2021 arrived with a short window where cinema halls opened up and a few films finally released on the big screen. Cinemas, however, were shuttered up again as the devastating second wave of the coronavirus hit India. Many big films released on small screens while many small films entranced the audience. The debate over content and the medium it comes out on continues.
As we enter the second half of 2021, we look back at the Bollywood films that premiered on either of the two platforms, giving audience a field day with options across genres, languages and newfound talent. To borrow Vidya Balan’s phrase, it is all about entertainment, entertainment and entertainment after all.
Here’s our pick of the best and worst Hindi films we saw on our screens in the first half of 2021.
BEST FILMS OF JANUARY-JUNE 2021
This Vidya Balan starrer has two tigresses, to say the least. A topical subject handled in a unique manner, Sherni is about primacy of nature and human greed, with the stamp of Amit Masurkar. In fact it seems to take off right after Amit’s previous Newton. There’s forest, four-legged beasts and a roaring Vidya. This is Bollywood and not National Geographic.
This one had Dibakar Banerjee written all over it. The dark comedy drama follows Pinky who saves Sandeep from the clout of assailants, but only on the surface. Its layers soon begin to peel off, unraveling a story of class divide, corporate greed, misogyny and privilege, with the protagonists belonging to opposite worlds, fighting for co-existence. We just cannot forget the opening sequence, and how the film speeds off right from the word go.
Renuka Shahane’s directorial debut had a noteworthy cast of Tanvi Azmi, Kajol and Mithila Palkar playing three generations of flawed women in a dysfunctional family. It explores their quest to be the perfect parent, despite their individual unconventional life choices. The Netflix film received praise mainly for Shahane’s direction and performances.
Seema Pahwa turned director with this social drama revolving around an extended family that gathers upon the demise of its patriarch and how the dynamics change due to petty politics and insecurities. With a brilliant ensemble cast, the film touched upon several regressive social stigmas and virtues, and the customs of mourning, as tragedy soon takes a back seat and misgivings coming to fore.
This intriguing crime-legal thriller manages to sustain its gripping edgy narration till the end. A murder mystery with shocking twists, it explores the human mind like never before. A lawyer and his client are entangled in a murder mystery that slips into the territory of past trauma, split personalities, and questionable redemption smoothly. Manav Kaul delivers a brilliant performance. There’s already a demand for its sequel due to its cliffhanger end.
SPECIAL MENTION: Silence… Can You Hear It
If you thought Manoj Bajpayee became the flavour of the season recently, go back to this film which revolved around his cop character investigating a case of a woman who goes missing mysteriously. A sleeper hit, it grabbed eyeballs for its tight-knit plot and thrill factor. Watch it, incase you haven’t yet.
WORST FILMS OF JANUARY-JUNE 2021
How many times can you ride a film solely on Salman Khan’s shoulders (and six-packs)? The actor’s Eid gift failed so miserably, that IMDb gave it one-star, which placed it among Salman’s worst-rated films. That’s not all. Salman’s version of “Seeti Maar” left several Allu Arjun fans underwhelmed. Mixing Dabangg and Wanted won’t give you a hit every time.
Parineeti Chopra tried hard to get into the skin of Emily Blunt. But the Indian janta wasn’t convinced. This one was half-baked and lacked impact, and no one remained invested to know the real killer. For now, it’s better to stay way from remaking Hollywood hits, that too, frame-by-frame.
The film looked promising from its trailer, but fell prey to poor screenplay and execution. Arjun Kapoor wanted to be the best grandson but failed because the film lacked an emotional connect. Neena Gupta can probably be called the only little thing to watch out for (incase you are watching it, in the first place!)
If you think Pratik Gandhi’s act in Scam 1992 cast a shadow on this film, the bigger reason is its bad direction. While Scam 1992’s strength was its authenticity, The Big Bull took such creative liberties, it ended up as a melodrama.
It was an absolute snooze-fest. Who knew Janhvi Kapoor as the ghost can be such a torture. But it wasn’t her fault when the writing is bad. Those who expected a sharp and witty take like Stree were left disappointed. The only saving grace was Varun Sharma’s love-story with the ghost, but not enough to keep the film running. Audience is still struggling with its loose ends.
Do you agree with our list?