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.

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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.

Movie Review: ‘Sultan’ has BLOCKBUSTER written all over it!

No EID is EID without a Salman Khan blockbuster releasing every year. This year YRF and Ali Abbas Zafar bring in the much-anticipated Salman Khan  movie of the year – Sultan. Set against the backdrop of wrestling this Salman-Anushka starrer is actually a love story.

The movie begins with Akash Oberoi (Amit Sadh) who is one of the stakeholders in Pro-Take Down (which is one of its kind MMA wrestling tournament) trying to save it’s existence. His father Parikshit Sahni advises him to get Sultan (Salman Khan) who was once the world champion in wrestling, on board to change his fate. Inspired by the story told to him by his father, Akash reaches the village where Sultan leads a non-existent life. After Sultan refuses Akash’s offer to wrestle in Pro-Take Down tournament, he goes searching for the reason that made a world champion leave his glory and game forever.

The movie then moves into a flashback revealing Sultan and Aarfa’s love story. Sultan Ali Khan, who was once an aimless man dabbling with cable TV business, finds his passion for wrestling when he falls head over heels in love with the fierce and independent wrestler Aarfa (Anushka Sharma), daughter of a famous wrestling coach who teaches the sport in an authentic and rustic Indian akhada. Their love story turns into marriage after Sultan turns into a passionate wrestler who gears up to take down the world with his unique moves and starts winning championships. As pride takes over the mind of a talented Sultan, a loss of his loved one reduces his fame to ashes. In an attempt to regain his lost love and respect in the eyes of Aarfa, Sultan once again takes up a challenge – he joins Aakash to fight against the world champions of Mixed Martial Arts and is ready to go to any lengths to regain everything he has lost.

Ali Abbas Zafar after two failed attempts – Mere Brother Ki Dulhan and Gunday, comes up trumps with Sultan. The script in it’s whole is an entertaining one and has all the ingredients to make it a huge hit among the audience. Although, let me clarify here that it is not a very unique or never-done-before plot but still it is a sheer pleasure to watch this love story set in the background of wrestling. The dialogues are wonderful, the screenplay is flawless although the editor could have trimmed down few scenes in the second half to make it more pacier. The first half is absolutely filmy and entertaining while the second half is more dedicated towards the rise of a fallen hero showing more of wrestling matches and training.

Performances by every actor are top notch. Salman Khan shows why he is at the top of his game. He gets into the character of Sultan as if the character was just made for him. You forget he is the superstar we all like to idolize instead you will see the character taking over the frames like his earlier release Bajrangi Bhaijaan. Anushka has given a very strong performance. She looks, acts, talks like a Haryanvi wrestler. Amit Sadh is a pleasure to see on the screen. He should be given more meaty roles and movies so that a talent like him can be nurtured and not lost to anonymity. Randeep Hooda is powerful but wasted in a cameo. The actor who has played Sultan’s friend Govind (Anand) is awesome. He is another actor to look out for. Kumud Mishra as Sultan’s coach and Aarfa’s father is quite impactful.

Music by Vishal-Shekhar is quite nice especially Baby Ko Bass Pasand Hai, Jag Ghumeya and the title track. Background score by Julias Packiam is nice and goes with the theme of the movie. Cinematography by Artur Zurawski is excellent while action choreography by Larnell Stovall is praiseworthy.

On the whole, Sultan is definitely a movie to watch out for as it has BLOCKBUSTER written all over it!

My Verdict: ****