad phase.

Thugs Of Hindostan (2018)
Director: Vijay Krishna Acharya

When you have the Yash Raj Films banner, the director of Dhoom:3, Amitabh Bachchan and Aamir Khan all together for the first time, and Katrina Kaif as bonus, you expect a great amalgam of spectacle and content. This film had nothing in the second department, and worse, was released on Diwali. So much so that one wag termed it the ‘Thud of Hindostan’.

Zero (2018)
Director: Aanand L Rai

Shah Rukh Khan’s list of fiascos in recent years is led by this last film of his. Jokes about the title Zero being literally apt abounded.

(Published 28 December 2019, 19:20 IST)

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