The 10 Best Bollywood Films of 2011

10 – Shor in the City

Directed by Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK, Shor in the City is a reasonably entertaining ensemble yarn. It is the cinematic equivalent of a decent train read - an easily digested page-turner that keeps you occupied but doesn't demand much. Those who don’t normally dig Tusshar Kapoor have the splendid Pitobash to look forward to.

9 - The Dirty Picture

Vidya Balan is saucy and sassy, and completely dedicated to her character in an otherwise unconvincing movie. Director Milan Luthria and writer Rajat Arora dole out a passably enjoyable piece of entertainment rife with double entendre dialogues. Naseeruddin Shah steals the show as the ageing South Indian megastar, with lines like ‘Girls are like a government, you have to support them - kabhi left, kabhi right, kabhi center’.

8 - Dhobi Ghat

 Dhobi Ghat is fodder for cineastes, romantics, and Mumbaiphiles. It is also a triumph for low budget filmmaking in India, the fact that such an arthouse movie was released in theaters is itself a big deal. Director Kiran Rao’s debut film contains beautiful imagery - most fine are those scenes that strive to capture the swooningly mysterious, grungy atmosphere that's endeared so many to Mumbai.

7 – Shaitan

Bejoy Nambiar’s Shaitan is not ambitious, but it is sleek and commercially legit, and is much more engaging than one expects it to be. If anything, it’s a worthwhile piece of eye candy and one of the most technically proficient Bollywood movies of the year. The soundtrack is excellent – the now famous remixed, souped-up version of ‘Khoya Khoya Chaand’ is set as the backdrop of a fun slow-mo shootout, and ‘Pintya’ is fabulously juxtaposed with a chase scene. Shaitan also marks the arrival of a major talent – Gulshan Deviah.

6 - 7 Khoon Maaf

With 7 Khoon Maaf, Vishal Bharadwaj proves yet again that he is the undisputed grandmaster of lighting a scene. The film, though loaded with uninspired characters is so gorgeous that you can’t stop looking at it. Priyanka Chopra does an adequate job in the first half but the makeup takes center stage in the second. Irrfan Khan, however, gives the performance of the year in his small role as one of her S&M loving husbands.

5 - Yeh Saali Zindagi

Yeh Saali Zindagi carries the distinction of being the most accomplished mediocre movie of the year. Writer-director Sudhir Mishra whips up an interesting central plot involving Irrfan Khan and Chitrangada Singh with some hysterically crass dialogues. And even though we are offered much more than we can chew, courtesy of the unnecessary subplots and the short-circuiting second half, YSZ makes for a fun watch and Mr. Mishra deserves credit for chutzpah.

4  - Stanely ka Dabba

Amole Gupte’s weekender project is one of the year's most delightful surprises. With perfectly cast actors, a poignant and often funny script and original music, Stanely ka Dabba is a study in how good indie filmmaking can be. The highlight here is most certainly the young lead Partho Gupte whose reactions are priceless.

3 - I am

 I am, a compassionate and touching film is in a class of its own as far as character-based flicks go. The film features some strong performances - Nandita Das creates dialogue without words, Rahul Bose emanates a sensitivity he has not shown in any other role to date, and Sanjay Suri is quite convincing as the sexually ambiguous manchild. I am is audacious cinema, director Onir doesn't shy away from the carnal side of the homosexual characters. He does not drag the camera away to shimmering lights and that deserves respect.

2 -  Pyaar ka Punchnama

During its first half, Pyaar ka Punchnama can make your face hurt with laughter with its quippy dialogue and superbly cast male leads. The brilliance of Divyendu Sharma as Liquid is overlapped only by Kartik Tiwari’s sidesplitting five minute long single take rant on troublesome girlfriends. Without a doubt, Pyaar ka Punchnama is the Office Space of Indian cinema, and it will be legend among a certain audience - namely guys in their mid-twenties with crappy jobs struggling to learn about love and life. 

1 - Delhi Belly

By far the most fun and funniest movie of the year, Delhi Belly is a rare comedy that doesn’t wear out its welcome, and succeeds not because of the expletives but despite them.  Writer Akshat Verma’s script is as inventive as it is enjoyable, and Abhinay Deo directs a wickedly smart and visually stylish movie without a trace of pretentiousness.  Imran Khan, Vir Das and Kunal Roy Kapur make a great ensemble, but Vijay Raaz tops them all as the hilariously profane villain. Hat tip to producer Aamir Khan, who managed to release such a bold film in an industry plagued by the Censor Board.

Honorable Mentions: Sahib Biwi aur Gangster, I am Kalam and Videokaaran - had it released in theaters, I'd have named it as the best Hindi film of the year.

(First published in DNA)

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