December 29, 2021 8:31:30 am
The year 2021 was a mixed bag not just in terms of genres and stories, but even platforms and mediums. While a major chunk of releases opted for the digital path, those which managed theatrical releases had the added responsibility of bringing people to cinema halls even as a new variant arrived on scene. But amid all of this, the audience were spoiled for choices.
Manoj Bajpayee, during an interaction at Express e-Adda, reiterated that the era of superstars was over as content and OTT ruled the roost. We saw breakout performances by several actors who’d been trying to find a footing for years, even as the superstars struggled.
In retrospect, movies backed by the big names largely failed to find takers, and the new breed of actors shone. Listing down the best and worst Hindi movies of 2021 would make it a long list, given there wasn’t any dearth of releases across mediums. There were interesting subjects like Tribhanga, Nail Polish, Silence…Can You Hear It, Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi, Mimi, Pagglait, Thalaivii, Rashmi Rocket and Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui that impressed. In fact many of them had women in the lead, a sure shift in the way we consumed cinema. Then there was Sooryavanshi — typical Rohit Shetty film with 3 times the stardom you expect in one. Critics were left bemused but audience lapped it up.
Before we turn the last page on our calendars, we pick five best and worst Bollywood films of 2021 in no order, that are etched in our memories, either for providing wholesome entertainment or leaving us scratching our heads.
Best Bollywood films of 2021
Vicky Kaushal had to bear 13 stitches on the face and some incredibly overwhelming moments while filming this biopic of revolutionary Sardar Udham Singh. The build-up to his revenge from General O’Dwyer, the heart-wrenching Jallianwala Bagh sequence and an intense climax made it a rare biographical drama. Vicky’s transformation into a 20-year-old was phenomenal, and soo was Shoojit Sircar’s direction.
Sherni was a unique tale of primacy of nature and human greed. Directed by Newton fame Amit Masurkar, it starred Vidya Balan and had two tigresses, to say the least. In the midst of its forest and four-legged beasts, Vidya roared the loudest. She was effortless and powerful, and so was its supporting cast.
Another biopic, Shershaah added a big feather in Sidharth Malhotra’s cap for playing war hero Captain Vikram Batra. The movie was appreciated for staying honest to the soldier’s story and keeping the story of patriotism real. A game changer for Sidharth and Kiara Advani, it showed us Batra’s delicate moments at the battlefield and his lesser-known and deeply emotional love story with Dimple Cheema.
Among the last set of releases this year, 83 received a thumbs up from critics and audience alike. The sports-drama traced India’s first cricket World Cup win in 1983 and how the squad lead by Kapil Dev achieved the impossible. From recreating the era to detailing and the way it employed the original footage, Kabir Khan’s direction was unique. Its high point was the incredible cast who delivered pitch perfect performances. Many called it not a film but “an emotion” and we agree too.
From the heart-stopping opening scene to the impactful gender-defying finale, the dark comedy worked due to its layered plot. What, at the first look, seems like Pinky saving Sandeep from assailants, is actually a nuanced story of class divide, corporate greed, misogyny and privilege. Arjun Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra play protagonists from opposite worlds, fighting for survival and self respect. A staple Dibakar Banerjee fare.
Worst Bollywood films of 2021
Despite exciting trailers and a promise to live up to the expectations set by Stree, Roohi failed miserably. Poor script and a poorer execution marred what looked like a sharp witty film initially. Janhvi Kapoor tried hard to be a ghost, Varun Sharma delivered some laughs with his ghostly-love story too. But not enough to save Roohi from being a snooze-fest.
Radhe was the Eidi fans won’t wish to ever receive again. Even by the standards of a formula Salman Khan film, it was a disappointment. A total embarrassment for Salman and his fans, it ended up as actor’s worst rated films on review aggregation site IMDb.
It’s surely a risk if you try to take on a part played by Emily Blunt in a frame-by-frame remake. Parineeti Chopra tried really hard, it was evident. But a half-baked screenplay left no impact. Tired and hackneyed, you couldn’t even bother to find out the identity of the killer by the end of this murder mystery.
A war film about a little known story during the 1971 war would have been an emotional experience. Bhuj was a loud one. With the camera trained on Ajay Devgn, it was hard to understand the role others played, especially the women from the village who were supposed to the stars of the episode.
Talk about moving mountains for your loved one, this one had Arjun Kapoor moving an entire house! The plot could’ve been one of a kind in Bollywood, only if it had not fallen prey to poor screenplay and direction. Arjun Kapoor wanted to be the best grandson but failed due to no emotional connect with his granny and the audience. Neena Gupta’s innate charm was lost behind those prosthetics.
Which movie did you like the most in 2021?
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