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

December 30, 2011

Hits & Pits 2011: Year’s best and worst films

Filed under: What's new — Rajeev @ 10:30 pm

It’s been a year of some good films, and far too many not-so-good ones. Several Hindi films worked at the box-office, earning crores of rupees. But only a few were genuinely engaging, quality pictures. In a year of South Indian remakes, dozens of crass comedies, lazy sequels, and star-driven vanity projects, here are my personal best and worst Hindi films of 2011 — what we like to call THE HITS & PITS of 2011.

HITS 2011

We’ll start by taking a look at my five best films of the year – the Hits of 2011. These are personal choices each, not determined by the box-office performance of these films. So right away, my five best films of the year, the HITS of 2011.

# 5 Yeh Saali Zindagi

Violence and love are irresistible ingredients in this film. Under its rough exterior of criminals and gunshots, Yeh Saali Zindagi pleasantly surprised us with a tale of slow-burning passion and complicated relationships. Weaving an engaging yarn with unpredictable one-liners, director Sudhir Mishra gave us a raw film that neatly tied in with its unconventional title.

# 4 Delhi Belly

A stool sample is mistaken for a smuggled package of diamonds…this filthy comic thriller directed by Abhinay Deo was packed with rude humor and shock value. Delhi Belly is the year’s best example of a smart script defined by its quick pace, and enhanced by sharp performances. With its unique cocktail of oddball characters and interesting twists, Delhi Belly may not have been great cinema, but it guaranteed big laughs.

Tying with Delhi Belly at #4 is Rockstar

It was a far from perfect film, but director Imtiaz Ali’s Rockstar made up for its flaws with inherent honesty and depth – qualities sorely missing from most movies today. A tale of great passion pieced together with lovely moments, Rockstar had one big shot in the arm – a riveting performance by Ranbir Kapoor.

# 3 Shor in the City

A small film that makes a big noise about different lives coming together in a teeming metropolis, Shor in the City was a sparkling comic thriller that sucked you in from the word go. With three desperate men struggling to make a better life for themselves in a corrupt city, this film — directed by Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK — followed different tracks that gradually intertwined. A touch of magic realism, surprising sensitivity, and quirky humor turned Shor in the City into one of the year’s most pleasant surprises.

# 2 Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara

It may have been a road-trip for bachelors, but director Zoya Akhtar proved once again that she has a unique gift for storytelling and a distinct filmmaking voice. Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara took a light-hearted all-boys journey through Spain to deliver a heartfelt message about seizing the day and following one’s dreams. What stands out are the compelling performances by its leads, and the realization that ultimately boys will be boys.

# 1 Stanley Ka Dabba

Every once in a while comes a film that makes you dip into your memories…taking you back to those wonder years when you shared tiffin boxes in the back benches, and ganged up against a cruel taeacher. Through the simple, bitter-sweet story of Stanley Ka Dabba and its deeper message against child labor, director Amole Gupte skilfully pitted the innocence of children against the egos of adults. Yet, it is the seductive role of food in this film that reminds you of the love in everyday relationships.

Honourable mentions: Dhobi Ghat, I Am, Shaitan, and That Girl in Yellow Boots

PITS 2011

Let’s take a look now at my worst films of 2011, a more difficult list to compile given that there were so many options to choose from. What I settled on, eventually, are five films that were disappointing for different reasons. These are the five films I hated the most this year, the films that were most difficult to sit through in 2011. Again, irrespective of their box-office performance, these are my PITS of 2011.

# 5 Aarakshan

Intended as a scathing comment on the issue of reservation in the education system, director Prakash Jha’s Aarakshan turned out to be a dreadfully boring lecture that was a challenge to survive. Every character was a cardboard caricature, and the plot meandered pointlessly in all directions. In the end, the film didn’t say much that you didn’t already know…and this despite rambling on for close to three hours!

# 4 Game

Just months before he gave us Delhi Belly, director Abhinay Deo made an inauspicious debut with the staggeringly silly crime-thriller Game, that had fancy foreign locations, an attractive cast, and a premise with potential. What it didn’t have was a script! Convoluted, and never true to its own logic, the film’s twists felt underwhelming. A whodunit with neither pace nor thrills, this Game played by all the wrong rules.

