Hindi Cinema is evolving and I can say this with full assurance because go past the masala potboilers and you discover films that are not only qualitatively satisfying but also making it’s way to receiving commercial viability, encouraging the industry to nurture writers. This year has been the writer’s year indeed
2015 has been an interesting year for Bollywood cinema. It’s incredibly heart-warming to see filmmakers and actors taking creative initiation to make films they believe in.
So here is my top 12 Hindi favorite films that not had lightened up my face with brimming smile but also remain eternal in my memory. Let me remind you that choice is personal and regardless to the box office gross collections because the numbers never mattered, quality did.
MY TOP 12 FILMS OF 2015
12.) Bajrangi Bhaijaan (Director: Kabir Khan, Producer: Salman Khan)
Writer: K.V.Vijayendra Prasad
How often do you get to watch a sensible Salman Khan film? It’s rare because Bajrangi Bhaijaan is one such gem where you get the opportunity to watch Salman as the ‘actor’ and not an entertainer.
Kabir Khan plots an interesting premise of 6-year-old mute Munni from Pakistan (Harshali Malhotra, adorable), who accidently goes astray, while traveling back – in her neighbor country – only to be rescued and brought back by the determined Pawan (Salman Khan, immensely endearing).
Bajrangi Bhaijaan not only established an affectionate friendship between Pawan and Munni, but also manages to showcase a possible hope of resounding friendship both countries can look forward to, without antagonizing each other.
11.) Dil Dhadakne Do (Director: Zoya Akhtar, Producer : Excel Films)
Writer: Reema Kagti, Zoya Akhtar
No families are perfect and Dil Dhadakne Do rightfully echoes it. The dysfunctional Mehra family takes a cruise tour to Mediterranean with their friends to celebrate the senior couple’s 30th wedding anniversary; behind the dazzling superiority of wealth and supposed liberality lies a family grappling with indifferent parenting, fading marriage and gender inequality.
Dil Dhadakne Do certainly revolves around wealthy family yet speaks volume that is universally appealing. No matter which economic strata you might belong to, the problems are the same everywhere and it’s up to the individual to gather the courage and say, ‘Buck must stop here’
Performances were superlative from the entire cast; it is, nevertheless, Anil Kapoor and Shefali Shah who were riveting as Senior Mehras. There is a scene where Shefali chokes herself with muffins and stares at herself into the mirror wracked with misery, finest scene and she played with solid intensity.
10.) Hunterrr (Director: Harshawardhan Kulkarni, Producer: Phantom Films, Shemaroo)
Writer: Harshwardhan Kulkarni
Sex Comedies in Bollywood (till date) have always range from either being offensive to evoke disgust until Hunterrr arrived this year. Director Harshvardhan Kulkarni (who also had written the charming Hasee To Phasee) chronicles the life of a sex addict Mandar Ponkshe (Gulshan Devaiah) and his outing with women. It’s a well-crafted take on voyeurism and never cringes to embarrassment.
The characters in Hunterrr are flawed, normal and mirror real people. What surprised me about the film was the women’s unapologetic approach towards expressing sexual flavors which I believe is rare to be seen on screen.
Sai Tamhankar’s fearless portrayal of married cougar Jyotsna was enchanting while Radhika Apte’s Tripti is a modern woman who isn’t shy of revealing her previous flings of relationships and guess what, we just fallen in love with her even more.
The film belonged to Gulshan Devaiah, whose portrayal of sleazy Mandar is nothing short of brave and compelling. Performance of a lifetime!
9.) Badlapur (Director: Sriram Raghavan, Producer : Maddock Films, Eros Now)
Writer: Sriram Raghavan, Arijit Biswas
What makes Sriram Raghavan different from his filmmaking contemporaries is that he uses violence not for the sake to slit throat with blood splashing all over. He uses violence psychologically to haunt us and that’s what he does with Badlapur.
Varun Dhawan (in his career defining performance) is Raghu, whose life is jolted when he receives the news of his wife and son killed in a bank robbery gone horribly wrong. Consumed with hatred and revenge, Raghu goes to great length to take on Laik (Nawazuddin Siddique), the man behind his wife and child’s murder.
Biggest strength of Badlapur is the thrilling unpredictability, as an audience, you have no idea what will happen next and what can be expected. Raghavan also raises an important question that is it fair to be blindfolded by our grievance that doesn’t let our mind to think rational and see with a different perception?
