It has easily been the most prolific and fun year at the movies for me. I have watched more movies as the first day, first show audience this chalchitra season than ever. It has been a mixed bag of experiences, but all very enjoyable.
Catching the Hindi-dubbed version of Baahubali 2: The Conclusion in a single theatre on its opening day was an exhilarating experience, as was admittedly laughing out to the juvenile yet hilarious jokes from Golmaal Again. The cleverly written romcom Bareilly Ki Barfi also lit up my day, despite its mitigated finale.
Newton burst in with a brave new air on its wry take on Indian democracy, while the stalled release of Padmavati signaled the harrowing rise of mob fury and an ominous signal to the continuous curtailing of the basic right to freedom of expression in India.
Irrespective of their box office performances, and solely based on what I saw at the theatres this year, here's my pick of the best Hindi/Bollywood films of 2017.
An elderly widow secretly vents out her sexual longing for a young swimming instructor, a stiffened collegian uses the burqa to live an exciting double life, a wife is crushed under her husband's sexual authority, a lover struggles to handle her restless sexuality. Themes that popular Hindi seldom visits, depicted here with laugh-out-loud cheekiness and a groovy pulp fiction narrative. Featuring Ratna Pathak Shah in the role of her lifetime. We don't need more films like Lipstick Under My Burkha to be hindered for its subject matter. Let the audience decide.
It's an old fable: One man wants to do his duty while the rest of the world gripes at him for doing so. Rajkummar Rao and Pankaj Tripathi show why they are the best in the business. Another admirable rebellion of a movie.
Actor/Director Rahul Bose's snitches a little surprise in this spirited real-life take on the youngest person to climb Mount Everest. At once endearing with its earthy cast, Bose keeps it simple and charming, with none of Bollywood's overplay, self-indulgence and vanity. He ends with a little gem on childhood, rural India, sheer courage and a love for adventure and mountains. The Best BoomBox Standout Hindi Movie 2017.
A damn funny movie, also featuring the Bollywood mother of the year Seema Pahwa and an impressive Bhoomi Pednekar in a ROFL Arabian Nights allegory.
Lights Out! Projector! Popcorn! Munch, Munch!
Considering largely dismal and dwindling numbers at the theatres, except for "event" movies, Bollywood would do well to encourage more single-screen theatres and cheaper, accessible tickets for the mass audience to come enjoy the movies again, away from their unlimited Internet plans, WhatsApp groups, choking traffic and alternate entertainment options.
Here's wishing a splendid movie experience in 2018. Pass the popcorn please and don't charge Rs 500 for one, just because it's harder to rob us at gunpoint, dear multiplex owners!