2018 in review: The year that was

The best of Hindi cinema in 2018

Indies, thrillers, comedies and politics - In a year of small films making a big splash, our critic picks her best of Hindi cinema.

In filmi parlance, 2018 could well have been a sequel to 2017 with superstars continuing to lose their shine and small films steadily making it bigger and bigger at the box office. However, if my pick of 2017 keeled overwhelmingly towards the indies and the alternative, 2018 has been more about those that have tried to go off-kilter within the broader conventions of mainstream film-making.

Two of my top favourites this year, however, have been indies that played in the international film festival circuit and will, hopefully, reach out to the audience at large early in 2019: Ivan Ayr’s Soni that premiered in the Orrizonti section of the Venice International Film Festival and went on to win awards at Jio Mami Mumbai Film Festival With Star and Pingyao International Film Festival and Rohena Gera’s Sir which opened at the Critics Week sidebar at Cannes.

 

In the year of #MeToo and #TimesUp Soni’s quiet but unflinching portrayal of everyday sexism, normalised misogyny and internalisation of patriarchy resounded deeply. In much the same way Sir’s yawning class divides, cruel collisions and unforeseen confluences across disparities held a mirror to the urban Indian society with a rare subdued force.

The pick of the Hindi releases in 2018 come with their own set of problems; most of them floundered as they coasted along, especially where it concerned ‘the curse of the second half’. Nonetheless they did up the game for commercial cinema in their own way – be it the genres or the ideas, themes and politics or the craft and the telling that they embraced and built the narratives on.

More to come: This Friday has hardly any competition for Khurrana’s films so Andhadhun might even continue trickling in some revenue special arrangement

More to come: This Friday has hardly any competition for Khurrana’s films so Andhadhun might even continue trickling in some revenue special arrangement  

 

1. Andhadhun

The most fun one has had with corpses at the movies in a long time, Sriram Raghavan’s thriller turned out as gratifying in its craft and creativity. A riveting, capricious treatise on human fallibility, immorality and wickedness; and a fabulous homage to pulp cinema to boot.

Love lost: October is about the precariousness and fragility that defines life

Love lost: October is about the precariousness and fragility that defines life   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

 

2. October

Shoojit Sircar’s mellow and melancholic meditation on love and loss, on the fragility and resilience of life and on finding a rare bond in the face of mortality was the most achingly written film of the year that reached straight to the heart. It’s still lodged there despite the needless plagiarism controversy that left one in pain as deceptions in love always do. A pity, because a small nod to Sunny Pawar’s story from the makers would have only made this film more profound than it already is.

A still from Manoj Bajpayee's Gali Guleiyan

A still from Manoj Bajpayee's Gali Guleiyan   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

 

3. Gali Guleiyan

Dipesh Jain’s intense psychological story was a journey into a troubled, tortured mind. It was also about geographical anxieties, about dredging out the inherent claustrophobia of a place. A rare Hindi film where the character and the locale became one.

A scene from Mukkabaaz.

A scene from Mukkabaaz.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

 

4. Mukkabaaz

Anurag Kashyap moved away from the jingoistic claptrap of a typical sports film to talk caste and corruption—in sports management, UP and the country at large. The film also lobbed a few creative grenades at cow vigilantism.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui in an image from ‘Manto’. Photo Courtesy: Twitter/@Nawazuddin_S

Nawazuddin Siddiqui in an image from ‘Manto’. Photo Courtesy: Twitter/@Nawazuddin_S  

 

5. Manto

Nandita Das’ biographical film was as much about the mercurial sub-continental icon as about his love for ‘Bombay’ and the continued relevance of his thoughts in today’s fractious times—whether he was talking about Hindu-Muslim unity or freedom of expression.

The best of Hindi cinema in 2018
 

6. Tumbbad

Remarkable in its moodiness, atmosphere and landscape and a lingering eerieness and dread, Tumbbad, by Rahi Anil Barve, Anand Gandhi and Adesh Prasad, married elements of genre films with mythology, folklore, fantasy and history to become a compelling allegory on bottomless greed.

The best of Hindi cinema in 2018
 

7. Stree

Amar Kaushik’s funny horror show had more going for it than just the laughs and the chills—a feminist core. With a mock-ironic touch it made men go through the physical and mental trauma that women face in day-to-day life. If only the item number had been done away with and the woman at the centre was given more to do.

A still from the movie Badhaai Ho.

A still from the movie Badhaai Ho.  

 

8. Badhaai Ho

About a radical idea—older parents-to-be--Amit Sharma’s Badhaai Hocaptured a slice of middle class lives—their conflicts, eccentricities and hypocrisies--with warmth and a sense of fun. The irreverence, however, gave way to sentimentality in the end.

A scene from 'Raazi'

A scene from 'Raazi'   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

 

9. Raazi

A rare woman-centric film (directed by a woman—Meghna Gulzar) to join the much haloed ₹100 crore club. Based on Harinder Sikka’s novel Calling Sehmat, the Indo-Pak espionage thriller might have been weighed down with implausibilities but made an impact with its essential humanism and sincere emotions. The film reached out by eschewing shrill nationalism and obliquely questioning the divides engendered by borders.

A still from the movie ‘Mulk’

A still from the movie ‘Mulk’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

 

10. Mulk

Anubhav Sinha played to the gallery with the heightened drama and dialogue-baazi but his laudable attempt to give a voice to Muslim anxieties managed to go beyond the liberal echo-chambers to the masses.

 

 

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 4:20:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/the-best-of-hindi-cinema-in-2018/article25834690.ece

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