HINDI CINEMA IN 2018

It’s a ritual every year to look back at some of the best (and worst) of cinema as the year comes to an end. Every cinephile is out there to list their own top 10s, and given the state of films being released recently, finding even 10 really good ones was always a tough task. While the picks for the worst always had a great suite of contenders.

The good news is, 2018 was miles and miles better than any year in the past. Yes, we have a slew of worst to pick from, but choosing the best ones are also not that obvious. Which is a good problem to have!

In the past 3 years, TVT has ended the year with its Annual Awards Show, just because the actual ones suck at giving it to the deserving. But given the scenario for this year, I feel a good film, a good performance and a great technical achievement is anyways going to win some award.

So we are going to end the year by looking at the best and worst trends we saw emerging this year, and how each of them would shape up future releases

HORROR FINALLY GETS A REFRESH

The long standing complaint with Hindi Cinema was that we’ve always sucked at horror films. Over the past 2 decades, you can literally count the number of decent horror films in your hands.

And hence, Prosit Roy’s Pari, Amar Kaushik’s Stree and to a certain extent Rahi Anil Bharve’s Tumbbad were genre revivals. Pari and Tumbbad weaved our ancient mythology into their storylines and didn’t shy away from the blood and gory to give you the chills. Stree on the other hand showed how horror mixed with (intentional) comedy can be a perfect recipe for entertainment.

BREAKING NEW GROUNDS

Inventive and original storytelling is what keeps cinema interesting. And thankfully, we had that in abundance this year.
Tumbbad, with an atmospheric setting and folklore tale, is pure treat to watch. It touches so many genres at once – horror, fantasy, drama, period – that it cannot be categorized in one.
Parmanu had a huge task in hand : being a mainstream film while informing its viewers about the details of one of country’s proudest events in history. It has to simplify science, but also keep audiences at their toes. As the film ends, you know they achieved most of the mammoth task they had.
Director Vikramaditya Motwane tries to combine the dark, vigilante world of Netflix-Marvel originals (ala Daredevil) and the lightness of Marvel Studio films. The result is Bhavesh Joshi Superhero – a film that has its moments in the first half, but starts to fade after that.
The best of all is of course the Ayushmann – Tabu starrer Andhadhun. The premise may not be common, but the way it’s told is so inventive that it feels nothing like you’ve seen before. It’s safe to say we would never get another Andhadhun anytime soon.
Aanand L Rai also came up with his passion project – Zero. Let’s reserve the thoughts on this film for my next topic.

FAULT IN OUR (SUPER) STARS

In a year that was SO good, it was just weird seeing what our biggest actors were upto.
Salman didn’t disappoint with Race 3. When news were circulated about him starring in the sequel and Remo D’souza (among all actual directors) was chosen to direct it, we expected an absolute thrash, and flying thrash (refer to the image below) was delivered indeed.
race-3-380
Surprising enough, the film crashed. Normally, this would mean the producers (also Salman) would walk away with earnings from satellite and music rights, while the distributors faced the heat. But our superstar was probably too confident on the material, handling part of distribution also by himself. All I can say is, in Bhai’s own words borrowed from a song in the film –
Ek baar Baby
Selfish hoke
apne liye
jiyo naa

When it took years for 2 of our biggest superstars to share the same screen, you would expect them to come up with a project which would justify this divine casting. But what you got was Thugs of Hindostaan

Film_Companion_Thugs-Of-Hindostan_lead

Into the initial seconds of the trailer, and you already know the ship is about to sink. And boy did it sink deep.

After proving the casting choice’s power in the first day (earning record-breaking 50 Cr), the film fell flat right after it. It was brutal, and probably all that deserving. Was the movie title a metaphor for describing the makers themselves?

Then we had SRK pairing up with the most dynamic duos in the industry today – Aanand Rai (director) and Himanshu Sharma (writer). There were very less chances of this facing the same fate, given the line of work of the duo. But the dark spell of SRK working with another accomplished director is cast, and his attempt to experiment and lift the quality of his filmography fails once again.

What they try to achieve with Zero is applause worthy – an all out fantasy which has 3 damaged but pure characters completing their shortcomings by being extraordinary to each other. But the story has gaps and incoherence as large as the distance between Meerut and Mars.

