Many films from 2018 have already hit Netflix, so you can stop risking a virus to watch the most talked about Hindi cinema of the year.
Soorma – starring Diljit Dosannjh, this biopic tells the story of hockey player Sandip Singh, who overcomes incredible adversity to continue playing. It also stars Angad Bedi and Tapsee Pannu, two breakout stars from the last couple of years. It’s a heartwarming story, but Film Companion accurately called it “occasionally watchable.”
Andhadhun– Ayushmann Khuranna has enjoyed some successes this past year, including Andhadhun. This movie enjoyed critical and popular acclaim for its dark humor and suspense. Khuranna plays a man who has witnessed a crime, but there’s a complication. He’s blind. Two of the best actresses in B-town, Radhkika Apte and Tabu make this one a must watch.
Parmanu: The Story of Pokhran- Parmanu purports to tell the story of India’s first successful nuclear test in the 1970s. It stars action hero John Abraham and features many rousing patriotic scenes. Ultimately though, this movie lacks critical nuance and would have been better served by depicting the people involved in this achievement accurately rather than giving it the glamorous star treatment.
Sanju – perhaps the biggest movie of 2018, Sanju has Ranbir Kapoor playing the controversial Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt. In the tradition of most Bollywood biopics, it veers too often into hagiography of the living, but on the whole provides an entertaining and well acted watch. You can read a full review here: https://myindipen.com/2018/07/02/review-sanju/
Pad Man- This was truly the year of Radhika Apte. In addition to starring in almost everything Netflix made in Hindi, she also starred alongside Akshay Kumar in a movie about the collective menstrual cycles of a nation. Kumar portrays a small town man determined to make a better period product for the women in his community, who are forced to live in isolation and use unhygienic rags every month. Along the way he faces an incredible amount of opposition in even bringing up this issue, particularly from women disinclined to discuss it with a man. Pad Man should be compulsory viewing for men, for whom menstruation is still a horrifying mystery. That said, it’s not perfect. Sonam Kapoor’s pseudo-romance with the lead was unnecessary and unconvincing.
Lust Stories This one is actually four stories from four different directors about modern relationships (read, sex) in 21st century India. Like many 2018 films, it takes a taboo topic and humanizes it across different communities and ages. All of the actors here are among the best currently working, but Radhika Apte and Vicky Kaushal can add this to their list of achievements in 2018.
Love per Square Foot brings Vicky Kaushal in yet again to star alongside Angira Dhar in the story of a couple that makes a marriage of convenience to save money on housing. This movie is sweet and funny with joyful musical numbers. It’s the genre unique to Bollywood done right.
Aiyaary – Despite a decent cast led by Siddharth Malhotra and Rakul Preet Singh, this movie falls short of inspiring near the kind of tension and suspense promised. I did a review here.
Manto – In Manto, Nawazuddin Siddiqui plays the writer Saadat Hasan but it could be said the main character here is the tragic 1947 partition of India and its consequences for a man of letters. Siddiqui is, of course, amazing in the role. This movie shows how to to tackle both biography and history in a film for Hindi-speaking audiences.
Rajma Chawal– A modern Delhi boy and his father try to connect across an unprecedented generational divide in a strange way… the father catfishes his son. Well, it’s not as simple as that. Further proof that you can tell a crazy story while still having believable and honest characters.
Bucket List– It’s always wonderful to see Madhuri Dixit on screen. Here she plays the recipient of a heart transplant who decides to follow through on her donor’s “bucket list” of things to do before death. This one’s actually a Marathi movie but it’s a nice addition to the list!
2018 seemed to be a particularly good year for Hindi-language films, even if they did not escape controversy (remember Padmaavat? Now let’s see what 2019 has to offer!