2015 was a year in which we got to choose from an interesting mix of commercial and offbeat films. Yash Raj Films tried its hand at backing films which, a few years back, one would not have expected them to roll out. From middle-of-the-road cinema (‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’ and ‘Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!’) to arthouse (‘Titli’), they did make some brave choices this year. Salman Khan, yet again, emerged as the top actor with a blockbuster (‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’) and a hit (‘Prem Ratan Dhan Payo’). Apart from giving their nod to some commercial entertainers like ‘Tanu Weds Manu Returns’, the audience also lapped up slightly unconventional films like ‘NH10’ and ‘Badlapur’. As a viewer, I got my fair share of good and bad films. But, what made me happy was that there was a lot of variety in store. Here is a list of my favourite Hindi films of 2015.
Click on the film title to read the full movie review.
We often get swayed by what is being reported about an incident by the media and form our own unflinching opinion about the same. Passing a judgement about something or someone without being aware of all the facts related to that incident is not a good thing. After watching ‘Talvar’, a lot of people who had formed their own ideas and opinions about the 2008 Noida double murder case were forced to rethink and revaluate their thoughts on the case. Even though the film seemed a little biased towards the parents (played by Konkona Sen Sharma and Neeraj Kabi), Vishal Bhardwaj’s watertight screenplay and Meghna Gulzar’s deft direction resulted in a riveting film, sent a chill down one’s spine with its depiction of one of the most talked about crime incidents in the country.
In today’s times, when people are grappling with the constant tussle between modernity and tradition, ‘Masaan’ depicted the various barriers that people in small town India grapple with that leads to suppression and quelling of individual freedom. The film breaks your hearts as it shows how obscure understanding and interpretation of terms like culture and tradition can spell doom for some. The film strikes a fine balance between two chapters that lay down the truth about the societal and traditional barriers in small town India. While Shalu (Shweta Tripathi) and Deepak’s (Vicky Kaushal) love story was charming and heart-breaking in equal measures, Devi’s (Richa Chadda)’s story gave one a glimpse of the life of a young man in the heartland.
In one of his pre-release interviews, actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui stated that when director Sriram Raghavan approached him for the film, he said that as the film progresses, Raghu (Varun Dhawan) and Liak (Nawazuddin)’s characters change colours. After watching the film, I understood what he meant. The way the hero slowly assumes grey shades and the despicable villain turns into a lesser reprehensible character stands out in this dark revenge thriller. Sriram Raghavan had made two absorbing thrillers in ‘Ek Haseena Thi’ and ‘Johnny Gaddar’ (we forgive him for ‘Agent Vinod’) in the past but ‘Badlapur’ turned out to be his first commercial hit.
Rajkumar Hirani has mastered the art of making movies which deliver a message in a fun and entertaining manner. Zoya Akhtar, too, did something similar in ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’. She does it again (in my opinion, a lot better this time) by making a film based on a dysfunctional family and talking about gender inequality and importance of family. Even though the film is (mostly) about rich people, it talks about issues which most of us can identify with. Watch out for that scene in which Sunny (Farhan Akhtar) and Manav (Rahul Bose) have an argument which eventually results in Sunny proving his point to him. A breezy entertainer with a big heart – that’s ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’ for you.
Very few filmmakers attempt to make a period film these days. With India having a rich history filled with wonderful stories, one wonders what stops filmmakers from getting into this space. Many of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s films are known for their grandeur and scale. The man who made ‘Devdas’ (2002) certainly would not shy away from making a period drama. ‘Bajirao Mastani’ was long standing dream which was finally realized this year. The film, starring Priyanka Chopra, Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone, will be remembered as much for its storytelling as it’s grandiose.
‘Titli’ provided one with a peek into the underbelly of Delhi, a world far removed from the glitzy image one has of the capital. The film depicted the struggle of Titli, a young man trying to break out from the shackles of his family filled with criminals. Apart a strong titular character, played by newcomer Shashank Arora, the film has a host of interesting characters whose lives we see changing as the film moves forward. Boasting of some performances, toplined by Ranveer Shorey, the film offers a raw and personal account of life in a murkier part of a big city.
People who had seen the film in one or more of the four languages it had been made in, opined that even as Drishyam is a well-made film, it offers nothing that one has not seen in the other versions. But, why should one make any alterations in a screenplay which is almost perfect the way it is. Barring an interesting sequence involving an ATM machine, ‘Drishyam’ was a faithful remake of the original. And what a good remake it was! The film, taut thriller involving a family that tries to conceal a crime committed by one of them, keeps you engrossed from the first frame to the last.
“Why does Sooraj Barjatya makes such stale family dramas? Do such families exist today?”, a friend of mine asked. Well, for people who have grown up in the smaller towns of the country would know that such families do exist. Sooraj Barjatya played to his strengths and made an old-fashioned family drama that was entertaining to the core. The film was Barjatya’s take on family values and traditions but it was far from being regressive. A good mixture of drama, romance, emotions and some melodious songs resulted in a well packaged entertainer.
Filmmakers who strive to make a ‘family’ film often end up showing regressive stuff in their films. ‘Piku’ was a new age family drama with a very progressive script written by Juhi Chaturvedi. ‘Piku’ was a light-hearted drama that focussed on the relationship shared between Piku (Deepika Padukone) and her father Bhaskor (Amitabh Bachchan). Bhaskor, who suffers from constipation issues, is completely dependent on his daughter. The plot is simple and filled with several heart-warming moments. It also talks about issues like women empowerment and heritage conservation, in a subtle manner.
There had been a few films that have depicted male bonding but one cannot remember a film which limned the friendship shared by women. ‘Angry Indian Goddesses’ was billed as India’s first female buddy film but there was so much more to it. India is a country where women face several kinds of prejudices on a daily basis. Though you feel a lump in your throat as the end credits roll, the film maintains a frothy tone for most of its part. It is an important film with a strong message that stayed with me.
The ones that just missed: ‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’, ‘NH10’, ‘Tanu Weds Manu Returns’, ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ and ‘Baby’.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.