Thursday, January 3, 2013

My 10 Best Mainstream Hindi Movies of 2012

So like everyone else, I decided to put up a list of 10 Best Hindi Films of 2012. First question: Are there 10 films to put in this list? Yes, there are, thankfully, and probably the films that came this year have the audacity to exhaust such lists for any film analyst, film critic or just an avid watcher. Not only was it a good year at the Box Office with numbers pushing themselves beyond their own limits, but it ushered in a welcome change in our movie going audience, or so we can say. People came out for no-star vehicles, smaller films and independent films and made them taste success, albeit not the same monetary success that a Salman Khan movie achieves. Yet, more than ever, in 2012, well made movies also earned some money at the BO, contrary to any of the years gone by and this can only lead to more positive things. 

When I finally sat down to compile this list, I was having a hard time making an exclusive list across all Indian movies or even picking 10 out of them. There are regional movies, some of which I saw, there are smaller movies which did not get as noticed as others, there are many independent movies that did not get a theatrical release and there are some who did, thanks to a blessing called PVR Director's Rare. I have seen some regional movies, some independent movies, and a hell lot of mainstream hindi movies. Hence, I decided to put together this list only for the 10 Best Mainstream Hindi Movies of 2012, including hindi movies that got a theatrical release through regular distribution channels. It would be unfair to consider the other movies in this list as I may not have seen all the releases. So here we go -

10. Paan Singh Tomar

A well-intentioned biopic, Paan Singh Tomar tells the life story of the famed athlete-turned-dacoit with a rare subtexted elegance, pioneered efficiently by what could easily be the best lead performance of the year by Irrfan. Featuring much higher on the lists of most other people, the film is at No.10 for me as despite the rich raw material and master direction/acting, the film left me craving to feel more, or be overwhelmed by it.

9. Agneepath

Despite being campy, supposedly regressive and obnoxiously melodramatic, Agneepath would definitely feature in my best movies of the year, even at the risk of getting a lot of flak for it. The only reason for its appearance here is that the film works as a fitting tribute to its original, and takes us back to old school cinema, in the most traditional way, doing it fittingly well. Agneepath is genuinely aided by efficient performances and sound technicalities. 

8. Eega (Makkhi)

S.S. Rajamouli's Eega (Telugu) released in Hindi under the ridiculously sounding title of Makkhi, which left it subject to a ludicrous predilection amongst the nation wide audience. Yet, Makkhi was one of the most viscerally imaginative and thoroughly entertaining movies of the year, despite riding on a cliched theme of reincarnation, mostly due to large investments in the characterization of the persona of its lead. 

7. Gangs Of Wasseypur

Anurag Kashyap's epic two-parter, Gangs Of Wasseypur, released over a period of two months after grabbing eyeballs and standing ovations across the world. Blazing guns, gangland wars and much fancy gore signified the strikingly well made saga, coupled with exceptional performances and memorable music by Sneha Khanwalkar. The bullet ridden tale of vengeance in a circular narrative was probably the most progressive film of the year, yet it suffered from three-act division of each part and over indulgence of Kashyap himself

6. Oh My God

The biggest surprise hit of the year, Oh My God, is a rare treat. Bold enough to punch a nation in its balls and amateurish enough to reach out to the common man in simple language, the film adaptation of other chained adaptations of Man Vs God is undoubtedly the most socially relevant movie of this year, riding on stunning lead performances. OMG manages to cut out the preachy and still preach, and to cut out the masala and be masaledaar. 

5. Barfi

A multi-layered sensitive film, Barfi had elements of zany comedy, unspoken physical challenges and a shy thriller subplot, but at the heart of it, was a love triangle with soaring emotions. Poetic treatment, pulsating score and breathtaking visuals make it the most feel good movie of the year. Despite being pummeled for its various influences and derived plotpoints, the film worked on many levels mainly due to debatably the best ensemble performances of the year. It is an important film, that should be seen more as a tribute than an inspiration. 

4. Shanghai

In an ideal world, Shanghai is the best made film of the year. Yet, it is not the most mainstream film that one could think of. Dibaker Banerjee's fourth venture, Shanghai, is an ebullient example of gut-busting cinematic panache and also why Emraan Hashmi deserves a National Award for this film. Carved like a perfect handicraft, Shanghai blends the real and the reel seamlessly to come up with a droolworthy political thriller cum satire. Lacking an unusual plot but rich in little details, Shanghai makes you a Dibaker fanboy with much ease if you havent been one. 

3. Kahaani

Kahaani, directed by Sujoy Ghosh, was a taut thriller with a rapier-sharp edge to it. Undoubtedly, the most gripping and engrossing fare this year, Kahaani is the story of a pregnant out in the search of her husband. Going back to his Calcutta roots, Ghosh plays a magician in Kahaani setting up the milieu pitch perfect, capturing the best frame and extracting the juices out of his technicians and artists to deliver a movie which would have surpassed all others, had it not been for the minor plot loose ends, mind you, which you wont even feel when you are watching it. Vidya Balan could have done better than all male performances here. 

2. English Vinglish

The best things in life are simple. If you can doff your amazement due to the Sridevi's sunny charisma and focus on Gauri Shinde's debut serving, English Vinglish is a charming delight of a film, handpicking influences from daily lives and wrapping a bundle of issues and values in an endearing family tale. Innovative humor, soothing music and simplistic treatment make English Vinglish a heady cocktail that stays with you longer than most other movies on this list. An astoundingly well-made film, this one outpaces many fine products on this list. 

1. Vicky Donor

A small little film dealing with a rampant taboo in India, Vicky Donor, makes it to the pinnacle of list without a shred of doubt, and definitely will show up in the lists of everyone else too. Directed by Shoojit Sircar and dealing with sperm donation, the film is a laugh riot that does not  compromise on the sensitivity of the issue and retains its persistently breezy flavor, ably shouldered by its leads, Ayushmaan and Annu Kapoor. Layering the issue around a love story, and supporting it with peachy subplots, Sircar effortlessly delivers the best mainstream movie of the year. 

Other Honorable Mentions - Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu, Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana, Gattu, Delhi Safari, Talaash and Chittagong

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