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Best of Bollywood 2015 (10+1list)

Best of Bollywood 2015.

written by Souranath Banerjee

Bollywood cinema essentially means films made in Hindi language, generally produced and distributed in and around the Bombay Film Industry.

Last year 2015, according to me, was a good year for Bollywood.

Films, some of them of finest quality have been made or released, which successfully maintained the thin line between aesthetics and entertainment, and kept both the critics and the audience content.

And so, here is the list of Best of Bollywood 2015. Hope you agree with me on this. (If not, then let’s at least disagree on it)

10. Drishyam

Film Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AuuX2j14NBg

Drishyam-posterA thrilling tale of a common man who by his intellect and imagination tricked everyone in order to save his family.

Directed by Nishikant Kamat, a south remake starring Ajay DevgnShriya Saran and Tabu.

A thriller that keeps you on the edges of your seat and doesn’t reveal the suspense till the very last shot of the film.

9. Bajrangi Bhaijaan

Film Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyX4toD395U

Bajrangi-Bhaijaan-posterA Salman Khan film, that has a realistic story line, enough scope for acting and most importantly high on emotions and less on dramabazi!

Directed by Kabir Khan, this one is about a big hearted man who went all the way to Pakistan to unite a cute little girl (who is also mute) with her parents.   

A perfect family entertainment clubbed with fun-filled sentiments.

8. Tanu Weds Manu Returns

Film Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGGmyaurjAI

tanu-weds-manu-returns-poster1With a double role (playing the sexy Tanu and the tomboyish Datto) Kangana Ranaut yet again shows that she is currently THE best actress in Bollywood.

(Click for the review)

Directed by Aanand Rai and written by Himanshu Sharma Tanu Weds Manu Returns guarantees a smile on the audiences face as they leave the theaters. And believe me that’s a huge achievement. 

7. Nh10

Film Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9icNqWlylw

nh10-poster1A perfect romantic trip turns into a nightmare.

(Click for the review)

Directed by Navdeep Singh, this is one hard hitting thriller where a urban woman experiences the brutal face of rural India, as she unintentionally becomes involved in a case of honor killing.

Raw, edgy, gritty and very much realistic, and undoubtedly Anushka Sharma‘s best performance till date.

6. Bajirao Mastani

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHOc-4D7MjY

Bajirao-Mastani-poster2A take on the life of Baji Rao Ballal Balaji Bhat, a Maratha general of the early 1700!

(Click for the review)

Directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, there are rarely any Bollywood films (if any) that are so pleasing to your eyes that the story, content and characters almost get sidetracked by the sheer beauty of each and every frame.

5. Margarita, with a Straw

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YORjJiWBxAg

Margarita-with-a-Straw-posterDirected by Shonali Bose and Nilesh Maniyar this is an exceptional film about a young girl with cerebral palsy who is not afraid to fall in love!

(Click for the review)

Kalki Koechlin – her innocence, her vulnerability, her dialogue delivery, her body language, expressions, her smile – she is the reason to watch this film.

4. Talvar

Film Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQNMsw8Ljjc

Talvar-Poster2Directed by Meghna Gulzar, this one is a well researched version of the Noida Double Murder Case of 2008, also known as the Aarushi-Hemraj murder case.

(Click for the review)

A gripping tale that often makes it difficult for the audience to remember that after all, it’s a fictional representation of the dismal crime and its aftermath.

3. Piku

Film Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oeiKUlUUNQ8

piku-poster1Directed by Shoojit Sircar, one of the best entertaining films of the year, emotional, real and so much fun.

(Click for the review)

Amitabh Bachchan as the selfish constipated dad,  Deepika Padukone as the devotedly caring yet tired of taking-care-of daughter and Irrfan Khan as the suitable suitor (perhaps).

2. Titli

Film Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOqiQiMkXDA

titliA family whose family-business is car-jacking, often violently abusing the passengers and looting their valuables. The youngest member of this family is named Titli, and this is his story of freedom.

(Click for the review)

Superbly directed by Kanu Behl, the film even got a nomination at the Cannes Film Festival!

  1. Masaan

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVZzYa0MxM8

masaan-posterBrilliantly directed by Neeraj Ghaywan, there is a certain honesty about Masaan that eventually grows on you and within it’s 100 min screen time, the film compels you to relate to it’s characters.

(Click for the review)

Shot in Varanasi, stories and incidents are threaded together like precious little pearls and the thread being the holy Ganges!

and (The ‘+1′ film is not necessarily the best but certainly the most crazy one. A must watch).

+1. Manjhi: The Mountain Man

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9KAoTQlEWs

mountain-man-poster-1Directed by Ketan Mehta,  a brilliant biopic of Dashrath Manjhi, a man who single-handedly (with only a hammer and a chisel) sliced open the mountain to make a passage through it, reducing the distance from his village to the nearest hospital to minimal.

