9 Best Movies of 2016

2016 was one of those years in the Bollywood history where not many movies were Box Office successes, however, there were some really brave movie attempts made by unexpected quarters. Here is my pick of top 9 movies I felt were different and entertaining. Please do not go by the BO numbers.

Dangal: Like the saying save the last dance. Aamir did save his best performance and movie for the last week of 2016. Based on the true life characters of Mahaveer Phogat and his daughters Geeta and Babita, this was a great movie experience. Never was a sports based movie made with such passion and splendor. The wrestling fights looked so real that I had myself sitting on the edge whenever Geeta ‘Dhobipachadofied‘ her opponents. The highlight apart from the last fight was the bout between the father-daughter jodi played by Aamir and Fatima.

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Nil Battey Sanatta: This was one masterpiece that I was fortunate to see in 2016. Produced by Aanand L. Rai and directed by Ashwini Iyer Tiwari (the wife of Dangal director Nitesh Tiwari), tells the story of a housemaid played brilliantly by Swara Bhaskar and her daughter who is scared of mathematics. The moments in the movie were heartfelt and the narrative was so gripping that made you feel a part of Apu and Chanda’s lives.

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Pink: ‘Whatamovie’ was the first expression I let out after watching this simple but powerful story of a movie. Amitabh Bachchan was a sheer pleasure to watch as the bipolar lawyer and Tapsee Pannu showcased her brilliance with her portrayal of Meenal Arora. ‘No means No’ became the mantra of this tony courtroom drama directed by Aniruddha Roy Choudhary.

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Aligarh: Another biopic that made me cringe in my seat was Manoj Bajpayee starrer Aligarh based on Professor Ramchandra Siras’ life. Professor Siras was who was sacked from his position as a Marathi professor from Aligarh University for his sexual orientation portrayed the sad reality of our homophobic society. Also, the mysterious way in which he was found dead makes us question ‘whether sexual orientation is above humanity?’ Homosexuality is a crime in India and there are hardly any meaningful movies made around this subject. However, Hansel Mehta’s brave attempt on this real life character and Bajpayee’s sensitive performance is quite commendable. I will also give full marks to the writing department and one particular dialogue of Professor Siras from the movie still gives me goosebumps – Koi Mere Feeling Ko Teen Aksharon Mein Kaise Samajh Sakta Hai!

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Kapoor & Sons: There are many stories revolving around a dysfunctional family, however, Shakun Batra’s second movie outing was a beautiful piece of cinema. Grand Father who is preparing for his death and wants to have the last family picture clicked, Father – a cheating husband, Mother – lost in her own world, Elder son – a closeted gay, Younger Son – still trying to figure out his true calling in life etc. are characters inspired by true life. It was shocking to see King of Candyfloss – Karan Johar producing a true to life story. The movie was quite relatable and the performances were wonderful. Give me a choice and I would love to see this movie anytime, anywhere.

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Dear Zindagi: A slice of life movie that centers around a budding cinematographer Kaira played by Alia Bhatt, who hails from a dysfunctional family and after several failed relationships, is in search of a perfect life. She bumps into Dr. Jehangir, an unconventional thinker who helps Kaira in gaining a new perspective about life. Gauri Shinde after her endearing debut movie English Vinglish gave a near perfect movie – Dear Zindagi, and also gave Shah Rukh Khan a much-needed image makeover (it’s been nearly a decade that I liked any of SRK’s movies past Chak De India!).

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Neerja: Directed by Ram Madhvani, Neerja was another commendable biopic on Neerja Bhanot, AC, who was a purser for the airline Pan American World Airways, based in Mumbai, India. Neerja was shot and killed while saving 359 of 379 passengers on board Pan Am Flight 73, which was hijacked by terrorists on 5 September 1986 at Karachi. Sonam Kapoor gave her career best performance and also won the hearts of cine goers. A wonderful movie that every India should watch.

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Airlift: The film directed by Raja Krishna Menon follows Ranjit Katyal (Akshay Kumar), a Kuwait-based businessman, as he carries out the evacuation of Indians based in Kuwait during the invasion of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. The movie was inspired by the real-life character of Mathunny Mathews who was instrumental in carrying out the biggest Air evacuation in World History. Air India holds the Guinness Book of World Records for the most people evacuated by a civil airliner as a result of this effort. The operation was carried out during the Persian Gulf War in 1990 to evacuate Indian expatriates from Kuwait and Iraq. It is believed to be the largest civilian evacuation in history. The way the movie was shot and narrated is praiseworthy. Akshay Kumar, as usual, gave a great performance ably supported by Nimrat Kaur and Prakash Belawadi.

Airlift

Sultan: My list would not be complete without a Salman Khan starrer and this year he did make me proud as a fan. Sultan a love story of a wrestler had Salman living the character to the T. It was not a typical Bhai movie but a warm and heartfelt movie of a wrestler who gets into the game only to impress his lady love and in turn goes to win medals for the country. Pride and ego bring his downfall and soon his entire life is shattered. What happens next is the journey of Sultan who rises from the ashes like a Pheonix. Salman after Bajrangi Bhaijaan was a sheer pleasure to watch. His transformation as a wrestler in the movie was commendable and Bhaijaan did act well in this movie.

