Greatbong's Best Hindi Movies Of 2006

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5. Corporate: Madhur Bhandarkar’s movies (with the exception of “Chandni Bar”) , being elaborately-mounted, heavy-handed morality pieces with an underlying “rich people are evil” message, are invariably packed with mostly monochromatic characters indulging in assorted forms of debauchery and malfeasance. “Corporate” , a tale about corporate greed and Bipasha Basu, is no different—- chronicling a dirty battle between two business families where everything , even bonds of love, have a “For Sale” tag on them.

Simplistic: Very much so. Over the top: Frequently. But just as with “Page 3”, “Corporate” is also vastly entertaining with a fast-paced twisting plot, liberally garnished with barely concealed allusions to actual/suspected corporate scandals, dramatic conflict, Payal Rohatgi as an “item girl” who doubles up as a hooker and competent performances from all.

[Related recommended reading: Greatbong’s The Howitzer Award-winning Indiadaily’s editorial comment on “Corporate” and Bipasha ]

4. Jaaneman: A song situation has been created. Suddenly there is a knock at the door. Salman opens it to find a bunch of qawwal singers standing there. The qawwal singers walk in, take their positions as Salman, Akshay and Anupam Kher stare on in silence—they have no idea of what’s going on.

Anupam Kher asks “Tum log yahan kya kar rahe ho?”

The qawwal singer says :” Music kaun bajayega, tera baap?”

The song starts.

The mystery of how backup dancers and musical accompaniment materialize from thin air during movie songs is thus explained, once and for all.

Any movie that has Salman Khan in drag is already half-way to greatness. But Jaaneman isn’t your average Bollywood masala made with an eye to NRI nostalgia or boldness-loving men. Make no mistake — escapist nonsense fun it is, with Akshay and Salman in rampaging comic form as a goofy astronaut and a failed matinee idol respectively. But what makes it stand out from a gazillion other “comedies” is Jaaneman’s endearing penchant for making fun of mainstream Hindi movies’ age-worn clichés while at the same time revelling in them.

3. Omkara: Vishal Bharadwaj’s Hindi adaptation of Othello set in the gangland of rural UP-Bihar had the critics in rapture and deservedly so. A timeless tale of greed, passion, revenge and jealousy Omkara packs a solid punch, helped no doubt by its shockingly profane but crackingly powerful script.

The true star of Omkara however is Saif Ali Khan who brings a visceral magnetism to his role as Langda Tyagi, the passed-over lieutenant who burns with revenge and hatred. Who would have thought that the chocolatey more-than-a-little effeminate “Aashiq Aawara” of the mid 90s, stilted and artificial in his dialogue-delivery, would metamorphose into India’s most versatile mainstream actor (this included Aamir Khan). Whether it be spitting out dialogues with barely-concealed venom or wordlessly echoing disappointment and shock (when he gets passed over for promotion), Saif is unforgettable in “Omkara”.

And the biggest tragedy is that despite this, 2006’s “Filmfare” Awards as well as a countless others will go to those clowns in Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna.

Makes you want to take a gun and start shooting at the peechwares of all the chutiyas.

2. Khosla Ka Ghosla: One of the things that Hindi movies seem to have forgotten is telling the story of the “every man” —-it’s always tycoonish NRIs in palaces, idyllic families steeped in sanskriti or mafia men cutting off ears with knives that form the fulcrum of their narratives. This is where “Khosla Ka Ghosla” is like a breath of fresh air with its protagonists looking, talking and fighting among themselves just like real people in real families do. There are no super achievers, no cloying happiness and no ring-a-ring-a-roses during weddings.

A story about how a family unites together to outwit a land-grabber (a delectably evil Boman Irani), “Khosla Ka Ghosla” is consistently funny with the real laughs coming from the interaction between the father (Anupam Kher) eager to bridge the generation gap with his sons (one a failure and another trying to fly away from middle-class stagnation by taking up a job in US) and Boman Irani’s spot-on portrayal of a mataji-obsessed land-shark trying to buy some “class”.

A superb family movie that touches a chord close to one’s heart.

1. Kabul Express: One thing that Bollywood has never done right is a good road movie. “Road” was execrable, “Daud” was a misfire and the closest one came to greatness was “Hum Dono” with Nana and Rishi Kapoor. But all that changes with “Kabul Express”, as different from the traditional Hindi movie as anything I have seen, a worthy “road” movie that truly moves.