# 3 Mausam

You needed nerves to steel to make it through this misguided romantic saga that defied logic and basic common sense. Actor-turned-director Pankaj Kapur’s preposterous love story offered passive characters and the worst climax scene of any film this year. Save for a few charming moments, Mausam was the longest, most painful three hours you spent at the cinema this year.

# 2 Ready

Blockbuster or not, Ready was the laziest film this year – so lazy in fact, that it didn’t even bother with a plot. Director Anees Bazmee cashed in on his charismatic star’s unfailing popularity by stringing together a bunch of songs and slapstick scenes in the name of a film. Even Salman Khan fans deserved better than this lazy, arrogant film.

# 1 Rascals

Vulgar, insensitive, and bordering on the offensive, David Dhawan returned to his crass filmmaking roots with this debauched comedy that made you want to reach into the screen and beat up the actors. What’s worse is that none of it was funny.

Hall of shame: Faltu, Thank You, Teen Thay Bhai, Zokkomon, Luv Ka The End, Bheja Fry 2, Double Dhamaal, Bbuddah Hoga Terra Baap, Chatur Singh Two Star, Hum Tum Shabana, Tere Mere Phere, Soundtrack, Tell Me O Khuda, Loot, and Miley Naa Miley Hum.


These are little gems that didn’t have big stars or big budgets. They were honest, well-made films that didn’t make a lot of money at the box-office. You may have missed them in the cinema, but check them out on DVD:

I Am, directed by Onir
An honest film that wove together four stories based on betrayal and starting afresh, I Am addressed relevant themes, but with a silent grace that spoke for its causes.

Bubble Gum, directed by Sanjivan Lal
A coming-of-age film about two teenaged brothers discovering love, Bubble Gum had a fresh tone, unpretentious language, and an innocent appeal that captured life in a small town.

I Am Kalam, directed by Nila Madhab Panda
A heartwarming story of a poor boy who aspires to learn, and to rise above his humble roots, I Am Kalam showed what was possible if one decided to carve one’s own identity.

Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge, directed by Nupur Asthana
Look beyond that terrible title and you’ll find a campus rom-com that was funny, but thankfully stopped short of becoming sentimental. What worked in Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge was its young, carefree tone, giving melodrama a miss.

Bol, directed by Shoaib Mansoor
Based on the terrifyingly regressive attitude towards women in Pakistani society, Bol was a small film with a bold heart. Its inherent sincerity compelled you to look beyong its shortcomings.


Each year the movies teach us different lessons. Last year we learnt that greed is good, and that Akshay Kumar isn’t funny anymore. This year we have new lessons. Pay close attention and you’ll be wiser going forward. Here’s presenting the 5 Lessons We Learnt at the Movies in 2011.

Akshay Kumar needs to reinvent himself…quick!
On the same show last year, we came to the conclusion that Akshay Kumar just isn’t funny anymore. This year, we want the star to get some help – in thinking out of the box, and choosing quality over quantity. All his films in 2011 were duds – Patiala House, Thank You and Desi Boyz, while his brief appearances in the flop Speedy Singhs and the average Chalo Dilli did nothing for himself or the films. Akshay Kumar needs a new plan. Fast.

Look South for big bucks
It’s the turn of the strong, larger-than-life hero, taking cues from movies down South. Ready, Bodyguard and Singham were 100-crore-plus hits, and all remakes of Telugu, Malayalam and Tamil cinema. Even John Abraham broke his unlucky jinx with Force, which did respectable business. In an industry that loves formula, the South Indian remake seems here to stay.

Women have box-office muscle too!
2011 began on a high note with No One Killed Jessica, that had powerhouse performances from Rani Mukherji and Vidya Balan. And the year ended with The Dirty Picture, a monster hit riding on Vidya Balan’s…ummm…shoulders. In the same year, Kangana Ranaut pretty much carried Tanu Weds Manu to box-office success. This is the moment we’ve been waiting for – the girls are back in town!