8.) Bajirao Mastani (Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Producer: Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Eros Now)
Writer: Prakash Kapadia, S.N.Inamdar (Book Adaptation ‘Rau’)
If you are watching a Sanjay Leela Bhansali film, rest assured it is a visual delight. It took 12 years for him to make Bajirao Mastani, his most ambitious project and the outcome is spell binding. The film redefined love and makes a relevant statement that Love is not bound by religion and never will.
Based on Peshwa Bajirao Ballad (Ranveer Singh), Sanjay colorfully narrated his statesmanship and dual love story with first wife Kashibai (Priyanka Chopra) and Mastani (Deepika Padukone). Besides, eye watery photography, stirring music and stunning choreography (See: Deewani Mastani), It was the performance -in the end – that turned out to be the big draw.
Although Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone were scintellating as the star-crossed lover, it was Priyanka Chopra – in a comparatively less screen space- the real gem bringing believable sorrow in Kashibai esp. in the sequence where she confronts Bajirao for his infidelity and stripping off her pride.
7.) Margarita with a Straw (Director: Shonali Bose, Producer : Viacom18 Motion Pictures)
Writer: Shonali Bose
Shonali Bose’s second film (after devastating Amu decade back) is coming-up-of-age drama about Laila (Kalki Koechlin), a girl with cerebral palsy, who embarks her journey to live an independent life and discovers her bisexuality.
Margerita with a Straw sends across the message that disability cannot define a person, He/she can be equally be childlike, enthusiastic, manipulative and disregarding to people’s emotion. In short, they are human too and aren’t any different.
Kalki Koechlin was phenomenal as Laila, getting into the skin of a cerebral palsy is no cakewalk and she does it with inherent sincerity. Along with her, Revathy as caring mother and Sayani Gupta as fiery activist and Laila’s lover Khannum were spot on, adding more layer in this well-made film.
6.) NH10 (Director: Navdeep Singh, Producer: Clean Slate Films, Eros Now and Phantom Films)
Writer: Sudeep Sharma
A trip gone wrong, horribly wrong. Meera (Anushka Sharma) and Arjun (Neil Bhoopalam) falls into a terrible trap of the goons running for their blood in the National Highway 10 (NH10).
Based on Eden Laden (2008) and partially inspired by the infamous Manoj-Babli’s honor killing case, Navdeep Singh turns the film into a spectacular horror tale and kept scary moments in store for us. I remained silent even after coming out of theatre, such an effect it had on me. Shivering !
Anushka Sharma had not only co-produced this film, but also pulled off a tough character of Meera with remarkable spontaneity. We, as an audience, couldn’t feel safe either, waiting with our bated breath to watch her find ways to get the hell out of the mess created by an ego-clash that could’ve been averted.
5.) Tamasha (Director: Imtiaz Ali, Producer: Nadiadwala Grandson)
Writer: Imtiaz Ali
Imtiaz Ali made a film to help us ‘Unlearn’. Unlearn from racing towards a finishing point that has evoke happiness in winning if it doesn’t involve your heart into it.
Ved (Ranbir Kapoor) and Tara (Deepika Padukone) – Both wonderful and share combustible chemistry – meet in Corsica, play a safe game of role-playing Don and Mona darling the entire trip to counteraffect the promixity and depart only to reunite after four years but the intimacy is no longer felt, Tara cannot recognize him anymore. Turns out, Ved is a nine-to-five corporate pleasing robot who is stuck somewhere unable to listen to his heart.
Unless one fail to read between the lines and figure what the plot, Tamasha will be a plodding bore for many. However, I instantly could connect the inner demon Imitiaz was trying to bring my attention to and couldn’t hold my tears throughout watching. Such was the magick.
4.) Talvar (director: Meghana Gulzar, Produced: Vishal Bharadwaj)
Writer: Vishal Bharadwaj
Bollywood haven’t explored ‘Investigative thriller’ to much details. Talvar – directed by Meghana Gulzar – is a haunting police procedural film that will make you loose faith in judiciary system.
Based on infamous double homicide of Aarushi-Hemraj murder case, Meghana employes three possible crime scenes of the case from parents point of view. Talvar throws light on how professional rivalry, botched up police investigation and media sensation can turn the course of justice.
While Konkona Sen Sharma and Neeraj Kabi were believable and heartbreaking as slain daughter’s parents who are accused of a crime they, might have (not have) committed. It was Irrfan Khan who is brilliant as CDI investigation officer Ashwin Kumar, hellbend to nab the culprit and put forth the injustice done against parents.