What’s also notable here, is that immediately after the release of the 3 films, the internet showed no mercy on them and was heavily trolled for days and days. Which probably played an important role in determining its Box Office fate.

Up your games, Khans. And Salman – please give up whatever you’re smoking.

NEW K’S IN TOWN


Move over Khans and Kapoors : We now have Khurrana and Kaushal! These two dynamic actors gave some of their best performances and ruled 2018. Rao, fresh from a new career high from 2017, flew even higher with Stree.

Vicky Kaushal as Kamli, Sanju’s best friend, gained mainstream attention, while as Sandy in Manmarziyaan he became the critic’s darling. He also starred in two Netflix originals – Love Per Square Foot and Lust Stories. With Uri coming up in early 2019, he is not going to stop anytime soon.

But the biggest surprise was Ayushmann – as Nakul in Badhaai Ho and as Akash in Andhadhun. While the former was a role he’s at utmost ease, in the latter he truly showed he can take on any given role and excel at it.

Special mention also to Vineet Singh in Mukkabaaz. His performance won a lot of accolades but I’m yet to watch the film and form my opinion on it.

FILMS AS AN EXPRESSION


Films are meant to be a medium for people to express their thoughts and sentiments and give a different perspective to life. Sadly, our mainstream template doesn’t often allow such films to shine.

2018 was different here again. Shoojit Sircar crafted the quite but soul crushing October remembering the days he spent in hospital while his parents suffered from serious health problems. Abhinav Sinha went all out and expressed his anger over the treatment Muslims get in the country with Mulk, and it really made us question about the meaning of nationalism.

PATRIOTIC OVERDOSE

It is one thing to make a film revolving around soldiers, policemen and historic events. It’s a totally different thing to shove patriotism up in the audience’s throat so much so that the screenplay gasps for an air of sanity and coherence.

In a year where a film like Raazi gave a moment where citizens of two warring countries sing the same song expressing their love for nation, we also had to see tricolor being used as an action prop for the hero to flaunt his patriotism (Baaghi 2 and Satyamev Jayate).

It almost feels like the makers are minting money off our love for the country, and some of them even succeed at it. The formula has proven right, which means more such movies are now in the making.

QUEENS RULE THE ROOST

Girl domination in Hindi movies have been gradual, but very strong. Every film which you think might not have worked well, have done wonders this year.

Can a lavish period piece with a women lead do 200+ crores? Totally! Though its controversial broil (the biggest one at that) might have helped boost the numbers immensely.

Can a lady spy thriller engage viewers and earn money? Looking at Raazi‘s massive 120+ Cr business, the answer is affirmative.

Will the audience accept an A rated chick-flick? Veere Di Wedding, after all the production troubles it went through, struck gold at the Box Office.

And can China accept a Rani Mukherjee starrer with as much open arms as they accept an Aamir-starrer? Again, a thumping yes as Hichki earns over 150 Cr overseas.

I don’t think there is any more room for a chatter where the line would start with “Inspite being a women-oriented film…..”. Though, I have to say, the critical reception of these films have ranged from good to below average. So, unlike in the previous years, it’s not just the good films that worked. But for an industry that’s obsessed with formulas, at least such films won’t be seen as “risks” anymore.

BETTER CALL AMIT

637789-amit-trivedi

It seemed as if all music composers in the industry paved way and let Amit Trivedi sign for all major albums. Of course, not all turned out to be gems but there were some which truly stood out. In Manmarziyaan specially, Amit was in his element, uplifting the entire film on the shoulders of his crackling soundtrack. With Andhadhun having a pianist in the lead, it allowed Trivedi to score some piano heavy numbers which were nothing short of magic! Here are my favourite AT numbers for the year –
Naina Da Kya Kasoor and Laila Laila from Andhadhun

Dariyaa from Manmarziyaan

Aaj Se Teri from Padman

EXTRAORDINARY ACT


Great performances can lift even the worst stories. As always, we saw some truly exceptional performances. Ranveer as Alauddin Khilji brought menace and turned a somewhat boring narrative hell more interesting. Nawaz sinked in as Saadat Hasan Manto in Manto, the way only an actor like Nawaz is expected.

