Sunday, December 24, 2006

Lage raho, Bollywood

Lage Raho Munnabhai
Rang De Basanti

Bollywood has not had it so big in quite some time. As cricket took a bit of a backseat in 2006, the front seats got filled up again at the cinemas. Unabashed in-your-face marketing, oven-fresh storylines and cutting edge technology set the ticket counters on fire as opening weekends grossed more than the rest of the run for many a big movie. The ones that held ground in the weeks to follow emerged the strongest.

The year definitely belonged to the familiar and the fearless. While audiences were happy to return to known faces (read Munna & Circuit, Jai & Ali, Don & Roma, Raju, Shyam & Babubhai), Rang De Basanti showed that cinema can still try to shape society and not the other way round.

If the multiplex boom all but spelt doom for the single screens, the success of Fanaa showed they can still do brisk business if the plexes say ‘pass’. The plexes definitely held the box-office cards in Calcutta and so Metro presents the Top 10 Bollywood blockbusters of the year gone by on the basis of admits at INOX (Forum and City Centre) and 89 Cinemas.

1 Lage Raho Munnabhai.
Director: Rajkumar Hirani;
Cast: Sanjay Dutt, Arshad Warsi, Vidya Balan, Boman Irani

Our say: Bole toh kya picture hai mamu! Call him the new Hrishida or Frank Capra reborn, Raju Hirani not only turned a beautiful mind into a khopri-mein-chemical-locha, he brought back Gandhism as Gandhigiri. Add to that a thought for the aged and for smashing myths around mangliks (not everyone learnt, though)! With George Bush being the brunt of the third instalment, samjho ho hi gaya

Their say: “It makes you laugh, it makes you cry and it makes you ready to conquer the world” — Boman Irani.

2Rang De Basanti.
Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra;
Cast: Aamir Khan, Soha Ali Khan, Kunal Kapoor, Atul Kulkarni, Siddharth, Sharman Joshi

Our say: Yeh zindagi jeene ka ek hi tareekha hai — yeh film dekho aur apni awaaz uthao. It is surprising that no one mentioned Rakeysh Mehra’s gem when Manu Sharma got convicted, but it was Rang De Basanti that lit the candles of protest among all those who felt cheated. The film inducted us into the masti ka pathshala but also made us realise that aag hai mujh mein kahin. DJ and gang did “sue” all our manns.

Their say: “It feels wonderful to be part of something so important as Rang De Basanti” — Soha Ali Khan.

3 Krrish.
Director: Rakesh Roshan;
Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Priyanka Chopra, Rekha, Naseeruddin Shah

Our say: Look up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Superman! No, it’s Krrish. India’s first homebred superhero soared high, and far and wide. It needed the super-heroics of Hrithik to pull it off despite a snail-paced narrative and a 70s-sounding score. In effect he made a superhero film a sequel to a sci-fi movie! And just like Lage Raho Munnabhai, Krrish did a Godfather by bettering Koi… Mil Gaya.

Their say: “The genre of superhero movies did not exist in India and so it was all the more important that the first one was convincingly portrayed” — Hrithik Roshan.

4 Dhoom:2.
Director: Sanjay Gadhvi;
Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Aishwarya Rai, Bipasha Basu, Abhishek Bachchan, Uday Chopra

Our say: We had to stop counting the number of admits on December 19, otherwise D:2 could well have slipped into the top three. And why not? With so many Hrithik Roshans in the same film, storylines or characters or logic didn’t matter. Plus, Ash with less flab and frills and Bips bouncing in Baywatch gear. Crazy kiya re, for sure!

Their say: “Full entertainment has been the motto for the Dhoom films. It should be paisa vasool. This is no pathbreaking cinema, just straightforward storytelling with lots of masala” — Sanjay Gadhvi.

5 Phir Hera Pheri.
Director: Neeraj Vora;
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Paresh Rawal, Suniel Shetty, Bipasha Basu, Rimii Sen

Our say: The first among the success sequels, PHP had a different director who pulled out all the stops for truckloads of laughter. Belly, subtle and everything in between.

Their say: “I knew people wouldn’t accept one bit less than the first film. But I gave them two bit better. This was an extraordinarily entertaining film” — Neeraj Vora.

6 Don.
Director: Farhan Akhtar;
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Boman Irani

Our say: Remixed rather than remade, with jhankaar beats which the young found groovy and the not-so-young found out of tune. Khaike paan was the definitive moment and one look and you knew that the new D was not that far a cry from the old D.

Their say: “The old Don lent itself to being easily adapted and contemporarised for today’s sensibility and audience” — Farhan Akhtar.

7 Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna.
Director: Karan Johar;
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Rani Mukherjee, Abhishek Bachchan, Preity Zinta, Amitabh Bachchan

Our say: It was always a blockbuster. The question was how big. And KJo may feel disappointed seeing his five-year-later magnum opus behind Phir Hera Pheri in this year-end list! But then again, life mein risk to lena parta hai.

Their say: “People loved it, people hated it but they were not indifferent to the film. I have broken my own mould with KANK” — Karan Johar.

8 Malamaal Weekly.
Director: Priyadarshan;
Cast: Paresh Rawal, Om Puri, Riteish, Reema Sen, Rajpal Yadav

Our say: Easily the best-marketed movie of the year. When Paresh and Om as two ageing villagers in dhotis get a good opening at the turnstiles, you can gauge the UTV muscle behind the movie.

Their say: “After making so many films I have realised that promotion is as important to a film as the making” — Priyadarshan.

9 36 China Town.
Director: Abbas-Mustan;
Cast: Akshaye Khanna, Shahid Kapur, Kareena Kapoor, Upen Patel

Our say: Master of thrillers, the brothers Abbas and Mustan have the uncanny knack of keeping the spotlight on the story despite the biggest of stars. So while the Shahid-Kareena on-screen romance was as thanda as ever, the twists turned the fortunes of this medium-budget venture.

Their say: “It was a relief that Shahid and my pairing was finally accepted” — Kareena Kapoor.

10 Gangster.
Director: Anurag Basu;
Cast: Shiney Ahuja, Emraan Hashmi, Kangana Ranaut

Our say: The Page 3 of the year. It was Pritam’s music and the Abu Salem controversy that got the audiences in before the lead trio took over. And how!

Their say: “Gangster was essentially a love story” — Anurag Basu.

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