Here is my pick for the top 10 films offered by Bollywood in the year 2015. Various criteria have been considered before closing in on these these 10 films. First and foremost, considerable importance is given to films which offer some food for thought and have cinematic flair in addition to being socially relevant. Apart from these, various other aspects like direction, screenplay, editing, cinematography, music, and the quality of acting have also been taken into consideration.
NH10, a crime thriller film directed by Navdeep Singh starring Anushka Sharma, revolves around a hapless Gurgaon couple which accidentally witnesses the coldblooded murder of a boy and a girl committed by a bunch of rogue villagers in the name of honor killing. The movie also serves as an effective social commentary on plight of women in a typical patriarchal setup. But, it spends little time on trying to analyze or understand the major causes that give rise to prejudice against women. Sharma shows good range and seems quite convincing in the action sequences. Barring its sensational music, NH10 doesn’t come across as a crowd puller but it got a lot of appreciation from critics as well as serious viewers.
9. Gabbar is Back
Gabbar is Back, an action thriller film directed by Telugu filmmaker Radha Krishna Jagarlamudi starring Akshay Kumar, presents the tale of grief-stricken man who turns into a vigilante and decides to clean up the system from corruption by kidnapping and murdering corrupt public servants. It's a rare Hindi film that perfectly blends entertainment with some decent fodder to ruminate upon. It also offers a nice blend of action, drama and suspense in equal parts. And while the relevance of its socio-political commentary cannot be overemphasized, barring a few high points, the movie can best be described as average. Like most Akshay Kumar films, Gabbar is Back is a one-man-show and is marred by its weak supporting characters, predictable plot twists, weak romance quotient, and over-the-top action sequences, but Akshay's intensity and timing are impeccable. Despite its flaws and gimmicks, the film simultaneously entertains and makes us think.
Piku, directed by Shoojit, stars Amitabh Bachchan, Deepika Padukone and Irrfan Khan in the major roles. The movie revolves around a Bengali father-daughter duo: Bhaskor Banerjee who is a 70-year-old widower suffering from chronic constipation and his caring 30-year old unmarried daughter Piku who is an architect by profession. Part family drama, part road movie, Piku is a unique cocktail of human emotions that tugs at our heartstrings, making us laugh and cry at the same time. It teaches us about the meaningfulness of life while depicting how most of us fail to savor its true pleasures while we still can. The strongest point of Piku is the performances of the leading cast. It makes for a great family viewing and can be enjoyed by anyone and everyone.
Tamasha is essentially a film about the endless possibilities of life. In life we are often so busy following our daily routines that we fail to realize that at all points in time we have a choice to rejig the things and start afresh. All we need is a strong will to break the monotony. The movie inspires us to exercise our right to choose and seize the moment instead of continuing to live a life that others chose for us. The movie also pays homage to the very art of storytelling though its lead character, Ved, who, right from his childhood, is enchanted by stories. Tamasha is a cinematic triumph that seamlessly blends commercial and art-house elements. Every Indian youngster ought to watch Tamasha along with his/her parents. Much like Taare Zameen Par and 3 Idiots, Tamasha reminds us that each child is born with a distinct set of qualities and the onus truly lies with the parents to allow their children to excel in life while pursuing their dreams instead of bludgeoning them into submission and forcing them to live in mediocrity. Tamasha comes across as a very personal work that will certainly encourage other leading filmmakers in Bollywood to make more such meaningful films that simultaneously entertain, and make us think.
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6. Bombay Velvet
Bombay Velvet has been on the receiving end of flak from all sections of the audience for its pretentious, self-indulgent style but that doesn’t deny the fact that the movie is technically brilliant with music, sets, costumes, cinematography, and performances that offer an unprecedented degree of resplendence. As a sprawling period, the movie captures the period detail with painstaking accuracy. Bombay Velvet is not an easy film to appreciate for the masses, mainly because of its excesses. It would take a diehard cinema enthusiast to truly enjoy it. The movie is quite high on violence quotient and those with weak hearts would find certain sequences quite disturbing. But, as a mere exercise in style, Bombay Velvet is a commendable attempt that’s way more alluring than the drivel that Bollywood churns out day in and day out.
Bajrangi Bhaijaan revolves around a six-year-old mute Pakistani girl ‘Munni' who accidentally gets lost in India and a God-fearing simpleton named Pavan, aka Bajrangi, who takes it upon himself to unite the girl with her parents back in Pakistan. Bajrangi Bhaijaan, with its themes of love and brotherhood, can be seen as an attempt on the part of the Indian film fraternity to bring the two estranged countries together. It has all the ingredients to entertain the audiences of all age groups while simultaneously making then think. Salman Khan over the last half a decade has given us films that have rarely been devoid of style and hard hitting entertainment. But most of those films lacked in terms of storytelling. Bajrangi Bhaijaan is certainly an exception; it is a rare Salman Khan film that relies heavily on its plot. But, loaded with emotions and stashed with a few delightful moments of Bollywood-esque magic realism, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, despite its flaws and weaknesses, does come across as a film that millions of Salman fans truly deserve and desire: a film that's much more than being just another mindless entertainer.
