Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Bollywood: 2008 Best Film List

Top 10 films

1) Oye Lucky Lucky Oye (Dibakar Banerjee)

Dibakar Banerjee's second feature is a rare thing -- an intelligent entertaining comedy! Plus Abhay Deol puts in a wicked performance while the little details in good old Delhi are captured perfectly.

2) Rock On (Abhishek Kapoor)

Dreams and friendships are easy to come by in one's youth but as one gets older both start to fade away when the everyday realities of job and money demands attention. Given those sentiments, Abhishek Kapoor does a fine job of capturing the essence of relationships in his second directorial feature [note: correction added. Thanks Nitesh]. Plus the excellent vocals of Farhan Akhtar and the touching performance of Arjun Rampal easily make this one of the best films of the year.

3) Mumbai Meri Jaan (Nishikant Kamat)

A heartwarming film about a few characters trying to deal with the aftermath of the Mumbai train blasts in 2006. The film starts off perfectly when a discussion over Zidane's sending off in the World Cup final turns into a debate about Muslim brotherhood and ends on a tender note with a minute of silence to the tune of Mohammed Rafi & Geeta Dutt's beautiful song yeh hai Bombay meri jaan..

4) Mithya (Rajat Kapoor)

Bollywood's talented gang of 4 (Rajat Kapoor, Saurabh Shukla, Ranvir Shorey & Vinay Pathak) rope in Naseeruddin Shah and Neha Dhupia in this highly creative adaptation of Kurosawa's Kagemusha. A dark descend into Mumbai's underworld and even the human soul.

5) Mukhbiir (Mani Shankar)

An interesting look at three hot beds of terrorism in India (North East, Hyderabad and Mumbai) through the eyes of an informer attempting to break into the gang's inner circle.

6) Welcome to Sajjanpur (Shyam Benegal)

Shyam Benegal's film is a breath of fresh air amid the congested Bollywood films set in the major cities. The films takes the story of a simplistic letter writer in an ordinary village and adds the complicated emotions of jealously yet still manages to render everything with an air of pureness and innocence hardly found in Indian cinema anymore.

7) Chamku (Kabeer Kaushik)

A Bihari revenge tale goes full circle with a stop-over in Mumbai.

8) A. Wednesday (Neeraj Pandey)

A gripping thriller about an innocent man taking revenge for the carnage that inflicted Mumbai in 2006.

9) Dasvidaniya (Shashant Shah)

The gang of 4 (Rajat Kapoor, Saurabh Shukla, Ranvir Shorey & Vinay Pathak) are back with Neha Dhupia. This time around Vinay Pathak gets to play two personas just like Ranvir Shorey did in Mithya. While Mithya was dark, Dasvidaniya is a bright shining light. The story of a man wanting to accomplish a few things before he dies may not be unique but the performances of all the secondary characters are quite strong. Plus the film maintains a pleasant tone throughout.

10) Mere Baap Pehle Aap (Priyadarshan)

A funny film about the role reversal that takes place between parents and their children as the parents age. Plus, the cute smile and expressions of Genelia D’Souza are a pleasure to watch.

Some other memorable moments:

  • Aamir:Raj Kumar Gupta did an excellent job in adapting the story of Cavite to the Mumbai slums in his debut feature Aamir. A worthy film which raised some excellent observances about 'victims' and 'villains'.

  • Priyanka Chopra turned in the best female performance of the year in Fashion. Her transformation from a cheery aspiring model to a cold hearted fashion superstar was stellar.

  • One of the funniest cinematic moments of the year came in the film Dostana, a story about two straight guys (Kunal & Sameer) who pretend to be gay in order to share a Miami apartment. Sameer's mother (Kiron Kher) is shocked to learn that her son is gay but Neha (Priyanka Chopra) tries to comfort the mother by saying that "pyar aandha hota hai" (love is blind). To which the mother hilariously replies that love is not so blind that it can't differentiate between a boy and a girl. The dialogue "love is blind" is one of the most over-used dialogues in Bollywood films so it was refreshing to see how the writers managed to get some more mileage out of this over-used phrase.

  • And finally a song....

  • Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na marked the debut of Aamir Khan's nephew Imran Khan. So it was fitting that Imran danced in a video that paid tribute to key aspects from three of his uncle's films over the last two decades. The song Paapu can't dance tipped a hat to the song Papa Kehte Hain from Aamir Khan's debut film Qayamat se Qayamat Tak, highlighted the spoiled rich kids shown in Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander and had the energy of the song Koye Kahe.. from Dil Chahta Hai. The video was infectious, cute and delightful. It was probably the only Bollywood video this year that I could not resist dancing to everytime it came on.

    Overall, it was a pretty good year in Bollywood as there were some outstanding films. Ofcourse, the disasters were much more than previous years forcing me to give zero rating for atleast 5 films and rating below 5/10 for quite a few more. But in order to enjoy the good films, one has to pass through the muddy waters of the awful ones.

    1 comment:

    nitesh said...

    It’s only when I started officially reviewing Bollywood films for I realized how hollow they were in terms of the form. Eventually I gave up reviewing because I had nothing more to say. Yet few movies did stand out or was worth the time.

    1) Welcome to Sajjanpur
    2) Oye Lucky Oye
    3) Mithya/ A Wednesday.

    I think Abhishek Kapoor had directed Aryan before ROCK ON. Maybe in 2009 I need to look at mainstream cinema without a new lens but we need more people like Sriram Raghvan to bring forth a balance- a director I admire a lot.