September goes out with a bang with 'Judwaa 2', and with it, the third quarter of 2017 ends.
The highlight of the last three months is undoubtedly 'Newton', which, despite the plagiarism controversy – the idea was inspired by Iranian film 'Secret Ballot' (2004) – has received a lot of acclaim and is India’s entry for the Foreign Language Film Oscar.
The other indie film to be appreciated was 'Gurgaon', which brought the talented Pankaj Tripathi in a lead role, and this period has been good for his career.
It was the time when small town India came into focus with films like 'Toilet Ek Prem Katha', 'Bareilly Ki Barfi' and 'Shubh Mangal Savdhaan' set in the mofussil and telling stories that appealed to audiences. The first had an A-List star in Akshay Kumar, the other two has Ayushmaan Khurrana and Rajkummar Rao – the two whose consistent work in content driven films have got them a different kind of fan following. Bhumi Pednekar and Kriti Sanon upped their box-office clout too.
'Babumoshai Badookbaaz' and 'Poster Boys' were also set in rural India, but one about a hitman played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui and the other with Sunny Deol, Boddy Deol and Shreyas Talpade fighting over their pictures used in a sterilization poster, both were at two opposite ends of the spectrum.
Sanjay Dutt returned to the screen with 'Bhoomi', as the father of Aditi Rao Hydari, whose rape he avenges when the law fails. Earlier in the quarter, Sridevi made yet another comeback, with a similar themed film, 'Mom', in which she plays a school teacher, who goes after the rapists of her daughter, using brain more than muscle power.
Two other films with women at the centre did not appeal to audiences much. Kangana Ranaut turned up the controversy metre before the release of 'Simran', but after 'Rangoon', this one bombed too, and she has to shoulder the blame for its failure, since she is the solo star and also claimed to have contributed to the script and dialogue for the story of a Gujarati divorcee in the US, who turns to robbing banks to pay of gambling debts. It was brave of her to play a character who deserves little sympathy, but the film was a dud.
Shraddha Kapoor came in for criticism for her portrayal of the ‘godmother’ in 'Haseena Parkar'. Her makeover got a lot of media space, but ultimately the film made no noise at the box-office. It came soon after Arun Rampal covered his handsome face with prosthetic make-up and played real-life gangster Arun Gawli in 'Daddy'.
Madhur Bhandarkar also made a heroine-oriented film with Indu Sarkar, starring Pink star Kirti Kulhari – he also raked up a controversy when word got out that the film was based on the Emergency and was critical of Indira and Sanjay Gandhi, but it still sank without a trace.
The film that did get a lot of appreciation was Alankrita Shrivastav’s 'Lipstick Under My Burkha', especially after its battle with the censor board. The film about four Bhopal women and their secret desires seemed to have touched a chord at a time when anything considered 'bold' comes under attack by conservatives.
Milan Luthria set his heist actioner 'Badshaaho' also during the Emergency, but the Ajay Devgan-Emraan Hashmi starrer won’t be listed as their best.
'Mubarakaan', with Anil Kapoor and twin Arjun Kapoor was also a throwback to old-style Bollywood comedies, but audiences seemed to enjoy it. The same could not be said about the loud and hollow 'Guest In London' and 'Patel Ki Punjabi Shaadi', both with Paresh Rawal in common. Spy caper, 'A Gentleman', did not work at the box-office too, proving that audiences are fed-up of stale content.
Ranbir Kapoor faced failure again with 'Jagga Jasoos', which was funky and stylishly shot, but despite all the publicity surrounding his break-up with Katrina Kaif, the Anurag Basu film still didn’t click. Tiger Shroff’s career also ran into a road block with 'Munna Michael'.
Two films based on prison musicians, 'Qaidi Band' and 'Lucknow Central' made no ripples.
The biggest disappointment of the quarter was Imtiaz Ali’s two-hander romance, 'Jab Harry Met Sejal', starring Shah Rukh Khan and Anushka Sharma, which had everything going for it, except a credible plot.