2008 wasn’t perhaps the best year when it comes to storytelling but it still had at least a few films that managed to work well with the audience. If there was an intense ‘A Wednesday’ bringing in wonderful results during those ’90 minutes’, there was also a no-brainer like ‘Singh Is Kinng’ that went on to be one of the biggest grosser at the box office. Joginder Tuteja brings to you some of the best films that Bollywood saw in the year gone by.
10 – Jodhaa Akbar
After a false start in it’s opening weekend, ‘Jodhaa Akbar’ fortunately managed to settle down at the box office due to very good word of mouth and some excellent post release marketing. The movie managed to be excellent in patches but for an epic drama set at such a gargantuan scale, far better cinematic output was expected. Of course the sets and the costumes and the fights were all well placed but it was the pacing of the film that tended to turn sluggish at places. Still, Hrithik and Ash saved the day, hence making it one of the first big successes of year 2008.
9 – Singh Is Kinng
‘Singh Is Kinng’ was one of those films that worked as an instant coffee. You enjoyed the film for the duration it played but at the end of the day were left wondering that what it was all about! A poorly picturised ‘Snoop Dogg’ music video notwithstanding, it was Akshay’s histrionics as a ‘Singh’ that was matched by the photogenic quality of leggie beauty Katrina Kaif that did the trick. Anees Bazmee, after ‘No Entry’, ‘Welcome’ and now ‘Singh Is Kinng’ found himself staring confidently at the throne vacated by the Manomohan Desai years back. Welcome to the zone of no-brainer entertainers that more often that not succeed.
8 – RNBDJ
If not for the uneven pace, ‘Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi’ could have been a much better film that it currently is. Yes, it is a big success, in fact the biggest that Yash Raj Films or Bollywood has seen in the recent times, but still, there were expectations of something even better with Shah Rukh Khan and Aditya Chopra coming together. The film clearly worked in three acts, the first and the third being the best with the middle being just about OK. Nevertheless, the ‘Dancing Jodi’ climax dance sequence is the best finale for a film that one can remember for a long-long time, hence ensuring that Shah Rukh Khan magic continues to charm audience for many more years to come.
7 – Fashion
Madhur Bhandarkar makes a promise and always delivers as per expectations. Same holds good for ‘Fashion’ which was just the kind that one could see coming. No one really expected an explosive; let’s-unveil-the-mystery kind of cinema from ‘Fashion’ and this is what we got eventually. More of a ‘masala’ commercial entertainer than a film which ‘really’ explored the underbelly of the fashion industry, this film also worked as a revival of Priyanka Chopra’s fortunes that were dwindling after 4 successive box office flops. Also, audience whole heartedly welcomed a stunner called Mugdha Godse though Kangna only continued to do what she has been doing ever since her arrival in the film industry.
6 – Dostana
This movie should get credit for making the ‘gay’ word almost cool and even a sort of fashion statement to flaunt. Yes, the film did manage to get an alternate relationship out of a closet and almost suddenly, every person, whether straight or gay, was seen debating about ‘right to be a gay’! The film was fun for most of it’s duration, in fact almost riotous in the first half, though an unnecessary angle of drawing a child (Bobby Deol’s son) into the entire mess was really uncalled for. Still, Priyanka’s golden swimming costumes, John’s yellow trunk and Abhishek’s naughty antics made sure that there was no dull moment in Tarun Mansukhani’s ‘Dostana’.
5 – Ghajini
This is what the hype and marketing gimmicks can do i.e. form a ‘great’ perception of a movie that was just about ‘good’. Seriously, at it’s very inception, who would have expected a movie about a man seeking revenge for the murder of his girlfriend as great cinema. Still Aamir Khan and company left no stones (or even heads) unturned as they went around the town and made sure that there was no other talk in the town this Christmas than ‘Ghajini’. Add to that some genuinely excellent moments in the film that resulted in ‘Ghajini’ turned out to be THE most ‘violent’ success in decades gone by.
4 – JTYJN
It can be comfortably claimed that it was Aamir Khan’s superb marketing campaign that set the stage for Abbas Tyrewala, Imran Khan, Genelia D’Souza and company to create such a massive impact in this romantic outing of theirs that goes by the name of ‘Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Naa’. Of course this is no breaking news per se but the fact still has to be acknowledged that in JTYJN, Aamir certainly brought back the memories of the young romantic hero who made such a massive impact 20 years back. Still, when JTYJN released, even when Aamir and Imran dominated all entertainment channels, one wasn’t expecting such a delightful story which was there in the offering. And the thing that delighted most in this rather longish affair (we didn’t mind that at all) was it’s naturalness. JTYJN is easily the QSQT moment of 2008. In addition, it also made one recollect the times when ‘Maine Pyar Kiya’ became a rage. A movie which sustained the best amongst the audience this year (‘Jodhaa Akbar’ was another), JTYJN was easily the most liked and followed film amongst the youth in 2008.
3 – Race
Not just in the recent years but perhaps even in a few decades gone by, ‘Race’ would go down as the film that has the MOST number of twists ever. So much so that this 150 minutes tale had at least half a dozen twists which, by simple mathematics, makes it a one every 25 minutes. RACE was one ‘masala’ entertainer which stayed on to be the biggest money spinner of the year so far. This is also perhaps the only film of 2008 which not just met the sky high expectations that one had from this multi starrer but even exceeded them. Slickly shot with some great visuals and chartbuster music by Pritam, RACE wouldn’t have been the same without it’s two most solid pillars – Allan Amin’s action and Salim-Sulaiman’s background score. A solid entertainer which engaged it’s viewers from start to end, it deserved special marks for director duo of Abbas Mustan who went ahead with a holds-no-bar approach to establish the falling moral values of the current society we live in.
2 – Rock On
Now this is one film which really-really surprised. Frankly, not many out there were optimistic about the film’s run till the day of it’s release. The promotion was relatively low key, the (rock) genre unexplored, the hype around a debutant actor (Farhan Akhtar) being subdued, the music (Shankar Ehsaan Loy) meeting with a mixed response, not many aware about the subject of the film, the director coming with a ‘flop’ tag (after ‘Aryan – The Unbreakable)! The odds were pretty much against the film. And then the first show of the film commenced and everything just changed about ‘Rock On’. The entire perception factor went for a toss and the very same factors which were seemingly against it turned added on to the list of the positives. ‘Rock On’ is a film that clearly stands today as one of the best films to have come out of Bollywood in the year 2008. A film which was pure, unadulterated, came with wholesome entertainment quotient and yet wasn’t frivolous at all, ‘Rock On’ brings with it sheer class that has been abandoned by many a film makers in pursuit of mega bucks.
1 – A Wednesday
‘A Wednesday’ clearly stands as THE most topical movie of 2008. When half a dozen movies with terrorism as it’s theme (Mission Istanbul, Contract, Black & White etc.) were released in the year gone by, the only movie which actually spoke from the point of view of a common man was ‘A Wednesday’. It didn’t get into pseudo intellectual talks about how a terrorist is born, it didn’t propose a solution, it didn’t hit on politicians or cops. Instead, it plain and simple raised the voice of a common man and asked a few plain and simple questions – ‘How a man on the street should react with all the bombs and bullets around him? What is his fault? Whom does he look at?’ In Bollywood, we have complained quite a number of times that we tend to go off tangent when it comes to handling a subject and loose our way somewhere down the plot. This doesn’t happen even once in ‘A Wednesday’ that sticks to it’s plot and never looses focus. 20 years down the line, it would be showcased as a classic from Bollywood.