This is technically a 2010 movie for me since that's when I saw it, so I debated whether to include it or not, but heck, it's always a good idea to give it another shout-out. It didn't do too well at the box office, and there are a couple of things that upon rewatch bothered me about it (the main one being Monica Dogra's acting skills or lack thereof), but I still consider Dhobi Ghat one of the most touching Indian films I've ever seen (yes, emotion works best for me when it's subtle and tender). Maybe because I was following it so closely pre-release, or maybe because I saw Kiran Rao on stage at TIFF talking about it, but this is one of those rare films where I can feel the love of the director for everything to do with filmmaking in every frame. It's a movie I would not hesitate to recommend to anyone who wants to give Bollywood a shot, because yes, I do consider it Bollywood (the new Bollywood that I am loving more and more) even if right now it seems like it's ahead of its time.
7 Khoon Maaf
Vishal Bhardwaj's sometimes humorous, sometimes unbearably dark drama about a woman and her 7 husbands who all end up dead. Another movie that didn't do very well with the audiences, and in a way it's easy to see why. Not only does it have a woman as the central character, but it's a very complex, wicked and confounding woman who makes it very hard to read her fragile heart through the layers of the film. Give it to Bhardwaj to attempt something as bold as this film and to almost get away with it. Priyanka Chopra's performance was the highlight of the year for me and that alone makes the movie worth while. But when we add to that the fabulous soundtrack, the Vishal trademarked camera-work and the story itself with its million interpretations, it's more than enough to shoot a movie to the very top of my favourites. Frankly I did not think another one would surpass it this year. And only one did, but more on that later since this list is in chronological order.
Shor in the City
This was one of the surprises of the year for me because while I was expecting it to be fun (based on how much I loved "99" from the same director duo), I didn't expect it to be so good. It's sometimes tongue-in-cheek and other times dead serious (emphasis on dead), and sometimes you're not even sure which one it is, but it's a damn good watch, that's for certain. Setting up a business in Mumbai, working the traffic lights and a peek into the lives of small time crooks, innocence lost and found again, all these themes get explored through the 3 story-lines of the movie and most come to a very satisfying end, even if not all believable. This is a movie I can't recommend enough.
Saheb Biwi aur Gangster and Delhi Belly
I cannot for the life of me decide between these two. I went to see Delhi Belly in the theatres 3 times and laughed my head off every single tine, while I only watched SBAG once but that was enough to know I was in love with it. What makes it even harder to choose is that SBAG is not a comedy by any stretch of the imagination, while Delhi Belly will only work if you find it funny, otherwise it will bomb. Delhi Belly is not very heavy on story-line, and yet somehow it kept me engaged every time. SBAG on the other hand has quite the plot and quite the surprising finale, so if story is what you're after, this is definitely the one to see. Delhi Belly then wins on the soundtrack side while SBAG wins on the visuals side.
|Tell me this image alone doesn't steal your heart!|
I'm sure by now everyone knows this was THE movie of the year for me, so I'll keep it nice and short. Not many movies (and only a handful of Bollywood ones) grab me emotionally. I care for the characters, sure, sometimes they piss me off, sometimes I feel bad for them, but I'm never living every second of the film with them. So when a movie manages to remove me from reality and soak me into the story to the point where I forget myself completely, it's shocking. And wonderful at the same time. Rockstar did exactly that to me. Not once, not twice, but all three times when I watched it in the theatres. There is something so powerful about Imtiaz Ali's storytelling mixed with AR Rahman's music, that I simply lose myself in it every time.
I loved this movie so much that every person who did not feel the way I did about it made me sad. Not for the movie (which did well enough) but sad for them, because I felt like they were missing out on something powerful, magical and out-of-this-world special. But... then again, maybe other movies give them the same feeling, maybe movies that will never even gain my benevolence let alone my love, so I can't weep for them for too long.
Now let me tell you this was not an easy list to make. I left out the gorgeous Zindagi Na Milego Dobara, the hilarious Bbudda Hoga Tera Baap, the tragic Bol (this one would have been in my top 5 but it's not technically Bollywood, so it got disqualified), the adorable FALTU, and the quirky Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji, all movies that I really enjoyed this year. And I also left out the two glittery fluff-balls of the year, but that's because they're coming in a separate post.
So all in all... damn, it's been a great year for the Bollywood lover!