It was exhilarating to write this blog. It was actually easy for me to pick 10 films because majority of films that released in the year 2016 where either bad or I had skipped watching due to reasons I can’t seem to recollect why did I. So below are the list of my favorite top 10 Hindi language films I loved and had absolute fun watching in those dark auditorium.
Producer: Aditya Chopra (Yash Raj Films).
Director – Aditya Chopra.
Story – Aditya Chopra.
Screenplay – Aditya Chopra.
Music – Vishal Shekhar.
Cast – Ranveer Singh, Vaani Kapoor, Armaan Rahlan, Ayesha Raza Mishra, Akarsh Khurana.
Opening to a largely polarizing reviews with many hating it to core labeling it as semi porn and few admiring it, I ended up loving Befikre and I’ve no shame in acknowledging it. The plot has nothing new to speak yet filmmaker and writer Aditya Chopra (responsible for writing and directing the 1995 clut classic ‘Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge‘) offered honest and non judgemental perspective about today’s millennial’s take on relationships and how rock-solidly commitment-phobic are they while juggling between to blend into foreign culture and staying grounded to their roots with equal measures. With fire-crackling performances from Ranveer Singh and Vaani Kapoor and catchy tunes by Vishal Shekhar, Befikre was an absolutely fun filled with astounding energy; it was stylish and sexy film that made me jump with joy.
Producer: Gauri Khan (Red Chillies), Karan Johar (Dharma Production) and Gauri Shinde (Hope)
Director – Gauri Shinde.
Story – Gauri Shinde.
Screenplay – Gauri Shinde.
Music – Amit Trivedi.
Cast – Alia Bhatt, Shah Rukh Khan, Ira Dubey, Kunal Kapoor, Angad Bedi, Ali Zafar, Yashaswini Dayama, Gautmik, Rohit Saraf, Ashish Raj Bhatia.
After warming our heart with her exemplary directorial debut in English Vinglish that made us root for a housewife conquering adversities, filmmaker and writer Gauri Shinde chose the sensitive topic of depression and attempted to explore it through Kaira, a budding cinematographer who grapples with mental ailment and proceeds to consult a therapist Dr Jehangir Khan who, with his unconventional methods, helps the girl rediscover herself all over again unblocking the root cause. Dear Zindagi might’ve been accused of romanticizing depression and some medical experts questioned the technique used by Khan that didn’t sync with the real approach to diagnosis, yet it did successfully managed to shatter myths regarding mental health and enabled the conversation to uproot the stigma surrounding therapy. Alia Bhatt was at her remarkable best who anchored the film with her unlikeable yet real performances.
Producer: Shoojit Sircar, Rashmi Sharma, Pawan Kumar, Sheel Kumar
Director – Aniruddha RoyChowdhary.
Story /Screenplay – Aniruddha Roy Chowdhary, Shoojit Sircar, Ritesh Shah.
Music – Shantanu Moitra, Anupam Roy, Faiza Mujahid.
Cast – Taapsee Pannu, Kirti Kulhari, Andrea Tariang, Amitabh Bachchan, Piyush Mishra, Angad Bedi, Raashul Tandon, Tushar Pandey, Dhritiman Chatterjee.
Pink was about Delhi based three independent working women who gets into serious mess post attending a party where one of them end up assaulting a man – who tried forcing himself upon her – as a self defense. Sooner the ladies find themselves slapped with false allegations complained by the men (covering up their crime) that’s when a veteran lawyer comes to their rescue to fight for their case. Filmmaker Aniruddha Roy Chowdhary and writer Shoojit Sircar and Ritesh Shah executed this film as a nail-biting thriller, leaving no scope for the audience to even blink, it was frightening psychologically to a different level. Although the film has been criticized for being ill-researched pertaining to legal procedures film diluted for the sake of cinematic liberty and for brushing all women and men as victims and sexual offenders respectively, what resonated me with Pink is it spoke about the consent, the ability and the right to say NO to sex. While Amitabh Bachchan was fantastic as the lawyer defending his clients and articulately putting down sexism, it was the ladies – Taapsee Pannu, Kirti Kulhari and Andrea Tariang – who delivered knockout performances that were real, empathetic and made you feel disgust from within.
Ae Dil Hai Mushkil
Producer: Karan Johar (Dharma Productions)
Director – KaranJohar.
Story /Screenplay – Karan Johar, Niranjan Iyengar.
Music – Pritam.
Cast – Ranbir Kapoor, Aishwariya Rai Bachchan, Anushka Sharma, Fawad Khan, Lisa Haydon, Imran Abbas, Shah Rukh Khan.
