The year started for me with No one killed Jessica, followed by the Deol opus Yamla Pagla Deewana. I have tried to give a chance to Dil Toh Bachcha Hai Ji – and you can read in this article how it ended. Next on the list was a film that sounded interesting...
Directed by: Kiran Rao
Starring: Aamir Khan, Prateik Babbar, Monica Dogra
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing
The last of the January releases I chose to sit through was Aamir Khan´s Dhobi Ghat....It is not a bad film... but nothing that I would label good either. Somehow it refuses to fit into such cathegories. There is not much of a story and ending is apparently missing. I did like the overall atmosphere though, without ever being to Mumbai or India it engulfed me and let me with an illusion I actually, for a few minutes, understood. All other three actors (playing Shai, Munna and Yasmine) were great. Especially "Yasmine" touched me. In fact her "letters" were the most interesting and engaging part of the movie. Until Aamir discovers them, nothing makes much sense really. As for Mr. Perfectionist himself, he disappoints big time. Maybe because one would actually expect him to act, not just smoke and watch TV.
Directed by: Nikhil Advani
Starring: Akshay Kumar, Rishi Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, Dimple Kapadia
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing
As February came it was Akshay Kumar´s turn to arrive on the screen with his first release of the year called Patiala House (just another in a long list of English titles that decorated the posters in 2011 – from already mentioned No one killed Jessica to Ready, Rockstar, Rascals, Desi Boyz and of course The Dirty picture just to mention a few). A heck lot of nonsense and unrealistic conspiring almost completely killed off a promising family drama with decent performances – notably from Rishi Kapoor AND Akshay himself, who has laid off his comedy king image for a while and regained some of the respect as an ACTOR (only to loose it again few weeks later.....). The film didn´t really give me anything, but it captured some part of human relations well. Especially loved how everybody was urging Akshay to stand up to his father, but when he did they were all cowards and nobody supported him. How very human.
Right behind Akshay it was Priyanka Chopra´s first 2011 release 7 Khoon Maaf that hurriedly followed. It flopped. But to me it was one of the best films of the year, even though I´m aware that is a rather unpopular opinion. If nothing Priyanka truly impressed me – unlike her co-star from Fashion Kangana Ranaut, who messed up completely in Tanu weds Manu. It is truly unfortunate when a lead actress is the greatest weakness of otherwise enjoyable movie. March did not bring any great pleasant surprises either. You can read here what I thought of some of the releases, however one of the films originally scheduled for March I´ve only managed to watch much later, so it is missing from the article.
Directed by: Rohan Sippy
Starring: Abhishek Bachchan, Bipasha Basu, Aditya Pancholi, Prateik Babbar, Govind Nameo
Now this is a movie definitely worth seeing. I really liked the way the narrative was done in the first part, the editing was very clever and in spite of various flashbacks not confusing at all. Performances are very good from everybody, but Abhishek is a miscast. Not because he would act badly, but because he is plain boring in the cop roles. Boring boring boring. It was during his scenes that the film would occasionally run short of breath. The guy needs to stop being a cop or a cool dude or a cool cop which is what he´s been trying to make his niché of, and find something else soon. Basically everybody else was more interesting. Deepika´s item number, which was so heavily propagated, is completely useless and not even well shot. Showstealer is none other than Aditya Pancholi, whom I used to hate in his 90s movies, but is growing on me more with advancing time.
Together with Dum Maro Dum Lara Dutta´s heartwarming, uncomplicated Chalo Dilli was the saving grace of April, which was also the month responsible for possibly the WORST of all 2011 releases. Yes, I´m talking of none other than Thank you, an Anees Bazmi film that could be used anywhere in the world as an example of how not to do cinema. Fortunately the month of May was more merciful enough to wipe Thank you and Anees Bazmi from my mind, even if only for a while. One of the best movies of the year was for me Stanley Ka Dabba. Rather unglamorous title is hiding a heartwarming, moving story, so full of love for life! Speaking about love, I´ve quite enjoyed two romantic comedies released the same month.
