All images courtesy of: http://www.glamsham.com
At first, as I began to think about my annual review of Bollywood, I was ready to compose an epic four part extravaganza detailing how the year had unfolded, with four sub-categories: heroines, heroes, songs and films. But then, seeing as the world and its mother have produced end of year reviews aplenty (and annoyingly, made points I wanted to make; how dare they, those were my original thoughts which I hadn’t told anybody!), I decided to scrap my magnum opus and instead, do a short and sweet piece limiting everything to five of the best (because I love writing with a goal in mind).
So, here are, in my opinion (and originally/organically sourced from my observations over the year) are my five favourite films and soundtracks, as well as five actresses and actors who I think had a great 2011.
1. Rockstar – The first trailer annoyed me. What on earth was Ranbir doing? But then the film had me at the opening dialogue and suddenly I went from irritation to infatuation as I fell for Rockstar big time. Awesome lead performance from Ranbir? Check. Soundtrack that will never leave the I-pod? Check. A contestant who didn’t make it to the final 14 on ANTM? Check. This film was made for me.
2. Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara – Speaking of couture film, here is one to file under perfectly timed release. Whether it was the gorgeous locales of Spain, the gorgeous cast or just the film on its own merits, I simply loved ZNMD and even found it inspirational. That Zoya Akhtar was talented we all knew, but to see her get her dues was as satisfying as the film itself.
3. Singham -Do not adjust your screen – you read that correctly. This film simmered with rage and righteousness that I totally bought into. Ajay Devgn gave a powerhouse of a performance but it was Prakash Raj’s villain matching him step for step that really brought the fierce. I saw this again on DVD recently and it was just as much fun and even better than I had remembered. Super-like!
4. Saat Khoon Maaf – The packed screening I saw this at was in a daze at the ending but I was on a high as rarely does a Hindi film raise more questions than it answers (also see Rockstar). From the concept itself to the execution, I went gaga over this film, lamenting how the cinema took it off after one week so I couldn’t go for that all important repeat viewing (of which there will be many – daaarrrrrrrrrling….)
5. Dhobi Ghat – A non Hindi speaking friend in New York drunkenly referred to this film as Baby Goat (don’t ask!) but I’m sure she’ll know what it is called after seeing it. A beautiful piece of cinema that I have seen thrice and still want to see again. Subtle and sophisticated, this will be one of those films I would give as part of an introductory course to Hindi cinema.
1. Rockstar – Surprised? Really? You shouldn’t be. This soundtrack featured my favourite song of the year (Tum Ho) but was also like Eid, Christmas and Diwali all rolled into one. Sadda Haq, Katiya Karun, Fayakun, Haawa Haawa, Jo Bhi Main – ALL on one soundtrack. Simply amazing, a soundtrack not for a season but for life.
2. Mere Brother Ki Dulhan – Pipe down there at back, the film may have been strictly average or below par but the songs rocked. Dhunki had me faux head bashing whilst Choomantar made me smile. Not even Imran Khan’s poor grasp of choreography could destroy the title track whilst Do Dhaari Talwaar and Madhubala were lots of fun. Plus Rahat Fateh Ali Khan never goes wrong (Isq Risk). One soundtrack where fast forward isn’t needed – unlike the film (ouch!)…
3. Delhi Belly – So there is clearly a rock vibe of sorts this year (yes Dhunki counts as faux rock) and Delhi Belly captured that vibe perfectly with Bhaag D.K Bose (which is an excellent treadmill song to work out to). But to counter that was Ja Chudail and Switty Tera Pyar Chaida which were lots of fun. And then how can we forget Aamir’s item number in I Hate You (Like I Love You) – shake that biscuit for me baby!
4. Bodyguard – Again, the gentry will sneer but there were some superb songs to be had here – Teri Meri Prem Kahani was more rinsed than a shirt at the dhobi ghat but was an instant favourite on first hearing. Desi Beat was unadulterated fun whilst Aaya Bodyguard indulged the inner front bencher. But my favourite track was the gorgeous I Love You sung by Ash King which felt out of place with the rest of the soundtrack – like a diamond in the rough, which only added to its appeal.
5. Mausam – If films are sold on the basis of their songs, then it is little wonder Mausam received so much hype and attention. The film missed the mark but the music was stunning – Rabba was full of innocence whilst Sajh Dhaj Ke is on a fast track to becoming a ladies’ sangeet/wedding song classic. Then there was the beautiful Ik Tu Hi by Hans Raj Hans which encapsulated the pain of separation perfectly.
1. Vidya Balan – Time for me to big myself up as last year, I said Vidya would be the one to watch and this year proved it – No One Killed Jessica began the year with a bang, with a solid acclaimed performance from Vidya and box office success to match. Then to close the year was The Dirty Picture which Vidya carried on her shoulders all the way to a super hit status. From here on, Vidya can and will rewrite the rules – and I look forward to seeing how she will do that.
