BizAsia’s Top 5 films of 2017

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Bollywood films have had a rather revolutionary year. Alongside the scandals, new Bollywood babies and marriages, the industry has seen actors choosing films that have real life issues at the heart of them. Some films have been downright silly while others have dared to bring light to issues that often have been dusted under the glitzy carpet. This year’s top films not only reflect the diversity of films but also the courage of the directors who made them and bought them onto our big screens creating hours of entertainment and leaving us with food for thought. In no particular order, here are BizAsiaLive.com top five films:

‘Newton’
Co-written and directed by Amit V Masurkar, ‘Newton’ tells the story of Newton Kumar (Rajkummar Rao), a newbie government clerk is sent on election duty to a Naxal-controlled town in the jungles of Chhattisgarh in India. Despite the fear of guerrilla communist rebels, Newton is determined to run a fair and just voting system. He is greatly disappointed when the voters don’t turn up but are later forced to turn up by security forces when a foreign journalist arrives. Newton realises that they have no idea what the election is about and decides to educate the town to ensure they make an informed decision, despite the protests of the head of the security forces. The film was first premiered at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival and was selected as the Indian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 90th Academy Awards.

‘Toilet : Ek Prem Katha’
With an unusual film title like ‘Toilet Ek Prem Katha’, this film had people talking before it even released. Directed by Shree Narayan Singh, it told the story of Keshav (Akshay Kumar) who lives in a village where women are forced to go out in the early hours of the morning to defecate in the open, behind the bushes. Keshav is forced to marry a black buffalo by his father who believes it will help improve his son’s fortune. The act pays off with Keshav meeting and falling in love with Jaya (Bhumi Pednekar) who he eventually marries. On her first morning, Jaya is forced to go reluctantly to defecate under the cover of darkness and returns agitated. She protests that they should have a toilet in their home. Keshav tries to pacify her by trying to find alternatives but after a while, Jaya gets frustrated and goes back to her parent’s house. Here starts Keshav’s campaign to get toilets in the village to bring home his wife. The film acted as a way supporting the real life Indian government campaigns to improve the sanitation conditions and prevent people from defecating in public.

‘Shubh Mangal Saavdhan’
Directed by R.S. Prasanna, Shubh Mangal Savdhan is a remake of the director’s Tamil film, which released in 2013. The film tells the story of Mudit Sharma (Ayushmann Khurrana), a Gurgaon boy who works as a marketer and falls in love with Sugandha (Bhumi Pednekar), whom he proposes to online and ends up falling for her in person. When Sugandha’s parents are out of town, the two try becoming intimate where Sugandha discovers that Mudit suffers from erectile dysfunction. They both try to solve the problem in different ways and as the marriage nears, Mudit tries to cancel it. The film gained critical acclaim for tackling an issue previously not talked about on the big screen.

‘Kaabil’
‘Kaabil’, directed by Sanjay Gupta, told the story of two blind people Rohan Bhatnagar (Hrithik Roshan) and Supriya Sharma (Yami Gautam) who meet through friends and fall in love. They get married and move into Rohan’s home. The couple on their way home from a night out, they are accosted by Amit (Rohit Roy), a local goon and young brother of politician Madhavrao. Amit and his friend Wasim harass the couple, leading to a heated argument. That is when the film takes a darker turn. The film did gain critical acclaim and was described as gut-wrenching and gripping.

‘Hindi Medium’
‘Hindi Medium’ is one of the more unusual films on this list, partly due to how it seemed to release on a low-key scale. Directed by Saket Chaudhary, ‘Hindi Medium’ tells the story of Raj Bhatra (Irrfan Khan) a rich businessman from Delhi who, alongside his wife Mita (Saba Qamar), studied in a Hindi Medium school and want their daughter Pia to be admitted to a top school in Delhi. The schools have a condition that they only admit students who live within 3km radius so the family moves to Vasant Vihar. They later realise that the parents are interviewed for the admission so they go to a consultant to get groomed for the interview. However, Raj fails at his answers at the interview and ends up being exposed, leaving his daughter being rejected by all the schools. The film’s story is heartwarming and one that many Indian parents can relate to and understand.

Some films deserve a mention even thought they didn’t quite make our cut. The first is ‘Tumhari Sulu’ starring Vidya Balan which was very well received by the box office with Balan acting as an ambitious housewife who becomes a radio jockey for a late-night relationship advice show. ‘Phillauri’ was one of the more unusual films of the year with Anushka Sharma acting as Sashi, a spirit haunting Kanan (Suraj Sharma) who marries a tree that Sashi lives in as part of a manglik ceremony.

‘Jagga Jasoos’, directed by Anurag Basu’ told the story of a teenage detective Jagga (Ranbir Kapoor) who is searching for his father after he disappears and loses touch with him.

‘Mukti Bhawan’ was an “out of the box” film which brought to the forefront the end of life. Adil Hussain headed up the cast, playing the dutiful son of a father who believes he was on his final days.

2017 has been an interesting year for Bollywood with some great stories being told on the big screen. We can’t wait to see what 2018 holds for the film industry!

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