(Click for the review)

It took him 22 years but he made the impossible possible.

Poster courtesy:  www.bollywoodmdb.com

Bajirao Mastani (2015)

Bajirao Mastani review.

written by Souranath Banerjee

‘Cheeteh ki chaal, Baaz ki naazar aur Baji Rao ki talvar par sandeh nahi karte, kabhi bhi maat de sakti hai.’

My Ratings: 4/5.

Almost twelve years back in 2003, director Sanjay Leela Bhansali wanted to make a film Bajirao Mastani with Salman Khan and Bajirao-Mastani-poster2Aishwarya Rai in the lead roles. But fate had some other plans. 

Finally in 2015, the film was made, i may add very beautifully made, with a fresh cast, Ranveer SinghDeepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra.

Now, there are rarely any Bollywood films (if any) that are so pleasing to your eyes that the story, content and characters almost get sidetracked by the sheer beauty of each and every frame.

Bajirao Mastani is one such example of cinema.

Mr.Bhansali along with his cinematographer Sudeep Chatterjee and production designers Saloni DhatrakSriram Iyengar and Sujeet Sawant have managed to create stunning painting-like-shots (many Bajirao-Mastani-poster3of the frames in the film actually resembles classic paintings of famous Marathi painters) and have enthralled us with these great visuals through out the film.

And talking about the story of the film, (without going into the debate of how much historical authenticity it has), I would say it comes under the classic ‘doomed love story’ category, where love wins only through destruction of them who are in love!

Baji Rao Ballal Balaji Bhat, a great Maratha general of the early 1700, who though happily married and Hindu, falls in love with a charming half-muslim princess Mastani and eventually makes her his (second) wife.

But Baji Rao’s family (especially his mother and brother) are not too happy about this second marriage. So correspondingly, they humiliate Mastani and try to kill her a couple of times.

Bajirao-Mastani-poster7At the end, they do understand that ‘Baajirao Ne Mastani Se Mohabbat Ki Hai, Aiyashi Nahi’, but by that time it was too late!

Acting wise. superb performance by Ranveer Singh; his way of speaking Marathi, his body language as a warrior, his confident dialogue deliveries – basically he did look the part.

Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra also did great job, and played out the perfect love triangle scenario.

Even the secondary characters Tanvi Azmi (as mother), Milind Soman (as minister), Aditya Pancholi (as the rival), Vaibbhav Tatwawdi (as brother) and Mahesh Manjrekar (as Maratha King) – all were at their best.

The content is relatively simple but the presentation is creditable, a Bajirao-Mastani-poster4bit too loud often (specially the dialogues) but again, that’s the part of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s filmmaking style I guess.

A clever move to put a disclaimer in the very beginning of the film which basically said that the film doesn’t claim to be faithful to any historical facts; and then only did all the fuming historians calm down and concentrate on their popcorn tub.

Don’t forget the numerous elaborately choreographed dance sequences; decent musical score by Sanchit Balhara and Sanjay Leela Bhansali himself.

Do watch it in big screen to absorb the opulence and grandeur of this film.

P.S – Bajirao Mastani is banned in Pakistan since it is regarded as ‘a historical drama that is indirectly against Islam and Muslims.’ (No idea why or what that means).

Poster courtesy: www.muchask.netdailyroabox.comwww.bollywoodmdb.com

Haider (2014)

My Ratings: 3.6/5

If Macbeth is Maqbool, Othello is Omkara then what does Hamlet stands for in Bollywood-adaptation language?

Hint1: The film is released on 2nd Oct but it’s full of violence!

Hint2: A gun is kept hidden inside the toilet to be used later but the film is not related to Coppola’s The Godfather by any chance.

Hint3: The film in a very sarcastic way pelts stones at Salman Khan flicks but luckily enough most of the Salman-fans are not accustomed to such clever sarcasm.

Ok on a serious note – Is Haider really THE film of this year? Vishal Bhardwaj’s best film till date? Or is it simply a ‘chutzpah’ – nothing more than a well-shot lineup of a popular Shakespearean tale haphazardly told using Kashmir as the backdrop?

Such conflicting film-reviews always make me feel like a monk who must set out on a journey alone in the search of the truth.

And yes, after watching Haider I must say it is one of the most cinematic films made in Bollywood. Applause for the cinematographer Pankaj Kumar.

The delicate emotions shot through the white translucent drapes, the colorfully lit wooden houses in the verge of destruction, a blood red woolen scarf on the white snow, the golden hued flames from the fireplace gently reflected on Ophelia’s hair … and many more of such beautiful images that promises to linger around in your memory for a long time.

Wait, did I say Ophelia?

I must have meant Arshia (Shraddha Kapoor), the second love of Haider’s life.

The first one of course being his own mother Ghazala (Tabu). Fortunately the role of the invisible King Oedipus is handled in a very subtle and matured way.