Ranbir’s constant increase in acting fitnesse was seen at its peak in Sanju, imbibing the mannerisms as well as the heft emotions of the real life actor with utmost sincerity. And Shah Rukh had that hint of magic in his eyes while playing Bauua in Zero, which was missing since Fan

LAUNCH TO FAIL

How can Bollywood cease to make star kid vehicles? Salman Khan yet again puts his might behind new kid from the filmy business, this time his brother-in-law Aayush Sharma in a godforsaken film named Loveyatri (changed from Loveratri after facing some controversies over the name). It clashed with Andhadhun which they probably thought would be no threat to their handsome film.

On the other hand, we had Karan Johar launching Sridevi’s daughter (Jhanvi Kapoor) in the remake of a film that was just too organic, raw and magical to remake. Dhadak (originating from Marathi’s Sairat) was every bit of the template which the original braved away from.

It’s about time we stop giving the material for a toss in order to ensure the new actors with a better portfolio. 2018 was a big reflection to the idea that script cannot raise above anyone or any thing. Any new actor entering the industry needs to choose a script which makes their job harder. After all, that is what is essential for survival.

KABHI KHUSHI…KABHI GHAM


If there’s one genre that will never see an end is comedy. As usual, films with a lighter tone worked wonders, irrespective of the cast. There was good range of stories being told this year, which is always a good thing. An aged father-son duo (102 Not Out), 2 best friends and a girl (Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety), a business in making (Sui Dhaaga), two warring sisters (Patakha) and the best one of all – an awkward situation involving middle-aged pregnancy (Badhaai Ho)

What’s also interesting is that each of these films weren’t all out funny. It had its own moments of tears being shed.

SOUTH INVASION : IT’S HAPPENING!

If you thought Baahubali was a one-off thing and there won’t be another major Southern release in pan-India, you were proven wrong in 2 instances.

Karan Johar set his eyes on Tamil’s visionary director Shankar for the sequel to 2010’s Enthiran, 2.0. In what was possibly the biggest casting coup, Akshay Kumar played Pakshirajan, the antagonist and nemesis of Rajinikanth. The film got as wide a release as any other Khan film, and the bets paid off, though not in as huge numbers as Baahubali 2.

Farhan Akhtar’s Excel Entertainment also saw the profits southern mega films bring, and decided to back Kannada’s biggest film yet – KGF Chapter 1 starring Yash for its nation-wide release. Although it released on the same day as SRK’s Zero, it ended up grossing more. Surprised?

ROMANCE IS NEVER OUT OF FASHION


Stories of love have been the staple diet for cinema since cinema came into existence. What more can you bring into the boy-meets-girl template and make you root for love once again? If the two films released this year is anything to go by, you can safely say that this world can still have the charm if it’s made right.

Laila Majnu, directed by Imtiaz’s brother Sajid Ali, makes the protagonist fall in love with the idea of love itself. It’s a story everyone knows, but yet it’s told in a way seldom have seen.

Manmarziyaan, coming out of Kashyap’s table, brings forth Rumi (possibly the year’s most crackling character) in choosing between a passionate, intimate love and a love that’s more organic and practical.

Sadly, both these films didn’t do well at the box office, which makes one wonder whether we as an audience have lost interest in romance altogether. Have we?

NOT JUST BIG SCREEN ANYMORE


Gone are the days when movies were made just for the big screen. 2018 has officially inaugurated a new medium of watching movies. A medium that is cheaper, uncensored and lot more accessible than our conventional theaters. I won’t be surprised if there will be new award categories for themselves.

The films that came out were decent as well – Vicky Kaushal starrer Love Per Square Foot has been one of the better rom-coms produced in recent times. Lust Stories was a fitting anthology sequel to Bombay Talkies, and Emraan Hashmi also made his debut in streaming world with Tigers.


All in all, this has been a great year at the movies. Everyone in the industry seems to have finally managed to tread the thin line between being global in terms of storytelling and yet remain rooted in our own world. Sure, there were some experiments that failed, and bad films still continued to do good business. But if you have a good and engaging story to tell, you can be assured that it won’t go unnoticed. And that, is the biggest takeaway from the year.
Here’s to an even more awesome 2019. Be it in our lives, or be it at the movies!

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