2011 in Indian Cinema

Here’s the full list of releases this year (in order of release). The few that I have bolded are the ones I managed to catch, from this I will put together a bunch of toppers below. So that you see the list as my recommendations rather than a countdown, I’ll keep the order of them consistent with release date.

January
Impatient Vivek
No One Killed Jessica
Vikalp
Mumbai Mast Kallander
Turning 30!!!
Yamla Pagla Deewana
Dhobi Ghat
Hostel
Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji

February
Hum Dono Rangeen
United Six
Utt Pataang
Yeh Saali Zindagi
Aashiqui in
Angel
Patiala House
7 Khoon Maaf
Kachha Limboo
Masti Express
Satrangee Parachute
Tanu Weds Manu

March
Yeh Faaslye
Christian Brothers

April
F.A.L.T.U
Game
Thank You
Teen Thay Bhai
Dum Maaro Dum
Zokkomon
Chalo Dilli
I Am
Men Will Be Men
Shor In The City

May
Haunted 3D
Luv Ka The End
Shivam
Love U Mr.Kalakaar!
Ragini MMS
Shagird
Stanley Ka Dabba
404 Error Not Found
Kashmakash
Pyaar Ka Punchnama
College Campus
Kucch Luv Jaisaa
Me Mamu & 7

June
A Strange Love Story
Ready
Love Express
Shaitan
West Is West
Always Kabhi Kabhi
Bheja Fry 2
Bhindi Baazaar Inc
Bin Bulaye Baraati
Cycle Kick
Double Dhamaal

July
Bbuddah Hoga Terra Baap
Delhi Belly
Chillar Party
Murder 2
Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara
Singham
Bubblegum
Gandhi To Hitler
Khap

August
Chala Mussaddi Office Office
I Am Kalam
Milta Hai Chance Pe Chance
Warning
Aarakshan
Phhir
Chatur Singh: Two Star
Not A Love Story
Sahi Dhandhe Galat Bande
Chitkabrey
Shabri
Standby
Yeh Dooriyan

September
Bodyguard
Bol
That Girl in Yellow Boots
Mere Brother Ki Dulhan
Mausam
Speedy Singhs
Chargesheet
Force
Hum Tum Shabana
Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster
Tere Mere Phere

October
Love Breakups Zindagi
Rascals
Soundtrack
Azaan
Jo Dooba So Paar
Mod
Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge
My Friend Pinto
Be Careful
Damadamm
Ra.One
Tell Me O Kkhuda

November
Loot
Miley Naa Miley Hum
Na Jaane Kabse
Rockstar
Shakal Pe Mat Ja
Dam999
Desi Boyz

December
The Dirty Picture
I Am Singh
Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl
Lanka
Faraar
Jo Hum Chahein
Pappu Can’t Dance Saala
Don 2


So, I got round to seeing 27 from the 117 mentioned, what can I say I’ve been keeping busy (or maybe I just got lazy). It also seems there were major hiccups getting films here this year, a whole bunch of films that held appeal, I couldn’t see, alas. It also didn’t help that just generally hasn’t been a good year for films from my perspective.

All said and done, it’s not all been bad.. Here are my recommendations:

No One Killed JessicaNo One Killed Jessica
नोवन किल्ल्ड जेस्सिका

Loosely based on the true story of Jessica Lall, a Delhi-based model, who was shot in 1999 at a New Delhi restaurant, for refusal to serve drinks after the bar had closed.

Being shot by the son of a wealthy powerful influential politician, multiple witnesses that were present were all intimidated, coerced, threatened and bribed by the powerful family’s political, financial, justice and police connections.

After multiple appeals and rescheduled court dates, it then became an uneven battle between Jessica’s family, in particular, her sister Sabrina (Vidya Balan) and the influential family of the accused. In February 2006, the court acquitted the accused due to lack of sufficient evidence.

Leaving Sabrina heartbroken and demoralised, enters foul-mouthed TV Journalist Meera Gaity (Rani Mukherji), known for being more of an activist than a Journalist, she takes keen an interest in this incident. In getting involved she manages to get the public exposure & outcry that in turn allowed her put pressure on the influential family to uncover the conspiracy & corruption that led to the acquittal.

