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The potty Bollywood films of the year – Beyond Bollywood

SRK, Salman, Akshay, Prabhas, Kangana. There’s nothing personal against stars, but keeping in with the trend, it is often the starry films that disappoint the most.

By Mayur Lookhar

It’s very easy to take potshots. Most people do it. Since our inception [2019], we’ve generally chosen to honour the best creative works across acting, films and music. 2023 though was a year where he couldn’t resist pointing out the worst. This listicle is no attempt to demean any film/artiste, but a sheer reminder of the agony that genuine fans went through whilst watching such poor works. 

There’s nothing personal here, but as seen in the last few years, often it is the starry films that tend to disappoint the most.  Unlike the best, it is wise to list them in the order of cringe. We bring you our list of the best amongst the worst. Here’s our potty films of the year.

1 Adipurush

Following the teaser criticism, an unwavering director Om Raut mocked the trolls [indirectly sane fans, critics] chiding that this is his film. He decides his Ram, Ravan. To hell with the trolls. Raut added that he wanted to leave his impression on the ancient Hindu epic. Media/fans/trolls, they had the first, and the last laugh. We didn’t sense any creativity, but Om Raut’s Adipurush appeared to be taking inspiration from Hollywood fantasy dramas. The title itself was so misleading. So, how could Raut even come close to the original epic Ramayana?

The poor VFX is secondary, but Raut, writer Manoj Muntashir, the starry cast all reduced Ramayan to a joke with their cringe-worthy adaptation of the ancient Hindu epic. Mock politicians, police, corporates is all fine, but when it comes to faith, not many societies would tolerate it. Raut, Muntashir did to Ramayan, what Ekta Kapoor did to Mahabharat. Such embarrassing adaptation of a divine epic could have amounted to blasphemy in certain cultures. Raut, Muntashir, actors Prabhas, Kriti Sanon, Saif Ali Khan must thank their stars that we live in a tolerant country. Adipurush just didn’t mock Ramayana, but it also embarrassed those political bigwigs who were happy to click pictures with the director, cast, producer. The deities themselves wouldn’t forgive Adipurush makers.  Yours truly is a mere mortal. Adipurush undoubtedly takes the cake for the worst Bollywood film of the year. Will Prabhas have a career in Bollywood after the Adipurush fiasco?

2 Tejas

Make no mistake. This writer is a big fan of Kangana Ranaut, the actor. The big problem is that the actor Ranaut seems to be missing for a while. Tejas barely lived up to its name [Indian made fighter jet aircraft]. The Sarwesh Mewara directorial in stead turned out to be a wannabe Uri: The Surgical Strike [2019]. In stead of the actor, we saw was a social media warrior, ultra-nationalist Ranaut in the film. Forget the general public. We feel bad for the Indian Air Force officers who had to bear this torture of a film which is moons away from their actual representation. Be humble in victories, and gracious in defeat. Ranaut’s rant at the critics was in poor taste. It’s all fine to spit fire on social media, but it’s high time that the fine actress does some serious soul searching.

3 Ganapath

When you yourself under promote the film, it speaks of the expectation. Director Vikas Bahl’s dystopian action drama was perhaps centuries ahead of its time.From start to end, this was a cringe fest of epic, dystopian proportions. Kudos to Kriti Sanon for delivering Adipurush, Shehzada, and Ganapath all in a year. However, in a patriarchal industry/ society, the principal blame falls on the male protagonist. He was already struggling, and worryingly, Ganapath could accelerate the downfall for Tiger Shroff. If you still act like a novice nine years after making your debut, Tiger Shroff has some serious soul searching to do. Post the global beating, even director Vikas Bahl confessed that he wasn’t confident about the film whilst reading its script.  Where are those sycophant scribes who lauded Ganapath for having multiple Hollywood inspiration? Bizarrely, this sham of a film bears the lord’s name.  

 4 Jawan

To hell with its Rs1000 plus crore global box office.  The authenticity of these numbers is always debatable. Jawan allegedly benefitted from (self) bulk-buying. We pity those reviewers who gave 4, 5 stars to a Jawan. Indian cinema is poorer with such crappy films. Farmers, Armed Forces, women empowerment, political-corporate nexus, imperfect democracy, labour force, inclusivity! South director Atlee made his Bollywood debut with a film that perhaps tried to fit too much on its plate. In the end, the viewers had to suffer a distasteful khichdi (rice pudding) of a screenplay. At 58, Khan was unconvincing in playing a Jawan. The dual role wasn’t different. It was cringe show from SRK all the way. We’re happy for the industry if the box office numbers are genuine, but this Jawan isn’t convincing genuine cinephiles.

5 Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan

We don’t need a film to say that Salman Khan is everybody’s bhaijaan. The ‘genius’ Farhad Samjhi thought of making a film as an ode to Salman bhai. Remake of a poor South film Veeram [2014], Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan turned out to be worse than the original. The insipid plot, direction and the extremely poor cast. Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan turned into an unintentional comedy all the way. Even genuine fans of Bhai weren’t pleased. Why would you continue to be benevolent and dole out jobs to undeserving cronies as part of Salman Khan yojana? The sad part – Khan’s snarling, Johnny Bravo-like bhaijaan was the biggest joke in the film.  We did laugh but more at the poor cinematic standards. Bhai ki film ne toh literally has has ke jaan hi nikaldi (We nearly laughed our way to death).

