Kareena Kapoor and Aamir Khan in 'Talaash'

Diversity. That was the name of the game in 2012. And it was about time too. How long were we going to have senseless love stories, and masaledaar films in the name of entertainment?

2012 changed the rules. Heroines got meatier parts, yesteryear actresses made great comebacks and unconventional stories ruled the roost.

It was tough to have to narrow down to just five, but we picked the five films that stood out note these aren’t just critically acclaimed art house films, but all round entertainers that offered enough to pander to all kinds of audience tastes.

‘Agneepath’

Roshan in 'Agneepath'
Roshan in 'Agneepath'

Karan Malhotra۪s remake of the cult classic starring Amitabh Bachchan was more of a tribute and not so much a remake. Several elements of the plot were tweaked and brought in line with present day.

At its heart though, it was still a revenge drama with Vijay (Hrithik Roshan) setting out to avenge his father who had died at the hands of Kancha Cheena (Sanjay Dutt).

Although incessantly violent, the film held the audience۪s attention for its three-hour running time and boasted of spectacular performances by Roshan, Dutt and Rishi Kapoor in a negative role as Rauf Lala.

The only sour point of course was Priyanka Chopra who was criminally wasted and reduced to a bit part and, even though she made the best of whatever little she had, the film could have given her more scope.

Overall, this was one remake that more than matched up to its predecessor and what۪s more it made bucket-loads of cash too benefitting everyone that was associated with it.

‘Kahaani’

Vidya Balan in 'Kahaani'

After the laurels she received for her bravura performance in The Dirty Picture۪ (2011), Vidya Balan scored yet again in another unconventional tale in Sujoy Ghosh۪s Kahaani۪.

To be fair, a film is nothing without a strong script and director to boot, so full marks to Ghosh – after the dud Aladin۪ (2009) – for making a comeback of sorts with this thriller of a ride which tells the story of a heavily pregnant woman, Vidya Bagchi. She travels from London in search of her missing husband during the Durga Pooja festivities in Kolkata.

The climax was a little far-fetched but this gripping tale scored full marks for originality, conviction and stellar performances – not just by the film’s leading lady but also by Parambrata Chatterjee, as a rookie cop who helps Vidya in her quest to learn the truth about her missing husband, and Nawazuddin Siddiqui as an arrogant deputy commissioner.

What’s more, the scenic locales of Kolkata only added to the film۪s authenticity, proving once again that foreign locations aren۪t necessarily needed to grab an audience۪s attention.

Way to go Mr Ghosh!

Barfi!۪

Ranbir Kapoor, Ileana D'Cruz & Priyanka Chopra in 'Barfi!'
Ranbir Kapoor, Ileana D'Cruz & Priyanka Chopra in 'Barfi!'

2012 seemed to be the year of bouncing back. Like Sujoy Ghosh, director Anurag Basu too had a disaster called Kites۪ (2010) behind him, and so probably had a point to prove with regards to his capabilities as a director. And the point was indeed proven with his bitter-sweet, feel-good albeit risky love triangle between a deaf mute title character, and two women, one of whom is autistic.

Barfi!۪ proved that when a film۪s heart is in the right place, there۪s no stopping it even if some scenes are lifted directly from Hollywood or Charlie Chaplin classics.

Apart from an interesting premise though, the film benefited immensely from Pritam۪s lilting melodies and some awesome top line performances by Ranbir Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra with a smashing debut by Ileana D۪Cruz to boot.

What works in the film۪s favour is that it never once gets depressing or preachy, its tone remains consistent throughout apart from a silly murder mystery which should have never made the films final cut in the first place.

‘Barfi!’ was India۪s official entry to the Oscars this year and it failed to make the cut probably because of its inspired scenes but, either way, it was one of the major achievements of last year and definitely deserves its place on this list.

‘English Vinglish’

Sridevi in 'English Vinglish'
Sridevi in 'English Vinglish'

The promos of ‘English Vinglish’ did very little for us we must admit, which is why it threw a really pleasant surprise upon release when we finally got down to watching it.

Debut director Gauri Shinde۪s script was simple yet it had heart and never digressed from the story; that of a middle class housewife learning English once she lands in the Big Apple for her niece۪s wedding.

Generously aided by some uplifting tunes by Amit Trivedi, a strong supporting cast – including Priya Anand, Adil Hussain and French star Mehdi Nebbou – and a subtle, and brilliant portrayal by Sridevi as Shashi in the lead, Shinde had a winner on her hands all the way.

The film started slowly due to the absence of a huge male star but gained momentum shattering the age old myth that 30+ actresses can۪t make a mark at the box office.

Surely this has to be the comeback of the decade!

‘Talaash’

Aamir-Kareena in 'Talaash'
Aamir-Kareena in 'Talaash'

Aamir Khan rarely ever disappoints and he didn۪t with Talaash۪ either. Sure people found the climax a bit of a let down, and the plot unfolded at a leisurely pace but that didn۪t stop the film from making this list.

To her credit, ‘Talaash’ was in stark contrast to director Reema Kagti۪s debut, the light-hearted Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd۪ some five years ago.

It tells the story of Inspector Shekhawat (Khan) investigating a series of murders and his relationship with his grieving wife (played by Rani Mukerji) and a mysterious hooker (Kareena Kapoor). But underneath the mystery it۪s more a tale of tortured souls looking for redemption and closure and its when these aspects are explored does the film score.

As expected, Khan was awesome but Kapoor and Mukerji too packed in a mean punch and were in fine form after a really long time.

There were shades of the Michelle Pfieffer-Harrison Ford smash What Lies Beneath۪ (2000), but there۪s no doubt about the fact that Talaash۪ was a class act like we۪d expect anything less from Brand Aamir.

It was hard picking out this list. And undoubtedly not everyone will agree with it so as is the norm there were a few that made the honourable mentions list. Firstly,ʉTiger۪ Salman Khan۪s Ek Tha Tiger۪ – though ridiculous in its premise – was one film that was really enjoyable; its adrenaline packed action sequences and camera filling locations (Cuba, Ireland, Turkey to name a few) made it a worthy ride and it definitely deserved to be THE blockbuster this year.

The Saif-Deepika-Diana starrer Cocktail۪ came without much expectations which is probably why it scored at the box office. Saif Ali Khan was a bit meh۪ and the role would have sorted someone from the Ranbir-Shahid-Imran ilk but it was the ladies that kept this one together. Diana Penty, though raw was good but it was Deepika Padukone who surprised one and all as Veronica. Added to her, the film۪s music and some interesting cameos this was a worthy watch but it just missed the cut in our top five due to its tepid and stretched climax.

Like Cocktail۪, not much was expected from the Paresh Rawal-Akshay Kumar starrer OMG: Oh My God۪ as it too came without much fanfare and set the cash registers jingling. The film itself was far too preachy but it did make some really valid points about religion and was helped with an extremely likeable performance by Rawal.

There were a few others that scored big at the box office but don۪t really make this list purely because they ran on star power alone.

There۪s no doubt that 2012 was a great year at the movies. Watch out for our upcoming feature on what to look forward to in 2013!