The big guys have lost their mojo
It’s the directors we’d placed our hopes on, but 2011 was not their year. Several big-ticket filmmakers let us down…from Vishal Bharadwaj with 7 Khoon Maaf, Prakash Jha with Aarakshan, and Ramgopal Varma with Not A Love Story, to Pankaj Kapoor with Mausam, and David Dhawan with Rascals. Even Nagesh Kukunoor, once hailed the messiah of small-budget alternative cinema, delivered a dull-as-dishwater dud in Mod. Here’s wishing that 2012 ends up as the year for their comebacks.

Cinema finds a new language
If you were listening, all these films had something different to say. Sharp everyday dialogues laced such films as Pyaar Ka Punchnama, Dhobhi Ghat and Delhi Belly, while movies like Sahib Biwi Aur Gangster and Yeh Saali Zindagi reveled in quirky banter and raw, earthy desire. Meanwhile, Shaitan summoned the recklessness of our youth and indulged in a sparkling visual language – setting up the tone of the film with stylish storytelling. We approve.

(This feature first aired on CNN-IBN)


  1. patiala house was a good movie where as desi boyz was also a decent movie. Sometimes ur too harsh on some movies. Akshay has started doing better stuff this year. Hopefully next year would be even better.

    Comment by neeraj — December 31, 2011 @ 1:34 am

  2. Would love to see a Top 5 on Hollywood films as well!

    Comment by J Sharma — December 31, 2011 @ 2:06 am

  3. Rajeev: Surprised to see not even a mention of 2 of the biggest releases Ra One and Don 2! No I am not a SRK fan and not asking you to term them as hits..But did they not warrant a mention?

    Comment by Chandra Sekar — December 31, 2011 @ 10:09 am

  4. Murder 2 ?

    Comment by Srinivas Rau — December 31, 2011 @ 1:43 pm

  5. Stupid list!!! Just like ur review of Don2! Lesson (s) for u to learn…too many to list, but start by not attempting to conjure up another such list!

    Comment by Rhea — December 31, 2011 @ 1:47 pm

  6. Sir ji, i guess you missed out Akki’s mega star block buster flops…. quite a few i think..
    welcome, desi boyz, housefull… . etc .. etc..

    and i guess u missed out singham in the hit list..

    Comment by Jai — December 31, 2011 @ 1:49 pm

  7. Rajeev,

    A good list. Our Bollywood has become much like the Congress these days. They will make whatever they want, and unfortunately people still Like it.

    Please make a similar list for Hollywood, especially the ones to not miss. I think the best Hollywood movie of 2011 was Tintin! Might sound childish, but I think the animation and adaption from screenplay was unmatched. I wonder how many other movies have brought the flavour of the book/comic they are based upon into the movie in such a spectacular manner.

    Comment by Vishrut Garg — December 31, 2011 @ 2:00 pm

  8. Sir i am not a supporter of Ready or Mausam but what did RA – ONE do that it missed the PIts list of 2011….. I think it should the top on the list…. do consider…

    Comment by Manas Mukul — December 31, 2011 @ 2:39 pm

  9. You didnt mention Not a Love a Story either.

    Comment by Kali — December 31, 2011 @ 3:56 pm

  10. Why would you not include Bodyguard in the Pits section???no story,no humor and really no acting and one of the most pathetic scripts…

    Comment by Harsh Vora — December 31, 2011 @ 9:31 pm

  11. BIG GUYS WHO LOST MOJO –You missed the name of
    Mr Rajeev Masand, an year of inconsistant, prjudiced reviews.
    Wish you make a comeback as well in 2012.

    Comment by Anil — December 31, 2011 @ 10:18 pm

  12. Agree with previous comment. Ra.One should definitely top pits of 2011. Also would have liked to see DB higher. I think ZNMD is over-rated and a very predictable movie. And before I forget, Rajeev stop with the condescending “Even Salman Khan fans…” You think we don’t have good taste in movies? haha. But he is Bollywoods eternal rockstar no?

