Phillauri To Tubelight: The Worst Hindi Films Of 2017

Every year, Hindi cinema appears to get stupider and harder to watch. Our film critic Raja Sen lists out the very worst of the lot.

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Phillauri To Tubelight: The Worst Hindi Films Of 2017

Anushka Sharma in Phillauri. (Image courtesy: Instagram)

New Delhi: 

Highlights

  1. Shraddha Kapoor and Anushka Sharma feature twice on this list
  2. Jab Harry Met Sejal is not the worst film of the year
  3. Vidya Balan and Kriti Sanon have films on the Top 10 and the Bottom 10
Making this list is one of the toughest things I do every year. I do not watch every Hindi movie that comes out, but, at the end of the year, I try to find the truly spectacular triumphs and the most catastrophic failures. Because we make so few good movies - here are the top ten - most of December is spent in a foul mood as I'm felled by bullets I thought I'd dodged.

There are few things as disheartening as knowing you're going to watch a bad film - after being informed and recommended about the same - and then being proven too right.

Here are the year's worst Hindi films. I hope you steered clear of them.

#10. Phillauri

A comedy that isn't funny, a ghost story that isn't eerie, and a film about Punjabi weddings that doesn't have a drunken grandmother - just kidding, the sozzled grandparent is very much a part of the proceedings. Anushka Sharma breathes life into Anshai Lal's poorly conceived film about a pretty ghost, but there's only that much she can do, and trying to justify a romantic climax between ghosts in Jallianwala Bagh (while other ghosts applaud) is beyond her considerable powers.
 
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Phillauri was produced by Anushka Sharma. (Image courtesy: Instagram)

Here's what I said in my review:

"Watching the film I wondered what it was trying to preach, since - like a bad street-play - it is too self-serious and portentous to not have a moral. Is it an anti-deforestation public service film, telling us not to chop down trees because resident ghosts need a place to stay? Is it trying to inform us that places we consider monuments to tragedy are nice places to hug by moonlight? Is it a warning to engaged women who conduct their pre-wedding courtship largely on Skype, that most men are disappointing offline? I have no earthly clue. I can simply declare that its too spoofy to feel like a drama and too mournful to be funny."

Read the full review here

#9. Judwaa 2

Twenty years after the rollicking Judwaa, the remake decides to continue what 'worked' in the film and make sure it has a 'loveable' hero who just can't resist a woman's bottom. Inexcusable. Everyone involved in this remake deserves a spanking.
 
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Judwaa 2 is a remake of Salman Khan's 1997 film. (Image courtesy: Instagram)

Here's what I said in my review:

"In case you don't remember, this posterior fixation was a big part of the original film. One of the Salmans - tragically, the one named Raja - had a hand that started quivering whenever any woman bent over, and he was compelled, almost magnetically, to thwack her bottom. Karisma Kapoor and Rambha felt Khan's palm frequently through the film, and at one point the two women even bent over on purpose in order to tell the twins apart. The new film has chosen not to drop this ghastly impulse, but instead this time we cut away instead of showing the point of impact, focussing instead on horrified reactions and cheeky grins. So he does still get to slap - just without eyewitnesses."

Read the full review here

#8. Raabta

The reincarnation drama, a hackneyed staple of Hindi cinema, needs to be done away with. Yet, every time the genre appears to have faded away, it annoyingly comes back to life - and makes all the same mistakes. Producer Dinesh Vijan's directorial debut casts Sushant Singh Rajput and Kriti Sanon, two people who have chemistry, and gives them obnoxious halfwits to play before taking us into their past life, which looks like a weak Game Of Thrones masquerade.
 
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Raabta was based on reincarnation theme.(Image courtesy: Instagram)

Here's what I said in my review:

"Rajput, a fine actor, tries far too hard to play the boyish cad, behaving like a Ranveer Singh fan hopped up on sugar. He oscillates inconsistently between his broken Punjabi-English and regular English, but his energy just about sees him through. Sanon performs more consistently and has remarkably assured body language, but the past-life dialogues are too much for her to shoulder. In the middle is Jim Sarbh, slimy and Joker-like, painting lips on paintings and shooting his own henchmen and basically being an oily ham.