Titli is a warning, a harsh reminder of the naked realities of the world we inhabit. It is a powerful work of cinema that jabs us in the small of our backs with the aim of dispelling our ignorance and apathy. The movie reminds us of the constant dangers that surround us and the helplessness of law to perpetually keep them at bay. Titli is not an easy film to watch and appreciate. Some sections of the film are deeply disturbing and require strong viewer discretion. The movie's raw power and its brutally honest filmmaking style remind us of crime dramas like City of God (2002) and American History X (1998). Shashank Arora and Ranvir Shorey are an absolute treat to watch as estranged brothers of a dysfunctional family of small time criminals. And barring the unsatisfactory and inconsistent third act denouement (a Bollywood-like ending intended to satisfy one and all), Titli proves to be a riveting cinematic experience.
Shamitabh, written and directed by R. Balki, stars Amitabh Bachchan, Dhanush and Akshara Hassan in the pivotal roles. Balki delivers yet another unconventional film in form of Shamitabh, which revolves around a highly talented but dumb aspiring actor who borrows another man’s voice to shoot to fame in Bollywood. Shamitabh can be best described as an earnest expression of Balki’s love for cinema. The movie offers endless tributes to various stalwarts of cinema like Charles Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, and Amitabh Bachchan himself. It is also aimed to be a satire on the lack of originality and creativity in Hindi cinema. While celebrating the power of cinema and its indelible impact on the masses, the movie simultaneously mocks the desperation people show to climb the ladders of fame. Balki doesn’t back down from taking a swipe at the media either. Balki seems to be making a statement about the growing commercial opportunism as well the fast dipping standards of cinema. Shamitabh is part entertaining and part thought-provoking but there are also some glaring flaws and inconsistencies. It’s also Balki’s most ambitious film yet. The overall chemistry between the movie’s three lead characters is nothing short of brilliant; some of the scenes between Dhanush and Bachchan are pure gold. Shamitabh comes across as a breath of fresh air, but it certainly isn't tailor-made for casual viewers on the lookout for a popcorn flick to spend a cozy evening. However, a truly lover of cinema cannot afford to miss it.
2. Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!
Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! is a suspense thriller film directed by the Dibakar Banerjee based on the popular sleuth character created by the Bengali writer Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay. It stars Sushant Singh Rajput, Neeraj Kabi, and Swastika Mukherjee in major roles. Set in 1942-43 Calcutta with the carefully chosen World War II backdrop, Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! can best be described as a marriage of commercial and experimental filmmaking. And those who think that Hindi cinema is not good enough to make great suspense thrillers anymore certainly need to watch this film. Dibakar Banerjee needs to be congratulated for recreating the City of Joy and for eliciting worthy performances from his entire cast of actors. The movie has some pacing issues but despite the flaws it proves to be quite an enthralling experience. While the movie may disappoint the hardcore Byomkesh Bakshi enthusiasts, it has all the elements to satisfy the masses and the classes alike.
Badlapur, directed by Sriram Raghavan and starring Varun Dhawan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, and Huma Qureshi in the major roles, presents the tale of a young man who seeks to avenge the coldblooded murder of his wife and kid committed by two bank robbers. The tragic loss of his wife and kid creates a void in his and he believes that his only way to redemption is through revenge. Badlapur marks Sriram Raghvan’s return to his favorite film noir genre. There’s no denying that it’s a tremendously bold attempt on the part of Dhawan to take up such a rugged and grayish role in a mainstream Hindi feature film. Badlapur is part psychological thriller, part character study that entertains while simultaneously making the viewer think. While the movie has several spine-chilling sequences, a la Alfred Hitchcock, there are also some light moments that provide some respite from the ever brewing tension. Ragahavan shows us how people change with time and adversities. How life can change at a moment’s notice. That honesty and integrity are the last things on anyone’s mind in a diabolical world rife with criminals, corrupt officials, manipulative social workers, pimps, prostitutes, and opportunistic journalists. That redemption can never be achieved by treading the path of destruction. There is a great moral dilemma at the core of Badlapur which makes its more than a quintessential tale of revenge. Badapur is technically brilliant with some topnotch direction, cinematography, editing and music. The acting is solid all-around with shape-shifting Nawazuddin Siddiqui and bold, dashing and dangerous-looking Varun Dhawan leading from the front and ably supported by Huma Qureshi (a couple of dance sequences in the film featuring Qureshi are tantalizingly erotic and immensely add to the movie’s entertainment value), Radhika Apte, Divya Dutta, Yami Gautam, and Vinay Pathak. Badlapur has less style and more gore compared to previous Sriram Raghavan films. The best way to enjoy Badlapur is to watch it with an open mind.
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— Murtaza Ali
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