Friday, December 15, 2023

Shubhra Gupta's selection of the top films of 2023 includes Jawan and Pathaan, starring Shah Rukh, OMG 2, and 12th Fail


Shubhra Gupta's list of the best films of 2023 includes a film that uses religion to discuss a taboo subject and Shah Rukh's double whammy. Check to see if any of your favorites have made it here.

So. The year 2023 is nearly over. And I have to say that this year, not a single big-budget, multi-star Bollywood extravaganza was good enough to be considered excellent. Films that shifted a register, attempted something novel or novel-ish, or brought a near-defeated star back into the spotlight are the ones that, with some difficulty, have made it onto my Top 5 list. However, each comes with some restrictions.

Honey, it's not just about the money: This year, Bollywood made more of it than it has in the past several years combined. This is especially true in 2021 and 2022, when it was struggling with the triple whammy of closed theaters during Covid, a holdover of terrible films that the audience overwhelmingly disapproved of, and the onslaught of Southern films (Pushpa, KGF2, RRR) that were unstoppable at the box office.

In conclusion, it concerns originality and originality. The spark that draws us into theaters, where we give in to the darkness and wait for the story and characters to shine on the screen. We went back to saying, "Tch-tch, this could have been so much better" after the majority of the films that made the cut had a few enjoyable moments.

I'm left wondering if Bollywood, backed by studios and led by stars, has lost its ability to make pure, unfettered cinema as we approach 2024. Are we now only going to receive corporate calculations of "what works," leaving us with well-constructed, emotion-free "content"?

In the meantime, I leave you with the movies that made me smile.

OMG 2, a teenage boy is scolded for doing something that nature has prepared him for at his age and stage. His school tosses him out, his family is ridiculed, and his dad, who ought to have had some better sense, hangs his own head, as well.

Amit Rai's OMG 2 gets straight to the point. It uses religion, specifically sanatan dharm, effectively to discuss and break a taboo subject. Its humor is underlined; There are a few unnecessary songs in it. However, it accomplishes something that no other Hindi film has done, not just this year but throughout the years: It makes it acceptable for young people to explore their own and other people's bodies and sexual urges, and it makes sex education an important topic of conversation. Masturbation. Gasp. Maithun has. Two more gasps

As the father, Pankaj Tripathi is sincere and effective, and Akshay Kumar plays second fiddle: The first is a fervent Shiva ka das, while the second is Shiva as incarnate, with Nandi by his side. I've always maintained that Akshay can be entertaining when he doesn't take himself too seriously. Also, credit goes to his designer: a harlequin coat wearing every one of the essential tones is super cool.

Pathaan SRK used the word "rizz" before it was a word. As his tyrant delivers yet another blow, there he is, bloodied face and wild hair down. We are aware that this is the time because the camera drops low and the background music explodes. Pathaan gets away. Additionally, the actor who plays the role does so. It was time.

Pathaan succeeds due to SRK's zany charm offensive and the captivating trio of Deepika, John, and Dimple. It is a movie in which the lead character takes on the persona of a kinetic character: he jumps off cliffs, swoons on beaches filled with beautiful women in stringy bikinis, flirts with a bad guy who used to be a good guy, and talks to another superstar who just happens to be there to, you know, hang out.

Doing a haircut on a day off? It's not cool at all, even for Bond.

Jawaan Jawan is more of a declaration of intention than a film. After Pathaan, SRK's second blockbuster of the year establishes him as our person. He is the savior who will restore everything because he comprehends what it means to be powerless.

Atlee's legend is the exemplary Everyman who stands like a safeguard against oppressors, everything being equal: corrupt politicians, avaricious police officers, and naive businessmen These adversaries have forever been around in standard film in all dialects: we remember them even before they open their mouths.

Another masala trope that we are already familiar with is when SRK plays both the father and son roles. SRK takes the character of Jawan and runs with it. He has reinvented the traditional hero. Also, clap, clap, he recruits a group of women to assist him in achieving his goal. While not all of it works, the ones that do are among the best.

12th Fail Vidhu Vinod Chopra regained his mojo with the heartwarming film 12th Fail, which is about an underdog who fights against the odds with admirable grit and courage to pass the crucial UPSC exam.

