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The Best Bollywood films of 2011

Last updated on: December 28, 2011 12:00 IST

The Best Bollywood films of 2011

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Sukanya Verma in Mumbai

It's that time of the year again when members of our tribe are called upon to sum up the highs and lows of cinema and its produce of successes, surprises and setbacks   

Blue is how I'd describe 2011 in Bollywood with majority of its 'Most-Awaited' fare finishing up as first-rate blunders attesting how grand budgets don't always translate into great films. All the same, the money-spinners, led by a currently invincible Salman Khan, couldn't care less what the reviews had to say.

On the other hand, there were instances of pretty albeit pretentious elements passing off ambiguous for artistic (7 Khoon Maaf, Dhobi Ghat). And while the stories of men bonding over holidays (Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara), felony (Delhi Belly) and girls (Dil Toh Bachcha Hai Ji) continued to subsist, the women had it good too, playing the central protagonist in frivolous (Mere Brother Ki Dulhan) or fastidious (The Dirty Picture) material, nailing the box-office.    

What's unsettling though is how even the best of the lot had something lacking and didn't quite inspire complete viewer submission. Then again, I've often endorsed the beauty of imperfections. So here's my orderless compilation of 10 films which, in my eyes, redeemed 2011 from being a complete failure.

Rockstar

It's not every day you see a leading man and composer so consumed and tuned-in to a script and its undertones that they collectively rise above its flaws and loopholes.

Except grudging director Imtiaz Ali's choice of leading lady, a jarring Nargis Fakhri and an erratic narrative, there is much to admire about this staggering piece of filmmaking that celebrates the acuteness of unrequited romance and the soul of its poetry through Ranbir Kapoor's soul-baring performance along with A R Rahman's electrifying soundtrack.

Read Rediff review here!


Image: Movie poster of Rockstar


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Delhi Belly

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High on innuendoes, expletives, oddities and madcap humor, Abhinay Deo's quirky Delhi Belly, produced by Aamir Khan, fruitfully tests the average Indian viewer's appetite for crude and convoluted with its explicit visuals and wild twists.

It's an acquired taste but if you're willing to give in to the film's high-strung candour, DB rewards with hilarious gratification and a terrific Vijay Raaz. Moreover, it's practical enough to wrap up in a snappy 102 minutes to complain.

Read Rediff review here!


Image: Movie poster of Delhi Belly


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Stanley Ka Dabba

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Dare not dismiss Stanley Ka Dabba as an attempt to milk the overwhelming response generated by Taare Zameen Par. Although both films belong to a somewhat similar milieu and have writer/director Amol Gupte in common, Stanley Ka Dabba is a touching fable of a cheerful school boy fabricating rich stories about his privileged life to his captivated classmates and tiffin-hogging teacher, suppressing a reality, which is most unfortunate and heartbreaking. 

Even though Partho's Stanley is tad exaggerated in his efforts, it's a sentiment that mirrors the true state of impoverished childhood in society. And that alone is worth the price of admission.

Read Rediff review here!


Image: Movie poster of Stanley Ka Dabba


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Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara

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Never underestimate the strength of travel. It excites, enlightens and evokes emotions you didn't know exist. Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara underscores this beautifully by taking its three diverse characters and best friends on a journey resulting in a gradual coming-of-age scenario that is akin to the sensibilities of Dil Chahta Hai.  

After an impressive debut in Luck By Chance, Zoya Akhtar demonstrates her know-how of the craft yet again with a visually enticing trip to Spain but never relies on mere scenic appeal to make her point. 

The understated evolution of her protagonists from awkward to amused to awakened is so persuasive, why on earth should I not give in?  

Read Rediff review here!


Image: Movie poster of Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara


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Yeh Saali Zindagi

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A black comedy cum action cum crime thriller, Yeh Saali Zindagi has a lot going on but its chief attribute is its sly script and breakneck tempo resulting in pure exhilaration. 

YSZ never takes its viewer for a fool, challenging him/her to keep up with its non-stop influx of cunning motives and shrewd subtext. 

Without a fancy budget or so-called A-listers to tom-tom, Sudhir Mishra achieves a sleekness and substance courtesy a capable cast of actors not stars, taut script and, let me repeat, vroom vroom pace. 

Read Rediff review here!


Image: Movie poster of Yeh Saali Zindagi


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That Girl in Yellow Boots

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The husband and wife team of Anurag Kashyap and Kalki Koechlin collaborate to paint a gritty and surreal picture of a British girl and her interactions with the disturbing facets of Mumbai's underbelly in a bid to locate her estranged father. 

Kashyap's unrelenting documentation of the unsettling coupled by Kalki's cheerless, edgy portrayal of Ruth and a bunch of secondary but effective characters lends to the imagery and impact of That Girl in Yellow Boots.  

Read Rediff review here!


Image: Movie poster of That Girl in Yellow Boots


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Shor in the City

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It's a proud moment when you can congratulate a colleague for creating something credible and not just you have to be polite. I experienced a similar sense of relief on watching Shor in the City, which is co-written by former Rediff.com staffer Sita Menon. 

A deft, layered exploration into the lives of people inhabiting Mumbai's darker alleys, Shor, directed by Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK, is one of the most favourably reviewed films of 2011. And with good reason.

Read Rediff review here!


Image: Movie poster of Shor in the City


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I AM

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I AM touches upon the subject of artificial insemination, Kashmir, child abuse and gay prostitution through four short films interwoven as one. 

Director Onir ensures the transition of one story to another doesn't seem jumpy and leaves it for open assessment, avoiding any closure or judgement from his own.

 It's an interesting, relevant experiment, funded by more than 400 individuals, bolstered with believable performances from cast members like Juhi Chawla, Nandita Das, Rahul Bose and Sanjay Suri. 

Read Rediff review here!



Image: Movie poster of I AM


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The Dirty Picture

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After scoring for the past two years with Paa (2009) and Ishqiya (2010), Vidya Balan completes an hatrick of winning performances with The Dirty Picture this year. 

Truth be told, I am exhausting my stock of compliments for this astonishing, fearless actress. For while other films demanded not more than histrionics, Vidya physically transforms into a raunchy object to essay sex symbol Silk Smitha in Milan Luthria's unofficial biopic. 

TDP, with all its induced flamboyance and unmistakable dialoguebaazi, tries hard to match Vidya's fervour but never comes close.

Read Rediff review here!  


Image: Movie poster of The Dirty Picture


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Tanu Weds Manu

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A refreshing addition in the rom-com stable, Tanu Weds Manu is a charming confection about 'opposites attract' that takes you by surprise with its earthy characters and their zingy interactions. 

Adding to the frolic is the disarming chemistry between a perfectly cast R Madhavan and Kangna Ranaut (employing her woeful dialogue delivery to bring about some laugh-out-loud moments). Their light-hearted banter amplified by Krsna's lilting score would rank much higher if it wasn't for the prolonged, awfully-written climax involving a crazy hamming Jimmy Shergill.

Read Rediff review here!


Image: Movie poster of Tanu Weds Manu


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