It’s that time of the year again when all the blotted out memories of shoddy cinematic experiences resurface to write about Hindi movies that tortured, tired and disgruntled the cinephile soul.
2017 was worryingly wholehearted in this effort and fired every possible variety of tripe.
My pick of this year’s 10 most unpleasant is a mix of ghastly gone gaga, bilge that makes one reconsider their profession and faith-shattering misfires from the masters.
I didn’t have to wait for the year to end to know that Bhoomi would occupy the top spot of the dirt pile.
In Omung Kumar’s revolting rape and revenge story, an oft-repeated trope this year, it’s not just the problematic extolment of reckless behaviour but also a disturbing adherence to crude aggression debunking Bhoomi‘s so-called feminism and vindication goals for what it really is.
My Review: Blatantly exploitative and excessive, Bhoomi treats rape as less of a trauma and more of a tool to create a nauseous atmosphere of torture and stigma.
2. Begum Jaan
In this loud and languorous Partition-time tale about a brothel single-handedly taking on the governments of either sides of the border, perverse imagery, chest thumping show of feminism and shrill performances masquerade as artistry.
What’s worse it doesn’t come with a pair of cotton plugs and sleep mask.
My Review: There’s something exploitative and insincere about its brashness, designed to grab attention or congratulate itself over its widespread audacity for featuring nudity, homosexuality and strong language.
3. Haseena ParkarEver seen a mattress with a mouth?
Or a person change colours faster than a chameleon?
Or heard a snail talk?
Shraddha Kapoor’s benumbing avatar in this sketchy biopic of the Gangster of Nagpada is so embarrassing I’d be worried if I were Saina Nehwal.
4. Half Girlfriend
One could write an entire thesis on all that’s idiotic about Mohit Suri’s adaptation of the Chetan Bhagat novel except that one shot of Bill Gates photoshopped on the screen already conveys it and so much more in a jiffy.
My Review: The sole purpose of this stuffy confection, which feels twice its 135 minutes length, is to prolong the union of its two protagonists as long as possible by throwing in one lame twist after another.
Kabir Khan knows his craft but even the best of filmmakers falter when trying to emulate their own formula.
In an attempt to feed off the triumphs of Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Tubelight ends up looking like an ode to synthetic candour and cloying sweetness.
There’s nothing genuine about Tubelight, its phony idealism and Salman Khan as the naïve nitwit at the centre of it all.
My Review: It takes a good deal of suspension of disbelief to accept middle-aged men as naujawans. Salman and brother Sohail Khan, playing siblings on screen too, in all their beefy-bodied, puffy-faced, vest and khaki shorts-clad enthusiasm don’t look the part.
Where do I even begin?
Let’s see, there’s a comet called Love Joy, Rajkummar Rao looking like Voldemort after an acid attack, Sushant Singh Rajput channelling his inner Prem Chopra and Ranjeet, an ancient tribe called Muraki that seems to retail in kajal and Kriti Sanon as a chocolatier in Budapest dealing with two boyfriends from her previous birth.
My Review: Dinesh Vijan’s unintended allegory on ‘the grass is always greener on the other side’ syndrome, flitting between rom-com and rebirth, could not be more bizarre.
Slick action dramas used to be a Milan Luthria speciality.
Baadshaho makes you rethink.
Weaving an exhausting web of lie-for-a-lie against its cosmetic Emergency-era setting, the Ajay Devgn-led baloney is devoid of common sense and cunning.
What it packs in abundance are birdbrained plot twists played out by jaded heroes and dummy heroines.
My Review: Things get truly down and dirty towards the end. Which is to say the concluding 20 minutes of Baadshaho are so hazy and dusty, I found myself mentally vacuum cleaning the screen. I wish to do the same to the memory of this movie.
8. Tiger Zinda HaiGod bless all those faithful fans for turning Tiger Zinda Hai into a super success.
Although as someone who enjoyed Ek Tha Tiger‘s worthwhile exertion of Salman’s sweeping charisma, watching it regress to blindly accommodate the sequel’s lazy vision, laughable political worldview and facetious ideas of aman ki asha just won’t do.
My Review: Directed by Ali Abbas Zafar, the follow-up is a work of staggering stupidity jostling its thoughts on humanism and harmony through sanctimonious speeches about insaniyat and images of Ganpati and crucifix lodged side by side.
Its sloppily written script — fitted into a worn-out Hollywood action template — Tiger Zinda Hai preens at its rickety reporting of Middle East terror and comical understanding of the business of war for what seems like a lifetime.
9. Jab Harry Met SejalI liked Shah Rukh Khan in Jab Harry Met Sejal. I could relate to that pained expression he wore through most of Imtiaz Ali’s confused, contrived rom-com about a garrulous woman with some serious personality disorder looking for her lost engagement ring and a desolate tourist guide coming to her aid.
Jab Harry Met Sejal is too gutless to be complex, too posturing to reveal nuance, too blah to be spared.
My Review: Jab Harry Met Sejal has the stars, the songs, the scenery and all the trimmings for a riveting romance.
Alas, the writing is staggeringly sloppy, unoriginal and deviates from its premise involving a starry-eyed nitwit and skirt-chasing cynic to entangle itself in superficial complexities that made me judge instead of root for its oddball protagonists.
It’s never a good thing when you are looking at Saif Ali Khan in a Vishal Bhardwaj movie and thinking of Saif Ali Khan in a Sanjay Gupta movie.
Hamesha climax deja vu, anyone?
Vishal Bhardwaj is usually better than this inexcusable hack job. Rangoon‘s affected, indulgent, patchy, muddled take on love in the time of war left me heartbroken.
My Review: In Rangoon, Bhardwaj abandons his hallmark whimsicality and relevant effrontery for big scale chaos and bloated showmanship. His romanticised if meticulous take on history of the country and its cinema would feel a lot less inadequate if it could actually decide what it has on its mind.