Directed by: Bumpy
Starring: Sraddha Kapoor, Taaha Shah
I loved the girl! She had so much energy and I think she´s REALLY talented. She emoted terribly well. Plus she has nice voice. Plus she looks good. The pace it´s even throughout the film, it doesn´t slow down, it´s never boring. The music is catchy. And from beginning to end there was no place for any unrelated subplots that would slow it down. The special appearance by Ali Zafar, however brief, was a VERY pleasant surprise... However the revenge the girl took was far too drastic and violent for my taste. I would have preferred something more subtle. Also the use of swearing words was completely unnecesarry. Overally I really enjoyed this, even though sometimes against better judgement.
Directed by: S. Manasvi
Starring: Tusshar Kapoor, Amrita Rao
Lot less impressive than Luv Ka The End, rather nice, "normal" film. Nothing wrong with it. Nothing outstanding in it. Some clichés, some plotholes, more clichés. No surprises, no big twists. Watching it however I realized how much I miss intensity in romantic films like this. There used to be so much intense emotions in older films about young people. Now... it´s just not there. Sad. Amrita Rao looks gorgeous and acts well, I wonder why is she seen so little and why is she not sought out for projects with actors like Imran Khan, Ranbir Kapoor? Instead she is stuck with Tusshar, who acts OK and has a charisma of a banana peel.
Directed by: Sunny Bhambhani
Starring: Sahil Mehta, Mannat Ravi, Vikay Katyal, Priyam Galav
And on a love note we have breezed into the month of June, riding the Love Express with a debutant director and debutant actors in four main leads. A simple story about two days spent in a train filled with two families going for a wedding, while the engaged couple is just not interested in each other, and trying to find a way out of the planned relationship. Perhaps predictable, but very sweet, and although one wasn´t exactly having fits of laughter, I had a smile plastered on my face throughout.
However at this content moment Anees Bazmi decided to attack again, even more agressively than before with the mess called Ready, for which I definitely was not ready. Salman Khan not acting while Asin was being wasted and everybody swinging their hips in a terrible choreography while the unbearable Dhinka Chika was screaming from the amplions was more than I could digest. And the trend of lame comedies did not end there. Indra Kumar served us his Double Dhamaal (review coming eventually) and had us questioning our own intelligence once again. The two films releasing on the same day - 1st July, were both heavily propagated and especially the second one raise a lot of questions, expectations and curiosity. But before that just a few words about the first one.
Directed by: Puri Jagannath
Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Hema Malini, Sonu Sood
I didn´t really know how to watch this, how to treat this. I did get it was supposed to be a overview of sorts, a tribute to the body of work of Amitabh Bachchan, bringing out of the wardrobe his image of an angry young man.... with the difference this was an angry old man. And somehow, angry old men are not cool. And wearing what Big B was in the film, the way he behaved, made the character completely cringeworthy. None of the storylines did really capture my attention or stood out. One of those films I have forgotten as soon as they ended.
Directed by: Abhinay Deo
Starring: Imran Khan, Vir Das, Kunaal Roy Kapur
Shit happens. Yeah, it does. I was not sure what to expect from this one either. I thought that I will be either hilariously entertained or utterly disgusted (the promos suggested the latter). Well, the film surprised - I was neither. In fact I don´t recall a film that would leave me so completely unmoved (into any direction). Several times I smiled. Several times I didn´t like what I saw. Overally the film seemed like a background score for me thinking about completely different things! Imran suffers the fate of Aamir in 3 Idiots - meaning he is completely overshadowed by his two friends, who steal the show and actually provide the laughter. I cannot help but shake my head in disbelief over the claims this is a movie that shall take Bollywood into a new direction. There really was nothing that revolutionary or different from other half mindless half witty comedies, except for the overuse of swearing language, which by the way has no point, and it´s offensive for the pure sake of being offensive. It doesn´t hurt to see the film, but it´s nothing not-to-be-missed either. The best thing about it is actually a quick pace and quick changes of situations.
After Stanley Ka Dabba another movie that really impressed me was highly praised Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (where for the first time I ever I did not feel the need to strangle Katrina Kaif on the spot). However Ajay Devgn´s Sigham left me mostly unimpressed from a single reason only – throughout the movie I´ve had a feeling I have seen it all. Just last year in Dabangg. There was hardly anything different about it. And July was ended on a very low note with an attempt at historical drama that went just all wrong. Gandhi to Hitler can be considered the biggest joke the filmmakers played on us last year, at least I hope it was meant to be a joke. And then June turned into July.
