Compared to last year, the first quarter of 2016 may have been a bit dull, but there were still enough brave efforts to reassure the audiences that the movement for better cinema hasn’t fizzled out completely.
Three completely offbeat films, that audiences warmed up to, were Hansal Mehta’s Aligarh with an awe-inspiring performance by Manoj Bajpayee as the quiet, lonely professor whose life is devastated by a horrible invasion of privacy and a forced outing. Ram Madhvani’s Neerja redeemed Sonam Kapoor floundering career with a film that any actress would be proud to have on her resume—a biopic of the courageous air hostess who stood up to terrorists hijacking her plane—a story that came thirty years too late and still evoked respect for the forgotten heroine. Raka Krishna Menon’s Airlift had Akshay Kumar give up his over-the-top action image to play a normal businessman, husband and father who helps evacuate thousands of fellow Indians from Kuwait when Iraq attacked its neighbouring country. Ghayal One Again and Rocky Handsome kept the action genre going on in a season when films with ‘love’, ‘sanam’ or ‘ishq’ in the title came out in such large numbers that one could not tell them apart; needless to say, all failed to make any impact at the box-office. Priyanka Chopra did her bit of snarling and bashing baddies in Prakash Jha’s Jai Gangaajal, but left audiences cold.
After all that high-powered promotion, Abhishek Kapoor’s Fitoor could not do much with the Charles Dickens classic, Great Expectations, except make Kashmir look like heaven on earth. Tabu’s talent carries her through, but Katrina Kaif and Aditya Roy Kapur will have to work harder to make up for the abysmal failure of this film.
Shakun Batra’s Kapoor And Sons attempted a family drama when the genre is almost defunct and cast chipped in to make the non-existent plot work somewhat—Fawad Khan’s fan following certainly helped.
Himesh Reshammiya claims his stony-faced act in Teraa Suroor made the film a hit, but trade experts are skeptical.
The ‘porn com’ releases like Mastizaade and Kya Kool Hain Hum 3 were given the thumbs down by audiences, after prolonged battles with the censors.
Films like Bollywood Diaries, Tere Bin Laden Dead or Alive, Saala Khadoos, Jugni, Chalk And Duster, Wazir and Chauranga tried to buck the mainstream formula with varying degrees of success, but none turned out to be the kind of sleeper hit that restores one’s faith in Hindi film audiences.