The public backlash from the initial acquittal forced the re-opening of the investigation. In December 2006, the man was finally found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Considering the bad reputation India has had over the years for corruption, it was a much needed power to the people story that I felt made this work. Truthfully you feel terrible even when Jessica finally does get her justice, for the path to get there should not have been so tough, but there is a level of relief that with unity, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Fantastic performance from Vidya Balan. If nothing else, see it for her.


Saat Khoon Maaf7 Khoon Maaf
७ खून माफ़
7 Murders Forgiven

A black comedy drama thriller based on a short story by Ruskin Bond called Susanna’s Seven Husbands. The story is of an Anglo-Indian woman Susanna Anna-Marie Johannes (Priyanka Chopra) who tries to find love, marries, but repeatedly finds such flaws in her husbands that she resorts to opt out by murdering them.

Narrated by a young forensic doctor Arun (Vivaan Shah) to his wife (Konkona Sen Sharma) who has observed Susanna since his childhood and has nurtured a secret crush on her. The boy owes his whole life to Susanna as she funded his education and made him what he is today.

He starts off by declaring to his wife that Susanna has committed suicide leaving him a note congratulating him for his marriage, and so the story begins..

Perhaps it might be my sense of humour but this dark comedy really hit the spot for me. The first few kills you actually feel bad for the poor girl. They treated her terribly, perhaps not murder him bad, but almost justified. By the end of the spree though it seems like she just found it easier to lay them off than work on any issues and I found this hilarious.

Aside from this, I won’t be surprised if Priyanka Chopra walks away with awards for her portrayed role. Her range varying from a teenager to a pensioner as the story progresses was believeable and strong. A treat to watch!


Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara
ज़िन्दगी ना मिलेगी दुबारा
You Don’t Get to Live a Second Time

This feel-good flick is an inspiring story that follows three childhood friends, Arjun (Hrithik Roshan), Imraan (Farhan Akhtar) and Kabir (Abhay Deol), somewhat distanced as they’ve aged, who re-unite as Kabir gets engaged, to fulfill a pact they’d made during their younger days.

The pact allows each one of them to decide upon an adventure sport of their choice, kept secret up until their point of arrival, which the full trio would have to attempt together.

As they embark upon a trip to Spain together, they find themselves dealing with deep rooted issues of their own and in doing so, rediscover their friendship in addition to themselves.

I actually know people that have taken inspiration from watching this and have decided to do things with their lives. I’m not suggesting it’s a preachy film, but it does succeed at provoking some deep thoughts. Above and beyond this, it’s a fantastic entertainer. Putting bromance over romance, most of the film is on the road, which concerned me when I first heard about it, but it’s engaging throughout.

It’s the characters and their chemistry that make this film work. Personally I was one of the few who were a little dubious about the starcast, they seemed an odd fit, but boy was I wrong, they were perfect. You could believe these three misfits were childood friends whose upbringings made them the men they became. The relationship of the trio was so symbiotic that it’s evident a lot of thought was put into them.

Definitely a strong contender for film of the year if I had it on me to pick just one.


Mere Brother Ki DulhanMere Brother Ki Dulhan
मेरे ब्रधर की दुल्हन
My Brother’s Bride

This is a colourful comedy about two guys, a girl and a pizza place wedding.

When Luv (Ali Zafar) has a bad breakup with his girlfriend in London, he decides upon an arranged marriage in India, the only issue being the generation gap between his parents & him, so he insists his younger brother Kush (Imran Khan) should find him a bride.

Kush travels all over India to find a bride suitable for his brother. After much perseverance and colourful prospectives, eventually he finds Dimple (Katrina Kaif), an old college friend.

As the wedding preparations begin, they rekindle their old friendship and a strong bond blossoms between them, by the time Luv actually reaches India, the friendship has turned to love and they must now figure out how to break this to their respective families without causing a huge outrage.

There’s always that one film that has nothing particularly new to offer but just works. I know I’ll get a lot of stick for recommending this one, but frankly I loved it. It was silly, but it knew it. It balanced well somewhere between the sort of slapstick you cringe at and the RomCom that tugs at your heartstrings. The soundtrack was certainly a big plus too. Definitely recommended for a laugh and a giggle. [I already have the BluRay on order.]