Directed by: Prakash Jha
Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Saif Ali Khan, Deepika Padukone
I liked this. Well, not all, but most of it. My liking doesn´t really have much to do with the cast or performances (which were all good), more with the topic and me being a university student just realizing how great business education really can be. In fact there were several lines in the films I´m definitely noting down, because there was so much blunt truth in them. Aarakshan is basically a one man show and that one man is this time charismatic and not ridiculous Amitabh Bachchan. Saif goes out of mind as soon as he leaves the screen. Deepika has great expressions. All she needs to work on is the intensity of her voice and some modulation, but she proved again to be my dark horse for the future years. First part was more tight and exciting then the second and to cut the film´s length down to 2 hours would have been a good idea as well.
And then of course Bodyguard came along.
Directed by: Siddique
Starring: Salman Khan, Kareena Kapoor
Blockbuster after just few days, it was promoted as an epic love story that gives Kareena Kapoor her best role ever and Salman Bhai bhi. If there is one thing that I loved, really, really loved, it was Teri Meri. That song is awesome, full of feeling, very dramatic and yet not over the top. The picturization was good too, though Salman did way too much unnecessary running. I´m not going to say he cannot act, that wouldn´t be true as he used to act in good old days, but past few years he really doesn´t bother at all. Kareena, whom I learned to adore on screen, acts, but has nothing to work with really. Other characters are so completely sidelined it´s not even worthy talking about them, and poor villains had TWO scenes.... The fat guy trying his luck at being the new Johnny Lever annoyed the heck out of me, though I agree I loved his T-shirts stating "Six pack coming soon" and "Looking good is not a crime". The two main characters are very poorly drawn and basically boring, they don´t really go through any development - and neither does their relationship. In fact I still keep wondering where did the love came from? And similarly so I couldn´t feel for them as a couple, because the script and story simply didn´t give me a chance to feel for them, feel their love, nothing. The action was ridiculous. I can take a lot, but there is limit to everything. Way too many cheap computer effects. It was definitely better then Salman´s previous release Ready, but very overrated as far as box office goes still.
The second half of the year was considerably better, even if it held some real crap together with real gems. The better times were heralded by sweet, simple, predictable, but still highly entertaining Mere Brother Ki Dulhan, which in spite of starring Imran Khan and Katrina Kaif in the leads (none of them being a mind-blowing performers) was fine to watch.
Directed by: Ali Abbas Zafar
Starring: Imran Khan, Katrina Kaif, Ali Zafar
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing
While on one hand Mere Brother Ki Dulhan definitely belongs to the better films of 2011 and offered me a pleasant enough watch, on the other hand it is one of those completely predictable films that need something special to make it work also on a second watch – a memorable performance, a smashing soundtrack, a write-it-into-stone dialogue.... and that this film does not really provide. The title itself pretty much gives away the the plot too.
Ali Zafar, an NRI settled in London, breaks up with his girlfriend (or rather – she breaks up with him and since we´re on a breaking spree also breaks his HD TV). Mere minutes later he phones his younger brother Imran Khan (living on the other side of the planet in India) and insists his brother finds him a bride (yeah, really). And Imran starts searching. After many crazy girls lining up he of course discovers THE one in the form of lovely but boring Katrina Kaif, who is boring even while doing illegal rock concerts at Agra, but to Imran she does not seem boring at all and soon enough he decides she is the right match for his brother. The criminally side-lined Ali Zafar was the best performer of the three main leads, the most natural and charming one, but he only gets some space in the second half, when he comes to India to get married. What is unknown to him is that Imran has managed to find himself in love with future bhabhi and now is not exactly keep to simply hand her over to his brother....
Nice and sweet, yet without repeat value. Mere Brother Ki Dulhan makes everyone in it likeable, but does not rise up above a standart colourful Yashraj romcom that the production house in question loves to churn out time and again.
At the other end of movie entertainment John Abraham´s Force gave us some serious chills as well as the most menacing new villains and in yet a different field Shahid Kapoor tried to sell his romance with Sonam Kapoor titled Mausam (review coming eventually) to the audience – unfortunatelly and deservingly he did not succeed. However by that time, having a Double Dhamaal hangover, Sanjay Dutt has sent his new baby into the world as well....