By the time Deepika Padukone brings her almighty legs to the screen in an attempt to resurrect the film with a jig, all is already lost. Do not watch Raabta, unless you already suffered through it in a past life."

Read the full review here

#7. Haseena Parkar

Oh dear. It takes more than a mouthful of marbles to become The Godfather, and Shraddha Kapoor learnt that the hard way in Apoorva Lakhia's hideous biopic about a gangster who refused to be a mere moll. Kapoor is woefully out of her depth, yet is nearly outdone by the cartoonish efforts of her own brother Siddhanth as the notorious Dawood, here lounging around on velvet bedspreads and generally behaving like Ajit - minus the sense of humour.
 
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Shraddha Kapoor in Haseena Parkar.(Image courtesy: YouTube)

This is a depressingly feeble film about a potentially fascinating subject, and the fact that Shraddha Kapoor had the cheek - and the padding therein - to play this character makes me think perhaps the film is, in itself, a cruel but well deserved joke on Parkar and Dawood and the clan. If we can't arrest 'em, we'll make horrible movies about 'em.

#6. Bhoomi

Shekhar Suman features in this film about rape, directed by the man who made Sarbjit. That says it all, I should think.
 
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Bhoomi was directed by Omung Kumar. (Image courtesy: Instagram)


Here's what I said in my review:

"A girl is raped and she, along with her father, takes revenge. That is the film in a line, but Kumar takes forever getting to it. The film opens with a shot of the girl's prized juttis falling from a moving vehicle during a scuffle, before it cuts to a generic shaadi song. We are given a few scenes of poorly written merriment before the brutal assault takes place, after which the filmmaker makes way for unbearable melodrama. Because Dutt is a shoemaker, a crafter of juttis in Agra, we see too many Cinderella shots as he slips shoes onto his in-laws to be. Then, as the wedding is called off, we see as many shots of shoes being discarded till finally we have a crying bride and a father left all alone in a sea of upturned shoes. Oh, the disgrace. (And the wasted leather.)"

Read the full review here

#5. Indu Sarkar

Sanjay Gandhi was an odd despot, a man who abused power and attempted to forcibly castrate a nation. He was, in short, the kind of man who does indeed deserve to have Madhur Bhandarkar make a movie on his life - but we, the audience, could not possibly have sinned hard enough to tolerate this bilge.
 
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Neil Nitin Mukesh in Indu Sarkar. (Image courtesy: YouTube)


Here's what I said in my review:

"This is a peculiar film. It is a film where a dialect coach hears the girl recite several lines of Hindi poetry and then says, "Good, now say 'Anaesthesia.'" A film where a blind man at a barbershop makes a Kishore Kumar joke and the saloon breaks into song. A film where people at a party talking about yes-men don't stop nodding at every word in a sentence lest anyone forget how servile they are. A film where Sanjay Gandhi's meetings with his cronies are presented like tight-lipped Gabbar Singh sequences, and capped off by a sudden qawwali performance where the singer points to Sanjay - referred to merely as Chief in this film - and sings of his downfall.

Oh dear."

Read the full review here

#4. Begum Jaan

Rapists chase down a girl, only to be warded off by an old lady who stands in front of the girl and, while shielding her, starts taking off her own clothes. The rapists stand and watch, mortified, begging her to stop - instead of perhaps grabbing the girl and running away from this clearly demented lady. People behave in bizarre ways in Srijit Mukherjee's deafeningly melodramatic film, where the great Vidya Balan is reduced to sitting at the foot of a bed and singing songs while a King fornicates with an underage girl.
 
