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Pictures That Best Capture 2023's Hindi Cinema

December 29, 2023 10:24 IST
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We read about the magic of movies and feel it all the time.

At times, it appears full scale as if designed for wows and whistles, at times it's quiet yet achingly true in its depiction.

Often though in 2023, Hindi cinema felt like a newborn baby crying for attention, wanting to be cradled in the audience's arms if not humoured for being a bonafide brat.

From moments that felt long time in the coming to swashbuckling statements that could be interpreted in more ways than one, there are some that fanned our nostalgia, some made our jaws drop (or stomachs churn), some hit too close home, still others left us with a lingering sense of guilt.

Sukanya Verma picks cinematic imagery that stood out in 2023.


Jawan's crowd-pleasing masala gave Shah Rukh Khan fans plenty of reason to drown the hall in wolf whistles and deafening applause.

Always the face of love, it was a welcome change to watch the superstar let his hair down (or lose it altogether) in a wholeheartedly comic-book space of action-packed vigilantism.

Under Atlee's direction, his Vikram Rathore gets not one but two goosebump-inducing introduction scenes.

One is right at the beginning when he shows up looking like a Bandaged Knight straight out of a Naruto manga.


And the other one is right before the interval when a badass SRK pops out of nowhere to rescue his younger self.

Popcorn was invented for logic-defying moments like this.

Bete se baat karne se pehle baap se baat kar!

Who can forget SRK putting his attackers in place, on screen and off it, in this wink of a scene in Jawan?

Vote for King Khan!

Promise, last one!

Jawan is no classic, but political statements are the last thing you'd expect from a movie from its ilk.

Shah Rukh Khan telling folks to vote carefully and not be misled by self-seeking politicians despite his personal experiences under the present regime is boldness at its peak.

Karan Arjun Aa Gaye!

Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan coming together to beat up baddies black and blue brought back memories of Karan Arjun in ways only a '90s kid will truly understand in a wittily penned action set piece as well as an end credits scene of Pathaan.

Tiger 3 lacked the novelty factor of this one, but their collaboration in the upcoming Tiger vs Pathaan is keenly awaited.

Dola Re 2.0

Ranveer Singh's Rocky learning the folly of his prejudiced ways and joining his would-be father-in-law, Tota Roy Choudhury, in a Kathak dance to Dola Re at a community pujo celebration, much to his bigoted Punjabi family's chagrin, is all kinds of revolutionary.

Asserting its feelings about gender stereotyping and belief in 'hunar ka koi gender nahi hota,' Karan Johar achieves a perfect marriage of sense and spectacle.

When Dharmendra kissed Shabana Azmi

Before one could wonder 'Will he, won't he?' Dharmendra zoomed ahead and planted a sweet little kiss on Shabana Azmi's lips, a rather adorable expression of romance that left us surprised and spellbound in equal measure.

Animal unleashed!

As many as 300 fighters, 25-30 litres of blood, a custom-made 'war machine' designed to bombard a countless bullets and almost 20 minutes of blood-soaked adrenalin as an axe wielding Ranbir Kapoor single-handedly bulldozes an army of masked men against the beats of Marathi folk tunes and Punjabi war cries is Animal at its bonkers best.

Kareena Kapoor Khan, up close and personal

It's like my review says, 'When Kareena performs the Laxmikant-Pyarelal song (from the 1969 film Intequam) inspiring the film's title in a stunning karaoke scene, it's a poignant glimpse into her bottled-up passion and pain.

What makes it masterful is how Director Sujoy Ghosh doesn't confirm its genuineness.

The actor's irresistible guessing game invites us to stare right into her face and deceive us into thinking we're on to something.

We are. And we aren't. Now that's something.

Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi?

Navninder Behl makes Lalita Pawar's cruelty look like a walk in the park when compared to her serenely savage treatment of the bahu in Khufiya.

Just the sight of her deceptively innocent senior citizen confidently firing a gun is stuff for a wicked spin off.


At a time when big is treated as better, 12th Fail's success is proof there's more to 'mass' connect than frontbencher fantasy.

A whole lot of it stems from the inspiring optimism of its 'restart' motto exemplified in a tea stall of the same name run by a failed aspirant.

Kho Gaye Hum Kahan

This quintessential picture of life in the digital age is all too familiar. And we all have one such version in our, where else, mobile phones.

Nowhere to run

The India we think we know and yet, don't know anything about. Its reality is unsettling and puts us to shame.

A tribal man on the run to save his infant baby from a system that never had his interests at heart, the haunting image of Manoj Bajpayee feeding his child under a pillar that reads 'Bharat Ka Samvidhan' cuts deep.

When Handa Home met Filter Coffee

Few speak 'Bombay' like actor, writer and director Vijay Maurya.

His Mast Mast Rehne Ka romanticises the city's charms and serendipitous connections between complete strangers.

Like the chuckle worthy one between Neena Gupta's large mole and Jackie Shroff's nose hair.

Sunny Smash!

Gadar 2 is as absurd as it gets but, boy, was it fun to watch Sunny Deol's dhai kilo ka haath back in action?

A Time called You

That Gulzar-like lyricism and poetry in the frames and familiarity of Avinash Arun's Three of Us as a woman diagnosed with dementia walks down memory lane flanked by her past and present, evokes words from Kinara's immortal song, Naam Ghum Jayega -- Waqt ke sitam kam haseen nahi. Aaj hain yahan kal kahin nahi.

The Archies

Even those who didn't care for Zoya Akhtar's Indianised take on the classic comic-book characters appreciated the tender acknowledgement of friendship and sexuality between Reggie and Dilton in one of its most heartfelt scenes.

Girls just wanna have fun!

Scenery and sisterhood go hand in hand as Dhak Dhak's Ratna Pathak Shah, Dia Mirza, Fatima Sana Shaikh and Sanjana zoom off to a road trip in Ladakh and prove women getting along with women is one of the most comforting things in this world.

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