In what was otherwise a mostly disappointing year for Indian cinema, a few films did stand out for, be it for their subject or the outstanding performances. From the idea of consent to mental health to drug abuse to homophobia, 2016 did rise above the stereotypes in its own way. Purely on the basis of merit (sorry Salman fans), take a look at our list of the best of Bollywood in 2016.
‘Airlift’ is a movie about a man rediscovering his roots while guiding hundreds of Indians stuck in a war-torn country. Akshay Kumar’s impressive performance coupled with the right dose of patriotism makes airlift a must watch!
Sonam Kapoor’s best (and probably the only credible) performance till date, ‘Neerja’ narrated the story of how Neerja Bhanot, a young braveheart who gave up her life so a hundred others could live in the unfateful Pan Am flight 73 hijack in 1986. An incredibly directed film, ‘Neerja’ is easily one of the finest biopics ever made in Bollywood.
The film may not have made much business but if your love for cinema is beyond the numbers and star power, ‘Aligarh’ is just the film you need to watch to restore your faith in Bollywood. A harsh reality of the much homophobic India, ‘Aligarh’ was lauded and honoured at most film festivals in the country and even abroad and rightly so. Even though it may get none, this film deserves all the awards out there! Manoj Bajpayee, take a bow!
4. Nil Battey Sannata
2016 was the year when the offbeat, low budget films got way more recognition that they ever did before with Swara Bhaskar’s ‘Nil Battey Sannata’ kind of leading the way. Kudos to the director Ashwini Iyer Tiwari for making this film such a delightful yet impactful watch.
5. Kapoor And Sons
Shakun Batra brought to us this family drama in March 2016 and saying that it hit us all in the right feels would be understatement. Family drama is a fairly difficult genre to crack and Bollywood history is proof. ‘Kapoor and Sons’ managed to bring out the essence of a dysfunctional family and sibling rivalry using mundane as the medium without once bordering onto unnecessary melodrama. Easily, one of the best films of 2016!
6. Udta Punjab
Much to CBFC’s disapproval, ‘Udta Punjab’ reached the theatres nationwide and won all the praises it deserved for raising a very, very real, grim and relevant issue of drug abuse in Punjab. A fabulous script and a riveting screenplay, ‘Udta Punjab’ makes it to the list for reasons more than one. The biggest mention to Alia Bhatt and of course, the director Abishek Chaubey.
‘Pink’ was not just a fabulously scripted film, it was an important one. For a nation that’s always struggling to keep its women safe, this one was a much needed lesson in the idea of consent and what it really means.
Cinema in 2016 was path-breaking in many ways, especially when it came to portraying women. Objectification of women was galore but the films that really stood out said what was really needed to be said about them. Director Leena Yadav struck a beautiful chord with this one that revolved around the lives of four women in rural Rajasthan and how they kick patriarchy in the nuts in their own fearless ways.
9. Dear Zindagi
The film wasn’t a typical masala potboiler despite starring Shah Rukh Khan. And thank God for that. ‘Dear Zindagi’ was director Gauri Shinde’s take on how important it is that we, the millennial, start talking about mental health. The film may have faltered at points, but it was a much needed dialogue for a society that still brushes necessary issues like mental health under the carpet.
Aamir Khan’s film on Mahavir Singh Phogat, an Indian wrestler who trains his badass daughters to represent India in the sport was a complete emotional rollercoaster. It could have been hard tackling themes like patriotism, women empowerment and gender stereotypes but the film aced it all and how! ‘Dangal’ made sure 2016 ends with a big bang!