Terrible films, and not just in Bollywood, follow Gresham’s law from economics, “Bad movies drive the good-bad movies out,” in about the same way “bad money drives the good money out (from the market).”
So of course there were the truly second-rate flicks this year, like any other: Farah Khan’s copy of Peter Sellers’s Tees Maar Khan (For fox sake), the Rajshri pic Isi Life Mein (Such is life, dearies!), Anees Bazmee’s No Problem (You may develop new problems), Priyadarshan’s Khatta Meetha (testy stuff), Satish Kaushik’s Milenge Milenge (Run of the ‘80s mill) etc.
But then, these bad films merely lend a bad name to films so bad that they’re actually awesome. There is such a thing as good trash, any connosoier will tell you. You unfortunately stay away from them, not realising they can offer you pleasures just as really great films can. If nothing else, they make your own lives seem less bizarre.
What are people who watch every movie for? To help you choose the best, and the best of the worst. Here’s a list of the top ten films from ’10 in descending order of merit that I know you didn’t watch, and the loss was purely your own. Trust me.
Suit and hunk hook up over Internet, meet at "hi-fi restorent." "Ambeance is great," suit says. "Is the food funtaastic?" hunk asks. Nope. They chomp on street food instead, discuss their lives. The hunk’s a "hookar". The suit fulfils "dooties of an husband." Both are gay, but as the "hookar" figures, the suit’s slept with a guy only once (in college), so he’s "almost a vaargin." "Doood!" They scoot off to a Goa "hotal", make moaning, passionate love, butt naked, lips locked. This is Bollywood’s first homoerotic film. The cast is supported by Kabir Bedi, Zeenat Aman, Helen, Parikshit Sahni… Lata Mangeshkar croons from the background, "Downt knouw why… Na Jaane Kyon." Huh!
9. Jennifer Lynch’s Hiss
Mallika Sherawat never opens her mouth, throughout, which is great. In a skin-tight snake-suit, oh the eastern Anaconda looks hot as she gobbles men alive — all rapists and wife-beaters. The phallic sex symbol’s main target is an old white Bob Christo type who growls: Mein naag mani laigi, laigi (I’ll get the snake’s jewel). I walk out of the theatre. Popcorn vendors, ushers go, "Hiss, hisss, hissss, hisssss…." Hysterical!
8. Priyadarshan’s Bum Bum Bole
Majid Majidi made Children Of Heaven in 1997: a soft, touching account of a boy who wants to finish third in a school race to win a pair of sneakers he doesn’t own anymore. Here are the possibilities Priyadarshan’s marketing team saw in 2010 to do its official remake: Adidas ad for the sneaker, Horlicks counter at the race, Taare Zameen Par’s Darsheel Safary to display on the movie poster, loud nursery rhyme beats for the background score, long animation sequence around the shoe…. You get tears in your eyes when you watch both Majidi’s original and Priyan’s remake. With the former, you’re crying, and in the latter, you’re laughing. And it’s the same story. Fabulous!
7. Raj Kanwar’s Sadiyaan
Long side-burns; receding hairline, parted from the centre; prominent lisp; slight buckteeth; floppy ears; a disproportionate figure…. As you watch this super-star bob his head in checked trousers, you sense he’s been somehow forced into this. He’s the son of a Shotgun (Shatrughan Sinha). They call him Luv. Stop it. No laughing matter, this.
6. Mahesh Nair’s Accident On Hill Road
It’s been over 24 hours. A man’s bum has been stuck to the windshield of a parked car. A girl had crashed this car on to the old man’s bum the night before. She wakes up in the morning, and instead of helping him out, beats the hell out of him with a cricket bat. Her boyfriend fishes out a gun to kill him. The old man, still stuck, recounts conversations with his daughter in his head. Eh? The bum belongs to the great Farooque Sheikh. What more to say. Except, I’m serious.
5. Leena Yadav’s Teen Patti
Notations denoting permutations combinations of sequence of numbers appear scribbled on the screen, and jut out of a professor’s head in this most elegantly lit rendition of fine gibberish. A failed prof’s cracked a way to beat anyone in the Diwali bluff game teen patti. For an explanation he suggests: Man is a process, not an event. Deep. College kids go from one gambling den to another. Amitabh Bachchan is the mathematician recounting his story to Ben Kingsley, the magician while Kingsley makes a coffee mug levitate over a table. Uff, cerebral stuff.
4. Manish Pandey’s Mumbai To India 332
A curiously powdered Neanderthal man from India’s east dates a Marathi ‘mulgi’. Young Marathi boy, with glasses similar to Raj Thackeray’s, is chased down corridors of Banaras Hindu University by a Dhoni look-alike. Buddhist chants play out for loud instrumental score. Gabbar, in boots, paces up and down a double-decker bus he’s held hostage: "Jai Bihar, Jai Patna," he growls. It’s a serious film on the migrant Bihari-Marathi issue, where both words keep getting beeped out. Gabbar growls again. Brilliant. Makes you want to check out that B-grader flick on Kasab as well. Wonder where that went?
3. Mani Shankar’s Knock Out
The film’s entirely a knock-off (Phone Booth). Except, here’s what the hero (Sanjay Dutt) instructs the villain (Irrfan Khan, a political henchman) to do as he’s forcibly stuck to a phone booth. He asks him to transfer public funds siphoned off into Swiss banks by his political bosses. The villain fits a Reliance data card to his crummy laptop, gets into the Swiss account, transfers black money into Reserve Bank treasury. Crowds gather outside the phone booth. Click after click, money in Rs 500 crore installments keep getting deposited to the Government of India. Everyone cheers. What an idea. It’s so simple, CBI. Why take that long investigating CWG, 2G…
2. Mehul Kumar’s Krantiveer
Netas naughtily natter on and on over the bewakoof (stupid) Indian public. They gather around in a semi-circle of sofas at their beautiful den for the jashn ki raat (a night of decadence): sipping on whisky, moving to nautch girls’ pelvic thrusts. Women are Russian. Globalisation is but upon us. Indians deserve better. They chase these "white khadis" on the streets, garland them in slippers, blacken their faces, whack ‘em hollow, kick them hard… Ah, such catharsis. Mental exhaustion is too small a price to pay for this flick. Give it a shot.
1. Gurinder Chadha’s It’s A Wonderful Afterlife
Chatty Mrs Sethi (Shabana Azmi), a sweet caring mom, doubles up as a sickened "curry killer", who can see dead people. Her serial murders make tabloid headlines. Dead bodies are found with "chili content way off human tolerance levels", crazy kitchen implements like the seekh of the seekh kabab, inserted into body parts. Now that’s a concept, I tell you. But the scene that completely takes the cake: The only non-brown character in a movie set in the western world’s called Linda. It’s her engagement party, and everyone’s happily high on "ganja pakodas" (what should’ve been ‘bhaang pakodas’). Linda turns into the character of the same name from Exorcist, scarily screams and levitates, her entire body dripping in red chutney, curries fly off serving tables, so do plates and other assortments.... You think this world’s goin’ mental? Calm down, watch this film, feel better.