Bollywood Countdowns 2016: The Hits & Pits of 2016
Oh no! Not another end of year countdown I hear you shriek! Are you inundated with lists of the 'filmi' happenings of 2016? So much na? Too much yaar. Either way, whether it's on screen antics of our divas and studs or their off screen shenanigans, we can all agree 2016 has been a pretty dramatic year.
We use cinema as escapism. A fairytale 'duniya' where your woes can be forgotten, you leave the world behind and wallow, but politics even seeped into the film fraternity. As such, we won't dwell too deeply on the Pakistani actors ban. Stupidly, naively, I thought art and politics like oil and water were to be kept separate but that bubble burst when even Karan Johar became turncoat and snipped Fawad Khan's part in his coveted Ae Dil Hai Mushkil to a barely there blink-and-you'll-miss him glorified extra.
Anyway, enough of the drama. Let's focus on the let-downs, the barrel scrapers, the were-you-asleep-whilst-you-made-this travesties – the film that in my eyes promised a whole deal, but ultimately amounted to nothing. This is a purely personal prerogative, mind, and completely independent of how much moolah they ultimately made at the BO. (And for the naysayers it was written before that gem Dangal hit our screens!)
Ae Dil Hai Mushkil
Mate. Karan! What were you thinking?! Not since My Name Is Khan have I been so underwhelmed by a Dharma production – as it promised so much, but delivered next to nothing. Everything and the kitchen sink was thrown at this production. Luxurious locations, a stellar cast and gorgeous styling befitting KJo aesthetics.
All hollow though, without a heart. No tugging at the 'dil' you see. I couldn't care less for the leads and the plot itself was vacuous. So insipid. Spoilt brat falls in love and throws a tantrum when it isn't reciprocated. Big deal. Grow up. Life isn't fair and you don't always get what you want. The clichés! Entitled beyond the realms of possibility, privileged enough to ride PJs, do rich people really talk like that?
By far the highlight in this underwhelming fanfare was Lisa Haydon and her air-headed glamazon. That girl has comic timing... and how!
The piece de resistance though was the tragedy in the penultimate reels. As if multiple heartbreak wasn't enough of a provocation for the tears to flow (they didn't), poor little rich girl Alizeh was granted terminal illness. Even that wasn't enough to melt my stone cold heart. Meh. Next!
Baar Baar Dekho
The tile for this debacle was perhaps a mantra, wishful thinking perhaps on the producers' part. The premise on paper looked like it should, would and could work. A Groundhog Day/Back To The Future type scenario – a time travel tale about a young couple and their journey through time. The execution (which may as well have been a murder) however, left a lot to be desired. Featuring an unsurprisingly wooden Katrina Kaif and Sidharth Malhotra, the film's PR team went into overdrive about their chemistry, the sizzle, how amazing this fresh pairing was. We should have smelled a rat then. Pity we only watched this dud for the stomper of a track - 'Kala Chashma' - which was conveniently plonked right at the very end. By which point we'd literally lost the will to live.
'Uday Dil Befikre'. The heart flies carefree. Or is that carelessly? Whatever – proof that you can throw Ranveer Singh and the City of Love together and still end up with a pile of poo.
'Bechari' Vaani. 'Bechara' Ranveer. No amount of leaping around and doing junkets could save this kiss-and-sell diatribe. Perhaps we've been spoilt seeing Ranveer's larger than life persona held in check by better co-stars, better storylines – we know he's capable of excellence – Bajirao Mastani and Dil Dhadakne Do, diametrically opposed, but he owned both roles masterfully. The one saving grace of this dud – the music. Catchy, poppy, funky, a danceable soundtrack which encapsulates the ethos of flying high, carefree. But that's about it really. Aditya Chopra let us down. Spectacularly.
Oh Hrithik! What's happened to you? Post Kangana-Gate (yes let's just add a gate for effect), this feeble attempt at recreating the magic of Jodha Akbar fell. Flat. On Its. Face. Plain awful, chronologically incorrect and what was that voice all about? Greek God credentials aren't eternal, and the last time a crocodile was this ineffectual was in Khoon Bhari Maang. A Rakesh Roshan starrer incidentally. Perhaps the Roshans thought it would be a lucky charm. FYI – it wasn't.
It wasn't all bad news. Amongst the truly disastrous there were nuggets of excellence. They were few and far between though.
If Shah Rukh Khan destroyed my hopes in 2015 with that disaster Dilwale, then he fully redeemed himself this year, when he became both poacher and gamekeeper in Fan. Prosthetics, wigs and make up altered his face so much that he was but not quite superstar Aryan Khanna. It was like seeing SRK through goggles, distorted, a caricature. This harks back to the beginning of his career when SRK relished being the anti-hero, the loser, before he discovered the Swiss Alps and chiffon saris. In our age of connectivity we learn that sometimes old fashioned mystique is something to be treasured and that living your life online can lead to life threatening situations. And more importantly. That you ignore your fans at your peril.
Not in anyway remotely connected to the original Kahaani, but no less thrilling nevertheless. Set near Kolkata, with a very dark subject matter at its core, we are brought into contact with Vidya Balan's character – a single mother to a wheelchair bound teenage daughter, we witness the terror when her daughter is kidnapped and the protagonist is left for dead post a fatal car crash. Things get darker still as her tale is told in flashback with a very creepy Jugal Hansraj at the centre. But who is Durga Rani Singh and where does Arjun Rampal's newly transferred police officer fit into the jigsaw? Like a game of snakes and ladders this film twists and turns until the very end. Miss it at your peril.
Kapoor & Sons
What a delight. On the face of it, a normal middle class family, two sons, a mom, dad and grandpa. Up pops Alia Bhatt, cute as a button as per. Then everything unravels. As much as we see social progress through a Western lens, it's telling that Fawad Khan's sexuality although intimated, was never out and out (no pun intended) announced.
This was family drama 2.1. Such finesse from each character, the maternal manipulation was painful to endure. The story was tightly woven, each relationship knitted seamlessly together. As bystanders our loyalties were divided until everyone hand a slice of sympathy. More of this please Dharma and less drivel like Baar Baar Dekho.
This was my 2016 in a nutshell. Truly a year of The Good, The bad and the downright fugly!
This is Zee signing off. Until the next time. xoxo