Every year, with the good, there are bad movies too.
Subhash K Jha picks his seven worst films of 2021.
Bhuj: The Pride Of India
As a pulp, patriotic drama, Bhuj is shamefully shoddy work, exposing its glaring inadequacies under the garb of nationalistic jingoism.
Everybody in the film talks with flag-waving braggadocio, as though competing for the best actor award at the local amateur theatre workshop.
So devoid of cinematic quality is this war film and so oafish are the battle sequences that I wondered if the whole endeavour was planned as a Doordarshan serial on the occasion of Veer Diwas.
While purporting to honour our brave soldiers, Bhuj actually insults the entire army by deploying the worst computer graphics for the aerial and ground battle scenes I've ever seen in a war film.
While Pakistani soldiers drop bombs erratically on the vulnerable airbase in Bhuj, none can equal the bomb that the film proves to be.
The director just doesn't know where to stop. Or for that matter, where to begin.
Haathi Mere Saathi
This Haathi Mere Saathi has nothing to do with Rajesh Khanna's 1971 blockbuster of the same title.
This one has a lot of elephants in it, but fails to address the elephant in the room: Why has this film been made?
Haathi Mere Saathi has Rana Daggubati running around with a wild look as if he's just seen the Chinese releasing the COVID virus.
He plays some kind of an animal conservationist battling to save elephants from evil capitalists.
Ananth Mahadevan is the greedy entrepreneur who builds a big wall blocking the elephants from the jungle.
Poor Sheeba Chadha! That extraordinary actress is reduced to a prop in a film.
There is a lot of noise and screechy sermons on how human plunderers are destroying the elephants' natural habitat but the tone is way too shrill to convey the message.
Haathi Mere Saathi is the sledgehammer of conservationism.
The CGs are extremely poor.
Daggubati monopolises the footage, but the voice that's dubbed for him in Hindi doesn't suit him.
Ditto Zoya Hassan, running around the jungle trying to save the elephants, and Pulkit Samrat, who looks lost.
But who will save the audience from this hysterical tripe about the plundering tribe?
Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai
So much has changed, but not Salman Khan.
He continues to be a one-man vendetta army, this time out to clean Mumbai of drugs and drug peddlers.
And there are so many of them!
The villains just keep pouring in like unwanted monsoon showers.
I keep a count but gave up after the 17th baddie. I hoped Radhe's crime-fighting skills are better than my counting, and I was right.
At the end of one hour 49 minutes, Salman's cop act had eliminated all the villains, two of them, Gautam Gulati (playing a henchman named Girgit) and Pravesh Rana from Bigg Boss.
If this is what big screen entertainment is meant to be, we are better off watching OTT serials at home.
Radhe: India's Most Wanted Bhai is strictly for the Salmaniacs.
It transports Bhai, the plot and the audience into a Neverland of freewheeling combats, where we get an extremely hazy, lazy, crazy view of who's beating whom to a pulp.
All that so that our hero emerges from each physical conflict looking like he has just had a bath and a meal with a little bit of the ketchup from the French fries stuck on his cheek and sleeves.
How bad is Bhoot Police? It's hard to say.
This work touches such peaks of dumbness that one is at a loss for words.
Descriptions like 'awful' and 'mediocre' would just touch the tip of the tale's woeful inadequacy.
Saif Ali Khan tries so hard to be funny, it's scary. I could write a whole thesis on Mr Khan's 'Bihari' accent. Being from Bihar, I am yet to hear anyone speak like that.
Bhoot Police is filled with such never-before sights and sounds... Like A Chudail belching profanity, like Saif trying to mimic Rajkummar Rao in Stree and failing miserably, or Arjun Kapoor puking into a holy earthen pot while Saif holds it for him...
It really hurts to see Rinzing Denzongpa's career being crushed under the wheels of such amateurishness.
This is an unpardonably tawdry film.
No actor, no matter how incompetent, deserves to be so brutally compromised.
No film in recent memory has made such an inadequate use of a cast in desperate pursuit of some moments.
The humourless action film about R&AW-like agents rescuing a little girl from Georgia is shot with all the seriousness of a drunken monk trying to trapeze across a tumultuous river.
Debutants Rinzing and Malvika Raaj playing squad members have no opportunity to prove anything.
Seniors Mohan Kapoor and Pooja Batra try to have some fun with their roles as a couple of squabbling squad commanders with a chip on their shoulders.
While Ms Batra takes her role seriously, Kapoor tears into his part with delight. He is the only one who knows what he has gotten himself into.
Rinzing's character Bhim suffers from a serious deprivation of motivation.
He is on a mission to rescue a little girl but he is afraid of children. Why? Because he saw one die during a terror flush-out operation.
The relationship that grows, or is meant to grow, between the hero and his vulnerable visitant remains a flickering possibility in this laughably film.
The potentially interesting outdoor locations are squandered away with most of the heated discussions happening indoors.
The Girl On The Train
The biggest suspense for me was not whodunit but whydunnit.
Why oh why did Ribhu Dasgupta see the need to remake what was a middling thriller with a stand-out performance by Emily Blunt as a train wreck of a woman whose judgment we can't trust.
There is no point to this remake that relocates the original thriller from New York to London and then proceeds to make some misguided changes from the original which I can't reveal.
I sensed something going wrong from the start of this two-hour 'whydunnit' when five minutes into the narrative, a shaadi song showed up.
Coy glances, wriggly hips, the works.
Emily Blunt must be choking on her popcorn.
It was a reminder of the more indigenous moderations in the original script which was about a woman on the skids, drinking herself silly and making a nuisance of herself in other people's lives.
This poor remake takes itself too seriously with red herrings scattered across the chaotic plot.
Worse still are the endless explanations!
Every move is explained in case the audience misses the point.
Parineeti Chopra starts on a shaky note but gets confident eventually.
When the dialogues are not cheesy in their originality, they are corny translations of the original.
A sample: 'Do you think tumne ussey hurt kiya hoga?'
I understand these are Indians in London but no one talks like this, anywhere.
Parineeti ploughs through the incoherent remake trying to keep her sozzled, stumbling character on its feet.
Another bright (and brave) performance comes from Kirti Kulhari as a cop at Scotland Yard with a turban and a dark secret.
Aditi Rao Hydari does what she is good at: Look pretty.
Avinash Tiwary as Parineeti's husband infuses some brio into his inert part.
This one is a downright embarrassment for all concerned, especially Manoj Bajpayee and Neena Gupta who have been going through a bright patch in their careers.
Little did they know that they would have to deal with an unforeseen hurdle.
Dial 100 is so bland in presentation and suspense, you wonder if the director slept through its making.
Or what was Rensil D'Silva thinking while casting Bajpayee as a cop who receives a distress call from Neena Gupta, who remains just a voice for the first 20 minutes?
When she finally appears on screen, at Manoj's wife Sakshi Tanwar's door, Neena is a gun-toting psychopath, out to get revenge from the couple.
Neena Gupta struggles with her character, trying to understand its motivations.
The script doesn't help her in any way, getting more and more abstruse with every passing moment.
A young boy, playing Manoj and Sakshi's son, shows up selling cocaine to his friends.
Why would a boy from a well-to-do family, a cop's son to boot, fall into such awful company? The screenplay has no answers.
Instead, it makes Manoj grit his teeth and tell the boy, 'Go home right now.'
In one sequence, Manoj's son hides in an abandoned building while someone is looking for him with a knife.
What is Manoj's son doing in that godforsaken place?
More importantly, what is Manoj doing in this melodrama with production values of a student's film?