All these years we have portrayed the word ‘friendzone’ as something to be ashamed to be associated with until this movie came and changed the definition forever. Unlike the underrated ‘Ek Main Aur Ek Tu‘, (co-incidentally under the same banner) that depicted friend-zone in a sensible way with a surprisingly mature end, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil was sprinkled with schmaltzy with a contrived third act, yet the heart was in the heart place, emotions were genuinely captivating making us root for the flawed yet emotionally challenged characters who perceived love differently to each other seldom distracting from it’s pure essence. Filmmaker and writer Karan Johar poetically convinced us that there are some relationships that doesn’t require us to walk the aisle, it can be as real, strengthening and harmonious as the one we tend to label with. Pritam’s arousing soundtrack and incredible performances from the cast particularly Anushka Sharma, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil was a therapeutic experience indeed.
Kahaani 2 – Durga Rani Singh
Producer: Sujoy Ghosh (Boundscript), Jayantilal Ghada (Pen)
Story /Screenplay – Sujoy Ghosh, Suresh Nair, Ritesh Shah.
Music – Clinton Cerejo.
Cast – Vidya Balan, Arjun Rampal, Naisha Khanna, Tunisha Sharma, Tota Roy Choudhary, Jugal Hansraj, Kharaj Mukherjee, Amba Sanyal, Manini Chaddha.
Kahaani 2 – Durga Rani Singh might not have topped it’s sensationally successful 2012 prequel but as an independent film, it still made a great impact. This time filmmaker Sujoy Ghosh and writer Suresh Nair integrated a topic as sensitive and taboo topic as child sex abuse for backdrop to this mind-boggling thriller. Vidya Sinha, a middle-aged single mother finds her paralyzed daughter kidnapped. This event triggers her haunting past and in order to save her daughter, Vidya is forced to face her demons and that is where challenges arises for her to conquer. Apart from taking our breath away with it’s thrilling first half and moderately engaging second half, Kahaani 2 Durga Rani Singh – embellished with ferocious performances from the cast (completely against the order of typecast) particular Vidya Balan who was the heart and soul of this venture – has finally did the impossible by initiating a conversation discussing child sex abuse openly that it should no longer be remain rugged under the carpet anymore.
Producer: Sunil Lulla, Shailesh Singh.
Director – Hansal Mehta.
Story – Apurva Asrani, Ishaani Banerjee.
Screenplay – Apurva Asrani.
Music – Karan Kulkarni.
Cast – Manoj Bajpayee, RajKummar Rao, Ashish Vidyarthi.
“What business do we have to invade someone’s privacy and violate their right to sexual intimacy?” this question stared at me ferociously while watching Aligarh, a film based on the true story of late Ramchandra Siras, a linguistic professor who got suspended by Aligarh University on the accusation of being gay after his act with a rickshaw puller was recorded by two men, who barged into his room with camera, and widely circulated it making his tragedy a talk of the town in 2010. Siras, two weeks after his suspension was revoked following court battle, was found dead. While this tragedy took place six years ago, Aligarh was released when petitions to scrap IPC Section 377 (that largely criminalizes homosexuality and other sexual act that do not lead to pro-creations -affecting heterosexuals too) gained momentum and is still being debated with current governments imposing the archaic morality on the community. Filmmaker Hansal Mehta and writer- editor Apurva Asrani depicted the ordeals Siras went through for something that was his basic human rights sensibly. More than just being a homosexual issue, Aligarh explored the core emotions of being lonely and how scary it feels to age when you are deserted with no emotional support to confide upon. Manoj Bajpayee terrifically humanized Professor Siras while Rajkummar Rao was heartfelt as a supporting journalist Deepu Sebastian who was one of those few souls who knew the real Siras. Masterful performances indeed !
Kapoor and Sons since 1921
Producer: Karan Johar (Dharma Production).
Director – Shakun Batra.
Story – Shakun Batra.
Screenplay – Shakun Batra, Ayesha Dhillon.
Music – Amaal Malik, Nucleya, Badshah, Tanishk Bagchi, Benny Dayal, Arko.
Cast – Rishi Kapoor, Rajat Kapur, Ratna Pathak Shah, Alia Bhatt, Fawad Khan, Siddharth Malhotra.
Films revolving around dysfunctional families have tasted resounding success of late where nothing seems to be perfect. While 2015’s well-crafted Dil Dhadakne Do (helmed by Zoya Akhtar) sarcastically poked fun on a family high on superficiality on the surface but feared and demoralized beneath the surface, Shakun Batra‘s sophomore ‘Kapoor and Sons’ was an ultimate catharsis. Shakun and writer Ayesha Dhillon employed the onion-peel narrative where insecurities, heart-breaking secrets, betrayal within a family are revealed so uncomfortably one cannot help but root for them knowing they’re too flawed and wrecked with guilt. The film shatters the concept of a ‘perfect family’ forever teaching us a lesson that no one can ever be perfect because perfection leads to strangulation burdening with expectations too heavy to carry. Fawad Khan, in particular, was fantastic as the elder son Rahul, who gets outed by his mother. He had the gumption to take up the role of a homosexual guy symbolizing a notably positive change in the depiction of an LGBTIQ community in films (after Manoj’s sensitive portrayal of a gay man in Aligarh).
