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Best Films 2018

Friday, December 28, 2018
By Deepa Gahlot

Audiences turned out to be the superstar of 2018; audiences that picked content over stars. Instead of movie shot on swishy foreign locations, they went to see small town India in films set in Benaras, Mathura and Chanderi. Hopefully, this trend will carry over into the new year, and bring a lot of fresh writing and directing talent into Hindi cinema.
 
For once it is was actually tough picking the ten best films of 2018. In order of release:

1) Padman: R Balki’s film, starring Akshay Kumar, Radhika Apte and Sonam Kapoor, based on the real-life hero Arunachalam Muruganatham, challenged age-old taboos about menstruation, and started a conversation about sanitary pads.

2) October: In Shoojit Sircar’s Varun Dhawan toned down his hyperenergetic persona to play the subdued character of a hotel employee whose life changes, when a colleague (Banita Sandhu) falls from a rooftop, just as she enquires after him, and goes into a coma.

3) Raazi: Meghna Gulzar’s taut spy thriller, based on Harinder Sikka’s book, Calling Sehmat, starred Alia Bhatt in a powerful role of a young woman married into a high-ranking military family in Pakistan, to spy for India, as war clouds loom in 1971.

4) Parmanu: The Story Of Pokhran: Abhishek Sharma’s film, starring John Abraham, turned India’s secret nuclear programme of 1998 into a thrilling blend of action and patriotism.

5) Mulk: Anubhav Sinha’s film starring Rishi Kapoor and Taapsee Pannu reopened an important dialogue about what constitutes patriotism, at a time when hate and jingoism are in the air.

6) Stree: Amar Kaushik shook up an appealing brew of comedy and horror, with the versatile, chameleon-like Rajkummar Rao playing a small-town tailor in love with woman (Shraddha Kapoor) who could be a ghost.

7) Sui Dhaga: Sharat Katariya’s film cast Varun Dhawan and Anushka Sharma against type as a lower middle class couple struggling to make a dream come true—a fairy tale for modern India

8) Andhadhun: Sriram Raghavan’s film, had a superb suspense plot about a blind pianist (Ayushmann Khurrana) and a femme fatale (Tabu), mixed with a tribute to retro Bollywood (personified by Anil Dhawan).

9) Tumbbad: Rahi Anil Barve showed Bollywood how a horror film could be made without using worn-out tropes, in the richly atmospheric and very scary film starring Sohum Shah

10) Badhaai Ho: Easily the most loved film of the year, Amit Ravindernath Sharma took a warm-hearted look at what happens to an ordinary Delhi family when an older couple (Neena Gupta, Gajraj Rao) find that they are expected a child; their sons (Ayushmann Khurrana, Shardul Rana) and cranky old matriarch (Surekha Sikri) have to deal with the reactions of people around them.
 
Best Performance (Male):

Most of the time, actors are as good as the films they do, and quite often, if a film fails, then a fine performance can go unnoticed. However, given a challenging role, and the trust of the director, a good actor is capable of springing surprises.

A pick of ten of the outstanding performances of the year and not necessarily in lead roles; in alphabetical order.

1) Ayushmann Khurrana in Andhadhun:
In this complicated thriller, he played a blind pianist who is not what he appears to be; he is innocent and sly, a victim and a schemer. Khurrana also gave a marvellous performance in Badhaai Ho, as the son who is blindsided by his mother’s late pregnancy.
 
2) Gajraj Rao in Badhaai Ho:
As a middle-aged man who goes through embarrassment and elation in equal measure when his wife gets pregnant, he balanced the emotions with such finesse.

3) Jimmy Sheirgill in Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi:
Without drawing attention to himself, this actor has matured so that he simply becomes that part he plays and does not get enough credit. In this Mudassar Aziz film, he plays a comic part without letting the jilted suitor tip into caricature. Watch him in Saheb Biwi Aur Gangter 3 or Mukkabaaz, and see just how brilliant he is.

4) Manoj Gali Guleiyan:
This complex Dipesh Jain film set in the maze of old Delhi, has the actor give a superb performance as a man not quite in control of his mind

5) Rajkumma Rao in Stree:
He has done tougher roles before, but still he played with full conviction the role of tailor caught in a supernatural rigmarole.

6) Ranbir Kapoor in Sanju
It must have been difficult to play another star who is still active on the scene and pull it off without making it look like a mimicry of Sanjay Dutt, but Kapoor did a fantastic job.

 7) Ranveer Singh in Padmavat:
The character of Alauddin Khilji is blood-thirsty, lustful and completely vile, and Singh played him with the right spirit of over-the-top craziness and managed to not make him totally despicable.

 8) Rishi Kapoor in Mulk :
A performance that is deserving of a National Award, this fabulous actors plays a Muslim man pushed into a corner, with amazing dignity. His performance as a crabby septuagenarian 102 Not Out was also noteworthy.

 9) Varun Dhawan in October:
A star whose calling card is exuberance, played a melancholia in such an understated manner in Shoojit Sircar’s film. He also managed to portray an ordinary man with such conviction in Sui Dhaga.

 10) Vineet Kumar Singh Mukkabaaz:
In Anurag Kashyap’s grim drama set in caste-ridden UP, the actor plays, with remarkable acumen, a boxer trying to rise his status in life using the springboard of sports and facing hurdles all the way.
 
Best Performances (Female):
In an industry just about giving the new woman her due, talented actresses are going the extra mlle to prove that they are quite capable of carrying a film on their shoulders over the box-office finishing line.

A pick of ten of the outstanding performances of the year and not necessarily in lead roles; in alphabetical order.

1) Alia Bhatt in Raazi
She plays tough and vulnerable as a brave young woman thrown into jeopardy for the sake of the country, without knowing how it will end.

2) Anushka Sharma in Sui Dhaaga
She is a quiet homemaker who has tremendous reserves of strength to support her family in time of need. She made for a terrific spook in Pari and brought a certain gravitas to her part of a scientist with cerebral palsy inZero.

3) Deepika Padukone in Padmaavat
Dressed to the nines and laden with jewellery, she still managed to convey the courage and grace of a queen in the controversial film.

4) Katrina Kaif in Zero
As a superstar who hates her fame, is heartbroken and cynical, the star known more for her beauty that her acting, gave the best performance of her career.

5) Neena Gupta in Badhaai Ho
A middle class housewife any Indian woman would identify with, one who lives for her family, but digs her heels in when she has to make the choice to go ahead with a late pregnancy.

6) Rani Mukerji in Hichki
A woman who won’t let her debilitating Tourette’s syndrome come in the way of her goal to be a school teacher.

7)Sheeba Chaddha in Badhaai Ho
If an actress can convey the life, attitude and beliefs of the snooty-and-sensible upper class character she plays, in two scenes, she deserves all respect and better roles.

8) Surekha Sikri in Badhaai Ho
The cranky old mother-in-law who keeps up her flow of barbs at her hapless daughter-in-law, but when it’s time to stand up for her, she won’t hold back.

9) Taapsee Pannu in Mulk
As the Hindu daughter-in-law of a beleaguered Muslim family who has to defend them when they are accused of terrorism, the star was in fabulous form; she was also excellent in Manmarziyaan and Soorma.

10) Tabu in Andhadhun
A femme could not be more fatale than this woman, who won’t let a murder or two cramp her style.

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