Force
फोर्स

This flick is a remake of a 2003 Tamil film called Kaakha Kaakha and is one chilling action thriller. ACP Yashvardhan (John Abraham) recollects from a hospital bed the story of how he’s reached where he is.

As assistant commissioner in the police, Yash runs operations to stop drug cartels, it’s in the midst of this ongoing mission that he encounters Maya (Genelia D’Souza) who mistakes him for a thug due to his demeanor and poise. As they resolve the misunderstanding, over a few meetings, she falls for him. He doesn’t want her to become his weakness in his professional life, but in time stops fighting it.

Meanwhile, he and his task force are eradicating huge numbers of drug peddlers to the point where the big players are now uneasy, in this mayhem they mistakenly kill a big player Reddy (Mukesh Rishi) in the heat of the moment instead of arresting him, for which they are suspended.

Enter Reddy’s brother Vishnu (Vidyut Jamwal) who vows to apply all his efforts towards avenging his brother & this is precisely what he does.

The story here is rather that of a generic action revenge film, nothing groundbreaking. The film however takes strides in it’s execution. The characters are very well developed, from our hero, our villain, to every side-character that interacts with them. You feel like they are all individuals, which is sometimes lost in this genre. Adding to this the pace and the superbly choreographed fight scenes, this certainly won it’s place as one of this years surprise toppers.


Ra.One
रा.वन

This sci-fi thriller is centred around a London based gaming company Barron Industries, which introduces a new technology in which objects from the digital world can be brought into the real world.

Their top developers led by Shekhar Subramanium (Shah Rukh Khan) create a game to be release in Mumbai with a super villain called Ra.One. When Shekhar’s son Prateek (Armaan Verma) has a go with the prototype, he leaves the game midway.

The villain decides to enter our world to finish his one and only task, to kill Lucifer {Prateek’s gamer handle} and finish the game. Tragedy strikes as Ra.One walks our world causing havoc & mayhem across London seeking him out, leaving only one option for the kid, he must release the hero of the game to our world too.

Enter G.One (Shah Rukh Khan). They flee to India in hope that Ra.One won’t find them there, but G.One is aware that it’s only a matter of time, before he returns and an epic battle is inevitable.

Labelled the most expensive Bollywood film ever made, it’s evident where that money went. This film ‘looks’ fantastic. Bearing in mind this ‘most expensive’ film is still on an American TV show finale budget, it has to be applauded how well they’ve managed to portray the special effects of this mammoth geek-fest. Admittedly, the story and screenplay could have done with some more love when the project was in it’s infantile stages, it’s still a treat to see.


Ladies vs. Ricky Bahl
लेडीज़ वर्सिस रिक्की बेह्ल

This film, inspired partly on the novel ‘Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less’ is about Ricky Bahl (Ranveer Singh), a con man who has a creative mind and cons a number of rich girls. He can pick-up any lady he wants, but love just isn’t his priority, money is.

He adopts a variety of personas to support an extravagant lifestyle by conning his many ‘girlfriends’ and their families out of large sums of cash.

Okay, so I lied, this film is about three of those scorned lady victims who team up to con the con. 17 Cities and 28 Ladies later, three of these ladies have managed to piece together his approach to a con, his patterns & repeated strategies, and so they decide to bait him with a girl that he simply can not resist.

Enter Ishika (Anushka Sharma), a charming young girl playing into the con game on behalf of the ladies, she manages to lure him in alright, but will she be able to keep up the act & avoid his charms?

One year after the surprise hit Band Baaja Baaraat which I mentioned in my recommendations post last year, the same team bring the same stars together again, most audiences aprehensive, will they deliver?

Well, it depends on your expectation. I felt they delivered something novel enough. It wasn’t run of the mill, yet it wasn’t groundbreaking, but it was well done, on the most part. The one question I ask myself after walking out of a film. Was I entertained or was I bored? I was entertained. Brilliant. Thumbs up.


Don Ko Pakadna Mushkil Hi Nahi ....Don 2: The King is Back
डोन २

The sequel to the 2006 flick Don (which in turn was a re-imagining of the 1978 classic of the same title), this is the slick action thriller following Don from where we left him in 2006.