Manoj Kumar Sharma's father is a low-level officer who always has money but wears his honesty like a badge. He has made it clear that his son will have to do everything himself if he wants to be successful. Vikrant Massey, who won several Best Actor awards in 2024, plays Manoj with utter conviction. He doesn't let anything stop him, even when he fails several times in the "prelims" and "mains," winning his fair lady along the way. The plot has a few clever twists and turns, but overall, this is a movie that makes you want to celebrate the human spirit's never-say-die attitude. Yes, there is light at the end of this tunnel, which is a tunnel.

Rocky and Rani in Ki Prem Kahani should not have been here, by definition: Because of its overwritten dialogue and ideas that appear to be leftovers from his previous successes, I just couldn't like it enough. What's with this fixation on 'mithai ki dukaans' from Chandni Chowk? Wasn't all juice drained out of it in K3G? This decade, then.

In his colorful romances, Karan Johar has never used so much telling: he really does alright with show. Yet, there's your Rough Ranveer, head to foot in emerald Gucci, and Rani-Alia as a television columnist with a stunning closet — simply take a gander at those sari pullovers — not warming it up as much they could have. What has transpired with smoulder? Even though Jaya Bachchan's gorgeous scarlet lip color is a show-stopper in and of itself, she never gets a break from being a sourpuss. In a late-stage love story, Shabana Azmi and Dharamendra make you laugh and cry at the same time.

However, during one song in the movie, Ranveer Singh and Tota Roy Chowdhury are seen swirling and twirling on a stage in blood-red lehengas, making a deft statement against the world of heavy-handed men with their dance moves. The movie jumps into this whole mess because of that one song and what it stands for.

What a pattern! It gives generations of patriarchal backsides a gentle kick, slides neatly into the sweet spot that gender fluid people hide in, hoping no one will find them, and makes it beautifully seen in one fell swoop.

Do we relish the end of patriarchy? But clearly.

In addition, I have a few honorable mentions.

We are three.

Avinash Arun's Three Of Us is at the top. It's anything but a major spending plan, enormous star film. It comes from the chief who made Killa, one of the loveliest transitioning films in Indian film. That this one, featuring Shefali Shah, Jaideep Ahlawat and Swanand Kirkire, came to the multiplexes, feels like a wonder. The film is a hit because it tells a moving story about love, loss, and remembering.

The film is suffused with beauty thanks to Arun's intimate knowledge of his stunning Konkan terrain as these characters walk the dusty streets of the small town filled with houses with old wells in the backyard and waterbodies that hold terrible secrets.

Three of Us is also a strange love story, one that doesn't involve big gestures or loud dances and songs. The scenes' fluidity and use of music are sufficient to convey the message that when memories pass away, compassion remains.


A prickly connection between a mother and girl is the vehicle through one more story of memory-and-distraction is told in Pushan Kripalani's Goldfish. This two-hander starring Deepti Naval and Kalki Koechlin also challenges preconceived notions of maternal love and offers up some unsettling responses. All ladies don't long to be moms; Furthermore, nurturing is not innate. Compassion, in the end, is sufficient.

Little-people Zwigato stories are disappearing from the big screen. Nandita Das' Zwigato has Kapil Sharma in a startlingly fine turn as a dispatch fellow, called 'conveyance accomplices' by their relentless managers who make them work nonstop with little compensation and no additional items. Sharma is well-company by the excellent Shahana Goswami: Das ought to direct more.

Bheed, Afwaah

Both Anubhav Sinha's Bheed and Sudhir Mishra's Afwaah required more extensive play in theaters. The films can be viewed as a pair. The first film, which has Rajkummar Rao, Bhumi Pednekar, Ashutosh Rana, Dia Mirza, Pankaj Kapur, and Ashutosh Rana in central roles, is about the thousands of migrants who were forced to leave the cities and return to their villages when the world's most stringent lockdown started. The film is a reminder of the stark reality of the Covid-19 pandemic, when all we could see was death and despair, despite the fact that the characters are fictional.

By combining satire and reality, Afwaah brings Mishra back into the Hazaaron Khwahishein Aisi zone: We don't live in just two Indias, as a well-known comedian once stated; We reside in several Indias. What do you do when you unintentionally land up where innovation and politeness is simply shallow? How can you avoid being murdered by trolls? Nawazuddin Siddiqui is well supported by Bhumi Pednekar, Sharib Hashmi, Sumeet Vyas, and T J Bhanu as the confused "desi" who is a stranger in his own country. It's a startling look at New India: will you stay or take off?

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