10 BEST FILMS OF 2018

The hits and the crit­i­cally ac­claimed films kept rolling out. At the last count 10 films of the year had jumped into the 100-crore league. Not all of them de­served their suc­cess. Here are some of the best of the best..

Masala! - - BOLLYWOOD FEATURE -

BAD­HAAI HO Star­ring: Ayush­mann Khur­rana, Sanya Mal­ho­tra, Neena Gupta, Ga­graj Rao

An ab­so­lute charmer, Bad­haai Ho was a de­light­ful ex­plo­ration of sub­ur­ban mid­dle­class and its sex­ual-emo­tional anx­i­eties as the ma­tri­arch of the fam­ily an­nounces her preg­nancy. All hell breaks loose. Sopho­more di­rec­tor Amit Sharma es­chews melo­drama and hys­te­ria. The reined-in screen­play gives the char­ac­ters breath­ing space. Never be­fore have the peo­ple pop­u­lat­ing a movie-made hous­ing colony, seemed so real. The per­for­mances were so vivid and en­dear­ing, I had to go back to them . And to think the di­rec­tor Amit Sharma had ear­lier di­rected the pot­boiler Te­var, best re­mem­bered for putting Manoj Ba­j­pai on screen in his in­ner­wear to en­dorse a par­tic­u­lar brand of lin­gerie. Yuck!

OC­TO­BER Star­ring: Varun Dhawan, Banita Sandhu

Shoo­jit Sir­car’s film is del­i­cately-drawn love story about an an­noy­ingly self-im­por­tant ho­tel concierge (Varun Dhawan) and his soft-spo­ken col­league (new­comer Banita Sandhu) who slips and falls into a coma.

Did she give him a hint of her feel­ings for him be­fore she lost con­scious­ness? This was an au­da­cious and dar­ing premise for a love story. But then when has Sir­car ever played the game by the rules? He breaks them with ten­der care and gives us a ro­mance as wispy and gos­samer as Shakti Sa­manta’s all-time clas­sic Amar Prem, with­out R D Bur­man’s time­less songs. This is the prob­lem with ro­man­tic films to­day. The soul may have mu­sic. But the mu­sic hardly ever has soul. Varun Dhawan was deeply ef­fec­tive when he was not busy show­ing us how dar­ing an ac­tor he is.

PAD­MAA­VAT Star­ring: Deepika Padukone, Ran­veer Singh, Shahid

De­spite a fa­tally flawed script, this epic sailed across to great­ness on the strength of its vis­ual re­splen­dence and the power of San­jay Leela Bhansali to bring glory to large-screen grandios­ity. On a sec­ond view­ing, the per­for­mances, ex­cept Jim Sarbh, left me un­moved. I’d have liked to see more of the love story be­tween Ran­veer Singh’s Al­laud­din Khilji and Sarbh’s char­ac­ter Ma­lik Ka­fur.

LUST STO­RIES Star­ring: Rad­hika Apte, Man­isha Koirala, Bhumi Ped­nekar, Kiara Ad­vani, Vicky Kaushal

This 4-story treat on Net­flix has so much to give, it de­mands re­peat view­ing. The theme is lust. But each story is treated with ten­der care. Be it the (rather weak) part of Rad­hika Apte’s Kalindi, a teacher with the hots for her stu­dent or the sub­lime story of Bhumi Ped­nekar, the house­help in lust with her un­mar­ried em­ployer (Neil Bhoopalan). Man­isha Koirala and Kiara Ad­vani round off the re­main­ing sto­ries. The di­rec­tors – Anurag Kashyap, Karan Jo­har, Zoya Akhtar and Dibakar Ban­er­jee – have given us an an­thol­ogy that re­de­fines modern re­la­tion­ships.

