So 2016 has been surprisingly full of Bollywood movies for me. It’s not that I don’t watch them, but in the years since school, I’d lost the habit of going to the theatre to watch movies. That changed with a vengeance this year, when I found myself heading out every other weekend to watch something or the other. Some I loved, some I hated, some made me question my sanity since the filmmakers weren’t around for me to question theirs. So here’s my list of 2016 Bollywood movie reviews - 27 films in meme form, because, you know, that’s really what everything in life boils down to today!
(Full disclosure: this list includes a few movies that I couldn’t watch through to the end because I just couldn’t torture myself any longer!)
1. In which KJo made me wince because of the damage caused to my wallet - and my brain.
Thirty minutes into Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, my mom asked me if we should just leave. I will regret forever that I did not say yes to her in response.
2. When two beautiful people come together...and get trapped in an ugly mess.
Seriously, a sound nap in the afternoon with the air-conditioning at full blast - that’s basically what this one was good for.
3. The movie that won the hearts of women the country over...
PINK was gripping, it was uplifting, it was amazing. But I will not forgive the makers of the movie for focusing ominously on Amitabh’s Vogmask-clad face in the trailers and duping audiences into expecting him to be the villain of the piece as they walked into the hall.
4. In which the star overwhelmed the narrative.
I was expecting this to be SRK’s return to his badass stint of the 1990s - he was brilliant as those anti-heroes. But what FAN ended up being? Shah Rukh Khan starring in a movie about Shah Rukh Khan being stalked by a crazed fan also played by Shah Rukh Khan.
5. The rom-com that didn’t quite go as you wanted...
Anyone else who wanted an alternate ending to Happy Bhag Jayegi - with Happy and Bilal getting together, Zoya finding love with Bagga, and Guddu staying back in Lahore to pursue his music career - raise your hand and say aye!
6. The one which made every Indian feel retrospectively patriotic.
Airlift turned out to be a commercially successful, masaledar movie that earned the ire of the government for inaccurate portrayal of a seminal moment in independent Indian history...that also one that got everyone talking about the greatest civilian evacuation movement in the world. Wins all around. But the greatest of those was probably for Air India - this is the most positive PR it’s had in years!
7. An Indian superhero movie that’s also funny...what could go wrong, you wonder?
The answer is EVERYTHING.
8. The rom-com that made twenty-somethings cringe at what Bollywood thinks they’re actually like.
If you watched the trailer and listened to the songs and didn’t actually head to the theatre to watch Befikre - you did good, kid, you did good.
9. The movie that made everyone cry and celebrate one of India’s true heroes.
No disrespect to Neerja or to Sonam; I admire her for many things and have written about it too. But her acting chops? That came as a complete - and very welcome! - surprise. Give her good scripts and strongly fleshed-out characters, Bollywood!
10. The action movie that was too terrible to even bear thinking about.
Brain implosion. ‘Nuff said.
11. The one that was real, but not realistic.
Hey, I’m glad they made a movie about a perfectly ‘normal’ girl needing help from a trained professional to cope with life. What I find sad about Dear Zindagi is that they didn’t actually address the transference that Kaira has to struggle with when her sessions with Dr Khan come to an end. Instead, fast-forward to the potential happy ending with a crush-worthy pretty boy who shows up at the party - yeah, like THAT happens.
12. In which the serial killers were genuinely creepy.
Considering that Raman Raghav 2.0 had Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Vicky Kaushal making your stomach churn with the intensity of their performances, boy was it long and boring. Bollywood, watching all twelve seasons of Criminal Minds is mandatory before you set out to make a well-paced, tightly edited film about serial killers, okay? Also, please don’t get your psychopaths and sociopaths mixed up.
13. In which a star is...not born.
What was everyone on? What? They had Harshvardhan Kapoor, they had Saiyami Kher...and THIS is the movie they made?!
14. The one which seemed oddly determined to make PC seem less awesome.
15. The one about family which touched a chord with everyone...
Everyone’s family is at least slightly dysfunctional in some way or the other. Which is what made Kapoor & Sons such a powerful movie. But seriously, the whole Kapoor family would have been far better off with a few daughters and sisters thrown into the mix.
16. The adorable mom-daughter movie...
Nil Battey Sannata was 2016’s biggest ‘Awwww!’ movie. It was, simply put, absolutely heartwarming to watch...and if you haven’t watched it, you really, really should. It had its flaws, sure, but it had so many good things going for it - including Swara Bhaskar’s brilliant performance as the maid who decides to inspire her daughter to work towards a better life by enrolling in her school as an adult student - that I ignored it all and just basked in happiness while watching it.
17. The sequel that was NOT a sequel!
Though it suffered from the problem of unmitigated predictability in its second half, this was not a bad movie. But since it was NOT about the characters we saw in Kahaani, neither was it a sequel. It might as well have been called Dirty Picture 2 or Parineeta 2. Or even Vidya Balan 2.
18. The critically acclaimed biopic...
Here’s the thing about calling a biographical movie about a man who is as hale and hearty as you would want him to be (and whose long life you definitely wish for) an ‘untold story’ - the movie ends with the story STILL untold, okay?
19. The one whose makers clearly bunked all their classes in school.
Because, guys, for one thing, in no form of recorded - or sculpted - history did the people of Mohenjo Daro wear stitched clothing. And this is perhaps the least historically inaccurate thing about the movie.
20. The one whose title left you kinda confused.
This is a good movie with stellar performances, let down by a predictable, overly emotional denouement. And the three investigators (Amitabh Bachchan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Vidya Balan) make up the Te3n of the title. But given how little screen time they give to Vidya Balan, they might as well have called it Do.
21. In which everyone involved was obsessed with the hero’s abs.
22. The sequel that made you regret the original...
A man with a troubled marriage decides to break away from the monotony of his daily life and live out his youthful dreams. That was Part 1. Part 2? A man with a troubled marriage decides to break away from the monotony of his daily life and live out his youthful dreams...through someone else. If only they hadn’t made Rock On - then they wouldn’t have been able to make Rock On 2.
23. The ‘censor hates this’ special...
Good music. Great performances. Profoundly depressing movie. Sigh.
24. The one which had good music going for it - and nothing else.
This one was based on Great Expectations. Luckily, my expectations of it were not high. But I was still stumped by why everything was shot with either a red filter or a blue one. Also had to severely battle an urge to yell at Aditya Roy Kapoor to go take a bath and clean up a bit. Fitoor witoor thik hai, par personal hygiene bhi toh koi cheez hai.
25. The one I still haven’t quite wrapped my brain around.
I tried to understand why anyone would make a movie like Shivaay. I did not succeed. If you’ve figured it out, please feel free to let me know.
26. In which everyone got confused between feminism and bullsh*t.
My hatred for this movie knows no bounds. From the way it stereotypes in the name of inverting stereotypes, to the way it simultaneously demeans all stay-at-home husbands and working wives...one word: YUCK.
27. And, finally, my favourite movie of the year...
So, yes, Dangal is not so much a movie about Geeta Phogat and Babita Kumari as it is about Mahavir Singh Phogat (and Aamir Khan, DUH), but I still loved it unabashedly. Yet, even as it made the country sit up and start talking about two not-adequately-appreciated female stars of Indian sports, you have to admit their characters had a pretty horrible childhood in the movie, considering that Aamir’s Mahavir does not grant them any agency in deciding their own future. And as many times as I have chopped off my hair through the course of my life, it’s been because I wanted to do so - not because my dad made me!