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2017 in Review: Films that stood out in a year of experimentation in Bollywood

If one were to look back at the Bollywood fare dished out in 2017, then probably the Virushka (Virat Kohli-Anushka Sharma, for the uninitiated) wedding had more drama, romance and suspense in it than the films that hit the silver screen. 

Well, to be fair to moviedom, 2017 did see more than its fair share of experimental cinema – be it ‘A Death in the Gunj’, ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’, ‘Mukti Bhawan’, ‘Jagga Jasoos’. It was also a year when Bollywood brought to the screen large slices of the Indian hinterland – ‘Bareilly Ki Barfi’, ‘Toilet – Ek Prem Katha’, ‘Anaarkali of Aarah’, ‘Haraamkhor’, ‘G Kutta Se’, ‘Kadvi Hawa’ and more. 

After monster hits like ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ and ‘Dangal’ of the previous years, Bollywood was devoid of any such blockbusters in 2017, with the sole exception of the Hindi dubbed version of ‘Baahubali – 2’. Movie after movie of superstars failed to create ripples in the Box Office – be it ‘Raees’ and ‘Harry Met Sejal’ (Shah Rukh Khan), ‘Tubelight’ (Salman Khan), ‘Simran’ and ‘Rangoon’ (Kangana Ranawat), ‘Kaabil’ (Hrithik Roshan), ‘Sarkar 3’ (Amitabh Bachchan), ‘Bhoomi’ (Sanjay Dutt’s return film) and many more. 

The year also saw Bollywood take up some socially relevant topics in the films – the education system that is heavily skewed towards English language (‘Hindi Medium’), problem of open defecation (‘Toilet – Ek Prem Katha’), erectile dysfunction (‘Shubh Mangal Savdhan’), India’s election system (‘Newton’), domestic violence and girl child empowerment (‘Secret Superstar’). 

Though it’s a tough task to slot movies as hits and misses of 2017, Adgully lists the films that struck a chord with the audiences (or not) during the year – in no particular order. 

Tiger Zinda Hai: (Release Date: Dec 22)

This Salman Khan-Katrina Kaif launched at the fag end of 2017 and has been raking the crores. Both Salman and Katrina saw their previous releases – ‘Tubelight’ and ‘Jagga Jasoos’, respectively – flop at the Box Office. This out and out action-cum-spy thriller is a sequel to 2012 huge hit, ‘Ek Tha Tiger’. 

Baahubali 2: (Release Date: April 28)

This Hindi dubbed version of Telugu blockbuster film has been an industry game changer in several ways and impressed audiences across the world with its grand sets, state-of-the-art VFX, enthralling storyline and the one question that intrigued all at the end of the first part of the film – why did Kattappa kill Baahubali? ‘Baahubali 2’ also set new records in Box Office collections, minting well over Rs 1,000 crore (a feat matched only by Aamir Khan’s wrestling caper, ‘Dangal’). 

Golmaal Again: (Release Date: Oct 20)

The Ajay Devgan-Parineeti Chopra starrer earned Rs 88 crore at the end of its opening weekend and is the third-highest for a Hindi film this year. For the first time, the element of horror has been added in the ‘Golmaal’ series, which has got a thumbs up from the audience. Directed by Rohit Shetty, ‘Golmaal Again’ is another fun filled ride about two gangs who are unable to stand each other since their childhood and the game of one-upmanship that continues even after they grow up. 

Judwaa 2: (Release Date: Sept 29)

Starring Varun Dhawan in a double role, this movie is a reboot of the 1997 film ‘Judwaa’. ‘Judwaa 2’ has earned Rs 228 crore (approx.) in the Box Office. Directed by David Dhawan, this movie is about twin brothers Prem and Raja, who are separated at birth but are uniquely connected to each other via their reflexes. They reunite as adults and set out to take down the underground smuggling world. 

 

Bareilly Ki Barfi: (Release Date: Aug 18)

This cheeky little film with no big stars won audiences’ hearts with its slice of life, quirky ride of unexpectedness, where the lead characters intermingle in their search for true love. That this film gives a loving glimpse of small town India’s hopes and aspirations and way of life endeared it all the more to its viewers. Directed by Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari, ‘Bareilly Ki Barfi’ stars Kriti Sanon, Ayushmann Khurrana and Rajkummar Rao. 

