This past year was a mixed bag for Bollywood. It started off with a bang, and made us hold out hope that the reign of nonsensical, regressive commercial masala may be coming to a close. That optimism lasted throughout the first half of the year. Then Bollywood reverting to the ’80s and by the end of the year, here we are, struggling to come with a list of worthy names for a top 10 list. Here are the best films of 2014:
10. Sulemani Keeda
The true blue indie of the year, made by a bunch of Versovians, starring a bunch of Versovians, made mostly for Versovians, Amit Masurkar’s Sulemani Keeda was a lovely mishmash of Bollywood satire and a love story.The fact that this film managed to find a wide release is achievement enough. Hopefully, this will pave the way for more such films to be made and released in the country. Because heaven knows we need more of these than we need Singhams.
9. Hasee Toh Phasee
More of a Parineeti Chopra acting showcase than a rom com, Hasee to Phasee was a fairly engaging and surprisingly well directed first film by ad filmmaker Vinil Matthew. Despite having the likes of Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane and Karan Johar in its list of producers, the film didn’t set the cash registers ringing (thanks to the horrid marketing). But if this film is an indication of what happens when these three join hands, then Kashyap, Motwane and Johar ought to collaborate more often.
This was the film that made everyone take Alia Bhatt seriously. It also made us believe director Imtiaz Ali could make something more than schmaltzy, contrived dard-e-dil filmi dramas and rom-coms. Highway brought Stockholm Syndrome to the mainstream audience, had silences and long takes, and was refreshingly different from what one expected it to be. This one didn’t make much money at the box office either, so don’t hold your breath for Ali attempting something different again.
7. Aankhon Dekhi
RajatKapoor’s tiny film had a big heart and terrific turns by Sanjay Mishra as a man trying to understand the fabric of reality, and SeemaPahwa as his long suffering but good-natured wife. Not being a commercial movie and without any star power to help with publicity, AankhonDekhi suffered a bleak fate at the box office. Fortunately, DVDs of the film are already out, so pick up a copy.
6. Dedh Ishqiya
Smarter, funnier, richer, more gorgeous and containing more sardonic dialogue than its predecessor, Dedh Ishqiya delivered by the truckloads. Few filmmakers have the ability to deliver dark and nuanced humour with such confidence, and Abhishek Chaubey brought the house down with his second film. True to pattern, this was yet another film that was good and had a disappointing run at the box office.
Vishal Bharadwaj’s searing and brutal adaption turned Kashmir into Hamlet, India into the mother and Pakistan into the uncle. It was ballsy, and glorious to behold. Shahid Kapoor delivered his career-best performance, and the fact that he didn’t take any fees to make this film is commendable.
A documentary on the power crisis in Kanpur, Deepti Kakkar and Fahad Mustafa’s Katiyabaaz was a comedy, an expose, a satire and a vigilante tale, all rolled into one. It was also more hilarious and enjoyable than most feature films.
After the terrible Girl in Yellow Boots and the good-but-not-great Wasseypur films, director Anurag Kashyap returned to blazing form by returning to his comfort zone – a blood-soaked dark thriller. For the first time since Black Friday, Kashyap delivered a film with a ton of repeat value.
The biggest surprise of the year was VikasBahl’s Queen, which had rare subtlety and quality for a mainstream commercial film. Kangana Ranaut won hearts and also a lot of respect with her incredibly lovable (and honest) performance . Apart from the laughs and the sheer entertainment value, the feminist angle in Queen was an icing on the cake.
1. Miss Lovely
Ashim Ahluwalia’s film was a hilarious look at the world of low budget Hindi horror movies in the 80s, and also a dark rumination on loneliness, alienation, and desperation. It was the only Hindi film of the year that was truly out of the box, and it was impossible to not be mesmerized by its audacity.
Entertainment was the greatest thing created since the Monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey. It was the most innovative idea devised since sliced bread. It was the single most astonishing masterpiece since Apocalypse Now. The duo of Sajid-Farhad deserves a lifetime achievement Oscar for satirizing their own loud, crass, vulgar and regressive work.