Producer: Anurag Kashyap, Vikas Bahl, Vikramaditya Motwane, Madhu Mantena (Phantom Films) & Shobha Kapoor and Ekta Kapoor (Balaji Films)
Director – Abhishek Chaubey.
Story – Sudeep Sharma, Abhishek Chaubey.
Screenplay – Sudeep Sharma, Abhishek Chaubey.
Music – Amit Trivedi.
Cast – Shahid Kapur, Alia Bhatt, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Diljit Dosanjh, Manav Vij, Suhail Nayyar, Prabhjyot Singh, Satish Kaushik, Harpreet Singh.
A habitual drug addict rock-star collided with an inspector who patronized the supplies of drugs that are state sponsored until he experienced it in a hard way witnessing the demon in his younger brother medically treated by a doctor and anti-drug campaigning social activist he later falls for. Amidst these chaos a migrant from Bihar, who reaches Punjab for livelihood, find herself trapped by drug mafia who routinely subjected her to sexual violence and inject her with drugs to keep her under control. Udta Punjab was a difficult watch because filmmaker Abhishek Chaubey (man behind the crackling black comedy Ishqiya Franchise) and writer Sudeep Sharma (who wrote the brutally haunting NH10) depicted the cruel and soul crushing world of Punjab where children from schools and colleges, are inclining towards drug addictions and even choosing to be the peddlers. We all were vaguely familiar with news of youth of Punjab immersed into drugs but this film exposed us to the ugly reality we couldn’t get rid off even know. Udta Punjab remains to be a relevant film ably supported by taut and realistic screenplay and robust performances esp. from Shahid Kapoor and Alia Bhatt.
Producer: Atul Kasbekar, Bling Unplugged, Fox Star Studios.
Director – Ram Madhvani.
Story – Saiywan Quadras.
Screenplay – Saiywan Quadras, Sanyukta Chawla.
Music – Vishal Khurana.
Cast – Sonam Kapoor, Shabana Azmi, Yogendra Tiku, Shekhar Ravjiani, Jim Sarbh, Kavi Shastri.
Based on the true story of a 22-year-old slain Neerja Bhanot, Pan AM flight head purser who gave up her life while saving 359 passengers and crews from terrorists of Libyan backed Abu Nidal Organization who hijacked the plane in Karachi that was supposed to fly to New York (planned thwart by Bhanot). Filmmaker Ram Madhvani and writers Saiywan Quadras and Sanyukta Chawla re-accounted the life of this brave-heart who courageously faced the terrorists and while battling this worst nightmare, simultaneously fought her past of an abusive marriage she thought she never could’ve moved out of. It was executed like a thriller with so many nail-biting moments that rendered us breathless more often. Sonam Kapoor was born to play this role and her bravura performance institutionalized her as one of the finest actresses; equally effectively convincing was Shabana Azmi as her mother Rama Bhanot, she was heart-breaking and heartfelt with equal ease.
Producer: Siddharth Roy Kapur (Disney), Kiran Rao & Aamir Khan (Aamir Khan Productions)
Director – Nitesh Tiwari.
Story/Screenplay: Nitesh Tiwari, Piyush Gupta, Shreyas Jain, Nikhil Mehrotra.
Music – Pritam.
Cast – Aamir Khan, Sakshi Tanwar, Zaira Wasim, Suhani Bhatnagar, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Sanya Malhotra, Apaarshakti Khurana, Girish Kulkarni.
Dangal was an absolutely brilliant film based on the true story of Mahavir Singh Phogat, a National level wrestler who invested his life training his daughters Geeta and Babita- against all odds (equally appalling a lot of people for robbing his daughter’s childhood for his selfish ambition) to the male-dominated wrestling field who went on to win gold medals and silver medals in International sports events. Filmmaker Nitesh Tiwari (who co-directed ‘Chillar Party‘ and then helmed ‘Bhootnath Returns‘) with writers Piyush Gupta, Shreyas Jain and Nikhil Mehrotra created a believable world of Mahavir onscreen, remaining faithful to the original life story, that not only devoted good time on describing the sport of wrestling but also made an important feminist statement about girls being just as good as boys in sports field. While Aamir Khan (star disappears completely transforming into an aged, potbellied, brooding tough master and soft-hearted father, giving us an unconventional leading man) and Sakshi Tanwar (as a hapless striving to balance her tormenting husbands and daughters who wants to remain girls for longer time) were terrific to core, it was the girls (both the young and older) that became the heart and soul of Dangal.