 

Toilet - Ek Prem Katha: (Release Date: Aug 11)

Focused on its socially relevant message of hygiene at home and the fallouts of open defecation, ‘Toilet - Ek Prem Katha’ is about a newly-wed couple’s battle for a toilet in their village home. This Akshay Kumar and Bhumi Pednekar starrer was not only lauded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but also by Microsoft Co-founder Bill Gates, who revealed that it was on his inspiration list of 2017 

 

 

Shubh Mangal Savdhan: (Release Date: Sept 1)

Bhumi Pednekar is fast turning into the thinking man’s spunky, down-to-earth leading lady. In her third Bollywood release, Bhumi paired again with Ayushmann Khurrana for ‘Shubh Mangal Savdhan’, which puts the spotlight on the problem of erectile dysfunction. This is probably the second Hindi film after ‘Vicky Donor’ to focus on this topic. ‘Shubh Mangal Savdhan’ is a remake of the 2013 Tamil film ‘Kalyana Samayal Saadham’. The plot is about a couple who fall in love, but then the groom discovers that he suffers from erectile dysfunction. 

Hindi Medium: (Release Date: May 19)

Starring the very talented Irrfan Khan, along with Saba Qamar Zaman, ‘Hindi Medium’ is a comedy-drama that makes a scathing commentary on the education system of India. Shedding light on the undying obsession of the country with the English language, the story revolves around Raj Batra (Irrfan Khan), who struggles to fit into a class structure whose exclusivity lies how comfortable one is with the English language. 

 

Newton: (Release Date: Sept 22)

India’s entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 90th Academy Awards, ‘Newton’ is a black comedy drama film about a rookie government clerk, who is sent on election duty to a Naxal-controlled town in the conflict-ridden jungles of Chhattisgarh. Starring Rajkummar Rao in the title role, ‘Newton’ is a rarity in Bollywood as it makes a strong political commentary, reminding one of the brilliant Sudhir Mishra film, ‘Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi’. Rajkummar won the Asia Pacific Screen Award for Best Actor for ‘Newton’. 

Mukti Bhawan: (Release Date: April 7)

On the surface, ‘Mukti Bhawan’ may seem like a father-son bonding film. Yet there are many layers to it – it explores death, making peace with one’s mortality, family values, letting go. The film stars the talented Adil Hussain, Lalit Behl and Geetanjali Kulkarni. 

Secret Superstar: (Release Date: Oct 19)

Though the film stars Aamir Khan, ‘Secret Superstar’ is not about him, but a Muslim schoolgirl from Jammu & Kashmir (Zaira Wasim), who aspires to be a singer. Supporting her dream is her mother. However, all is not rosy in her family as her mother suffers from domestic abuse at the hands of her husband. Zaira happens to cross paths with a musician, which unfolds into an exciting journey – of self realisation and self assertion and in the process, she makes a strong case for women empowerment. 

Lipstick Under My Burkha: (Release Date: July 21)

‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ has perhaps been one of the most controversial and much talked about films of 2017. Produced by Ekta Kapoor, the film makes a powerful case for gender equality and sexual liberation. One might be reminded of the 2001 Rajkumar Santoshi film ‘Lajja’, starring Manisha Koirala, Madhuri Dixit and Rekha. 

 

 

And finally... 

A word about Jagga Jasoos (Release Date: July 14). Starring Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif in the lead, there were several delays in the launch of ‘Jagga Jasoos’. The spectacularly mounted, whimsically directed, musical of a film was meant to appeal to kids and the child in every adult. High in imagination, Ranbir Kapoor makes an endearing boy-man detective who ‘sings’ his dialogues as he stammers badly. His journey as he searches for his missing father takes him through various places and hilarious situations. Sure, there is a ‘Barfi’ and ‘Ajab Prem Ki Ghajab Kahani’ déjà vu. The film ended clearly keeping a sequel in mind, However, the acrimony between the film’s director and Ranbir Kapoor and Rishi Kapoor following the film’s release, leaves a question mark on the fate of a sequel.

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