MUMBAI— Suffice to repeat here that 2018 was a great year for audiences in terms of the cinema they got. But, as usual, we had the worst as well.
#1 “Badhaai Ho” (Directed by Amit Ravindernath Sharma)
This film comes in as it was the warmest, most compassionate yet funniest film of the year. Director Amit Ravindernath Sharma, now directing a sports biopic with Ajay Devgn, proved his mettle after a disastrous debut earlier. He saw to it that his script was perfect, his performances whopping. As a bonus, we left the movie hall smiling, and pondered over the next few days on it's wonderful little and big social messages.
#2 “AndhaDhun” (Dir.: Sriram Raghavan)
Exceedingly smart, very ingeniously twisted, in short, very Sriram Raghavan! The gripping and dark thriller about a blind man and a black widow began at one point and went its convoluted way to a totally different one. Brilliantly scripted, it had bravura performances and a nice soundtrack as well, a rarity in cinema nowadays. However, the music was never exploited within the film – and that’s a FREQUENT feature in cinema nowadays.
#3 “Raazi” (Dir.: Meghna Gulzar)
A tight and thrilling script with an emotional wallop, this super-hit drama was astoundingly based on a real saga. And Alia Bhatt carried the film on her petite shoulders, a great supporting cast being a bonus.
#4 “Parmanu: The Story Of Pokhran” (Dir.: Abhishek Sharma)
If “Raazi” made you feel intensely patriotic, “Parmanu” made our chests swell with pride and fervor. The story of India’s triumph despite so many obstacles, again a real, if dramatized saga, was an outright winner in the businesslike way Abhishek Sharma directed it.
#5 “Hichki” (Dir.: Siddharth P. Malhotra)
Rani Mukerji was the life of this film in every sense. The film did look a shade routine in many places, but it all worked out in the end, helped hugely by Mukerji’s stupendous performance and the smartly packaged twin messages referring to challenged people – from the teacher to underdog students.
In the next five would rank, in no particular order, “Raid,” “Simmba” (yes, given its intentions as both a film and a story), “Gold,” "Mulk" and a tie between “102 Not Out” and “Pad-Man." We would offer a disclaimer here: it is possible that the ranking of the films may not be completely in sync with our review ratings. But that has an explanation: a review is always of a standalone film, while ‘The Best’ implies a comparison despite diverse genres. Also, we always carry the best films home, and the lingering after-effects of a lesser-rated film, a month or more later, may be higher or greater.
#1: “Zero” (Dir.: Aanand L. Rai)
Please, what was this all about? A screwball story, the criminal wasting of three good actors, a terrible script and music in a feather-brained mess about a vertically-challenged brat from Meerut who lands up in Mars: it couldn’t get worse!
#2 “Race 3” (Dir.: Remo D’Souza)
Will someone please tell us how such a film and script were conceived and actually made JUST because Bhai was there and looking at an Eid release. And why should not Abbas-Mustan laugh their guts out at what Remo did to their taut franchise, and ALSO wail and pull their hair in frustration for the same reason?
#3 “Thugs Of Hindostan” (Dir.: Vijay Krishna Acharya)
And what was the trouble with the entire Yash Raj Films setup to bankroll such a gigantic fiasco, insist on raising ticket rates, that too for a disaster of this scale, ON Diwali? So who were the real thugs of (free) Hindostan? And Aamir Khan, Amitabh Bachchan and Katrina Kaif actually decided to act in this OMG so bad stew.
#4 “Namaste England” (Dir.: Vipul Amrutlal Shah)
Was this a film? So moth-eaten, so cretinous, so downright nonsensical, and that too an intended sequel to the moving and thoroughly entertaining “Namastey England?” While Arjun Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra need to hone their script sense, Vipul Amrutlal Shah must know that audiences are not getting stupider but smarter. And, please, could we have some proper music, please?
#5 “Helicopter Eela” (Dir.: Pradeep Sarkar)
Was this really something Ajay Devgn designed for his wife, Kajol? This was another terrible example of how dated directors (though Pradeep Sarkar made his first film only 13 years ago!) were so limited in their thinking.
There were five more films here as well. In no particular order, “Bhavesh Joshi Superhero,” “Bhaiaji Superhit,” (let the viewers decide on the “Super” tag, guys!), “Welcome To New York,” “Pari” and “Dil Junglee.”