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.

dangal

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.

pink

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.

Movie Review: Ae Dil Hai Mushkil!

Diwali is the biggest festival of India and like every year, this year too, two BIG movies are clashing with each other to  get audience’s attention. The first movie I am reviewing is Karan Johar’s much-anticipated, much-talked and controversy surrounded – Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. Without much talking, let me dive into the story of ADHM.

The movie starts with ‘private-jet ameer’ Ayan (Ranbir) trying to hook up with ‘Raees’ Alizeh (Anushka) after a chance encounter at a London pub. However, instead of they ending up in bed and bidding farewell later, they strike up a friendship instantly. They’re both Bollywood-crazy goofballs who love cheesy ’80s songs, poke fun at each other’s partners and fit into each other like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. But Ayan wants more from the relationship while Alizeh wants to have him as her ‘bestestest’ friend forever after reeling from her break-up with her ex DJ Ali (Fawad). Although, Ayan is a good singer, but Alizeh feels there is no feeling in his singing as he has never experienced heartbreak. Which he does when a chance encounter with Ali while Alizeh and Ayan are holidaying in Paris, makes her slip back into his arms, leaving him distraught.

Alizeh goes back to Lucknow and gets married to Ali against her parent’s wishes. Ayan tries to make Alizeh understand his love for her, but she rejects him as she is not in love with him. A distraught and heartbroken Ayan then finds solace in a physical relationship with an older divorcee Saba (Aishwarya), who helps him get a new perspective on one-sided love.

Will Alizeh fall in love with Ayan and accept him as her lover or will Ayan find his soulmate in Saba? To find out, watch the movie.

The story by Karan Johar is a mixture of his earlier movies like Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Kal Ho Na Ho, Ek Main Aur Ek Tu etc. and Rockstar. There is no originality in the story or script, however, performances by the lead actors keep the movie afloat and entertaining. Ranbir, as usual, does a fantastic job and Anushka is a dream to watch. Their chemistry is crackling and you don’t turn your face away whenever they mouth those typical filmy corny dialogues from the 80s and 90s. Aishwarya looks beautiful and does a decent job in her small role. Lisa Haydon is hilarious and makes the ‘Vaatavaran’ exciting with her presence. Fawad Khan and Imran Abbas are just okay and do not have too many screen time (there was no need for the entire controversy to be created around their presence in the movie). Shah Rukh Khan and Alia Bhatt lightens up the screen with their short cameos.

Dialogues by Niranjan Iyengar and Karan Johar is good and the first half is quite entertaining because of the dialogues and the lead pair’s chemistry. The second half drags in the first 20 minutes and then picks up once Anushka and Ranbir meet again. The music by Pritam is outstanding especially the title song and Channa Mereya which has a haunting presence even in the BG score.

Cinematography by Anil Mehta is very good and you will fall in love with the lighting and every frame which gives you that typical KJo signature style. Editing could have been crisper, especially in the second half.

Overall, ADHM is a feel good movie and keeps you entertained and therefore I would recommend you to watch it at least once if you are a fan of KJO movies.

My Verdict: ***