After having looked at music, acting performances by male and female actors and the most disappointing films of the year, here is now looking at the movies that were the most impressive of the lot and stood up from the rest for what they honestly intended to say! For me, these were certainly the best films of the year, in a year which was rather lackluster otherwise!
Before we look at the #Top10MoviesOf2017, here are some #SpecialMentions:
Neeraj Ghaywan‘s short film #Juice was a very powerful take on patriarchy with a tight script and a brilliant performance by Shefali Shah that left many deeply impacted.
James Erskine took us on a nostalgic trip with #SachinABillionDreams, and some of the candid family moments shared through the film stood out in the overall film.
Rahul Bose showed the courage to tell the story of the very young #Poorna Malavat who scaled the peak of Mt. Everest fighting all odds, the film also finding feet through stellar performances from Aditi Inamdar and S Maria as Poorna and her friend.
And now, here is what I thought were the best films of 2017 ranked, films that stood out like shining stars from the rest of the pack truly differentiating themselves!
10.) The Hungry – I caught up with this shocker from Bornila Chatterjee a couple of days back, and I am still deeply affected. Perhaps the darkest film that I have watched this year, this modern day adaptation of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus is gruesomely uncomfortable and disturbingly violent. But the film rests on a terrific screenplay banking heavily on atmospherics, and has the outstanding Tisca Chopra even trumping the brilliant as always Naseeruddin Shah through a class act!
9.) Ribbon – One of the most underrated films in this list, Ribbon should have been watched and discussed so much more. Debutant director Rakhee Sandilya tells a very powerful story of an urban couple, and their day to day struggles of playing the balancing act in their lives. It skillfully merges a dark twist in its screenplay that comes midway through the film, rather disturbing but frequently in news all over, and hence Rakhee needs to be applauded to bring the issues to the front. Aided with spot on performances by Kalki Koechlin, Sumeet Vyas and the little Kierra Soni, Ribbon leaves a lasting impression and numbing effect with its on your face treatment, great production design and no nonsense storytelling.
8.) Qarib Qarib Singlle – Tanuja Chandra successfully presents one of the most refreshingly charming and matured love stories of recent times to us through this lovely non pretentious journey of self-discovery. It takes some amazing writing to take a paper thin plot and get an engaging story out of it about two real characters very different from each other, who have seen enough in life through broken relationships, are way past the candy floss romance and hence often find reasoning and compassion at loggerheads in their soul searching trip. Qarib Qarib Singlle would have benefited immensely had the third act of the film been completely edited out, but stellar performances from Irrfan and Parvathy makes it one of the most fun watches of the year, with a lot of repeat viewing potential.
7.) Jagga Jasoos – The visually spectacular Jagga Jasoos is Anurag Basu‘s true labor of love! It takes a lot of imagination to envision the world of Jagga, and skills of another level to create that vibrancy to transport the audience to that realm of magic and innocent childhood nostalgia! Kudos to Basu for wowing everyone with such cinematic opulence and visual delight! Jagga Jasoos thrives on the terrific father son chemistry beautifully enacted by Shaswata Chatterjee and Ranbir Kapoor (who nailed Jagga to perfection), an excellent soundtrack by Pritam, and breathtaking cinematography by Ravi Verman! The film does get bogged down by its ambition at places, but in spite of some of these minor flaws, Jagga Jasoos was certainly one of the most memorable theatrical experiences of the year! It deserved so much more love from the audience.
6.) Meri Pyaari Bindu – Debutant director Akshay Roy creates an out and out charmer with Meri Pyaari Bindu, and hence this film from my most favorite genre of feel good easily slips in as one of the most memorable ones of the year! Meri Pyaari Bindu, like it leads, does not claim to be perfect, it is messy at places, but it has its heart in the right place and remains achingly poignant, just like its charming lead brilliantly played by Ayushmann Khurrana. The film benefits tremendously from a brilliant climax, which is able to make up for the slack that builds up in between due to an uneven screenplay and a faltering Parineeti Chopra. As it sparkles because of the best soundtrack of the year composed by Sachin Jigar, who not only give us some lovely original songs, but also beautifully blend in various retro hits through the screenplay each of which become characters by themselves. This heartfelt beauty should have found so many more takers and better support even from the learned critics!
