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A year of treading dangerously

As we move forward to 2020, a look at the films that defined the year gone past

2019 was a year when a mainstream Bollywood film spoke about India’s prevailing caste system for the first time. It was also the year when mainstream films took up topics like sexual health and sexuality, and explored it boldly. It was the year when a story of Dharavi rappers was presented on screen, and went on to become a massive success!

At the same time, 2019 was the year when Hindi films thought it was okay to normalise jokes on marital rapes, abusive relationships, toxic masculinity and the highest grossing films were the mindless action ones!

As we move forward to 2020, let us take a look at the films that defined this year. Though this year has seen more misses than hits, there have been films which have made a huge impact as well. From path-breaking films like Gully Boy that touched millions of hearts to films like Kalank – which, even after boasting an ensemble of superstars and a huge budget – turned out to be a huge disappointment.

From Kabir Singh – the film that grabbed limelight and sparked debated on toxic masculinity to Hamid – a heart-warming tale that went almost unnoticed. And regional films, as always, made their presence felt in a big way! Indeed, this year was unlike any other.

Best films of 2019 (Bollywood):

Gully Boy : Directed by Zoya Akhtar, starring Ranveer Singh, Siddhant Chaturvedi and Alia Bhatt, the film went on to become the year’s biggest hit. It was also India’s official entry to the Oscars. Gully Boy revolved around the life of Murad – a rapper from Mumbai’s Dharavi – who went on to achieve immense success in the rap world despite all odds. It was loosely based on the lives of famous rappers Divine and Naezy.

Article 15: Anubhav Sinha’s Article 15, starring Ayushmann Khurrana, is the first commercial movie which blatantly took up the issue of the prevailing caste system in India. Though, it was criticised by certain people for having an ‘upper caste’ saviour, but largely it was applauded for starting a conversation about a deep-rooted and alarming issue – atrocities against Dalits.

Sonchiriya: Directed by Abhishek Chaubey, starring Sushant Singh Rajput and Bhumi Pendekar, the film received rave reviews by the critics and audience, though it could not make its mark in the box office. The story, set in Chambal, narrates the tale of a group pf dacoits.

Section 375: In a year in which MeToo exploded worldwide, the film boldly explores the concept of consent and rape. Starring Akhshay Khanna and Richa Chaddha, directed by Ajay Bahl, the film — almost surprisingly — went on to impress the audience and critics alike.

Bala: Amar Kaushik’s film Bala, starring Ayushmann Khurrana, deals with premature balding. Irrespective of its controversies, the film met with huge success and was praised for its concept, narrative and the actors’ performances.

Worst films of 2019 (Bollywood):

– Kalank: Despite having an ensemble consisting of Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan, Aditya Roy Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit and Sanjay Dutt, the film directed by Abhishek Verma failed miserably. It was a period drama, set in pre-independence India, and how six individuals from different families experience the throes of love, betrayal, revenge and depression.

Housefull 4: Yet another big ensemble, consisting of Akshay Kumar, Riteish Deshmukh, Pooja Hegde, Bobby Deol, Kriti Sanon and Kriti Kharbanda, turned out to be a disaster! The film portrays three pairs of reincarnated lovers who reunite in the present day.

– Student of the Year 2: A much-awaited sequel, marking the debut of Ananya Pandey and Tara Sutaria, became the joke of the year! Directed by Punit Malhotra and also starring Tiger Shroff, the film tells the story of a student who must fight bullies and overcome hurdles to win his college’s coveted ‘Student of the Year’ trophy.

Marjaavan: Directed by Milap Zaveri, starring Siddharth Malhotra, Tara Sutaria and Ritesh Deshmukh, the film received heavy criticism for its lack of sense.

The Body: A tale of love and betrayal, directed by Jeethu Joseph and starring Emraan Hashmi, Rishi Kapoor and Shobita Dhulipala, the film fell flat and could not reach the success of the original (Oriol Paulo’s Spanish film ‘The Body’).



Controversial Films of the Year:

Kabir Singh: Sandeep Reddy’s Kabir Singh, the remake of South film Arjun Reddy, was criticised for glorifying toxic masculinity. Things turned messier after the filmmaker justified physical abuse in an interview. Later, lead actor of the film Shahid Kapoor put out his own justification as well.

Pati Patni aur Woh: Starring Kartik Aryan, Bhumi Pednekar and Ananya Pandey, and directed by Mudassar Azis, the film was bashed heavily due to its joke on marital rape.

Bala: Ayushmann Khurrana’s Bala clashed with Sunny Singh’s Ujda Chaman – and more importantly, both of their stories were same – that of a man suffering from premature balding. Many debates took place – on who copied whom, but then it all died down and both got their fair share.

Panipat: Ashutosh Gowarikar’s Panipat, starring Arjun Kapoor and Kriti Sanon, landed up in a copyright controversy after Marathi author Vishwas Patil filed a law suit against the filmmaker. Then again, the film had to remove a portion of the film after the Jats in Rajasthan demanded a ban.

PM Narendra Modi/ Accidental Prime Minister/ Thackeray: These three bio-pics were termed as political propaganda or campaigns for the ruling party – given their themes and the hagiographic treatment of the subject. And also how all were marked for release ahead of elections.