Don, (Shah Rukh Khan) is now the indisputable king of the Asian underworld, but he’s not stopping there, he’s now got his cross-hairs aimed at Europe. The Europeans are aware of the threat and are after his blood, so he devises a plan. A plan that begins by surrendering himself to the Malaysian authorities, where he’s sentenced to death row.

Upon his prompt escape, the plan systematically unravels layer by layer, in which we meet some old friends, some old foe, and a bank heist that will make whoever walks away an instant billionaire.

Anyone that has known me long enough knows how much I loved Don. I loved the 1978 version as a child and was over the moon at the prospect of SRK taking up the role. I was extremely happy with the way that turned out with the slight changes made that turned the tables on the whole story. Perfect, but now a sequel? Doubts start sinking in. I think I had the highest chance of being disappointed by this, being a die-hard fan, I wanted nothing about the character to change. So, what happned?

Yea’. It changed. Strangely though, I didn’t mind. The character of Don comes off as almost nice in this film, which was one of my biggest dreads, yet I couldn’t help but forgive it. The suave had got suaver, the action had notched up a couple of ranks & the dialogue was total paneer cheese, yet it worked, it totally worked!

By far the slickest Bollywood action film I’ve seen to date, Don 2 killed all my doubts & left me craving another sequel (hopefully sooner than 5 years this time).


Okay, so that’s what you might call traditional ‘Bollywood’, as mentioned prior, even within said Bollywood, things are evolving a lot, but I’d like to point out a couple of films that though produced by the Indian film industry, I’d classify differently.

Both measuring up at around 90 minutes, both m0stly spoken in English, they are still very Indian, but neither are Bollywood to me. Check them out:

Dhobi Ghat (Mumbai Diaries)
धोबी घाट (मुंबई डायरीस)

This independent feeling art-film attempts to magnify a small slice of the culture of Mumbai and it’s varying classes. It is told through small simplistic stories of starkly different individuals that have a minor but strong overlapping impact on one another.

A washer-man who wants to become an actor, a banker-turned-photographer, a painter looking for inspiration, and a newly-married immigrant who journals her experiences on a camcorder. As the lives of these four people intersect in the backdrop of Mumbai, we get to experience a moment ou of their lives.

Akin to something like Lost in Translation in it’s feel, I thoroughly enjoyed being taken into these peoples lives. It probably helped that I was indeed in Mumbai at the time, but I think it’s certainly worth checking out if you’re up for something a little off-beat.


Delhi Belly
डेल्ही बेल्ली

This manic comedy caper revolves around three roommates, journalist Tashi (Imran Khan), photographer Nitin Beri (Kunaal Roy Kapur) and cartoon artist Arup (Vir Das) leading an unkempt and debt-ridden life in a shoddy apartment in Delhi.

Struggling to fill the buckets when they have limited water, struggling to make the rent, struggling in every walk of life, these losers are desperately in real need of a helping hand, until today. To survive today they need a fucking miracle for the events that await them.

From a case of Delhi Belly to a package mix-up with a gangster, a loved one being kidnapped, being shot at by an acquaintances ex-lover, dealing with the consequence of blackmailing a policaman’s brother, getting roped into embarking into daylight robbery & yes I repeat, a case of Delhi Belly, this is one day they could not have seen coming.

This deserves a posting of it’s own. In fact, I’m pretty likely to do one. In it’s approach an expletive ridden cross between Snatch and The Hangover, this film is novel, funny and a new benchmark for Indian cinema. It doesn’t tread carefully to ensure it doesn’t offend, it treads carefully to ensure each scene is there for a reason, engaging & moves the plot forward. Unmissable!


So that’s my list done. Some of the films I wish I had got a chance to see that I think potentially could have made it into the list I’m mentioning below:

  • Satrangee Parachute
  • Shor in the City
  • Haunted
  • Ragini MMS
  • Stanley Ka Dabba
  • Shaitan
  • Shabri
  • Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster

So, there you have it. As always, should you have any questions or queries about any of the films I’ve mentioned, drop me a comment & I’ll happily elaborate / discuss.

Well, that’s all folks. :)


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