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..
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.