Shot wholly in Afghanistan (no attempt to shoot in the Chambals and pass it of as Kabul) with authentic-looking characters who speak authentic-sounding dialogue, “Kabul Express” is a smart snappy comedy that is at the same time a moving testament to the destruction of a nation and its people by international politics. It is not easy to string together laugh-out-loud situations (in one particularly symbolic as well as hilarious scene, the Pakistani Taliban fighter gets nearly buried in an avalanche of Pepsi cans) with understated moments of tragedy (the Afghani driver pointing to the barren desert and reminiscing about the good old times when these dead lands were verdant fields full of grapes) but first-time director Kabir Khan manages to seamlessly weave the two to create an exceptional movie that makes you reflect long after the credits have rolled.

[My “So Bad It’s Good” selection of the movies of 2006 follows.]

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41 thoughts on “Greatbong's Best Hindi Movies Of 2006

  1. More or less agree with the list…with the exception of perhaps, Corporate.
    Two movies conspicous by their absence are Gangster and Being Cyrus…but that’s just my opinion.
    Haven’t seen Jaaneman yet. But a combination of Akshay Kumar and Salman Khan in drag? I’ll need more than a couple of pegs before that one…

  2. Pingback: DesiPundit » Archives » The Year That Was-2

  3. GB,

    I haven’t seen Kabul Express so I reserve my judgment on it. However, I disagree that Khosla ka Ghosla is a better movie then Omkara. KKG lacked technical polish and it did look dated. Yes, you can argue that it explored a milieu that the Hindi movies have largely given up on but then why exclude a movie like Being Cyrus? I thought that was a smart movie too.

  4. At the risk of sounding naive, I was a bit confused as to whether there was sarcasm intended or not. It didn’t seem like your were appluading Corporate(decent) or Jaan-e-mann(absolutely pathetic) but you did seem to have liked the rest of the three.

    Please clarify.:-)

  5. Agree somewhat with your selection….have not seen Kabul Express but just its idea seems to warrant some praise. As for Jaaneman, it is whacky to say the least. And good at it too.
    Corporate was total timepass and utterly candid though I would prefer Madhur have at least one happy ending.
    Khosla ka Ghosla reminded me of Hrishikesh Mukherjee and his films.
    Omkara was ….. no words can explain the achievement of Vishal Bharadwaj.

    Was expecting RDB not to be in this list. But why not Lage Raho Munnabhai??

  6. Hi GB,
    my first comment on ur ‘class’ blog, though have been reading you *regularly* over the last year and half… well, thats almost a crime to have remained quite all this while.. 🙂

    As expected, can see folks arguing with *your* choices of Bollywood top 5. Let me pass commenting further on that..

    Well, my personal choices seem pretty close to your selection.. Though personally, I dint enjoy Corporate.. IMO, played too straight !!!
    I loved it too see Janeman in your list.. its easy to classify it as a masala flick and pass it on.. but it isnt just that as you so aptly put it here… I am on the verge of saying I loved it, but for the last 15 minutes which quite screwed up the flavor the entire movie had cultivated…

    And I loved ‘Khosla Ka Ghosla’, the most authentic Dilli waalon ki movie in a while and more.. Loved the portrayal of the prop dealer in it.. so damn real !!

    Another couple of movies I enjoyed were: MIXED DOUBES (Ranvir Sheorey and Yash Pathak ROCK !!), Pyar Ke Side Effects (Almost good !!)

    Hate to admit, but havnt managed to watch Kabul Express yet.. 😦

    Cheers

  7. As already a couple of people have pointed out Being Cyrus was a good option. But, then you might not have seen it or you have might have a different opinion.

    btw, Totally loved Jaaneman. And Akshay’s laugh was being mimicked late in the night.

    Cheers,
    HP

  8. Good list.

    For Jaaneman, I appreciated only one thing. It attempted one thing, which *never* has been tried in Hindi movies : Broadway style musical. While Chicago was one class, Jaaneman IMHO is first ever to do it on Hindi celluloid

    @Dhananjay :
    Greatbong and RDB?? noooooooooooooo

  9. de only thing i liked abt jaane-man was akshays guttural laugh…
    was as i may say like maggi tomato chilli sauce..”it’s different” 😉
    Rest of it was just “Oh MY GAWD!! Y am I wasting my time!!”
    loved KKG… anupam kher showing the acting prowess he should practise a bit more of..
    Omkara needs no words of appreciation i feel.. by far de BEST!
    Loved corporate too..
    But i think u could easily replace Jaan-E-Man with Dor.. wat says ArnabDa?
    My pikz for So Bad It’s Good wud be…
    1. KANK
    2. Jaan-E-Man [No hard feelings 🙂 🙂 ]
    3. Krishh
    4. Phir Hera Pheri
    5. Tom Dick Harry/Pyare-Mohan
    6. Woh lamhe
    Cheerio!

