2018 was one of the rare years that belongs to the triumph of content, scoring high and mainstream season lost the game. It rang changing times ahead where commercial Hindi films must pull the socks if they want to stay relevant in the age of web content, low-budget and regional cinema gaining an upper edge. Thugs of Hindostan, Race 3 and Zero bit the dust at the box office in spite of big names like Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan, Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan showing that the audience has become more exposed to good cinema and will not accept mediocrity. Content and the audience, increasingly restless, are King. Let’s look at the best films of the year, in my opinion.
- Andhadhun & Badhai Ho
Shot entirely in Pune, Sriram Raghavan’s Andhadhun starring the new toast of the town Ayushmann Khurana, Tabu in splendid form and the versatile Radhika Apte belong to the film noir genre, aesthetically treated and a well-narrated script coupled with suspense makes the cut as the film of the year along with Badhai Ho.
Ayushmann Khurana scored a double whammy in 2018 with Badhai Ho and weaving surprises with the wonderful Gajraj Rao and Neena Gupta showing that interesting roles can be written for actors in their 50s and 60s, ably supported by Sanya Malhotra. The cherry on cake is telling the story of a middle-aged couple who bore a child and sends a strong message on our ingrained prejudices. Definitely, Badhai Ho is counted among the best films of the year and coming of age cinema.
2. Manto & Tumbbad
The latest Nandita Das directed Manta tells the story of Saadat Hassan Manto played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui showing that he is among the finest talent in the country. The film has several poignant moments, recreating partition time on friendship and pain coupled with the climax deeply touching the heart. Of course, the film has some flaws with much emphasizing depicting Manto but the honesty with which Das brings the story alive makes it among the best stories told this year. Rasika Duggal playing Manto’s wife match Siddiqui acting histrionics.
Tumbbad set in the 1920s Maharashtra is a fantasy film about the curse of greed and wealth starring Soham Shah, directed by Rahi Anil Barve and Adesh Prasad. The film is divided into three chapters and edgy scenes coupled with visual imagery takes the breath away. Tumbbad is a rare gem.
Many think that Raazi, a spy thriller and on-screen adaptation of Calling Sehmat novel is considered to be the best work of Meghna Gulzaar. Alia Bhatt as Sehmat simply proves her range as an actor and one of the best talents that we have today, upping her game where is this movie finds a place in her impressive career graph. Raazi showcases the multi-talented Vicky Kaushal holding his own forte in this woman-centric film.
Blockbuster is written all over Simba where Rohit Shetty takes it where he left Singham and what we get is pulsating entertainment fare that has been missing this year. The film has all the box office ingredients with Ranveer Singh in superb form, Sara Ali with less screen time but has, nonetheless a presence, ably supported with terrific actors like Ashutosh Rana, Sonu Sood and Ajay Devgan in a cameo that will delight fans. Rohit Shetty knows by heart what works for the audience and Simmba is pure masala.
A tale where the eerie and spooky meets comedy make Stree as a very refreshing tale regaling the audience with an effortless Rajkumar Rao and Shraddha Kapoor in the leading roles beautifully complemented with foot tapping songs. Funny and scary at the same time, that’s how Amar Kaushik scores and extracting fine performances from its lead cast.
There is no one in the film industry that can make royal grandeur and opulence look charmingly extravagant than Sanjay Leela Bhansali. The movie faced the ire of bigots, stalling the movie forever postponed but at the end of the day, Padmavat is sheer beauty and poetry in motion. Bhansali’s lucky mascots Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone nail their parts, together with Shahid Kapoor and Aditi Rao holding their own in this splendid period film.
R Balki’s Padman with Akshay Kumar, Radhika Apte and Sonam Kapoor in lead roles is an important film tackling the issue of menstruation, ingrained prejudices against women and dogmatic beliefs. The film raised awareness in reminding us that menstruation is an important cycle in a woman’s life. The lead actors from Kumar to Apte and Kapoor lend depth to the story that could have been a game changer, except that at some point, the message got diluted by resorting to cliché in places. As a whole, the movie drives home a very important point and the initiative must be lauded.
8. Sonu ki Titu ki Sweety
Sonu ki Titu ki Sweety is dude film with Kartik Aryan, Nushrut Barucha and Sunny Singh echoing the young generation, love and friendship. Luv Ranjan’s take on love vs friendship is targeted at the youth and changing mores, adding to the foot tapping music making it a breezy fare.
The biopic on Sanjay Dutt belongs entirely to Ranbir Kapoor who is Sanju in every way, mannerism, fantastic dialogue delivery and the life of the rock star who has had a wild past, his encounters with drug, arrest in the 90s Bombay blast and troubled relationship with his father Sunil Dutt. Manisha Koirala as Nargis, Diya Mirza as Manyata, Sonam Kapoor and Vicky Kaushal brings to the fore Dutt’s tumultuous past. Not so much for the biopic factor but performances since it seems to be an attempted washout of Dutt in places. The only brownie is the unfair trial of the media by the makers.
10. Veere di wedding & Karwaan
Veere di Wedding belongs to the gang of girls, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Sonam Kapoor, Swara Bhaskar and newcomer Shikha Talsania about female bonding, relationship screw-ups and yes, patriarchy set against women. One of the most powerful scenes is the masturbation that drew the ire of a section of the media but makes a powerful point on women’ right to have fun or desires for that matter. Thumbs up.
Karwaan is one of the most underrated films made this year with Dulquer Salman, Mithila Palkar and Irrfan Khan on a road trip narrating the story of three distinctly unique individuals coming together. It’s a journey beautifully tapping into emotions, passion and human understanding. A slice of life movie helmed by Akarsh Khurana that touches hearts in the right place and an effortless comedy. The movie showcases Mithila Palkar as an actor and she is set to emerge as one of the biggest stars in the coming years.
The other notable and deserving movies made in 2018 are October, a coming of age and simple story weaved by Shoojit Sircar with fine performances from Varun Dhawan, Banita Sandhu and Gitanjali Rao. The Sircar and Juhi Chaturvedi combo strikes with force and bringing a sensitivity in our understanding of human relations; 102 Not Out marks the successful comeback of 80s superhit Jodi Amitabh Bachchan-Rishi Kapoor in this fun-loving father-son spicy comedy; and Hitchki on the Tourette syndrome marking the return of Rani Mukherjee on screen after a hiatus. One of the remarkable messages in the film is on how empowerment and upliftment can go places to achieve inclusive education, class bias coupled ghettoisation of education. The film could have been treated in a better way, though.
Keep watching movies and applauding meaningful cinema.