6 Bholaa

History hasn’t been kind to Ajay Devgn whenever he has acted, directed a film. Remake of a fine Tamil action thriller Kaithi [2019], Bholaa didn’t even come close to being a shadow of the Lokesh Kanagaraj original.  Aamil Keeyan Khan couldn’t adapt Bholaa like he did Drishyam 2 [2021]. From characters, actors to action, this was OTT [over the top] show all the way. Another jolt for Ajay Devgn, the actor, director. One has to feel for Reliance Entertainment, but then again, they are infamous for greenlighting such content. You’d have to be a real bhola to remotely like Bholaa.

7 Tu Jhoothi Main Makkar

A dubious title naturally comes with a dubious story. But we didn’t expect it to be this bizarre. Just few seconds ago, you have called your girlfriend. Then few seconds later, you call from a different phone speaking to your girlfriend as a service provider. The girl had roped in the services of a break-up specialist which is none other than her boyfriend. Well, she hasn’t seen the service provider. However, how could the girl not recognise her boyfriend’s tone? It surely doesn’t get as bizarre, as ridiculous as this. But then Luv Ranjan has built his legacy around complex, misogynist love stories. We’ve never been a fan of them. Despite Ranbir Kapoor’s fine show, Tu Jhoothi Main Makkar failed to elicit any fake praise from us.

8 Bawaal

Even the best is prone to blunder. Dangal [2016] fame director Nitesh Tiwari left all shocked with a very bizarre love story.  Bizarre is nothing new to Bollywood, but when you fit a silly desi love saga in the backdrop of World War II, it certainly begs the question, why Nitesh why?

Jahnvi Kapoor’s character has a dialogue, “Every love story goes through its Auschwitz”. That line alone is enough to speak of the insensitivity here. It almost pains to say that this insensitivity has been shown by none other than a man known for his sensitive, sensible works. Varun Dhawan, Jahnvi Kapoor added another dud, but perhaps Tiwari was the biggest loser in this Bawaal.

9 Dream Girl 2

When an Ayushmann Khurrana toes the leave-your-brains-behind theory, it tells you of his desperation. To be fair to Khurrana, the audience didn’t take to his preceding good films. A Dream 2 then became a necessity. The first film was hilarious, genuinely funny, Dream Girl 2 though had greed written all over it. The storytelling was organic in the first film, but director Raaj Shaandilyaa clearly lost his marbles whist scripting the Dream Girl 2 story. Economic crisis had compelled Karamvir [Khurrana] into becoming Pooja, but in the second film, the poor man is being exploited by his own father, best friend. The audience gave its thumbs up. We’re happy for Khurrana but Dream Girl 2 is arguably the worst film of Khurrana in a long time.

10 Selfie

There seems to be no end to Akshay Kumar’s self-destructive ways. And this time it is a Selfiee that is to be blamed. Remake of a successful Malayalam film Driving License [2019], Akshay Kumar, director Raj Mehta realised [not for the first time] that the rest of India has a different taste. Partly reminiscent of SRK’s Fan [2016], Selfiee [2023] was another shambolic film by Akshay Kumar. Emraan Hashmi was the misfit as the MP cop-cum-starstruck fan. Akshay did his best, but the silly plot, screenplay turned Selfiee into a 143 minutes nightmare.

11 Pathaan

The first blockbuster of 2023, but does that really matter? It certainly stemmed the rot for Shah Rukh Khan. Pathaan’s gigantic success though couldn’t hide its gigantic cinematic flaws.  Whilst the Left liberals went gaga in praising Pathaan, none of them could gauge the relevance of a Pakistani female ISI agent in a Saffron bikini. How could they miss the subtle agenda? Maybe, they were blinded by Shah Rukh Khan’s fanfare. At 57, Khan deserves praises for his transformation from King of hearts to King of Guns. However, the average plot, screenplay and the below par performances didn’t leave your reviewer impressed. We’re happy for SRK, producer YRF, but this Pathaan is just so distant from SRK’s lineage and image.

12 Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani

Ranveer Singh was in a similar desperate situation. So, too, was Karan Johar after Dharma hedged all its bets on Brahmastra [2022]. Like Dream Girl 2, this too did well at the box office, but respect is hard to earn when you dole up such tamasha. The Karan Johar-directorial challenged the Dharma legacy like never before. We found the leading characters insufferable, melodramatic. Dharam paaji’s kiss made headlines, but how many from civil society are fine with an old man kissing his former girl friend in front of his wife? That is left to individual opinion. It’s not the kiss but the chaotic story, screenplay that didn’t convince us about this Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani.  

Note: This article covers films that released till 1 December. With a month to go, and few more releases, there is scope for an update.

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