  10. Top 5 / 10 / 100 and other lists are very subjective. So I wont raise any objections to your list…but ‘Corporate’ of all the movies…please tell me you are joking. It was one of the most amatuerish movies of 2006. Everything about it was stilted…please spare me if I brush this production as hackneyed and stereotypical. it has become easy for movie makers to blame soft targets…or the usual suspects if you may.

    My list would be

    1. Lage Raho Munnabhai
    2. 15 Park Avenue
    3. Koshla ka Ghoshla
    4. Gangstar
    5. Omkara

    Honourable mentions include,

    Being Cyrus, Jaaneman, Mixed Doubles, Kabul Express

    Duds includes,

    Dhoom 2, Rang De Basanti, Corporate, Fanaa

    MHO,

    Cheers

    Rahul

  11. @Confused

    While I agree that Omkara was a better movie than KKG, I disagree with the fact that it lacked ‘technical polish’ or whatever that means. KKG was honest, dark, humorous and as someone said, in the same mileu of a Hrishikesh Mukherjee classic. As for it’s dated look, perhaps the sad state of our industry sensibilities is to blame. KKG was made and ready sometime in 2004. It was lying in can, ‘coz there were no takers (distributors) for it, till UTV decided to release it this year.

    As for Being Cyrus, I think it’s an average movie made by a smart director. At heart, BC is just an expected thriller that got noticed coz of its main lead. Dimple Kapadia and Naseeruddin just hammed and sleepwalked through the movie. The only saving grace was Boman Irani. But then BC used it’s Bombay Parsee culture backdrop, sometimes as a prop that needed to be there, but no one knows why. As for movies in the similar genre, see Naseer’s performance in a gem called Pestonjee.

    @GB

    I think Lage Raho deserved a place. And Corporate none. Haven’t seen Jaaneman, so would not want to comment. As for Kabul Express, it’s an ok movie. A road movie if it wants to be, to use a bad pun, it’s got a long way to go. It was simplistic with magic in flashes. I was expecting more from KE. I was not disappointed, but…

  12. >> heavy-handed morality pieces with an underlying “rich people are evil” message,

    Yep, thats what happens when you live in a Leftist police-state (state as in India, not any Pradesh). Dont we have had those movies wherein an evil builder wants to evict illegal slumdwellers by “bulldozer chalwa do”. Never did those movies show that slums are basically illegal settlements in the first place, on someone else’s land (maybe even the government’s).

    The same went for Page 3 – the corrupt elite of India who bitch about each other in cocktail parties.

  13. Mmh, that is a different choice I would say. I am lured to watch Khosla finally. Though Kabul Express – I fear anything coming out of Yash Raj studios, and did not venture to see it – maybe I will now. The best bollywood movie I’ve seen this year though is Lage Raho / Omkara.

    S

  14. @Jasprit: Not having seen it I cannot comment. But from the title, I would say it should have been in my followup post.

    @Giri: I had written before why I did not like the premise of Lage Raho Munnabhai (basically because it was a very dumbed-down, polished-up, “acceptable-to-all” vision of Gandhism that was passed off as Gandhigiri, which had many of the more Spartan (and controversial) aspects of Gandhism absent). Also it did not work as a movie for me…since it felt too derivative of the original (which was splendid) and the Circuit-Munna interactions were too ho-hum.

    @Shubhadeep: Detested “Gangster”. “Being Cyrus” was a way too slow and intentionally “arty”.

    @Giri: Entertaining. But too much of a copy.

    @Confused: Cannot disagree more about that KKG being “dated”. I am zapped. It had an extremely contemporary look to it and the storyline, the emotions and the funnies were all universal. Totally disagree.

    @Nilesh: There was no sarcasm anywhere. I genuinely liked Jaaneman.

    @Dhananjay: See comment to Giri as to why LRM does not make the list.

    @Krishna: Maybe I didnt get Mixed Doubles….found it extremely boring and not funny at all. Plus the basic premise of someone like Konkona being so easily convinced to do a swap is just too much to swallow. Bring back Payal Rohatgi.

    @HP: Yes loved that laugh too.

    @Nishit: The hat tips to Broadway were very well done.

    @Abhishek: Have not seen Dor.

    @Sudha: Have not seen it.

    @Anon: No I dont think so. Didnt work as a movie for me. And had problems with its theme.

