Saturday, September 18, 2010

2010 so far...

We’re closing in on the last quarter of 2010 and Bollywood is about set to release a huge flood of big budget (or at least, highly promoted) films. What with Aishwarya and Akshay i Action Replayy, Aishwarya and Hrithik in Guzaarish, a slew of my favorites in Golmaal 3, Farah Khan’s Tees Maar Khan, Priyanka and Ranbir in Anjaana Anjaani, Ranbir in Rockstar, Imran in Break Ke Baad, the RETURN OF HARMAN BAWEJA, Mallika Sherawat with a snake in Hisss, and a whole lot more. Will it be enough to erase the sour taste the last few years have left in Bollywood viewers’ mouths?



Here’s my perspective on the year so far and what I hope we see in 2011 (and this is only my take, I’m not claiming to be the only viewpoint on this).

January 2010 was still in thrall to the
3 Idiots hangover. Everywhere we turned, there were the three way-too-old-to-be-playing-college-students actors grinning from posters and commercials. I know some people really connected with the film but the saccharine morality plays and sanitized nostalgia of Rajkumar Hirani really do not appeal to me. Fortunately, I don’t think anybody else besides Rajkumar Hirani wants to make movies like Rajkumar Hirani but we do have at least one adaptation of Chetan Bhagat’s work coming out - directed by Abhishek Kapoor (Rock On!!, which I actually really liked) - but after the kerfuffle over the writing credit on 3 Idiots, I think this film will have a completely different tone.



What films did come out in January were almost universally awful. The colo-hero careers of Uday Chopra (
Pyaar Impossible) and Fardeen Khan (Dulha Mil Gaya) are essential dead and their offerings certainly didn’t help. Shahid Kapoor did little to build on his Kaminey breakthrough in Chance Pe Dance (even if I loved it), Salman Khan poured his heart into Veer and audiences rejected it, and both audiences and critics were lukewarm on Ram Gopal Varma’s Rann (although Riteish Deshmukh was praised, as he should be.)



There was exactly one worthwhile film to emerge from January 2010 - a what a film it was! I don’t think I’m being premature by proclaiming this THE BEST FILM of 2010. Yes, I’m talking about
Ishqiya. (You can read my write-up here.) A bit naughty, very rural, and equal parts light and dark, it tapped into something in masala lovers like me and the pretentious ‘cinema’ lovers of Passion For Cinema and that is nothing to sneeze at.

From
Ishqiya, it was a long slog through the winter - Shahrukh and Shahrukh alone salvaged Karan Johar’s monstrous My Name is Khan from being an utter flop and a horde of small ‘quirky’ films like Teen Patti and Kartik Calling Kartik failed to thrill or chill audiences in any serious way (although I adored Hum Tum aur Ghost - my review here), except for the groundbreaking art house film Love Sex aur Dhoka - but let’s be honest, Dibakar Banerjee may make people weep with joy at film festivals but he’s never going to be bringing in the big money. Something producer Ekta Kapoor is almost certainly concerned with. She’s not working with Dibakar Banerjee on his next film.



It’s not until April that things perk up with two films that I think signal where Bollywood will be heading in 2011 (alas, not to
Ishqiya town and starring Arshad Warsi in everything). First we have Prince starring Vivek Oberoi. In my opinion, it’s Prince that sounded the first warning shots that unironic entertainment for the masses is back. Prince, a slick, mostly soulless entertainer (you can read my review here) is not a good film. It’s not even all that entertaining, being an ‘entertainer’ in the Race style, but it did something that films hadn’t done since Hrithik charmed everybody’s pants off in Dhoom 2: The advertising offered completely unironic over-the-top action, adventure, bikini babes , and song picturizations. Prince was a hit in the single-screen cinemas and that patina of success after the flop-a-palooza was enough to bring Vivek Oberoi back into the Bollywood fold.



The other hit of April was the deliberately stupid
Housefull from Sajid Khan (you can read my review here), which gave Akshay Kumar a much needed hit and offered tired audiences some va-va-voom (Jiah Khan!), silly comedy, and an oddly buffed up Riteish Deshmukh. And until Dabangg, this was the biggest hit of the year.