Again Haider is a film that doesn’t shy off from it’s attempt to show the real Kashmir (set around 1995), the agony of the locales in their daily life and their struggle to survive the police, the military and the numerous violent groups inflicting terror.

Since it’s an official adaptation the story is predictable but Vishal Bhardwaj as always has utilized his cast in a brilliant way to tell his own desi-version of Hamlet.

The script does seem a bit abrupt at times especially to include the unnecessary songs in the film.

For example the sudden romantic song sequence right after the tragic news of Haider’s father’s death, then the gravediggers keep singing while digging graves and while shooting people as well; and the never ending dance performance of Shahid Kapoor to convey a not so subtle message to his evil uncle Kay Kay Menon.

I really think Vishal Bhardwaj creates good music but that’s not an excuse to put unnecessary songs in regular intervals.

But these issues are shrouded by the brilliant acting performances by each and every actor in the film.

Shahid Kapoor did try his best to be the loony, melancholic Hamlet who talks to the skeleton head and plots his revenge. Shraddha Kapoor does her bit efficiently.

Kay Kay Menon and Irrfan Khan are both outstanding as usual, so natural and dynamic, though unfortunately they don’t share the screen space together in this film.

And of course Tabu is at her best, such a powerful actor who proves herself time and again. Her character is probably the toughest to play since it has many facets and conflicting desires. And what a splendid job she has done!

Overall a good film which could have been a great film. Honestly for me Omkara and Maqbool were more layered and well scripted than this one.

But never the less this disturbing combination of Hamlet and Kashmir is definitely worth a watch.

Kick (2014)

Written by Abhikendu Deb Roy

Ratings: 3.7/5

There are actors. There are stars. There are superstars. And then there is Salman Khan.

Every Salman Khan movie sells by the brand power of the superstar himself and Kick is no exception. However this time the film is actually based on a story and a bit of the script does strike a chord with the viewers – for a change.

Sitting in a single screen theatre with a crowd of Salman-worshippers on a Saturday morning show, you get to experience the sheer star power that drives such films like Kick. Salman Khan – his usual enigmatic screen presence, the chiseled body, pumped up muscles, some ceeti-taali dialogues and a whole lot of action. Kick is synonymous with Salman.

Produced by Sajid Nadiadwala, Kick is also a remake of a Tamil film of the same name like most of the recent films of Salman Khan.

Like every other Khan movie’s heroine, Jacqueline Fernandez has to look beautiful and she does look exquisite. However, she adds nothing to the act.

Randeep Hooda does justice to his role of a police officer with scope of improvement in some scenes. To share screen space with Salman Khan and to grab our attention away from the superstar is almost next to impossible. Now that has been successfully executed by Nawaazuddin Siddiqui. His villainous eyes, his strikingly haunting laughter and his dialogue delivery leave us in awe.

Our very own Mithun Chakraborty is still so young at heart and enthusiastic that you want more of him.

One must never forget an item number in a hardcore commercial film like Kick. Nargis Fakhri appears in one such item song and serves the desired purpose.

Commercial masala films run mainly on the star power. But to have a consistent run at the box office, you need hi-tech action sequences and visual effects. Prime Focus Pvt. Ltd does the job efficiently. Over-the-top, not-so-believable action scenes shot in Poland and Delhi; cinematographer Ayananka Bose must be plauded for capturing some beautiful frames of these two cities.

Surprisingly Kick does have minute traces of, what we call, a story. Additional screenplay has been worked upon by Chetan Bhagat; his second collaboration with Salman Khan after ‘Hello’. Chetan is slowly understanding the pulse of the mass of India for sure.

All the elements of an action drama are present throughout with several usage of Salman’s brand power every now and then. References to “Being Human” and “Pandeyji” (Dabangg déjà-vu, anyone?) are also there which receive the maximum number of hoots.

Several questions on the present day society have evolved from the plot as well. However, one thing that still remains unanswered and pretty much haunts me is that, in a film worth 125 crore rupees, why couldn’t they spend a few more bucks to show blood stains after several glass-window breakage and car accidents?

A conglomeration of music composers – Himesh Reshammiya, Yo Yo Honey Singh and Meet Bros. Anjan do well with their original compositions for a masala movie. Jumme Ki Raat and Yaar Na Mile find a place in our hearts for the beats. Salman has attempted to sing for the first time with “Hangover” and can be given a thumbs-up for that.

Rameshwar S. Bhagat, the editor, could have done away with some sequences and made this 146 minutes long commercial flick more compact. The climax does touch your heart and also reminds you of the real life “Human Being” Salman Khan actually is.

For those who expect a meaningful cinema with Salman’s presence shoudn’t take the risk of watching Kick. For the rest who have faith in Salman and want sheer two and a half hours of hardcore action, comedy, drama, and above all, entertainment can give it a try. You will not be disappointed.

“Knock knock, 300 crores here.”

Film trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-j1nx_HY5o