Every year has them: the Best Films, Performances and other remarkable achievements in cinema. And the worst. Let us now peep into the finest and most awful aspects of Hindi movies in this year.
The Best Movies
Happily, for an overall dull year at the box-office (Key reasons spelt out in Countdown—Part 1:The Over-The-Top Year), quality-wise, 2022 was not a write-off. Irrespective of their box-office, therefore, the following films topped the merit-list, with some others coming close, like Bhediya, An Action Hero, Vikram Hit List and Kantara. Yes, I include the South-made pan-Indian films and those released on OTT.
Brahmastra: Part One—Shiva / Director: Ayan Mukerji
This 3D spectacle was Indian cinema’s maiden attempt at Hollywood fantasy genres like the Marvel movies. And thus we could overlook the mistakes and lacunae in the storytelling as lessons to remember after a first attempt. The film was also graced with lovely music and an epic scale.
Darlings / Jasmeet K. Reen
This was the first ‘baby’ from Alia Bhatt before her daughter Raha was born four months and a day later! Yes, Alia turned producer (partnering Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment) with this Netflix-streamed edgy thriller about a lousy husband to an initially dutiful wife. If you did not watch Darlings on OTT, “you ain’t watched nothing,” as the ancient Britishers would say!
Drishyam 2 / Abhishek Pathak
It was the sole South remake to do blockbuster business this year. Crisper and better than the original, Drishyam 2 drove its audiences globally in droves (!) to the movie-halls. Ironically, it also had a role in bringing down the prospects of some latter releases! But then solo, couple or family, this film was a compulsive watch.
Gangubai Kathiawadi / Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Passion unlimited—the classic SLB credo was in full form in the filmmaker’s most daring movie. I say that because the film was not only about a female protagonist with no hero, but also the maverick filmmaker’s first-ever movie based on a real individual who lived in the 20th century.
Jalsa / Suresh Triveni
Powerhouse performances from Vidya Balan, Shefali Shah and others only boosted the powerful human story that was based in one traumatic night and was all about life’s supreme ironies.
Mili / Mathakutty Xavier
An amazing survival drama, this film sadly could not muster views, underscoring the change in viewers’ patterns of going to movie halls. This spellbindingly told saga with world-class VFX separated the woman from the girls—Janhvi Kapoor’s talent clearly overtakes all actresses this side of Alia Bhatt and Kriti Sanon. In a word, both she and the movie were phenomenal.
Rocketry: The Nambi Effect / R. Madhavan
The ever-bankable actor, R. Madhavan, even took on the directorial helm of this quasi-masterpiece on India’s famous scientist Nambi Narayanan’s traumatized life and his gritty fight to redeem his name. Co-scripted by Madhavan as well, with the title-role also essayed by him, the movie emerged as another essay of sheer passion in every department.
RRR / S.S. Rajamouli
The director’s name itself is synonymous with gargantuan slices of entertainment, emotions, music and drama—everything Indian cinema is known for. Now a globally-renowned entity, S.S. Rajamouli has now not just been nominated for international awards, but has also won a couple, including for the music by his equally distinguished cousin, M.M. Kreem.
Runway 34 / Ajay Devgn
Brilliantly directed by Ajay Devgn himself from a real story, Runway 34 was imaginatively executed, if a little too heavy post-interval—which was a dramatic necessity. The film never clicked—sadly—as big-screen entertainment but was widely appreciated when streamed later.
The Kashmir Files / Vivek Agnihotri
Even the most horrific scene depicted had actually happened—Vivek Agnihotri culled his script from hundreds of hours of video recordings of Kashmiri Pandits now based in USA, Canada, Germany and more, besides India. He successfully documented this blood-curdling saga of the biggest genocide in human history and its shameful cover-up by the Indian government and media.
Vikram Vedha / Pushkar-Gayathri
Very few thrillers had its tempo, grit and intelligence. Hrithik Roshan, Saif Ali Khan and the background music score by C.S. Sam were the other monumental pluses of this gangland drama whose bulwarks were its fabulous script and awesome direction.
The Best Performances
In alphabetical order, Alia Bhatt (Gangubai Kathiawadi, Darlings), Janhvi Kapoor (Mili), Kajol (Salaam Venky), Tabu (Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2, Drishyam 2) and Vidya Balan (Jalsa) stole the lead actress honors. The lead actors’ list would include Ajay Devgn (Drishyam 2), Ayushmann Khurrana in An Action Hero, Jackie Shroff (Life is Good), Kamal Haasan (Vikram Hit List), Nana Patekar (Tadka), NTR Jr. (RRR), R. Madhavan (Rocketry), Ranbir Kapoor (Brahmastra), Shahid Kapoor (Jersey), Shreyas Talpade (Kaun Pravin Tambe?) and both Hrithik Roshan and Saif Ali Khan in Vikram Vedha. A surprise but deserving addition here would be Gajraj Rao in Thai Massage as the old man out to rejuvenate himself.
The supporting honors go above all to Shefali Shah (Jalsa, Darlings, Doctor G), while Sheeba Chaddha (Badhaai Do, Phone Bhoot, Doctor G) had the most consistently ascending graph. Jia Vaidya (Jayeshbhai Jordaar) and Pallavi Agnihotri (The Kashmir Files) were wonderful too. The male list had Anupam Kher (Uunchai), Jaideep Ahlawat (An Action Hero), Pankaj Kapur (Jersey), Sharad Kelkar in Operation Romeo, Surya Kasibatla (Jalsa), Vijay Verma (Darlings) and Vishal Jethwa (Salaam Venky).
The Worst Movies
Attack: Part 1, Heropanti 2, Ek Villain Returns, Laal Singh Chaddha, Shamshera and the pan-Indian Liger score head-over-heels in being this year’s most atrocious fare apart from Thar and Love Hostel on the web. “Close” competition (!) comes in from Samrat Prithviraj, Bachchhan Paandey and—on the web—Gehraiyaan, Forensic and Looop Lapeta.
The Worst Performances
Thankfully in 2022, the list is quite abbreviated. Ananya Panday, Ramya Krishnan and Vijay in Liger complete that absymal film’s triple hams. Tiger Shroff in Heropanti 2, Manushi Chhilar in Samrat Prithviraj, Sanjay Dutt in Shamshera and Tara Sutaria in Ek Villain Returns and Heropanti 2 vie for other worst performances.