It has been a prominent year for the Bollywood box office. Numerous films have hit the three digit mark, and most have been powered by newer directors, fresher stories, and underrated actors. The audiences flocked to the theatres to watch path breaking films like ‘Article 15’ and proved that it is indeed a screenplay that is powering the cinematic experience. As 2019 hits a close and we light up 2020, we at BizAsiaLive.com are reflecting back at the films that you must watch before you pop the bubbly.
Ranveer Singh’s love for rap has been evident from his pension to free-style during interviews and was rightfully cast as ‘Gully Boy’ Murad in this Zoya Akhtar directorial. Murad is your average college student from the Dharavi slums of Mumbai, who is torn between studies, love, dreams, and a compelling family life. He lives with an abusive father who marries for the second time and still comes home to him and his mother only to be as abusive. Murad’s rap and poetry stems from his family life and eventually broadens to his daily plight when he is forced to take up the job of a chauffeur. His girlfriend Safeena, who is beautifully and vivaciously portrayed by Alia Bhatt is an ardent supporter and his calm through the many storms. You are discovering Murad as he discovers himself through his underground rap battles, and his poetic reality is all too real. As the film unfolds, Singh is as remarkable as the scene before and is raw as ever. The surprise element in this film is ‘MC Sher’, effortlessly portrayed by Siddhant Chaturvedi. He is Murad’s mentor throughout his fight to the top. Chaturvedi makes you sit up and take notice of his charming demeanor and natural free-styling, compelling you to wonder if he is indeed a rapper by profession. ‘Gully Boy’ has a superior star cast and each character has their own might and is explored thoroughly. The authenticity in every performance tears at your heartstrings, because you just want all the characters to rise above everything this world is made of. Akhtar has been known for her immense authenticity, gripping storylines and attention to detail. ‘Gully Boy’ is as gripping, detailed and authentic as it gets
There is perhaps no role that Ayushmann Khurrana cannot fit into. In ‘Article 15’, Khurrana plays the ‘Additional Superintendant of Police’ Ayan Ranjan, who is introduced to the unfortunate socio-political cultures that still do exist in India as he travels to his new posting in the village of Laalgaon. Ranjan finds himself in unknown territory as the differences between castes are clearly positioned, even when he wants to do something as simple as drink water or eat from a friend’s plate at a party. This new ‘no-touch’ scenario confuses Ranjan as he tries to make sense of the discrimination being thrown at him. ‘Article 15’ of the Indian Constitution “prohibits discrimination on ground of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth”, but it clearly has no place in Laalgaon. Ranjan starts investigating the case of two young missing girls whose investigation is seen as an “honor killing”. He is being coaxed to give up on the case by the fidgety Bhramadutt Singh, played by Manoj Pahwa. Ranjan is not willing to give up on the case as he realizes that there’s more to it than meets the eye. Khurrana plays Ranjan with utmost ease and vulnerability as he navigates through this gritty case of deception, discrimination and helplessness. Director Anubhav Sinha and a strong supporting cast of Pahwa, Sayani Gupta, Kumud Mishra and Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub help ‘Article 15’ get the true justice the storyline deserves.
Biopics have had a superior hold at the box office for Bollywood films. The stories of many brilliant minds and strength have intrigued and enthralled the audiences and Hrithik Roshan starrer ‘Super 30’ has been no less. Roshan played renowned mathematician Anand Kumar. Kumar formed the Super 30 program in 2002 for disadvantaged students where he tutored them for entrance into the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) free of cost. You are introduced to Kumar by one of his students as he takes us to 1996, where his mentor is being awarded a medal from a villainous Pankaj Tripathi. Tripathi plays a minister, whose motives are clear enough for you to start rooting for Kumar to get past the grind. Roshan is genuine with his immense innocence, flawlessly depicting Kumar’s hardships as a student, but the audience is also forced to despise his ulterior money making motives as he is hired by Lallan Singh thereafter. Lallan Singh is played by Aditya Srivastava whose selfish demeanor and bullying tactics still keep you glued to the screen. Roshan’s ultimate arrival as a tutor to the disadvantaged ‘Super 30’ students is where he brilliantly excels. The 30 students, Amit Sadh, Mrunal Thakur, and Manav Goel are also convincing in their respective characters and narratives in Kumar’s career.