2. Kareena Kapoor – On paper, Bebo smashed it this year. Bodyguard and Ra.1 were two more additions to the 100 crore club taking her total films that earned over 100 crore up to 4, all her forthcoming projects are red hot propositions at the box office and all she had to do was turn up. Is she on the verge of an aresiteia? I think so. One small quibble – it’s been a while since Bebo has given us a Dev/Omkara/Jab We Met level of performance – here’s hoping Talaash, Heroine and Agent Vinod change that in 2012.
3. Katrina Kaif – Anything Kareena can do, Katrina can do it seems. This year welcomed Katrina the actress, who from nowhere, has started to act – and about time too. ZNMD saw a career best performance in a short role whilst she saved Mere Brother Ki Dulhan by giving it some welly. Next year sees films with Aamir, Salman and SRK in Yashraj Films produced projects, plus the SRK project is to be directed by Yash Chopra. Enough to make even Heroine No 1 mighty jealous – the one to watch next year.
4. Anushka Sharma – Band Baaja Baaraat signalled that Anushka had well and truly arrived, proving a welcome surprise to the box office and critics alike. So 2011 didn’t quite pan out as it could have – Patiala House wasted Anushka whilst Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl left us wanting far more than we were given. But what shone through is Anushka’s star quality – the roles may not have given much scope but Anushka still dazzled and made her presence felt. Next year sees her in Yash Chopra’s next as well as Vishal Bhardwaj’s forthcoming offering. Making steady progress, Anushka is playing the game with stealth – and winning.
5. Priyanka Chopra – Multiple roles are her forte as What’s Your Rashee proved but Saat Khoon Maaf took things to the next level as PC jumped head first into a meaty role and emerged triumphant. It may not have gotten the box office success it deserved but 7KM was a career best for Priyanka. Don 2 balanced things out and showed she has range which always helps. Next year sees an impressive line up with Agneepath, Barfee, Kunal Kohli’s next as well as the Krrishh sequel. So PC continues to power forward steadily in a parallel stream with her contemporaries, keeping pace, ready to take over at a moment’s notice…
1. Salman Khan – Could Salman do anything wrong this year? It seemed not – with two mega hits back to back , 2011 was the year of the 100 crore Salman. Though he phoned it in for Ready, Salman gave a better account of himself in Bodyguard with the author backed role and actually proving he has more to offer than his haters would care to acknowledge. Next year sees more of the same – Ek Tha Tiger has already got people excited. Like Kareena, it would be nice to see Salman play a role that takes him out of his comfort zone but for now, it ain’t broke, so no fixing needed.
2. Shah Rukh Khan – When’s the last time we saw SRK? Oh yes, here there and everywhere as the PR juggernaught for Ra.1 ensured even other life forms were aware of the film releasing. Sadly, the big PR push overshadowed the film’s success and the laudable effort was overlooked. Still, Don 2 gave the people what they wanted, sans the incessant promotion and like PC, gave SRK a bit of variety in 2011. Next year sees him reunited with Yash Chopra and Anushka Sharma as well as being paired with Katrina Kaif for the first time. Can’t deny that’s a casting coup right there…
3. Aamir Khan – Dhobi Ghat was not a typical Aamir Khan film, whatever a typical Aamir Khan film may be. It was certainly an absolute delight and showed us AK can drop the F-bomb with class . DG was yet another milestone as Aamir continues forging his own path and changing things up as he goes along. Not that we are complaining. Next up sees Talaash which is eagerly anticipated as is Dhoom 3 for 2013 but no doubt we’ll hear lots about it in 2012.
4. Ranbir Kapoor – Last year saw mixed fortunes with the fantastic Rajneeti and the bloated Anjaana Anjaani. But then came Rockstar and Ranbir arrived. Graduating from a promising set of introductory films (with the false step of Saawariya – and even then he was the best thing about it), Rockstar saw an acclaimed performance matched with a respectable box office haul. More importantly though, I couldn’t see any of his contemporaries playing Janardan/Jordan or anyone else for that matter. Next up for Ranbir is Barfee which carries a great deal of promise and sounds like the perfect next step in what is looking like a very interesting career in the making.
5. Ajay Devgn – I always feel Ajay is overlooked (even I’ve listed him fifth – oops) because unlike most heroes, Ajay is busy saving all the histronics for the big screen. And what histronics they are – last year saw five releases that had varying degrees of success but all had Ajay’s stellar performance in common. This year, Singham roared at the box office, becoming Ajay’s second entry into the 100 crore club. We’ll ignore Rascals which didn’t perform as it should have because life is unfair like that. Next year sees Tezz, yet another Golmaal film (seriously Ajay, I think you rock but must you do another Golmaal – have you not had enough?) and Bol Bachchan which makes for a potent combination of films to guarantee 2012 as another great year for the speaks-volumes -through-his work actor.
And that’s it! This is what comes to mind when thinking about 2011. With lots of films doing well at the box office this year, there are interesting times ahead as we see which films rise, fall and the most exciting, the ones that take us by surprise. In the meantime, do you agree or disagree with my thoughts? Add your comments below!