It has been a difficult year for Bollywood. Strikes and politics kept us out of the big screen for so long
What: New York
Why we loved it: New York is one of those rare hits that please critics as much as audiences. Controversial themes of ethnicity in America since 9/11 are confronted head on and no punches are pulled as prejudices of the protagonists are revealed in what is essentially a popular crime thriller.
What: Luck By Chance
Why we loved it: For a medium as dramatic as Bollywood cinema – with its propensity for pantomime extremes – it is difficult to satirise and self-reference. But the team behind Luck By Chance (Zoya Akhtar and Farhan Akhtar) poke fun at Bollywood with such tender advances a clear love of Indian cinema and not twenty-first century cynicism was the motive.
What: Love Aaj Kal
Why we loved it: Saif Khan produced and starred (alongside Deepika Padukone) this box office smash hit. The tale struck a chord with non resident Indians who identified with the globe-trotting love affair of the lead characters.
What: Wake Up Sid
Why we loved it: While unquestionably a Bollywood movie it had a Hollywood feel to it. The hip, self aware style of a new generation of Bollywood is refreshing and director Ayan Mukherjee is a man worth looking out for. His is a voice that could provide a rich new narrative style to the often formulaic rhythm of Indian cinema.
Why we loved it: Genuinely powerful and thought-provoking cinema like this does not come along very often. Like New York it deals with the post 9/11 world and notions of terror, prejudice and fear. Debut director Rensil D’Silva has created a visual and narrative masterpiece that makes you think as well as gasp.
Why we loved it: The ultra-violence is more reminiscent of a Tarrantino or Guy Ritchie movie than something to come of the Bollywood production line. And that is meant as a compliment! The crime-thriller saw a career-best role from young Shahid Kapoor and was one of the biggest box office smashes of the year.
Why we loved it: Hollywood has seen few films finer than Shawshank Redemption and in Jail, director Madhur Bhandarkar attempts to bring some of that sorrow and injustice of the prison system to the screen. While it lacks some way behind its American cousin it does borrow the same themes of hope and desperation and is one of the more fluid films to come out of Bollywood this year.
Why we loved it: It is amazing what star power can do. With anybody else at the helm Wanted may have disappeared with so many other Bollywood gangster flicks. But a stellar performance by Salman Khan raises expectations and delivers on them. Sequel please.
What: Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani
When: November Why we loved it: In a year when thrillers and ‘serious’ cinema dominated the landscape it was a joy to revel in the silliness of Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani. The gags are slapstick, plot is lightweight and themes non-existent. But Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif sparkle with on-screen chemistry and this is one to enjoy.
What: Dev D When: February Why we loved it: A spell-binding redefinition of what it means to be a Bollywood movie. Never has Indian cinema experienced a visual tour-de-force like this. Jaw-dropping set pieces aside the remake of Sarat Chandra Chaterjee’s Devdas is a familiar story. The manner in which the screen comes alive is anything but familiar.