PADMAN Star­ring: Ak­shay Ku­mar, Rad­hika Apte, Sonam Kapoor

R Balki’s heart­felt pro­pa­ganda film on fe­male hy­giene is to men­stru­a­tion what Toi­let Ek Prem Katha was to defe­ca­tion. Balki adopts a sim­ple straight­for­ward lin­ear nar­ra­tive mode, leav­ing be­hind the swag and swag­ger of Chini

Kam, Ki & Ka and Shamitabh to fo­cus on the man and his mis­sion. This was cin­ema with a soul.

SOORMA Star­ring: Diljit Dosanjh and Taapsee Pannu

At a time when sup­pos­edly re­spon­si­ble film­mak­ers are glo­ri­fy­ing gang­sters, ter­ror­ists and so­ciopaths in os­ten­si­ble bio-pics, Soorma, about the strug­gles of hockey champ San­deep Singh to over­come crip­pling ob­sta­cles to claim a name among sports le­gends, comes as a gust of un­pol­luted air. This is a film that needed to be made. Diljit Dosanjh makes the char­ac­ter and his strug­gles look so art­less and cred­i­ble you want to reach into the in­nards of the plot and hold the pro­tag­o­nist’s hand and tell him,

‘It’s okay. You will be fine.’ If this per­for­mance doesn’t fetch Dosanjh an award, what will?

SUI DHAAGA Star­ring: Varun Dhawan and Anushka Sharma

Af­ter I saw Sharat Kataria’s de­but film, Dum La­gake Haisha, I hoped Kataria won’t sell out to the star sys­tem. But his sec­ond film starred a mar­ket-friendly lead star. I hoped Kataria’s sec­ond film won’t lose the charm and in­no­cence of the first. And it didn’t. Varun Dhawan sur­ren­ders to his char­ac­ter Mauji as though the role was tai­lor-made for him. The as­pi­ra­tional nar­ra­tive of how Mauji finds his groove with con­sid­er­able help from his street­wise wife, works like a charm be­cause all the per­form­ers are solidly sin­cere.

AND­HAD­HUN Star­ring: Ayush­mann Khur­rana, Tabu

Ev­ery­thing and noth­ing makes sense in the morally un­hinged world of Sri­ram Ragha­van. Peo­ple kill, maim, hood­wink and be­tray the un­sus­pect­ing, at the drop of a hat. This in­tri­cately wo­ven who­dunit’s hero is a blind pi­anist, played with aplomb by Ayush­mann Khur­rana. This movie has been told with a verve and ve­loc­ity that the sus­pense genre has never ex­pe­ri­enced be­fore in Hindi cin­ema. So if you’ve been won­der­ing why sus­pense films in In­dian cin­ema seem so am­a­teur­ish, think no more. And­had­hun is ev­ery­thing that a mur­der mys­tery should be.

RAAZI Star­ring: Alia Bhatt, Vicky Kaushal

Though I had sev­eral mis­giv­ings about the plot which bends back­wards to show the tra­di­tional en­emy as em­pa­thetic, this film is a brave at­tempt to por­tray the life of an In­dian spy in Pak­istan. Raazi is that tri­umphant film which leaves you with some se­ri­ous mis­giv­ings. The story is based on real events dur­ing the eve of the 1971 In­dopak war when a Mus­lim girl Sehmat crosses the bor­der to be­come the wife in a Pak­istani fam­ily of army-men to gather in­for­ma­tion for the In­dian govern­ment. It is an au­da­cious tale. And one that was wait­ing to be filmed.

MULK Star­ring: Rishi Kapoor, Taapsee Pannu, Prateik Bab­bar

Anub­hav Sinha has cre­ated a modern po­lit­i­cal master­piece which at­tempts to hu­man­ise a com­mu­nity that has been de­mo­nized of late. Yet Mulk doesn’t take sides. What it does do is to lay bare the lay­ers of de­cep­tion that mars a truly fruit­ful di­a­logue be­tween sane ra­tio­nal el­e­ments in both com­mu­ni­ties. The per­for­mances are ex­cel­lent and the mes­sage, pow­er­ful. That’s good cin­ema for you.

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