The best and worst of Bollywood in 2017, an A-to-Z guide
Aarah’s brave feminist Anaarkali gave the strongest message of consent in a Hindi film when she told her attacker, “Randi ho, randi se thhoda kam ho ya biwi ho, aainda marzi poochh kar haath lagaaiyega.”
Akshay Kumar’s jibe—“Aap bell bajaiye .. main aapko bajata hoon” to stand up comedienne Mallika Dua on the sets of their TV show snowballed into a sexism-at-work controversy which Kumar’s wife Twinkle Khanna was also dragged into. Twinkle later apologised for her stance in a heartfelt post.
This year too, The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) operated more like a bizarre Censor Board. Ex chief Pahlaj Nihalani had a problem with the word “intercourse” in When Harry Met Sejal; Lipstick Under My Burkha was denied certification because it was deemed to be “lady-oriented”; the board insisted the title of Sexy Durga, directed by Sanal Kumar Sasidharan, should be changed to S Durga (S Durga was also dropped from IFFI Panorama after getting a go-ahead from a jury). The film industry rejoiced when Nihalani was replaced by Prasoon Joshi but nothing seems to have changed. Case in point: Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s controversy ridden Padmavati last heard would be reviewed by a panel of historians and (wait for it) former royals who will decide whether we can watch the film or not. News Flash: Padmavati has finally been given the go ahead but not without some conditions, the biggest being a title change to Padmavat.
That would be Karan Johar who welcomed twins Roohi and Yash through surrogacy. More power to single parents.
E— Erection & Excretion
Shubh Mangal Saavdhan and Toilet: Ek Prem Katha dared to go in territories deemed taboo in love stories. While the former dealt with the topic of erectile dysfunction, the latter with its ‘lota party’ took PM Modi’s message of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan into cinema halls and spoke about the need for hygienic excretion in toilets (or sandas as it is referred to in the film). PS: Shubh Mangal Saavdhan also had one of the best scenes of the year when Mom (Seema Pahwa) had the sex talk with her daughter (Bhumi Pednekar) and told her the (now) cult lines, “Aurat ka shareer rahasya ka khazana hota hai. Ek bandh goofa mein rehta hai. Aur yeh goofa kab khulti hai pata hai? Suhaagraat waale din khulti hai aur chaalis chor ke liye nahin khulti. Sirf Alibaba ke liye khulti hai.”
Abhay Deol called out on his colleagues who endorse fairness creams namely, Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone, Sonam Kapoor, John Abraham, Vidya Balan and Shahid Kapoor when he termed their ad campaigns as “demeaning, false and racist”. Nobody responded except Sonam Kapoor but later she too deleted her tweets. Not fair, guys!
Konkona Sen Sharma’s hauntingly beautiful debut film A Death in the Gunj makes you want to live in the film and at the same time run away from it. Vikrant Massey’s performance as the vulnerable and sensitive Shutu is top class.
H— Hinterland & Heartland
Our films went beyond Mumbai locals and Delhi streets and travelled to places like Varanasi, Bareilly, Aarah, Chhattisgarh. Even Gurgaon (Gurugram) was depicted as a character in Shankar Raman’s film.
Films like Newton, Trapped, Mukti Bhawan, Ribbon, Qarib Qarib Singlle, Lipstick Under My Burkha, Hindi Medium, Tu Hai Mera Sunday kept the Indie flag high and proved yet again that it’s not the zeros in the budget but the heart in the script that matters.
When Priyanka Chopra revealed on a talk show that she has an ex-boyfriend’s jacket as a keepsake, fangirls and fanboys went into a frenzy to ID him. Some even dug up photo evidence of Shah Rukh Khan flaunting a similar jacket leading to speculation that PeeCee was talking about him.
K— Kangana Ranaut
Hrithik Roshan and the break up/stalking/imposter controversy. Karan Johar and nepotism controversy. Rani Laxmi Bai and Ketan Mehta script controversy. Simranand Apurva Asrani writing credit controversy. Her refusal to sign up for the “Deepika Bachao” petition for Padmavati kept Kangana Ranaut and all of us very busy.