    Comment by Yusuf Khan — December 31, 2011 @ 10:36 pm

  13. How cud u miss ra one in dud list

    Comment by nitin — January 1, 2012 @ 12:25 am

  14. Shaitan is any day better than Yeh Saali Zindagi or Shor in the City.

    Comment by filamkhor — January 1, 2012 @ 12:52 am

  15. Sir.
    the overall list is gud…..but keeping ready in da pits instead of Ra.one. isn’t fair at all!!!!!

    Comment by Aditya — January 1, 2012 @ 1:16 am

  16. i agree with some of them… not all… NOT A LOVE STORY might not have done well at the box-office but it was a well made film… it kept me glued to the screen till it finished. Ram Gopal Verma is a superb film-maker. As for buddah ho ga tera baap was a masala flick for Amitabh Bachchan and it delivered what they promised. It was meant to be that way, seen worse film than that this year for sure… Body Guard should be in hall of shame instead of Buddah ho ga tera baap.

    Comment by Aliza — January 1, 2012 @ 8:52 am

  17. i guess he didn’t mention ra.one in the pits list becoz even if it had a shitty storyline but still it had sparkling special effects to boast of … so it did try on some level to show something new…none of the movies mentioned in his pits list even managed to do that.

    Comment by sanket shah — January 1, 2012 @ 12:31 pm

  18. ZNMD is a bit over rated … and Dhobighat should have been in top 5 instead of delhi belly …. and ragarding pits of 2011 Double Dhamaal is the most irritating movie of this year for me…

    Comment by Ekrajj — January 1, 2012 @ 12:52 pm

  19. ra1 is the biggest dud of the year.very surprised that it dint make ur list

    Comment by shrawan — January 1, 2012 @ 1:29 pm

  20. would have loved to see shaitan in the hits list

    Comment by rohp — January 1, 2012 @ 7:50 pm

  21. Delhi belly was better movie than rockstar in the sense delhi belly is a flawless movie compared to rockstar where rockstar scored only on music and acting of ranbhir

    Comment by Jayan — January 1, 2012 @ 8:25 pm

  22. Ra One is definitely not as bad as the 5 movies mentioned in the list. It was a good concept which tried too much of formula to make the movie a hit. Ra One minus all the unnecessary masala [Sanjay Dutt, Priyanka, Rajnikant(no offence meant), PJs] isn’t that bad. Mr. Rajeev Masand I completely trust your reviews and sometimes actually refer them to decide which movies to watch. But aren’t you a little harsh on Mod. The landscapes and background music was so absorbing. The movie didn’t had a mass appeal but it is obviously better than lot of stupid movies that end up earning good money on sheer value of the amount spent on creating a star cast.

    Comment by Shash — January 1, 2012 @ 9:54 pm

  23. A really good list. I guess its pretty easy to make the hits list considering the number of good movies in 2011. Salman Khan should in fact consider not acting any more and Ajay Devgan should stop wasting his talent in movies like Rascals!! And Farhan Akhthar hopefully will get over his DON adventures and try to make something else. Movies are hopefully made with better intentions.

    Happy New Year to one and all !!

    Comment by Swaroop Kodur — January 1, 2012 @ 10:12 pm

  24. You forgot to mention Ra1 and bodyguard in your 2011 worst movie list and plzz rock star was not a great movie too.

    Comment by Soundarya Giridhar — January 2, 2012 @ 1:37 am

  25. Perfect! did we miss 404?

    Comment by Anurag — January 2, 2012 @ 6:08 pm

  26. A very well compiled list. Congrats Rajeev Masand.

    Comment by Anuj — January 2, 2012 @ 9:07 pm

  27. Ra one should top the biggest pit of 2011…

    Comment by Rahul Mahajan — January 2, 2012 @ 10:43 pm

  28. Rajeev, you missed out on 404.I feel it was one of the finest film of 2011.Also i feel bodyguard was worse than ready.

    Comment by ankit — January 3, 2012 @ 5:25 pm

  29. Sir a good list. Bt sir dnt u think pyar ka punchnama is a good movie put in top 5, instead of delly belly. Ra1. Bodyugaurd are the biggest pits. Of 2011.

    Comment by Kalpesh — January 5, 2012 @ 12:48 pm

  30. Sir, brilliant review. Good to see that you ve rated “READY” into pits, i also thought Bodyguard wasn’t that gr8. Everything else is fine. Bol was one brilliant movie.