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Salman Khan in Tubelight. (Image courtesy: Instagram)


Here's what I said in my review:

"Begum Jaan is, thus, immensely hard to take seriously. A character portends her death by literally kicking a bucket, and I kept wondering if another character, named Salim, would eventually be crippled simply because of his name. (He is.) During the scenes of displacement, the weight of partition is expressed by a big tall Sikh bent over under a single little suitcase he carries on his shoulder. Representatives of India and Pakistan are shown to us with half their faces on screen, as if even aspect ratio is now taking sides. The main plot doesn't make sense, since a routine eviction - at gunpoint, at most - that could have been carried out by the authorities, is handed over to a madman so he can wreak utter (and inane) havoc."

Read the full review here

#3. Half Girlfriend

Riya likes to be alone so she goes and sits on top of India Gate. Madhav likes her but likes the word 'girlfriend' even more. Understandably, she can't deal with his clingy nonsense, and so pretends she's dead. All while a grown man hides behind a Bill Gates mask and the audience wants to kill themselves. Chetan Bhagat, Mohit Suri, Arjun Kapoor, Shraddha Kapoor - these names make up a roll-call of mediocrity, and they do not disappoint.
 
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Half Girlfriend is an adaptation of Chetan Bhagat's novel.(Image courtesy: Instagram)

Here's what I said in my review:

"The film is about Madhav Jha, a boy from Bihar who wants to study sociology but seems adamantly opposed to the idea of speaking the English language, an odd applicant for a college visibly modelled after St Stephens. At this college he spots a girl playing basketball, one who grimaces angrily even while drinking water, and the boy - who, in turn, consistently makes faces so gullible the actor's cheeks must have hurt - is immediately smitten enough to inform his mother he's found a reason to live in Delhi. Ambition and admission were evidently not enough."

Read the full review here

#2. Jab Harry Met Sejal

This is a story about a horny man. Actually, no. The story of this film is that there is a horny man.

That is all.

He scowls in his spare time while he strokes stray navels he finds in nightclubs, and he has to contend with a woman who, otherwise plucky and decisive and professionally educated, is desperate to be leered at by a man who proclaims himself scum. At one point he generously calls her hotter than a blonde stripper, and this blows her mind and sends her squealing with such ecstasy that she forgets her Gujarati accent.
 
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Jab Harry Met Sejal was directed by Imtiaz Ali. (Image courtesy: Instagram)

This is a ghastly affair, and - looking at the structure and the inconsistency throughout the storytelling - it is hard to believe it has been assembled by an actual filmmaker. In the past, Imtiaz Ali has been accused of repeating themes and making the same film over and over, but this is not that film. How I really wish it was. This is a sadistic blow to characters, actors, audiences and to romance itself.

#1. Tubelight

Ham. There is so much ham in this film that it could supply a brunch place for a decade, or spark off a dozen 1857-style revolts. This is an atrocity, an apparently well-meaning but utterly thickheaded work of nonsense that needs to be dismissed as harshly as it was inflicted on those of us who watched it.

Directed by Kabir Khan, this witless film turns Om Puri into Colonel Sanders, forces us to see Sohail Khan do better than his brother, and - unforgivably - casts a boy from Arunachal Pradesh as a Chinese kid, because aren't they all just the same?
 
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Salman Khan in Tubelight. (Image courtesy: Instagram)

It is also a film where Salman Khan, now 52, plays an eight year old boy.

Here's what I said in my review:

"Tubelight is a remake of a 2015 American release called Little Boy, a film which sounds obnoxiously manipulative to begin with, and - going by synopses - the Hindi rendition seems slavishly faithful. Well, as faithful as it can be considering it stars a man 40 years too old to play the lead.

Little Boy is about an eight year old child coming to grips with the futility of war, indulged by townsfolk to believe in his own magic. A child who lives on mollycoddling and affirmation? It's not hard to see why Kabir would cast this particular actor, though it is intensely problematic that the Salman Khan public relations initiative is plumbing such shameless depths. The message being sent out with this film is: poor little superstar who doesn't know better."

Read the full review here

(Raja Sen is a film critic, columnist and screenwriter. His first book, The Best Baker In The World, is a book for children that happens to be an adaptation of The Godfather, and is in stores now.)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

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