Nitesh Tiwari’s Sushant Singh Rajput and Shraddha Kapoor starrer ‘Chhichhore’ is a light hearted approach to the complex subjects of mental health and the education system. The film takes place over two decades and starts out with Rajput’s character Aniruddh shown as a single father to Raghav, a University aged son. Raghav is studious and determined to receive admittance to the prestigious ‘Indian Institute of Technology’, just like his parents Anirrudh and Maya (played by Kapoor). Although, he is shattered when he receives the admittance results as he has not been accepted into ‘IIT’. Raghav takes a drastic step and leaps from his apartment balcony and is severely injured in the process. Anirrudh refuses to let his son give up on life and recalls his “loser” college days and calls all of his “loser” friends to Mumbai. He and his group of friends were called “losers” as they were not a part of the top dormitory that won the university’s annual sporting event, but they refused to let it determine or shake their faith. This assurance helps Raghav power through and he is physically and mentally healed to continue with his college education. Rajput smoothly leads the pack and makes ‘Chhichhore’ that feel good film that all families need to watch. He is fluid and beautiful in his portrayal of a university student and an affectionate father, jumping between decades and emotions to the audience’s delight. The group of “losers” are a winning combination, fabulously portrayed by Varun Sharma, Tahir Raj Bhasin, Navin Polishetty, Tushar Pandey and Saharsh Kumar. They have their own niche that the audience gravitates to. Nitesh Tiwari manages to intertwine all of his characters convincingly and reminds the audience that small failures only lead to brighter avenues.
Predominantly starring Amitabh Bachchan and Taapsee Pannu, ‘Badla’ is not your average “who-dun-it”. The mystery thriller combines thorough acting, direction, and a tight star cast to take you down two excruciating murder stories. The film starts out with Pannu’s character Naina Sethi under house arrest and meeting her promising and probable lawyer Badal Gupta, played by Bachchan. Sethi maintains that she is innocent of murdering her lover Arjun (Tony Luke) and has no qualms about admitting that he was a mistake and her husband and daughter are of her primary concern. She takes Gupta down a rabbit hole to prove her innocence and he questions her of Sunny, another young man’s murder. Sunny collided with Sethi’s car and she reveals that it was Arjun who encouraged her to hide his body in the car’s trunk and not notify the police. Gupta listens intently but manages to get Sethi to admit that Sunny was alive when he was in the trunk. Throughout Gupta’s journey to the truth of both Arjun and Sunny’s murder, Sethi finally admits to killing Arjun and being the mastermind behind Sunny’s death as well. At the end of the film, it is revealed that the original Badal Gupta was never with Sethi but it was Sunny’s father (Tanveer Ghani) in disguise, as Sunny’s mother (Amrita Singh) recorded their conversation from the building next door. Pannu is shrewd and enigmatic in her adaptation of Sethi. Her unflinching portrayal keeps the audience hooked to the screen. Making his Bollywood debut in this revenge story, Luke is as poignant as the regretful lover and his story should have continued. Bachchan’s distinguished acting needs no introduction. He is disciplined, calm, and almost Herculean in his striking role as Gupta. Singh and Ghani as grief stricken parents are very credible and play their parts perfectly. Director Sujoy Ghosh is known for keeping the audience on their toes and he doesn’t fail to do the same in ‘Badla’, as the many twists and turns continue to be as twisted and scheming as the scenes before.
Uri: The Surgical Strike
Director Aditya Dhar made a path breaking directorial debut with ‘Uri: The Surgical Strike’. The film which was based on the 2016 Uri attack and surgical strike thereafter was brilliantly executed through various timeframes, emotions, and courage. The audience was completely submerged in detail and avid curiosity brought together by Dhar and remarkable performances from his stellar star cast of Vicky Kaushal, Paresh Rawal, Mohit Raina, Yami Gautam, and Kriti Kulhari. The layers to the cast’s characters were carved and placed perfectly throughout the film.
‘Good Newwz’ is your genuine laugh into 2020. Starring Akshay Kumar, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Diljit Dosanjh, and Kiara Advani, this comedy is centered around an IVF mixup and satisfies the audience with much humor and heartfelt performances by its star cast. Kumar and Khan are impeccable in their performances as Varun and Deepti Batra, and Dosanjh and Advani make a winning combination with their performances as Honey and Monika Batra. These four have a sparkling chemistry and light up the screen in their various emotions portrayed throughout the film. With a strong screenplay and thorough performances from beginning to end, Raj Mehta’s directorial debut is a delight to watch on screen and possibly the best way to end Bollywood’s successful 2019 with.