Bollywood's Best Hindi Films of 2010
The year 2010 showed the door to established filmmakers like Sanjay Leela Bhansali (Guzaarish), Karan Johar (My Name is Khan), Mani Ratnam (Raavan), Ashutosh Gowariker (Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey) and Anurag Basu (Kites).
While none of these movies were awful in entirety, they fell short of living up to their maker's potential or reputation.
In contrast, smaller-budget films helmed by bright first-timers like Abhishek Chaubey, Anusha Rizvi and Vikramaditya Motwane flourished under the brand value of producers like Vishal Bhardwaj, Aamir Khan and Anurag Kashyap respectively.
Superstar vehicles weren't ignored either. In fact, some of them feature quite prominently and justifiably on my list of Top 10 Hindi films of this year. The following, arranged in no particular order, are my favourites. How about telling me yours?
Natha marega. Natha nahi marega.
A wry debate and superbly-crafted satire by director Anusha Rizvi, Peepli [Live] puts together a flawless team of virtually unknown actors, with the exception of Naseeruddin Shah and Raghubir Yadav, to point out the discrepancies in the political administration, opportunistic tendencies of the media and its combined impact on a grass-root level.
The sharp-witted narrative alternates between moments of poignancy and hilarity to produce a lingering image of desperation, ambition and apathy.
Read the review of Peepli [Live]
Image: The Peeli [Live] Trailer
Vidya Balan dons the dowdiest colours, sputters the choicest expletives and yet one cannot think of a better word than grace to describe her in the film. Ditto for the movie.
Ishqiya belongs to its producer Vishal Bhardwaj's school of thought; it has an urban mind ticking within a rustic skin, which makes for a fascinating blend.
Director Abhishek Chaubey's debut is a sly, stylish and whimsical tale of maverick characters and mysterious motives.
High on breathtaking poetry and melody coupled with compelling performances, this one's a complete treat.
Read the review of Ishqiya
Image: The Ishqiya trailer
Robot is brimming with USPs. Take your pick from the spectacular SFX, Shankar's brand of larger-than-life entertainment, high-octane action, lavish choreography or Ash-themed glamour. No? But of course, not. This is an out and out Rajnikanth vehicle.
That unmistakable superstar aura is hard to miss both as an android with innumerable tricks up his sleeve as well as the dedicated creator of this marvel. And so whether it's transforming into a thousand weapons-clad mythical God or a giant cyborg-gone-berserk in the city, Rajni simply rocks!
Read the review of Robot
Image: The Robot trailer
Love Sex Aur Dhoka
I've said this before. I reiterate: Any film that wows you with its out-of-the-box creativity deserves to be applauded in every possible manner.
Following Khosla Ka Ghosla and Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye, Dibakar Banerjee takes filmmaking to another level with his in-your-face triplet of stories that relies on hidden or hand-held cameras to generate a shaky, startling image.
It's an uneasy watch that drags one out of their comfort zones. And it's totally worth it.
Read the review of Love Sex Aur Dhoka
Image: The Love Sex Aur Dhoka trailer
No stars. No cliches. Just a heartfelt story told with straightforward simplicity and free-flowing sensitivity, director Vikramaditya Motwane makes a breakthrough with Udaan.
A coming-of-age story centered around a profound 17-year-old living in a small town burdened with the aloofness of a stern, nearly indifferent father and his too-young-to-understand stepbrother, Udaan strives and succeeds in creating a deeper, empathetic understanding of what goes on in a restless young mind and its need to rebel, at times with good reason.
To actor Rajat Barmecha's credit, he represents this voice with tremendous restraint and integrity.
Read the review of Udaan
Image: The Udaan trailer
Tere Bin Laden
Whoa, it's set in Pakistan! Double whoa, it involves international terrorist Osama Bin Laden as some sort of a joke.
The idea of assembling a team in a bid to cash in on an Osama Bin Laden-lookalike to make some quick bucks and fulfill one's American dream is entirely preposterous.
But director Abhishek Shama executes it with such cheek and conviction, you find yourself unwittingly rooting for his cause. A brilliant comedy worked on a crazy premise and a bunch of solid actors, Pradhuman Singh and Ali Zafar in particular, ensure Tere Bin Laden is a rip-roaring experience from start to finish.
Read the review of Tere Bin Laden
Image: The Tere Bin Laden trailer
Phas Gaye Re Obama
The budget's small but the laughs just don't stop. Director Subhash Kapoor's Phas Gaye Re Obama employs US President Barrack Obama like a metaphor to convey the thriving American dream of its small-town protagonists. And because it's conveyed with such shrewd wit and inspired verve, there's no way you'll stay unimpressed.
Whether it's the gifted ensemble of actors, especially Sanjay Mishra, or the rib-tickling audacity of its plot, PGRB scores big time.
Read the review of Phas Gaye Re Obama
Image: The Phas Gaye Re Obama trailer
Do Dooni Chaar
Once known to wear the trendiest sweaters in town, Rishi Kapoor is just as convincing (and cuddly) in the ones from Kamla Nagar Market in Habib Faisal's Do Dooni Chaar. It's refreshing to see him play a leading role in a subject that both suits and validates his enormous talent.
Moreover, it pairs him with one of his best co-stars and real-life partner Neetu Singh (it's as though she never took a break) after a huge gap. They, along with the sparkling young talent of Aditi Vasudev and Archit Krishna as their discontent kids, form the endearing and adorable Duggals.
A feel-good gem, Do Dooni Chaar celebrates the highs and lows of a typical middle-class Delhi household by introducing an enchanting possibility around the same.
If you cared about the Wagles, you'll love the Duggals too.
Read the review of Do Dooni Chaar
Image: The Do Dooni Chaar trailer
Band Baaja Baaraat
Truth be told, when the promos came out, Band Baaja Baaraat appeared to be yet another vain Yashraj rom-com ridding on Punjabiness and frothy dances. Instead what you get is, finally, a Delhi you can relate to.
A refreshingly fresh take on romance, director Maneesh Sharma changes it up by setting his story against the milieu of planning weddings led by a cast of two extremely dazzling actors Anushka Sharma and newcomer Ranveer Singh, not to forget their extremely believable chemistry.
Marinated in the zingy masalas of Delhi and its carefree folk, Band Baaja Baaraat packs in celebration, drama, humour, banter, the works against a record number of LED lights.
Read the review of Band Baaja Baaraat.
Image: The Band Baaja Baaraat trailer
Kamaal karte ho Pandeyji, how can any list be complete without Chulbul Pandey's rollicking presence this year? Whether it turns out to be the Indiana Jones of his career or not, Salman Khan was born to play this chap.
Despite Dabangg's incorrigible silliness, Khan makes it all work, infusing that trademark swagger and blithe eccentricity to concoct a thoroughly enjoyable character. A swanky Spanish guitar in the background and spiffy punch-liners fuel his cause further.
Read the review of Dabangg.
Image: The Dabangg trailer