Directed by: David Dhawan
Starring: Sanjay Dutt, Ajay Devgn, Kangana Ranaut
Throughout I kept having Deewana Mastana flashbacks, however one would be looking for the same light-heartedness, same charm or level of performances in vain in Rascals. Sanjay and Ajay were wasted, which is sad, because they really work as a male jodi and both have great comic timing. However the OTT acting is not Ajay´s cup of chai at all. Kangana needs to stop doing comedies right NOW! She was awful from beginning to end. She did not share any chemistry whatsoever with either of the two main protagonists, so even their pursue of her was not really interesting to watch. I did not like at all the way women were portraited, if that is even the word for nothing but a vulgar flesh show. Sanjay Dutt should either stop criticizing actresses for what they wear or stop producing films like Rascals. The film is also a proof that David Dhawan has completely lost his touch.
I am no fan of romantic comedies, even less of teenage romantic comedies, and although I liked Luv Ka the End, it is really an exception. Because of that I was quite surprised that another film of the same genre was pleasant as well.
Directed by: Nupur Ashtana
Starring: Saqib Saleem, Saba Azad
With romantic teenage comedies it is never really about story, but about concept and form, the way the script is presented. MFK is presented well. Not as energic as Luv ka the end, not as funny either, but unlike Luv Ka The End, it has a nice romantic feel, nothing goes over the top. The performances are all natural and pleasant, music, though not groundbreaking ads nice atmosphere. A good timepass.
After MFK I watched mostly older movies, waiting for more new DVDs to come out, and trying luck with several more new films. However My neither Friend Pinto nor Tell me o Khudda or Always Kabhi Kabhie held my interest for longer than 15 minutes and so I really don´t have much to say about them, except maybe that Esha Deol totally falls into the clichéd cathegory of untalented star children. Sadly enough Shahrukh Khan, whom I love so much, did not really impress me (or anyone really) with his heavily promoted Ra.One (review coming eventually), but he got back on the right track later with Don 2 (of course full review is in store). However not even he gave a better performance than Ranbir Kapoor in Rockstar (a long review so coming soon), that for me became not only the most intense love story of the year – and the best film of the year, but also a modern days classic. As I have said at the very beginning, I have not yet seen The Dirty picture, and so here got the last two films I´m going to mention in here.
Directed by: Maneesh Sharma
Starring: Anushka Sharma, Ranveer Singh, Parineeti Chopra, Aditi Sharma Dipannita Sharma
LVRB takes place in some weird alternative reality where Ranveer Singh is for every girl an irresistable sexy beast and from that moment on I was a bit wary because I find him neither handsome nor hot, or even interesting. The casting of the girls was much more spot on from demure Aditi to loud-nouted Parineeti, and of course very natural Anushka. Somehow however, Anushka did not matter to me in the movie. I couldn´t care less for her feelings and actually enjoyed the three other ladies in the first half of the movie much much more. Anushka´s entry into the film however, is brilliant. The story gets rather boring in the second half and climax is predictable, though not completely justified. I truly didn´t see where the love was supposed to come from or how, in matter of few days, it could have changed one´s personality completely. Ranveer has not much to work with really, except walking around showing off his body and being supposedly sexy. He was much less impressive than in BBB. His pairing with Anushka is highly praised all over the place, but to be honest they do not really "do it" for me. Music was blah, choreography bad. An OK film, but not much more than that.
Directed by: Rohit Dhawan
Starring: Akshay Kumar, John Abraham, Deepika Padukone, Chitrangda Singh
For me personally the most enjoyable comedy of the whole 2011. In spite of the things that kinda sucked, it was still so enjoyable and fun! What I truly appreciated was the absence of cheap and vulgar jokes that are such a rage these days, and even though there definitely are several "sex related" scenes the soul of the film remains quite innocent. The highlight performances for me were John (whose comedy had me in splits), Anupam Kher (whose every scene had me in splits) and Deepika (who just really needs to work more on her dialogue delivery, but looks drop dead gorgeous and acts brilliantly in several scenes and is good in the rest). Chitrangda looks beautiful and does well in whatever she´s given, but I did not like her character, that indeed seemed somehow desperate and well, unneccessarily horny. I´m not really a fan of Akshay´s, but he was fine - and his "job interview" was perfect. Sanjay Dutt looked really bad and apparently the composers can take a rest while writing music while he´s on screen because they can always throw Khalnayak main theme out there and everyone is happy. The emotional scenes were unimpressive.
So that was the year 2011 in Bollywood through my eyes. Thank you if you managed to read through this loooong post. ;)