As 2017 draws to a close, it becomes imperative to come up with a list of Top-10 list of films that I loved over the year. Liking or disliking a film is a purely subjective matter and I believe there will be many who might not even have seen the films mentioned in this list. That’s perfectly ok. If you loved a film and it is not featured in this list, please do not be offended as this is my list and I might not have liked it. That doesn’t take away anything from the film you liked. Also those who agree with me on the films mentioned here may not agree on the ranking and that again is a purely personal choice and subjective matter.
Now that we have the basic issues related to Top-10 lists sorted, let’s dwell into my pick of the Top -10 Bollywood films of the year.
10. Raag Desh: Birth Of a Nation: Tigmanshu Dhulia directs this beautifully crafted historical courtroom drama based on the Red Fort Trials of 3 soldiers of the Indian National Army captured by the British. This incident helped emancipate a nation and proved to be an important step towards independence. The film is not only realistic and well-made but should also be applauded for being gripping and affecting. It stars our very own Kenny Basumatary as “Subhash Chandra Bose” and that is an added bonus.
9. Bareilly Ki Barfi: a laugh-out-loud comedy that is pushed forward by some of the most realistic and heartwarming performances by the entire cast. Rajkumar Rao proves his mantle as a solid comic actor and shows his range organically. Kriti Sanon was the surprise package as I never expected such a refreshing performance from her. Ayushmann Khurrana was brilliant as usual.
8. Hindi Medium: Another comedy that derives most of its humor from real life situations and is a sort of a sarcastic joke on real-life anomalies that we come across every day. Irrfan is brilliant as a rich guy who has to work really hard to prove himself to be poor just after he has worked extremely hard to become rich and look and behave like one. Saba Qamar is terrific as his wife.
7. The Ghazi Attack: A surprisingly good film that makes the most of its limited resources and dreams bigger than its reach. This is a film that proves that if you have your heart in the right place and want to achieve cinematic greatness, the budget is never a deterrent. The Ghazi Attack is powered by a great story, superb performances and terrific techniques that help veil the lack of investment on the VFX and make this film one of the best of this year.
6. Sachin: A Billion Dreams: If cricket was a religion in India, Sachin would have been a God. It’s very difficult to pull off a documentary about such a man and pull it off well. James Erskine successfully does that and strangely enough, it feels complete and definitive. That in itself is a great feat considering the huge timeline it had to cover and the larger than life persona and feats of the man. Complete with never seen before footage and Sachin’s own voiceover and commentary, it is easily one of the best documentaries of the year that can be watched over and over again.
5. An Insignificant Man: Shot over a period of roughly 2 and a half years and being India’s biggest crowd-funded project, this documentary is a picture of brilliance. Leaving aside an almost thriller-esc plot, high drama, and gripping screenplay, the techniques alone are baffling considering that this film is primarily a look into the background of Arvind Kejriwal’s epic rise to power. The cinematography is insanely good primarily because in this country you can’t take a picture of a deity that is well framed when you are in a line thanks to the pushes and pulls. Films like this don’t get made every day.
4. Trapped: This is a film that is ahead of its time, atleast for Bollywood. I felt chocked while watching this film and the fact that it has only one actor (Rajkumar Rao) running around a house through the majority of its runtime and still manages to be astoundingly intriguing speaks of the high cinematic and artistic quality of the content. One of the best directed and acted films of the year. Rajkumar Rao once again shows his versatility and acting prowess.
3. Mukti Bhawan: This film has been hailed world over for its charismatic and yet simple tale of an aging man who retires to Varanasi to spend his last days with his son. Adil Hussain and Lalit Behl literally act out the film between them and yet hold on to your attention and senses. It’s a film deep rooted in Indian beliefs and family values that is bound to make you emotional.
2. Secret Superstar: Secret Superstar is an underdog story that excels because of the amount of heart its characters put in the tale. It isn’t novel in its content but in its execution. Powered by terrific performances from Zaira Wasim and Meher Vij, this was one of the most popular films of the year. Aamir Khan in a cameo was loveable and nearly stole the show.
1. Newton: The best film of the year. Everything worked in this little gem of a movie. The dark humor, the drama, the frustration and the final solace are all in place and mixed in equal portions to make for the kind of screenplay that is approachable and entertaining. Rajkumar Rao once again dons a different avatar and becomes the man that he is playing. His one-to-ones with Pankaj Tripathi in the film were like a social commentary on the two polarizing spectrums of the same country and their understanding of what is “democracy”.