The leaked pictures of Ranbir Kapoor and Pakistani actor Mahira Khan smokin’ and shootin’ the breeze in New York almost broke the internet. Mahira faced huge backlash back home but Ranbir honourably took up for her in a rare press statement.
M— Mere Rashke Qamar
Indeed the biggest Autorickshaw hit of the year was this 1988 Nusrat and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan classic which was repackaged in Baadshaho. Thankfully the song managed to escape the ‘No Pakistani Artistes in India’ mandate.
This listicle wouldn’t be complete without the N-word which clearly defined the narrative of the year.
O— OMG Moments
The opening credits of Rangoon breathtakingly shot on a film set; the rat scene in Trapped; the million dollar answer to ‘Kattappa ne Baahubali ko kyun maara’ sequence in Baahubali 2: The Conclusion; Vijay Devarakonda’s passionate performance in and as Arjun Reddy; the Ullu ka Pattha song choreography in Jagga Jasoos and every time Anushka Sharma spoke in that Gujarati accent in When Harry Met Sejal – all OMG moments.
The Virushka wedding almost remained the best secret of the year until the media spotted Anushka’s family pandit boarding the flight for Italy. The rest is now pop culture history.
Women ruled the stories and the screens —Taapsee Pannu (Naam Shabana), Alia Bhatt (Badrinath Ki Dulhania), the Lipstick Gang, Bhumi Pednekar (Shubh Mangal Saavdhan), Kriti Sanon (Bareilly Ki Barfi), Kangana Ranaut (Simran), Vidya Balan (Begum Jaan and Tumhari Sulu), Swara Bhaskar (Anaarkali of Aarah), Sridevi (Mom), Zaira Wasim (Secret Superstar).
The radio didn’t work for Salman Khan in Tubelight but it definitely worked for Sulu in Tumhari Sulu.
S— Same Same Not Different
Sequels, franchises and remakes were the flavour of the season — Golmaal Again, Judwaa 2, Jolly LLB 2, Badrinath Ki Dulhania, Tiger Zinda Hai, Fukrey Returns, Baahubali 2: The Conclusion.
Just in case any ‘Tubelight’ out there doubted his Box Office acumen, Salman Khan made sure to roar the loudest with Tiger Zinda Hai.
It was splitsville for Farhan Akhtar- Adhuna Bhabani, Malaika Arora Khan- Arbaaz Khan, Nandita Das- Subodh Maskara.
V— Varun Dhawan
With two solid hits—Badrinath Ki Dulhania and Judwaa 2, Varun Dhawan consolidated his position as the Most Bankable Young Star.
There is something so beautiful and right about two self-made successful empowered people marrying for love, far from the madding crowd. By showing the way it should be done, Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli have become the poster couple of modern love for New India
X— X Factor
With Newton, Bareilly Ki Barfi, Omerta, Trapped and Bose: Dead/ Alive, Rajkumar Rao ensured that you can give him any material, in any form and opposite anyone but he will steal the thunder.
The curiosity, paparazzi interest and social media footprints that star kids like Taimur Ali Khan, Misha Kapoor, Aarav and Nitara Kumar, Aryan-Suhana and Abram Khan, Sara and Ibrahim Ali Khan, Ananya and Ahaan Pandey, Jhanvi and Khushi Kapoor, Shanaya Kapoor, Nirvan and Arhaan Khan, Ahil Sharma, Inaaya Naumi Kemmu, Azad Rao Khan, Aradhya Bachchan enjoy means we need to keep up with the kids.
Shahid Kapoor’s wife Mira Rajput’s stunning comments on motherhood wherein she said, “I wouldn’t want to spend one hour with Misha and then rush off to work. Why did I have her? Misha is not a puppy. I want to be there for her,” offended not just working mothers but also pet parents. And then there was Deepika Padukone who, when asked about the rumours of a romance with her XXX: Return of Xander Cage co-star Vin Diesel said, “Well, there is no smoke without fire! But, it’s all in my head! So yeah, I mean in my head I think, we are together and we have this amazing chemistry, and we live together and we have these amazing babies! But it’s all in my head.” We are still not sure what she meant.
Harneet Singh is a Mumbai based film journalist and screenwriter.
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