Identity Card (August)
Starring Tia Bajpai, Saurabh Shukla, Brijendra Kala and Vipin Sharma, this film is misdirected and doesn’t do the army any sort of favour. A PPT history lesson about Kashmir at the end sums up a conflicted effort that could have been the new ‘A Wednesday!’. Instead, it leaves us to ponder over why the impetus was either on awareness or on storytelling, with both seldom combining to form a sequence.
Life Is Beautiful (August)
Lead actor Manoj Amarnani is credited as writer, director, producer, choreographer, background musician and costume designer. By the end, his plot – an unoriginal version of ‘The Proposal’ where an Indian man tries to procure Canadian citizenship by entering into a marriage of convenience – becomes perversely endearing the same way a home video of a puppy quoting Shakespeare does; failure is imminent.
Chaarfutiya Chhokare (September)
Chaarfutiya Chhokare is an utterly disjointed film parading as a social commentary on the depravities of rural Bihar. Soha Ali Khan has no business of playing the idealistic NRI-return from a 70s B-grade classic—a woman intent on building a school in a village full of corruption, murderers, Zakir Hussain’s trembling villain face, child traffickers and overall desolation.
Meinu Ek Ladki Chaahiye (September)
By far the WORST film of a year that thrived on terrible films, this one stars Raghubir Yadav in a role that doesn’t even merit an ounce of constructive criticism. He is a lawyer who tries to ‘comically’ defend an accused rapist. Naturally, he spends the first half sexually harassing girls himself, on the phone and otherwise. You see, because he is a method lawyer. In a courtroom with painted yellow windows, he ends up defending the concept of rape, and explains it with a literal threading-the-needle metaphor (lick thread=lubricant). He solves the case with the clarity of a man who has discovered that only phone records can nail the culprit. There are no words to describe this monstrosity. None.
Desi Kattey (September)
The month of September had 5 outrageously bad films in one week – where horror flick ‘3 AM’ turned out to be the best. This was another one in that week – similar to the disastrous Shetty-starrer Koyelaanchal. You’d think it’s impossible to combine a Gunday-style exaggerated buddy flick, with a fictional sports biopic, with a dated 90s-gangland drama. But Anand Kumar’s Desi Kattey (presented by The Real Estate Guru), an outrageous exercise in anti-screenwriting, greedily does just that. It has perennial B-graders Tia Bajpai, Jay Bhanushali and Sunil Shetty as a mentor who trains shooters to a medal.
Balwinder Singh Famous Ho Gaya (September)
The final hour has six men tiptoeing around a Film City Hospital dressed as drag queens. Four of them share the same name Balwinder Singh, two of which are singers (and ‘actors’) Shaan and Mika. This is all in quest to prove that one of them is a rich haveli-owner’s (Anupam Kher again; cloning, perhaps?) long-lost grandson by the same name. The jokes include ubiquitous oranges and balls, memory lapses, a comatose woman on a mobile wheelchair…you get the gist.
Mumbai 125 KM (October)
A bunch of trendy youngsters are bumped off, one by annoying one, while driving down a spooky highway to Mumbai on New Year’s Eve. As the title suggests, they pass the 125 km Mumbai milestone repeatedly, heading nowhere. There are the same standard horror genre elements—preceding studio logos more inventive than the following film, noise designed specifically to abuse the power of Dolby Atmos, flashbacks beginning with party songs, couples that snog by rubbing cheeks, dead babies, backstories that involve frustrated wives in skimpy bikinis (Veena Malik), post-converted 3D that makes night-shot films even darker, and so on.
Spark is a dated political-action flick that looks to have been concocted by melancholic film buffs during an hour-long editing course. How else can one explain Ranjeet, Ashutosh Rana and Manoj Joshi in the same frame, licking their glasses while watching an item girl croon that she is riskier than whiskey in a soda bottle?
The first rule of found-footage horror films is that the footage must look like it isn’t treated. The second rule is that voices don’t need to be dubbed. However, the first minute of this remake has an interviewer telling the sole survivor that their footage has been edited into a real film. Does this give them a plausible reason to occasionally switch angles (single camera) during interactions, or dramatically reverberate every scream thereby defeating the purpose of this genre? No. But they do anyway. I found myself celebrating the death of each verbose and annoying character.
Titoo MBA (November)
I should have known when the grammatically illegal ‘Get Surprise’ was the tagline. This is the kind of inept effort that punctuates airheaded moments with a mandatory ‘Hadippa!’, ‘Siyappa!’, ‘Chak de!’ or ‘Kudiye!’ When in doubt (forever), it turns to offensive homosexual stereotypes and party songs with bikini-clad foreigners. Titoo’s (who is a gigolo) wife, his ‘cougar’ clients, repulsive lawyers and fraud Babas spout terms like ‘condoms’ and ‘sex’ to remind us of the film’s social relevance, lest we forget. Every track feels like a disjointed skit written by sugar-addled 4-year olds.
Shot in what is supposed to be the Sunderbans, this film is all about loving your tigers. At least that’s what yesteryear actor and debutant director Kamal Sadanah wants to tell us, but somehow utilizes over two hours, international VFX teams, racist tigers (White > Normal) and a ridiculous plot to bring this simple family truth across. There’s also a quasi-feline equivalent of a Karan-Arjun Tiger-Maa climax.
Main Aur Mr. Riight (December)
MTV’s Most Wanted seems like decades ago, but that bubbly VJ who stole hearts with her perpetual happy-land grin somehow acquired a movie role where she still behaves like she is reading out sweet song requests from teenagers. Ironically, Shenaz Treasurywala plays Aliya, a casting director—one of many departments left vacant during production of this hideous rom-com. Aliya spends approximately 98.7% of her life and this film’s screen-time brunching at upscale Mumbai restaurants with an equally jobless group of prancing couples.
Badlapur Boys (December)
Released a month before Sriram Raghavan’s Badlapur, this underdog-Kabaddi-drama is almost watchable. Perversely, this utterly disjointed exercise is reminiscent of a little-known drama called Cycle Kick (2011)—a similar rural tale about a football match played to win back possession of a cycle and, coincidentally, lead Nishan’s acting debut. The only saving grace about Badlapur Boys is that the filmmaker retained the sense of not naming it B-Boyzz instead.