    Comment by Gaurav — January 6, 2012 @ 6:07 pm

  31. I think BodyGuard should also be in the pits list.To the respected people above me I think Rajeev was righ in not naming Ra one in either Pits or Hits list because it was neither great nor the wost and 2.5 was perfect rating for it.

    Comment by Shashank — January 7, 2012 @ 12:15 pm

  32. So much good and so much bad happened as far as B’wood is concerned.
    BOL was an incredible movie. It actually made you think.
    Another exception was Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge. I still hate the fact that I didnt get to watch it in the theater. Its probably one of the best youth-oriented movie I’ve watched in a super long time.

    Ofcourse at the other hand I find ZNMD a bit of a bore (mostly because it had PJs. Typical) and probably because ZNMD lacked what regular cinema in India has but it was a good script, the poems were brilliant I just wished it wasn’t so toned down. A bit more drama.

    Comment by Nicole — January 7, 2012 @ 6:39 pm

  33. sir i think mausam was good movie and also gr8 performance given by the cast .
    I think its all time better than the others…..

    Comment by ashish — January 8, 2012 @ 9:50 am

  34. RGV Not a love story is good as for as Direction, Music n budget is concerned and didnt feel bored.

    Comment by raghu — January 10, 2012 @ 9:28 pm

  35. Rajeev,

    I was a avid follower of ur review. But you are trying to prove a point that you are a very intelectual guy. I dont know what is your point of view, I agree that Ready is not a good movie but how Rockstar fits your bill? You gave Players 2.5(!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
    You mean to prove that its better than Don2 . even I like Faltu and Double Dhamaal also more than RockStar.
    Which are far better than RockStar and Players.
    I am still an admirer of yours. I regularly follow your review, but my request to you Please dont become another Taran Adarsh.
    I know you are intelectual guy. You understood what I mean to say.

    Comment by Biman Saha — January 11, 2012 @ 12:51 am

  36. SRK has been ignored completely… Loved it!!!

    Soundtrack is a good movie… not a movie worth Hall of shame. Rajeev gave an honest performance and for a change Soha looked cute.
    Watch soundtrack once, its better than so many mindless formula comedies…

    Stanley was the Best and Rascals was the worst no doubt… thumbs up for that. 🙂

    Comment by Tanmay — January 11, 2012 @ 2:49 pm

  37. to be honest,this is an incomplete ,unfair on many accounts,if you are reading this…you seem very prejudiced and its written all over every review you do. unreliable is the word

    Comment by mithun — January 17, 2012 @ 10:20 am

  38. missed bodyguard and raone in duds but as u said tjhere were plenty of dud to choose from…2011 didnt produce films like udaan that u can carry in ur heart for years to come …

    Comment by suchismiith — January 23, 2012 @ 12:55 pm

  39. ra.one was a wase of tym!!!!

    Comment by aditya1234 — February 2, 2012 @ 11:50 am

  40. ra.one was a waste of tym!!!!

    Comment by aditya1234 — February 2, 2012 @ 11:50 am

  41. Don 2 deserves to be in the best list. Stanley Ka Dabba is a highly overrated movie and no deserves a spot in the best list. Rockstar should be in the worst segment for its highly flawed direction and pathetic acting.

    Comment by Jay Jani — February 3, 2012 @ 11:47 pm

  42. Excellent list of hit Movies.
    Special Mention for the Soundtrack of Shor in the City and Shaitan. were great.

    Did not watch Arakshan and Mausam, but really think they cannot be worser than RA one and Don 2.

    The should’ve watched list also has some very good movies, watched them all and enjoyd.

    Thank you

    Comment by Sreejesh Kuriyadan — February 4, 2012 @ 12:20 pm

  43. heyy guys, will ya hold it dere plz… you all who r criticizing Masand for his ratings, sud keep dis in mind dat dose r his personal choices. i know you all shit-heads.. you all are no brainers.. so shut your mouth.

    Comment by Biswaranjan — February 11, 2012 @ 12:03 am

  44. why didnt u put ra one in pits list and dirty picture in the other one

    Comment by aditya vikram — March 18, 2012 @ 2:12 pm

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