Hindi Top 5
We’ve never had 25 films worth talking about in a single year in a very long time. 2007 has yielded a rich harvest for Hindi cinema.
While rating these films, I’ve not only taken into account the primary function of Indian cinema – that it has to entertain a diverse audience, but also factors such as intention of the filmmaker, originality, repeat viewing and fatigue, grammar of cinema, quality of writing, inventiveness of story-telling, devices employed, experience of the filmmaker, scale of production and star appeal.
Since different people look for different things from cinema, it is impossible for any two people to agree on the same list. With that disclaimer in place, let’s start from the bottom.
Jab We Met:
This is Dilwale Dulhaniya’s sequel in spirit. If Dilwale tried to define Indianness in manufacturing parental consent for love, Jab We Met goes deeper into the heartland of the country and tries to understand relationships in the context of a highly self-centric India where love blurs right and wrong. With fine writing, top-rate performances aided by the Shahid-Kareena chemistry, this has to be among the top five films of the year despite its rather slow second half.
Om Shanti Om:
Has there been a more irreverent film in the history of Indian cinema? One that does not take anything, including itself, even a wee bit seriously while sincerely paying tribute to an era of implausible plots, melodrama and revenge themes. Just by sheer quantity of laughs and goofs and quality of style and choreography, Om Shanti Om, in spite of the silly twist in the tale towards the climax, is a colourful musical that is shamelessly entertaining as a celebration of cinema.
Because Shah Rukh Khan is not Shah Rukh Khan, only for the third time in his career after Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa and Swades. Because, the girls are amazing. Because Jaideep Sahni has written a kickass script that combines girl-power, women’s liberation and the importance of team-spirit in a plausibly convincing underdog drama with authentic sporting action, gorgeously shot. Near flawless but for the predictability associated with the sports genre.
Here comes a quality suspense caper after ages. What’s more, it’s slick and stylish. It’s a rollercoaster of a mind-game. And it’s one hell of a trip for the movie-buff. Never has a tribute film been this exciting with all the cheeky referencing. Not only is it unpredictable, it has a brilliant ensemble cast who score off each other. Also, because it has Dharam Paaji show us what a fantastic actor he is even today. A perfect film.
Taare Zameen Par:
This one’s hardly perfect but it is so full of life and innocence that it makes you laugh, cry, reminisce and re-look at life and children, quite effortlessly. Films are where reality meets fantasy and fact meets fiction and no other film in a long while has walked these two worlds at the same time, often blurring the lines associated with the distinctively different genres while also tripling up as effective social commentary. No Indian film has ever captured childhood like this before. Outstanding effort.
No.6: Ek Chalis Ki Last Local – A rare whacko neo-noir comedy
No.7: Life in a Metro – A ‘Closer’-like candid look at relationships
No.8: Loins of Punjab – Have you ever laughed more this year?
No.9: Honeymoon Travels – A refreshing, modern look at marriage
No.10: Cheeni Kum – But for the climax, this offbeat romance ought to rank higher.
No.11: Apna Aasman – Promising debut conveniently resolved.
No.12: Manorama – If this weren’t a remake, this mystery would rank higher.
No.13: Khoya Khoya Chand – Soha’s miscast in this time machine to the 60s
No.14: Black Friday – Though authentic, loses pace structured like the book
No.15: Dharm – Pankaj Kapoor, you are God!
No.16: Water – Talk of bad casting and location ruining a great script
No.17: Eklavya – The cinematography is sheer poetry
No.18: Namastey London – A surprisingly endearing Katrina-Akshay rom-com
No.19: Bheja Fry – But for Vinay Pathak’s brilliance, a shameless rip-off
No.20: Partner – Govinda-Salman work their magic in this Hitch remake
No.21: Salaam-E-Ishq – This mushy overdose worked for Valentine’s Day
No.22: Apne – This boxing drama has Dharam Paaji’s heart
No.23: Saawariya – Strictly for world-class cinematography and some of the music
No.24: Dil Dosti Etc – A daring gutsy anti-thesis to Dil Chahta Hai
No.25: Aaja Nachle – For Madhuri Dixit alone
English Top 5:
Considering that some of the best films don’t release here the same here as they do around the world, this is a tough list to compile since we are limited to films that actually released here in India – and that includes all the sequels, the tri-quels and mass-based action entertainers with tons of visual effects. Not that they are silly or easy to make, but lavish assembly-line productions get by with a microchip-thin script being just an excuse to unleash a spectacle. Besides while the likes of Babel, The Prestige, Apocalypto, Pursuit of Happyness, Beerfest, Little Miss Sunshine released only this year, they’re too old to be part of this year’s madness.
Pirates of the Caribbean – At World’s End:
Yeah, Gore Verbinski and team seemed to have made it up as they went with the convoluted twists and turns but then, we are so fanatically obsessed with the world that harbours Captain Jack Sparrow that we don’t mind this spectacular improvisation show with possibly the best finale sequence ever this year. Yup, even better than Spidey’s.
Die Hard 4.0:
Yippi Ka Yai Bleep Bleep! Good old John McLane’s came back to do some serious butt-kicking taking on the big villain of our times: Technology. Why is it surprising who kicked whose in a brain versus brawn match? This was among the best of comebacks, ranking right up there with Rocky Balboa.
A Mighty Heart:
Maybe because this is closer home and since we all followed the Daniel Pearl case with great concern, A Mighty Heart sucks us into the turbulent aftermath of the disappearance, putting us right into the shoes of his widow. Plus, the performance of her career from Angelina Jolie.
Tabu and Irrfan Khan show us once again why they are world class. In a shrinking global village, how do you arrive at what your identity is? How do you find out who you are? Mira Nair’s The Namesake tries to give us some serious answers in one of the most moving films of the year.
Paul Greengrass gave us a reckless chase film that moves at breckneck speed, every bit living up to the high standards set by the first two in the Bourne franchise. We watched two hours evaporate in no time and were blown away by the splendor of cinema.
No.6: I am Legend – Moody apocalyptic drama with eerily real visual effects.
No.7: Superbad – Because ‘Knocked Up’ didn’t release here this year.
No.8: Oceans 13 – Danny Ocean and crew return to form
No.9: Ratatouille – Nearly flawless animation of a deliciously wicked script
No.10: Zodiac – Seen a better serial killer movie this year or in recent times?
No.11: Disturbia – For keeping you hooked with all of one room (for most parts).
No.12: Beowulf – For the brilliance of animation and Angelina’s Golden Globes
No.13: Transformers – Visual effects, fun and action.
No.14: Shrek The Third – More the mayhem, the merrier.
No.15: Music & Lyrics – For being the only decent romantic comedy this year