5.) Anarkali Of Arrah – It’s a welcome change for hindi cinema that films like Anarkali of Arrah are being made and being talked about as great cinema, in spite of director Avinash Das showing us a world of Anarkali that the urban cinegoer is alien to and uncomfortable with. It takes the topic of sexual consent head on, and tells us that irrespective of the profession, social or economic status of a woman, she has as much right to fight for her honor as the urban girls of Pink, and its absolutely not okay to assume that her profession provides easier access to her! The brilliant performances by Swara Bhasker and Sanjay Mishra along with the rest of the supporting cast helps establishing strong connect for the film and is such a welcome change away from the other sexist blockbusters of the year!
4.) Bareilly Ki Barfi – Ashwini Iyer Tiwari’s Barfi from Bareilly is easiest the sweetest and most heartwarming film of 2017 that had made me laugh the most this year! The film takes us back to the lovely feel good origins of Basu Chatterjee and Sai Paranjape house of film making, telling us simple stories about simple people, punched with clean humor and wittiest of dialogs! All the characters of Bareilly Ki Barfi feel flesh and blood real right from Bitti and her family to both her suitors and give enough glimpses of the immortal characters of Katha, Chhoti si Baat and Baaton Baaton Me through themselves! And they are all brought to life by outstanding performances by the entire ensemble cast (with Rajkumar Rao, Pankaj Tripathi and Seema Pahwa especially standing out), and some terrific writing by Nitesh Tiwari. The world needs more and more of such light hearted clean entertainment, and I hope that the success of BKB will actually inspire many more such refreshingly humorous films in the future too.
3.) Newton – The brilliance of Newton lies in the fact that there are no pronounced protagonists or antagonists in the film in spite of its name, the characters are in different shades of right vs. wrong, t in different stages of cynicism due to their experiences of life, and there is no forced closure or a pretentious attempt to find solutions to all questions that they raise in the film. Rather, it’s a stark satirical commentary on India’s socio-political realities and the circus of democracy. And just like the previous film, this film gets us stellar performances by all the characters irrespective of the length of their roles right from Sanjay Mishra, Anjali Patil, Raghubeer Yadav to the absolutely terrific Pankaj Tripathi & Rajkumar Rao. Director Amit V Masurkar made a very important film relevant to the times we live in, and drives home his point effortlessly as a winner all the way.
2.) Mukti Bhawan – A film that traces the journey of seeking salvation post death through the colorful lens of life has to be very special, more so when such a dark subject at death is dealt with such tenderness and positivity. Director Shubhashish Bhutiani uses the powerful levers of subtle emotions and sublime humor to create this brilliant slice of life film, and triumphs in remaining completely non-judgmental in everything he shows and nothing that he forcefully tells. A story about death eventually ends up being a wonderful celebration of life, of its futile anxieties and of deep human bonds rediscovered in the process. Adil Hussain delivers a career best flawless understated performance and finds solid support in Lalit Behl, Navninda Behl and rest of the cast. Benaras is presented in most gorgeously and truly disturbing self, while the haunting background score leaves a definitive mark on the very strong narrative all along. Cinema like Mukti Bhawan needs to be celebrated by one and all and easily could be swapped with the top film on the list.
1.) A Death In The Gunj – Konkona Sen Sharma‘s directorial debut is easily the most sure-footed and self-assured film of the year. With storytelling at its finest, the film leaves one completely unsettled through its stellar atmospherics and intriguing screenplay where one is expecting the unexpected to happen at every point. There is a very strong sense of nostalgia, drama, disgust, pain, solitude and a deep sense of loss sprinkled across all the complex and layered characters wonderfully etched out in the film through its very engaging screenplay. We also see a very vibrant set of performances by every single actor of the strongest of ensembles right from the little Arya Sharma to the legendary Om Puri, but it is the absolutely stunning act of Shutu by Vikrant Massey that will outlive everyone else for years to come. With a completely earnest exposure of his vulnerabilities, Shutu’s brooding silence screams in defiance to the obnoxious masculinity surrounding him, and Vikrant plays that to perfection. Konkona truly creates the masterpiece of the year with A Death in the Gunj and delivers a cinematic experience that leaves one introspecting and moved long after the party of the Gunj is over!
So that is what made the best of cinematic 2017. Hoping that 2018 is much more spectacular and comes with a bouquet of some brilliant films to celebrate – the lineup looks promising, hope that it does not disappoint.
Till then, keep watching good films. And don’t forget to share your views on your best films of the year!