Now that we have ushered in the New Year with traditional fanfare and festivities, let’s spend few moments looking back at its predecessor. With quite a few remarkable films, 2016 was one of the more successful years for Bollywood.
Here are 10 things that stood out.
1. Gone are the days of typical candy-floss romances and vengeance sagas, today’s film-makers are coming up with a variety of interesting themes.
2. Since 2016 was the Olympics and T20 Cricket World Cup year, it was but natural that Sports-based themes became the flavor of the season. Bollywood came up with films based on games such as wrestling (Sultan and Dangal); boxing (Saala Khadoos), golf (Freaky Ali) and cricket (Azhar and MS Dhoni, an untold story). Of course, not every such sporty film clicked but three of the top grossers came from this group.
3. Real life is often more dramatic than fiction. That’s why biopics and real life stories are also fast becoming favoured film-themes.
4. 2016 featured biopics based on the lives of air-hostess Neerja Bhanot (Neerja), the gay Aligarh Muslim University professor Srinivas Siras (Aligarh) , controversial prisoner Sarabjit Singh (Sarabjit), cricketers Azharuddin (Azhar) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (M.S.Dhoni, an untold story) and wrestlers-Mahavir Singh, Geeta and Babita Phogat (Dangal).
5. The real life story of the Indian Airforce’s rescue operation for expatriates stranded in dire conditions amidst 1990’s Iraq-Kuwait war made an engaging theme for Airlift. Another successful example of this trend was Rustom, a fictionalized account of the famous 1959- Nanavati case, a real life courtroom drama.
7. Drug-menace (Udta Punjab), a dysfunctional family (Kapoor and Sons), an obsessive stalker fan of a movie-star (Fan), a young girl consulting a psychotherapist to get over a heartbreak (Dear Zindagi), a tale of two spirited orphan siblings (Dhanak), a marriage with gender role reversal (Ki & Ka), a time-travel romance (Baar Baar Dekho), a deranged serial killer (Raman Raghav 2.0) and a vigilante kidnapper (Madari) were some other interesting storylines.
8. Whatever their PR machines (and the shameless award functions!) may say, Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil and Aditya Chopra’s Befikre seemed fake, fickle and formulaic.
9. The same could be said about some other hyped films such as Ashustosh Gowarikar’s Mohenjodaro, Shujaat Saudagar’s Rock On 2, Abhishek Kapoor’s The Great Expectations adaptation Fitoor and Rakaysh Om Prakash Mehra’s Heer Raanza adaptation Mirzya.
10. Glossy production values, great technical side, big star cast, loads of promotion and weak or lifted themes do not make good films. Bollywood’s top directors will be better off trying their hand at making some real heartwarming, heartrending stuff or simply some real stuff!
Bollywood 2016: 16 highlights
1.Dangal – Director Nitesh Tiwari and Aamir Khan’s take on the Haryana-based Phogat-family’s wrestling exploits is a stirring not-to-be-missed classic, which is breaking all box-office records.
2.Pink – Amitabh Bachchan showed why he is still the man to beat in this taut courtroom drama highlighting the modern, urban challenges for femininity.
3.Sultan – Salman Khan’s customary blockbuster of the year was a perfect example of good commercial cinema with action, emotion and drama galore.
4.Airlift – Akshay Kumar’s docudrama about Indian air-force’s massive evacuation of stranded expatriates during Iraq’s invasion in Kuwait was impressive.
5.Dhanak – Nagesh Kukunoor’s wonderful direction and the two chirpy kid actors made this Rajasthan-based orphan children’s tale of redemption a delightful journey.
6.Kapoor& Sons – This sensitively told, refreshingly light-hearted portrayal of a dysfunctional family was an extremely watchable film.
7.Neerja – This was a moving biopic of the brave flight attendant Neerja Bhanot who played such a key role in saving many lives in the Pan Am 73 plane hijack drama.
8.Udta Punjab – Set aside the controversies surrounding its release and censor clearance, this was a very well-made film, which made shocking revelations about the flourishing drug trade and its destructive impact on so many lives.
9.Kahaani 2 – Sujoy Ghosh and Vidya Balan came together again to give us yet another riveting suspense thriller, centered round the menace of child abuse.
10.Aligarh – Hansal Mehta’s biopic painted a poignant picture of the AMU professor Srinivas Siras, who unwittingly and unwillingly became the face of the gay movement in India.
11.M.S. Dhoni, an untold story– Sushant Rajput did full justice to Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s character when he essayed the cricket superstar’s amazing journey from a small town boy to India’s most successful skipper.
12.Fan – This action thriller about a movie-star’s obsessive stalker fan featured Shahrukh in an interesting double role.
13.Dear Zindagi – Gauri Shinde’s direction and Alia Bhatt and SRK’s chemistry make this coming of age film a winner.
14.Raman Raghav 2.0 – Director Anurag Kashyap’s return to crime sagas was mainly watchable because of Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s crackerjack role as a crazy serial killer.
15.Wazir – Big B’s stellar performance as a wheel-chair-ridden grandfather was the real highlight in this Bejoy Nambiar-directed thriller, which also starred Farhan Akhtar.
16.Rustom – This Akshay Kumar-starrer was an entertaining fictionalization of the 1959 courtroom drama based on the famous Nanavati case.
Bollywood 2016: 10 Actors that impressed
1. Aamir Khan – Dangal
2. Amitabh Bachchan – Pink, Te3N, Wazir, Ki & Ka
3. Salman Khan - Sultan
4. Akshay Kumar – Airlift, Rustom
5. Manoj Bajpai- Aligarh
6. Shahrukh Khan – Fan, Dear Zindagi
7. Sushant Singh Rajput – M.S. Dhoni, the untold story
8. Nawazuddin Siddiqui – Raman Raghav 2.0, Te3N, Freaky Ali
9. Irrfan Khan – Madari
10. Diljit Dosanjh- Udta Punjab
Bollywood 2016: 10 Actresses that impressed
1. Alia Bhatt – Kapoor & Sons, Udta Punjab, Dear Zindagi
2. Vidya Balan – Kahaani 2
3. Anushka Sharma – Sultan
4. Sonam Kapoor - Neerja
5. Kareena Kapoor- Udta Punjab
6. Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan – Ae Dil Hai Mushkil
7. Nimrat Kaur- Airlift
8. Fathima Sana Shaikh – Dangal
9. Sanya Malhotra - Dangal
10. Taapsee Pannu – Pink
Bollywood 2016: 10 directors that impressed
1. Nitesh Tiwari – Dangal
2. Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury – Pink
3. Nagesh Kukunoor - Dhanak
4. Abhishek Chaubey – Udta Punjab
5. Raja Krishna Menon – Airlift
6. Shakun Batra – Kapoor & Sons
7. Ali Abbas Zafar – Sultan
8. Neeraj Pandey – M.S. Dhoni, the untold story
9. Sujoy Ghosh – Kahaani 2
10. Gauri Shinde – Dear Zindagi