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It was difficult to pick 9 movies from the 100+ movies released in 2016. If you have your own favorites please do comment below.

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Movie Review: Dangal – A Must Watch!

Aamir Khan is like Santa Claus every Christmas he comes with a nice gift for all of us in the form of a wonderful movie. This Christmas is special because of his latest release – Dangal. Based on the real-life story of wrestler Mahavir Phogat and his daughters Geeta and Babita. Directed by Nitesh Tiwari, Dangal is a great story told on screen.

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Mahavir Singh Phogat (Aamir Khan) is an amateur wrestler who was forced to give up wrestling due to financial difficulties. He was unable to win a gold medal for India and vows that his son will. He is disappointed when his wife gives birth to four daughters. He gives up his dream thinking that girls cannot wrestle and should only be taught household chores. But when his older daughters, Geeta (Fatima Sana Shaikh) and Babita (Sanya Malhotra) come home after beating up two boys, Mahavir realizes his daughters have the potential to become wrestlers and start coaching them.

In a society where women are traditionally not into wrestling Mahavir Phogat encouraged and fought against all societal norms to take his daughters to international wrestling competition and they also come back victorious. The story is quite moving and shows the dedication and passion towards this rustic game.

Nitesh Tiwari and his writers have done a great job in the writing department, however, the editing could have been crispier. There are few scenes in the first and second half where you feel it could have been edited out to make it gripping. The real bout scenes in the second half are so engrossing that you feel as if you are watching a live bout.

Performances by every artist are very good and commendable especially Aamir, Sakshi, Fatima, Sana and the two young girls and Aparshakti who are the main characters. The supporting cast is well chosen by Mukesh Chabbra and the entire movie experience is quite engrossing.

Music by Pritam is not up to the mark but goes with the tone and content of the movie. Cinematography by Sethu Sriram is very good. The Indian heartland is well-captured.

On the whole, Dangal is a movie with a heart. Go for it and surprisingly find yourself cheering for these girls as if you are watching a real game of wrestling.

My Verdict: ****/5

Movie Review: Kahaani 2 Fantastic Performances, Poor Script!

Kahaani, when it released in 2012 was a sleeper hit and a part two was eagerly awaited. This week, the wait is over and Kahaani 2: Durga Rani Singh got released starring Vidya Balan and Arjun Rampal. Apart from Vidya Balan and Sujoy Ghosh, there is no connection to Kahaani.

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Coming to the story,  Kahaani 2 has no connection with the first part apart from Vidya Balan and Sujoy Ghosh. Also, it is not a sequel to Kahaani but it is in the same line where the main protagonist Vidya Sinha (Vidya Balan) is in search of her crippled daughter Mini (Tunisha Sharma). The movie starts with Vidya getting a call about her daughter being kidnapped and she hysterically runs around the lanes of a small town Chandan Nagar and within minutes she is hit by a speeding car leaving her comatose. Soon, Inderjit Singh (Arjun Rampal) is introduced as the Inspector investigating the case. A visit to the victim’s house reveals to Inderjit that she had acquired a fake identity and also her diary enlightens the fact that she had a trying life that she and her daughter Mini had survived. As Vidya’s condition sinks, she has a mysterious visitor at the hospital who tries to kill her by jabbing a syringe into her wrist. As scope for her recovery seems bleak, Inderjeet strives to get to the bottom of the affair, with or without her assistance. So, will Vidya ever be united with her daughter? Will Inderjeet detect what drove Vidya to adopt an alias? These questions are best unanswered to keep spoilers at bay.

Coming to the script, it is quite engaging in the first half. The story moves ahead at a faster pace and has you hooked with no time to think of any bloopers, however, Kahaani 2 also suffers from the curse of the second half which is quite evident in almost every movie released this year. Suddenly the entire plot is something that even a small kid can predict. However, Sujoy does a great job as a director but the screenplay lets him down.

Vidya Balan as Vidya Sinha / Durga Rani Singh is FANTASTIC. She emotes every emotion effortlessly and is a sheer pleasure to watch. This one of the best performances by Balan and might be considered for every award function that will kick start in few weeks time. Arjun Rampal surprisingly does a wonderful job. This movie has challenged the hidden actor in him and he proves that if given a right script and a director, he can definitely hit back with a great performance. Jugal Hansraj as the mean uncle does a commendable job and also a never seen before act, and every time he comes on screen you tend to hate his presence. That shows he has owned his character completely. Rest of the supporting cast also does a great job.

The editing could have been crisper in the second half as there are times when you tend to get bored with the proceedings. The music is situational and is not something you will ever listen to.

Overall, Kahaani 2 is not a better version of its predecessor, but it is still a one-time watch only for Vidya Balan.

My Verdict: **1/2

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