It's been an interesting and unpredictable year for Bollywood cinema, as we near the end of 2017, we give you the best of the bunch!
As we approach the yearend, we look back on the best movies of 2017 in Bollywood.
Bollywood is the home to some of the most entertaining plots and gripping stories but the crown jewels don’t quite belong to Bombay this year.
2017 is the year of regional languages. The most grossing entertainer was Baahubali 2 courtesy of Telegu cinema. The best film award winner Angamaly Diaries comes from the Malayalam Industry.
Yet Bollywood cinema has itself had quite a year, with several usual suspects failing to make a mark. Meanwhile, hearteningly many a new voice breaking through the same old mediocre commercial makes. We are sincerely thankful to movie makers to add freshness to an industry which pries on stupidity and repetitive media stunts to attract viewers.
This was was certainly a change and we list the best flicks of Bollywood 2017.
10. A Death In The Gunj
Konkona Sensharma’s directorial debut is set assuredly between the lines. It leaves the audience to observe the myriad gaps and fissures in the inevitably intricate dynamic shared by an extended family on vacation. The mood and atmospherics are gorgeous, as is the music. Set in 1979, the story contains everything from infidelity to insecurity, rendering the death alluded to in the title nearly irrelevant. This is a story of several chipped characters, pretending to be whole. And of the echoes, they leave behind.
9. Secret Superstar
Empowerment doesn’t take place overnight. Advait Chandan’s Secret Superstar is a film about a little guitar-playing girl. She wants to sing for the world, but it is just as much a film about her mother trying to escape an oppressive marriage. First, however, she must accept that she even wants to get out, an unthinkable concept for so many unhappily married Indian women. The film gives both its ladies agency and allows them to make up their mind.
Vikramaditya Motwane, one of the strongest and most lyrical storytellers we have, went bare-bones to make a tiny movie on a measly budget where he took one of our best actors and locked him in a Bombay flat. From that essence, Motwane and Rajkummar Rao created a harrowing survival drama that had the audience hunkering for open air – and for pao-bhaji.
Without question the most visually striking film of the year. Vishal Bhardwaj’s grandiose period drama might not be the director’s finest work – the climax is unforgivably tacky. But it sprawls across an immense canvas set in pre-Independent India. The characters are textured enough to belong to a memorable novel, and its history is ambitious, optimistically revisionist. Kangana Ranaut shines as the impossibly fiery lead, and while Rangoon itself – a nuanced and naughty film – can’t entirely keep up with her character, it bloody hell tries.
What happens when a system – a creaking, broken system, a system built on compromise – runs into one man who wants to play by the rules? Wonder what happens when that man doesn’t move? What hope is there for the system, or for rules? Amit Masurkar’s thoughtful and inward-looking Newton is a rare political Hindi film that poses many questions and leaves us haunted by the lack of answers. Rajkummar Rao plays the unyielding Newton Kumar while Pankaj Tripathi, in the opposing corner, plays an army officer who knows he’s in charge, and the two are flat-out fantastic.
5. Tumhari Sulu
Winning is an addiction. When we read biographies of sportsmen and team leaders, we see how competitiveness becomes a part of their very nature, something they need in order to function. It is this unique driving force that director Suresh Triveni highlights with a delightful film about a housewife. The character refuses to stay in a box. She may not be a racecar driver or a cricket captain, but – as we see with her daily routine shown to us alongside streetside parkour. The character knows what she wants. She calls the shots at home, she doesn’t take no for an answer, and she likes the idea of playing late-night love guru to a desperate throng of listeners. She’s an inspirationally great character in a warm, finely written film.
4. Tu Hai Mera Sunday
This is a special film. It is one of the best slice of life movies out there. With a very emotional touch, it is gripping, and ought to give you a smile of satisfaction while moistening your eyes. Director Milind Dhaimade has made the truest of ensemble films, a heartening and warm film about Bombay and the people who keep this bizarre city’s heart beating.
3. Jagga Jasoos
“Sab khana ka ke daaru pee ke chale gaye,” goes a particularly lovely song in Jagga Jasoos. This refrain – that everyone has eaten and drunk and left – can be made for most of Bollywood cinema, aiming only to kill time pleasantly enough. But not for Anurag Basu’s fabulous, fanciful movie. It tries with ridiculous ambition, to challenge the very grammar of our cinema.
It is a film that bites off more than it can chew. Certainly, because it tries to be a spectacular children’s film (and succeeds) while being also a full-blown musical. Where characters speak and complain and interrogate in song. Meanwhile, in the song, the words are sometimes lost. It is a touch too long and occasionally inconsistent, but, anchored in place by Basu’s imaginative vision and Ranbir Kapoor’s bravura performance, this film is a magic trick. Who else would even dare to try and get children curious about farmer suicides?
2. Bareilly Ki Barfi
When we meet the heroine – the Barfi of the film’s title – we are told she is both a daughter and a son. A cigarette smoking meat-eating tomboy full of spunk and derring-do. This is the kind of unapologetic character Bollywood cinema needs more of, and it is no wonder she leaves admirers awestruck in her wake. Director Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari does very wisely to cast two terrific actors as the besotted men. And her crackerjack script – a script written with genuine wit, not merely local-sounding one-liners – does the rest.
1. Mukti Bhawan
Imagine knowing when you’ll leave.
Death comes to us all. But imagine prepping-up, packing a suitcase, checking into a hotel and literally lying in wait for the big sleep. Director Shubhashish Bhutiani accomplished something melancholy and marvellous with his debut feature. A film about making peace with mortality and letting go calmly and restfully. The film is about a father who wants to breathe his last and about a son who can’t ignore his father’s wishes. However strange – and spooky – they may seem. The stakes are high but there is admirably little drama on display as Bhutiani and his actors give us a film that softly and touchingly shows us the value of restraint.