2018 will go down as the year that caused the must upsets, when superstars tumbled and small films with big hearts got audiences putting down their money on them. If this does not start another new wave of creativity in Hindi cinema, nothing will.
For once it is was actually tough picking the ten best films of 2018. In order of release:
1. Padman: R Balki’s film, starring Akshay Kumar, Radhika Apte and Sonam Kapoor, based on the real-life hero Arunachalam Muruganatham, challenged age-old taboos about menstruation, and started a conversation about sanitary pads.
2. October: In Shoojit Sircar’s Varun Dhawan toned down his hyperenergetic persona to play the subdued character of a hotel employee whose life changes, when a colleague (Banita Sandhu) falls from a rooftop, just as she enquires after him, and goes into a coma.
3. Raazi: Meghna Gulzar’s taut spy thriller, based on Harinder Sikka’s book, Calling Sehmat, starred Alia Bhatt in a powerful role of a young woman married into a high-ranking military family in Pakistan, to spy for India, as war clouds loom in 1971.
4. Parmanu: The Story Of Pokhran: Abhishek Sharma’s film, starring John Abraham, turned India’s secret nuclear programme of 1998 into a thrilling blend of action and patriotism.
5. Mulk: Anubhav Sinha’s film starring Rishi Kapoor and Taapsee Pannu reopened an important dialogue about what constitutes patriotism, at a time when hate and jingoism are in the air.
6. Stree: Amar Kaushik shook up an appealing brew of comedy and horror, with the versatile, chameleon-like Rajkummar Rao playing a small-town tailor in love with woman (Shraddha Kapoor) who could be a ghost.
7. Sui Dhaaga: Sharat Katariya’s film cast Varun Dhawan and Anushka Sharma against type as a lower middle class couple struggling to make a dream come true—a fairy tale for modern India
8. Andhadhun: Sriram Raghavan’s film, had a superb suspense plot about a blind pianist (Ayushmann Khurrana) and a femme fatale (Tabu), mixed with a tribute to retro Bollywood (personified by Anil Dhawan).
9. Tumbbad: Rahi Anil Barve showed Bollywood how a horror film could be made without using worn-out tropes, in the richly atmospheric and very scary film starring Sohum Shah
10. Badhaai Ho: Easily the most loved film of the year, Amit Ravindernath Sharma took a warm-hearted look at what happens to an ordinary Delhi family when an older couple (Neena Gupta, Gajraj Rao) find that they are expected a child; their sons (Ayushmann Khurrana, Shardul Rana) and cranky old matriarch (Surekha Sikri) have to deal with the reactions of people around them.
Deepa Gahlot is one of India’s seniormost and best known entertainment journalists. A National Awardwinning film critic, Deepa has watched more movies and theatre than most people in the country. An author of several books on film and theatre, she has had an extremely successful run as head of theatre and film at the National Centre for Performing Arts, Mumbai, during which she helped nurture several original productions. For Xyngr, Deepa Gahlot reviews theatre and cinema.