May and June had two major flops and one surprise hit. The high-concept, big-budget , West-baiting
Kites (my review here) and Raavan (not Raavanan - you can read my review of the Tamil film here - which was a hit down South for Vikram) proved that big stars, good concepts, and a desperate attempt to court the West are not enough for box office success. Hrithik will be testing audiences again with Guzaarish this fall, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Krrish 2 was announced very soon after it became clear that Kites was flying very low, indeed. And as for the Aish-Abhi jodi... well, Aishwarya is unleashing her comic chops in Action Replayy and pouring her all into the Tamil film Endhiraan, while Abhishek has signed on for a handful of films in the Bluffmaster vein. His cool-dude persona seems to be the one that works best at the box office.



But in the middle of these two high profile flops was a very surprise hit - Prakash Jha’s
Raajneeti (my review here). And much like Ishqiya it was a rural, slightly naughty , and dark film but unlike Ishqiya it was meant to be seen big and it was meant to be seen by a mass audience. Prakash Jha isn’t known to be a hit maker, like Rakesh Roshan is known to be hit maker, although he does make quality films. So, between the stench of failure on Kites and Raavan, the brightness of Raajneeti shone all the brighter. Ajay Devgn, Ranbir Kapoor, and especially Katrina Kaif and Arjun Rampal proved their acting talents to the critics and masses alike.



July and August were the months of hip, urban films. Hyped to no end, the middling
I Hate Luv Stories and Aisha just seemed tired. I was tired of them and very tired of Sonam Kapoor before they had even come out in theaters and the reviews and audience reaction seemed to suggest the same thing. Priyadarshan’s Khatta Meeta proved to be too old-fashioned for mainstream audiences. And Lafangey Parindey struck another nail into the coffin of hip, young urban Neil Nitin Mukesh’s career. Ironically, it was the old-fashioned yet hip Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai (you can read my review here) that brought audiences out and racked up another hit for Ajay Devgn and gave a major boost to the production career of one Ms. Ekta Kapoor, queen of populist entertainment. (And if Golmaal 3 does as well as expected, we may as well crown him King of 2010 for this hatrick).

September is half-way gone and we have a situation that sums up pretty much the state of Bollywood at the moment. On the one hand, there is
We Are Family, the “official” adaptation of a mediocre Hollywood film - filmed in Australia with a ‘modern’ (read ‘Western’) sensibility. And then there is Dabangg (read my review here), a genuine Bollywood masala film set in Bihar and starring a cocky Salman Khan. Dabangg has opened bigger than 3 Idiots and looks set to break box office records. We Are Family is quietly exiting theaters.

Read into that what you will.

The winners of 2010 so far are as follows:

1) Ekta Kapoor, queen of producers!
2) Sonakshi Sinha, a debut to kill for and a performance to back it up
3) Salman Khan and Vivek Oberoi, back in the game
4) Vikram, the macho man makes good in Mumbai
5) Katrina Kaif, giving a critically acclaimed performance (although she always ruled my heart)

And honorable mentions to Sonu Sood, Bipasha Basu, Arjun Rampal, Jiah Khan, Riteish Deshmukh, and Arshad Warsi for giving excellent performances that will almost certainly be ignored in favor of people like Abhishek Bachchan. (If Naseer doesn’t win Best Actor for
Ishqiya, I’ll do something... bad.)

The losers:

1) Sonam Kapoor, for the love of God eat something
2) Karan Johar, stick to the chat show
3) Neil Nitin Mukesh and Imran Khan, who?
4) Remakes, good-bye! (I won’t miss you!)
5) “Hollywood”-style films, you all suck.

And honorable mentions to Farhan Akhtar, Deepika Padukone, Abhishek Bachchan, and Lara Dutta for giving some really bad performances in some really hyped movies. And a big honorable mention for Trisha, who blew her chance at Bollywood and then got caught up in the Telugu film industry cocaine scandal. (Bikini bodies don’t come easy, ladies!)

3 comments:

Anishok said...

Nice write-up! I agree with all your conclusions - the Indianness of Indian films is making a comeback and it's GREAT! I'm tired of short, soulless and glossy B/Hollywood fare. Masala FTW!
P.S. I loooove Naseer in Ishqiya, but I'm pretty sure the Filmfare will go to SRK (he was after all nothing short of amazing in MNIK....even if MNIK wasn't a good film).

Anita said...

Lmao at the top three of your loser list being my favourites. XD

Also...we both didn't like 3 Idiots?! IT'S A MIRACLE!! XD I still think Munnabhai MBBS was the best Hirani ever did. I loved that movie, not the hyped up Lage Raho Munnabhai and 3 Idiots, which were strictly okay...

Amaluu said...

BWAHAHAHA - Sonam for the love of god eat something!!! Love it.

Good round-up! I do think that most of the super hyped up movies will fade pretty quickly from people's memories.

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