Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

December 31, 2010

Wrap party 2010: A year in review

Filed under: What's new — Rajeev @ 7:00 pm

EXCLUSIVE!

It’s been a year of some small surprises and more than a few big disappointments. Each year when I’m picking my best and worst films, I jog my memory back to the ones I felt most strongly about. The films that made me smile and sulk.

Picking films that one enjoyed this year wasn’t terribly difficult. How much choice does one have? At the fifth position this year I discovered I couldn’t choose between two films I really enjoyed, so you’ll find a tie there, but believe me, I couldn’t think of a seventh film I’d want to squeeze into that list!

Drawing up a list of films I hated was more difficult. I only have 5 slots, and there’s so many to choose from. Ultimately I picked the ones that were the biggest disappointments for me (based on the talents of the people involved and the expectations they shattered), and the ones that just made it hard for me to sit there in my seat for the entire duration.

So without any further ado, here’s presenting my Hits & Pits of 2010: the films I most enjoyed and the ones I most violently detested this year. These are personal choices, and you’re welcome to disagree with them.

THE HITS

5 PHAS GAYE RE OBAMA:  A refreshingly smart comedy about the repercussions of recession on the kidnapping industry in central India, this delightful film directed by Subhash Kapoor made it clear that all humor needn’t be derived from pratfalls and slapstick gags. Consistently well acted and brimming with original ideas, Phas Gaye Re Obama was one of the year’s surprise treats.

5 DO DOONI CHAAR: This heartwarming Dilli middle-class story gave us a dose of reality, cushioned with humor. A slice-of-life tale about a school teacher trying his best to buy a car on his modest salary, Do Dooni Chaar was perceptively written and directed by Habib Faisal. But the performances of its lead actors, Rishi and Neetu Kapoor, gave it its soul.

4 PEEPLI LIVE: The poor farmer sucked into a media circus when he pledges suicide. It’s a story we’re familiar with. Yet, director Anusha Rizvi made us care for the mostly forgotten rural class. A biting satire on farmer suicides, a bureaucratic system and a hungry media, Peepli Live is a smartly-written and realistically portrayed film that engaged us on every level.

3 ISHQIYA: Everyone in this film was in love, but in such deliciously different ways. Two petty criminals find themselves mooning over their beautiful widowed landlady, only to realize that she has a mysterious agenda of her own. Directed by Abhishek Chaubey, Ishqiya was a cracker of a film: unpredictable and untamed, but all heart.

2 LOVE SEX AUR DHOKHA: Dibakar Banerjee’s riveting film placed a voyeuristic camera in three separate situations and captured human behavior at its most basic. A young couple elope and marry, but there’s no happily-ever-after-ending for them. A supermarket salesgirl succumbs to the affection of a sly co-worker who betrays her. And a disillusioned item-girl gets her revenge on a slimy pop-star. The film made a lasting impression with its hard-hitting comment on society, and its seductive narrative. Featuring no stars, each of the three stories in LSD was presented in the found-footage format.

1 UDAAN: A warm coming-of-age film that touched your heart. You could feel the desperation of the film’s teenage protagonist as he struggled to break free of his controlling father. Into this story, director Vikramaditya Motwane wove the boy’s hesitant bond with his six-year-old half-brother. Udaan stands apart because it’s fearless, uncompromised filmmaking that catches you at the gut.

THE PITS

5 RAAVAN: This major misfire by one of the country’s most well regarded filmmakers felt like a string of disjointed scenes had been slapped together. You could blame the loose script for most of the problem, but Abhishek Bachchan’s disappointing central performance as the outlaw who kidnaps a police officer’s wife did little to help. Mani Ratnam failed to turn an interesting idea into an engaging film, and every minute watching Raavan felt like an opportunity wasted.

4 TEEN PATTI: Possibly the most incoherent film of the year. This Amitabh Bachchan starrer about a maths professor who takes his students gambling as research for a new theory was pretentious to the point of being offensive, and came packed with the silliest dialogue you’ve ever heard. Directed by Leena Yadav, Teen Patti was badly scripted, badly directed and badly acted. One of those rare films that had no redeemable quality whatsoever!

3 ACTION REPLAYY: Mind-numbingly dull and excruciatingly boring, this shameless Back To The Future rip-off had none of the energy or the euphoria you expect from a time-travel film. Instead, director Vipul Shah focused on a predictable romantic track between a geek and a spunky girl, and practically blinded us with tacky retro bling. Action Replayy was the least fun I had in a film that promised a rollicking good time.

