The year 2018 has proven to be a rather peculiar year for Hindi cinema. While it witnessed big-budget, star-studded films like Zero, Thugs of Hindostan, Race 3 facing a tough time at the box office, it also saw content-driven films like Raazi, Stree, Badhaai Ho, Andhadhun etc. tasting unprecedented success.
This year-end review endeavors to touch upon some of the most outstanding Hindi films that have released this year.
In addition to all this, the year also saw blockbusters like Padmaavat, Sanju, and 2.0.
Since 2.0 is originally a Tamil film, it automatically gets disqualified from this assessment.
As for Padmaavat and Sanju, unfortunately these two films are nowhere close to the cinematic brilliance and quality of some of the best films that Hindi cinema had to offer in 2018.
The horror genre is still not fully explored as far as Hindi cinema is concerned. While we had the Ramsay Brothers in the ’70s and ’80s we have never really managed to come up with horror films that are on a par with the best in the world. Pari is an exception. Here is a rare Hindi film that does justice to its genre and actually takes it forward. Also the film features the best performance of Anushka Sharma’s career so far.
A unique blend of horror and comedy, Stree has everything to capture the attention of an average cinema-goer. While the film fails to rise about cliches and genre tropes, it nonetheless delivers some genuine chills and laughter. Also, the film has an important underlying message that cannot be overlooked. While the performances all around are brilliant, it is Pankaj Tripathi who yet again stands out in a supporting role.
This Vishal Bhardwaj film may have failed to woo the audiences but it has some of the best ingredients that have made earlier works of Vishal Bhardwaj so special. The film has a rare rustic quality and black humor that make it a memorable viewing experience. Also, the no-holds-barred performances of Radhika Madan and Sanya Malhotra as two constantly quarreling sisters are truly unforgettable.
Raazi’s great success at the box office has surprised many box-office pundits. The story of a Kashmiri girl who agrees to be an Indian spy in Pakistan in the days leading to the 1971 Indo-Pak War is one of courage and self-sacrifice. Alia Bhatt delivers the finest performance of her career which elevates the film well beyond its formidable source material that’s actually inspired by true events.
My Birthday Song (06)
Psychological thrillers are uncommon to Hindi cinema and good ones are even more rare. Samir Soni’s My Birthday Song is exactly what Hindi cinema has been missing all these years. But perhaps it’s a film that’s ahead of its time. However, after an average showing at the box office, the film is already enjoying a resurgence of sorts on Netflix. Here is one of those rare Hindi films that remind us of the enormous possibilities that the world of psychological thrillers can open up. The film features a memorable performance from Sanjay Suri who hasn’t looked so good in years.
Badhaai Ho (05)
2018 will be best remembered as the year in which Ayushmann Khurrana delivered back-to-back memorable performances in Andhadhun and Badhaai Ho. After playing a blind pianist in the former, he seamlessly transforms into an IT professional who gets the shock of his life on learning that his mother and father are expecting their third child. Now of course, a performance alone cannot make a film one of the best of the year. The credit actually goes to the team of writers for presenting such an unconventional subject with great authority. The film’s success and acceptance is quite easily one of the biggest success stories of the year.
One of the modern masters of suspense, Sriram Raghavan packs a punch with the riveting tale of a blind piano player who accidentally finds himself at a crime scene. The film is nigh perfect at so many different levels. Raghavan sets the mood right from the first scene and he keeps you on the edge of the seat until the very end. Also let’s not forget the brilliant performances by Ayushmann Khurrana as the blind pianist and Tabu as the quintessential femme fatale.
Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz (03)
There are few filmmakers who can handle the complexities of human relationships as well as Onir can. The film, based on a screenplay by Abhishek Chatterjee, beautifully explores the possibility of friendship and love between two complete strangers connected through social media. The film is certainly not meant for casual viewing but if you are looking for something deep and meaningful then this film is for you.
Pihu breaks almost every convention associated with Hindi films. There are no songs in it. It has no big stars. Also it doesn’t have a bunch of colorful supporting characters to take the story forward. All writer-director Vinod Kapri relies upon is a two-year-old girl to narrate his story. Pihu is a reminder that filmmaking is not about making things big but it is actually about making the canvas look appealing to the eye. Every moment of the film is filled with genuine tension and that’s what makes Pihu a truly unique viewing experience.
Once Again (01)
A film like Once Again comes only once in several decades and leaves one completely transfixed by its cinematic power. Everything about the film stands out: whether it is the subject, treatment or performances. Shefali Shah and Neeraj Kabi are so brilliant in their respective roles that one would have to go back by at least 2-3 decades to find an equal in terms of the maturity and intensity that they bring to their characters. One really has to watch the film to truly experience the depths of their performances as well as the film’s thought-provoking subject. Kudos to the likes of Sanjay Gulati and Neeraj Pandey for backing the project and helping it bring to life.
- 102 Not Out