    @Lalbadshah: Utterly disagree with anything negative about Kabul Express. It was a classic IMHO.

    @Anonymous: No I am not joking. I thought the Gangster in your list was a joke though.

    @Apoorva: Boring !

    @RahulGhosh: Kabul Express simplistic? How so?

    @Shadows: Yawn ! Can we please have a discussion on movies?

    @Srin: It was.

    @Ravi: Would not. Omkara despite its obvious strengths is set in a context that has been revisited multiple times and pretty competently too. (i.e UP-Bihar heartland gangs). Plus it is far far more difficult to do a comedy right than to show everyone dying in the end.

    @Suyog: This is not a typical Yashraj mercifully.

  15. Omakara was a good movie, but my only regret was that the language used was more Meerut based (jat style) and very little percentage of UP people speak that way. I would have loved if the language was more like the way majority of people speak. Despite that, hats off to Vishal Bharadwaj.

  16. @GB,
    Can’t agree with you on this one about lage raho. I found most of the scenes genuinely funny and it was wholesome entertainment which is a rarity nowadays. YEah its a dumbed down version of gandhism but I think the message was pretty well crafted. Eh! to each his own I guess. Have Kabul Express come out on DVDs?

  17. I felt Kabul Express was a very Google-ian view of Afghanistan. In the sense that it uses a set to stereotypes as its principal characters, the young Indian journos, the American idealist and the Afghan and the Pakistani who are at loggerheads with each other. I mean, does it dig deeper and try to unearth a larger human truth that we would’ve missed otherwise? Is it a ‘No Man’s Land’? I guess not.

    As for performances, I think John Abraham and that American photo-journalist just sleep-walked through their roles.

  18. @Rahul: And Omkara told us a larger human truth and there were no stereotypes? If all you saw in Kabul Express was “stereotypes” (which is absolutely not the case by the way) and failed to see the larger human tragedy beautifuly alluded to with no heavy-handedness , then there is really not much I can say. Yes John Abraham and the lady sleep walked through their roles…but who cares? The rest were brilliant…especially the Afghani driver

  19. Hey GB, Good you mentioned ‘Hum Dono,’ I really liked that movie. Within the traps of hindi movie cliches, this movie was a briliant attempt. And I particularly liked Rishi Kapoor in his role. He is one brilliant actor which bombay couldn’t milk properly. He was again brilliant as a husband torn between his edealistic wife and his loyalty towards his family in Damini. He brought some class in that role.

  20. GB,

    Just to clarify, I was talking about the ‘look’ of the movie and not the themes it explores.

    Guess, we will have to agree to disagree on this one.

    (Which will help in case, if in future someone accuses me of being you or you of being me or whatever…:)

  21. Kabool Express is a pathetic piece of carap which once start goes on for ever. Never finishes. What was the director wanting to show? A Travelog? Thank god the movie was just 1 and half hour. 150 Bucks for 1.5 hours? I wished it was just of half an hour. Arshad Rcoked. John was a misfit. So was the Donkey.

  22. Is it just me , or does every one love Onkara?

    I found it disppointing to say the least. The Backdrop overwhelmed the Story. The Slangs, the violence all seemed unnecessary. The focus shifted from Onkara to LT altogether, and Cassio’s character was reduced to little more than a furniture. Onkara/Othello’s inner world never came forth. The performance was ordinary to say the least. Ajay Devgan was sleepwalking, Konkona was hamming to glory.
    Saif Ali Khan was really good but he peaked too early in the film and during the end it was nothing new to do. Director’s fault though, not anyone elses.

    OTOH, loved KANK, of course have to xcuse KJ of his melodrama and silly humour, but KANK was one of those few films which never took a side, never became judgemental. Its was coated in a lot of lollypop and candy sugar, but when they came out to hurt, the characters cut deep – SRK the cynic, Priety the bitch, Rani – the ice princess and ABJ the Jerk. And ggod, bad, melodrammatic watever I cant help lauding the director for simply having the guts to make a fairytale out of a extramarital affair, and that too remaining in the set-up of mainstream Yash-Raj Bollywood.

    Jaaneman could have been a gr8 film, but it lost focus somewhere. If only it had remained in the non-sense instead of going for a straight story in the end.

    Wonder y RDB is missing though?

  23. Omakara was a good movie, but my only regret was that the language used was more Meerut based (jat style) and very little percentage of UP people speak that way. I would have loved if the language was more like the way majority of people speak. Despite that, hats off to Vishal Bharadwaj.

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