3.) Titli (Director: Kanu Behl, Producer: Dibakar Banerjee, Yash Raj Films)
Writer: Sharat Katariya, Kanu Behl
Family can be a living hell from whom one needs to break the chain and set free in order to stop the vicious cycle. Kanu Bahl’s Titli is a brutally devastating film conveying us a very simple yet frightening reality : Violence has been passed on from generation to generation and will never stop until one stands up courageously and say ‘buck stops here’.
Titli (Shashank Arora) is the youngest of the three brothers, living with their widowed father in an insalubrious home near a sewer in East Delhi. Titli, to escape from family’s shameful carjacking occupation and older Brother Vikram (Ranvir Shorey)’s cruel outburst, plans to run away to make a respectable living. On learning Titli’s plan, he is reluctantly married off to Neelu (Shivani Raghuvanshi) by brothers, hopeful to make him grounded and make her their accomplice for their ‘job’.
Amongst the talented cast, Ranvir Shorey remains the best thing about the film and his performance is a tight slap to all those who have always found happiness in stereotyping him as a comedian. He is more than that !
2.) Piku (Director: Shoojit Sircar, Producer: Rising Sun Films)
Writer: Juhi Chaturvedi
Piku- directed by Shooji Sircar – is a hell of an experience that not warms your heart but also finds humor from the body fluids so unlikely.
Bhaskor Banerjee (Amitabh Bachchan), a bickering hypochondriac old man, fixated with motion, is always on loggerhead with his irritated daughter Piku (Deepika Padukone) who is struggling to balance her career and managing her 70 year old bickering dad. Insisting to visit his ancestral home in Kolkata, Both Piku and Bhaskor take a road trip from Delhi volunteered by Rana (Irrfan Khan), who is constantly caught up by individuals who are far more problematic.
Amitabh Bachchan hams (pleasantly) as Bhaskor having a weird fixation on his stomach issues and Irrfan Khan is subtlely hilarious with his straight-face humor. Deepika Padukone, meanwhile, is the real star of the film as an independent woman unapologetic about her success, unabashed on her sexual need and casual relationships and doesn’t mind getting back at her father for creating havoc yet silently being a dutiful daughter.
1.) Masaan (Director: Neeraj Ghaywan, Producer: Phantom Films, Sikhya Entertainment, Drishyam Films)
Writer: Varun Grover, Neeraj Ghaywan
Masaan (means ‘cremation’) depicts the tale of youngsters who aren’t willing to give in to the pressure set by traditional society.
Devi’s (Richa Chaddha) sexual encounter with her lover in hotel gets busted by moral policing cops and are constantly threatened particular (her father) to pay bribe to bury the scandals whereas Deepak (Vicky Kaushal), belonging to a corpse burning low caste family, strikes an unlikely friendship with Shaalu ( Shweta Tripathi) and blossoms into relationship that goes against the tides of social norms.
Director Neeraj Ghaywan, aided by Varun Grover’s immersing script raises important questions on sexual taboos, caste inequality with an uncompromising tone. Masaan showcases performances so true and terrific sense in form of Richa Chaddha, Sanjay Mishra and sparkling newcomers Vicky Kaushal and Shweta Tripathi.
These are my 12 favorite films of 2015, each liberating and fascinating.
There are other films that were refreshingly different but couldn’t made it to the list. It would be a sin to if not given a mention. Hence, here is the list of films that deserves a ‘Special Mentions’ for it’s noteworthy difference it made to silver screen.
DUM LAGAKE HAISHA (Director : Sharat Katariya, Producer: Maneesh Sharma)
Writer: Sharat Katariya
BABY (Director: Neeraj Pandey, Producer: Bhushan Kumar)
Writer: Neeraj Pandey
TANU WEDS MANU RETURNS (Director: Aanand L Rai, Producer: Eros Now)
Writer: Himanshu Sharma
BOMBAY VELVET (Director: Anurag Kashyap, Producer: Phantom Films, Fox Star Studio)
Writer: Vasan Bala, Gyan Prakash, Anurag Kashyap, S.Thanikachalam
PYAAR KA PUNCHNAMA 2 (Director: Luv Ranjan, Producer: Abhishek Pathak)
Writer: Luv Ranjan, Rahul Mody and Tarun Jain