2 NO PROBLEM: How anyone could come up with this title for a film containing so many tasteless jokes is beyond me! Director Anees Bazmee’s spectacularly stupid comedy about a bank heist gone wrong featured an assembly line of neurotic characters played by actors delivering their worst-ever performances. Between Anil Kapoor molesting Akshaye Khanna in drag, and a gorilla farting in Anil Kapoor’s face, it’s hard to decide which scene was more embarrassing in No Problem.

1 ANJAANA ANJAANI: Constructed from a script that was more than likely scribbled together on bits of toilet paper, this romantic-comedy about a boy and girl who meet when they try to commit suicide was arrogant and cynical in equal measure. Director Siddharth Anand delivered a cold, soulless film that featured pretentious characters that only spoke in cliché. Anjaana Anjaani squandered the talents of its promising stars and for me, was the year’s most frustrating film to sit through.

5 FILMS YOU SHOULD HAVE WATCHED THIS YEAR

Harischandrachi Factory: For its loving portrait of the Father of Indian cinema and the invaluable gift of film he gave us.

Antardwand: A patchy but hard-hitting account of real India, where men are kidnapped and forced to marry at gunpoint.

Striker: Despite its flawed screenplay, the film’s meticulous detailing transported you into the heart of Malvani in the 80s.

The Japanese Wife: A tad stretched, but this odd marriage between a Bengali professor and his Japanese penpal was evocatively shot, and made you feel as if you were staring at a painting.

Dunno Y…Na Jaane Kyon: Not even comedies made me laugh this hard. This supposedly sensitive gay love story came with corny lines, OTT performances, and a joke of a title song rendered by Lata Mangeshkar herself. It’s the year’s most unintentionally hilarious film, and it’s a shame if you missed it!

5 LESSONS WE LEARNT AT THE MOVIES THIS YEAR

Akshay Kumar isn’t funny anymore! The puerile humor in Housefull may have been the last straw. The dismal response to Khatta Meetha, Action Replayy and Tees Maar Khan has proved that the Khiladi Kumar needs to reinvent himself… and quick!

There’s more to Deepika than those long legs! Unlike fellow newbie Sonam Kapoor who was mostly insufferable in both I Hate Luv Storys and Aisha, Deepika Padukone showed us a glimpse of some real potential in her performances in Lafangey Parindey, Break Ke Baad and even that snoozefest Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey.

The big guys need to pull up their socks! Mani Ratnam, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Ashutosh Gowariker and Farah Khan delivered some of their most disappointing work in 2010. Big budgets and big stars couldn’t save Raavan, Guzaarish, Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey and Tees Maar Khan from stinking up the cinemas. All four filmmakers need to get their mojo back!

Home is where the heart is! The audience responded warmly to home-grown stories set in the Indian heartland. Dabangg, Raajneeti, Ishqiya, Peepli Live and Phas Gaye Re Obama captured a unique slice of Indian life, while routine stories set in fancy foreign locations – like Anjaana Anjaani, Kites, We Are Family, Jhootha Hi Sahi and Break Ke Baad – failed to make a mark.

Greed is good! The only leading man to have as many as 6 major releases in the year, Ajay Devgan disproved the “less is more” theory by delivering hits in Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge, Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai, Raajneeti and Golmaal 3, even though Aakrosh and Toonpur Ka Superhero came croppers. Likely to land a Best Actor nomination for Once Upon A Time in Mumbaai, he’s having his cake and eating it too!

(This feature first aired on CNN-IBN)

5 Comments »

  1. I think Red Alert, the city of gold should have made it to films-you-should-watch list.

    You said it right, picking JUST 5 worst films is kinda difficult task this year. HouseFOOL, KHJJS, Knock out…all are close competitors.

    Also, you could have had one more segment of “Most undeserving hits”. Housefull, Golmal-3, MINK, IHLS, Badmash Company and Rajneeti would have made it to the list easily.

    Comment by PS — January 6, 2011 @ 10:22 pm

  2. i agree with P.S that you should create another category for undeserving hits…..and love sex aur dhoka should have been number 1…its out of the bollwood league

    Comment by Ashley — January 10, 2011 @ 3:13 pm

  3. How could u miss “Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey” and “Kites”in list for biggest dissapointment of the year

    Comment by Manik — February 19, 2011 @ 12:13 am

  4. @Ashley sorry if im offending you,but you seriously need to grow up if you think LSD was ‘undeserving’ !

    Comment by Mojojojo — February 24, 2011 @ 10:29 pm

  5. Where is My Name Is Khan……..it was 1 of the bst movie of 2010….

    Comment by Rony — October 6, 2012 @ 9:57 pm

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