Why do a Worst for the year when one can do one for the decade? As the 2000s come to a close, I sit and deliberate on the ten worst Hindi movies of the decade that was—ten trashballs with no redeeming features. It was decidedly not an easy choice to make considering the mind-boggling number of movies that immediately came to mind.
So here they are , the ten worst, with special emphasis on big-budgeted and monstrously-hyped releases .
In the order of when they were dumped onto the world.
[Warning: long post]
Mohabbatein (2000): One of the 90s classics “Jaan Tere Naam” had a song ” Maana ke college main likhna chahiye. Padna chahiye. Romaaaahnce ka bhi ek lecture hona chahiye. Jo ho romaaahnce period. Love and dance period.” Mohabattein was a movie based solely on this amazing concept, the “college” of course being replaced by a “school” . Of course no one could blame Mohabbatein for dishonesty in labeling with its apposite addition of the “plural” ein after Mohabbat. Because that was what it was. One love story after another like stakes through the heart. Five of them in total. If gorefest “Saw”‘s punchline was “Yes there will be blood” Mohabbatein’s should have been “Yes there will be love” , so gratuitous it was in its romaaaaahntic torture.
It’s difficult to pinpoint what exactly made Mohabbatein so bad. Perhaps it was the theme of a man who did not believe in Love getting ultimately converted to the pink side of the force, that man being of course the grinch-like Narayan Shankar (Amitabh Bachchan), whose apparent gravitas was considered to be directly proportional to the number of times he would say the words “Anushilan” “Anushashan” “Parampara” . Perhaps it was Shahrukh Khan’s Raj Aryan, the school teacher with his head-shaking, eye-rolling, head thrown back, arms outstretched “adaayein” , a man whose primary job activity was shown to be to organize gigantic mating events for thirty-year old schookids (a dance, a Holi jamboree) all so that love may bloom that was the most grating. Perhaps it was Aishwarya Rai, the plastic dead ghost, popping out from time to time from the right of the screen and waltzing to the left as she whispered “Hum jeet gaye Raj” to a background “La La La” warbling that really drove me round the bend. Or maybe it was just the whole “counting sheep” procession of lovey doveys which was dizzying.
Perhaps the most sweeping indictment of Mohabbatein would be that even though it had Uday Chopra (the second most dangerous star-son whose-name-is-Uday, the first being Saddam-putra Uday) in one of the leading roles, he would not even find a place in a list of the ten worst things about Mohabbatein, so bad it was.
Asoka (2001): You have one of Indian history’s most intriguing personalities as the central character. Your context is one of the most glorious ages of our nation. Working from this source material and then to convert it to Asoka, the teenage love story of a king who shakes his head, rolls his eyes and yes throws his head back and keeps his arms outstretched behaving exactly like Raj Aryan from Mohabbatein, requires special talent.
As I sat through this mess of a movie, I could almost visualize the people behind Asoka burning midnight oil and having the following discussion.
“Should we just faithfully tell one of the greatest stories of sin and redemption ever told? Should we paint a huge canvas and show the glory that was India? Should we talk about a king who converted from a maniacal killer to become one of the most foreward thinking monarchs in world history? Should we? Naaahhh. Let’s just get Shahrukh Khan to take off his top, and picture him flying out in super-slow-mo from a lake in his bare-chested glory to the tune of “Roshni Se bhaare bhaare” as he embraces the bhaare bhaare Kareena Kapoor. What sir? You want more history? Let’s put in a Mauryan version of a cage-dance to make it more authentic. Lyrics? Yes sir. We have it. It’s Aaa Aaa Aaaa. Aaa Aaa Taiyyar Ho Ja. Yes very much sir. For foreigners, the subtitle will be “Come come come. Get Ready to Come”. Nice no sir?”
Conquerors and imperialists seek to rewrite the history of the land and demoralize its people by pulling down monuments and defiling works of art. Too much effort. They should just get the guys behind the movie Asoka to repeat their feat.
Scene 1: Rati Agnihotri lies dying after being run-over (Doctor says she has two-three minutes left). She then gives a whispering orgasmic death-speech before handing over the keys of the house to Jackie Shroff, her husband. The camera lingers on the keyrings—and what a coincidence ! There is a small red Coke bottle. [And yes, in case you missed it, there is a Coke can in Jackie’s hand (above picture) as he sings an emotional song]
Scene 2: [Business Standard article]
The real hero of the film is Pass Pass. It brings the hero and the heroine together,” gushes a senior executive of the Rs 600-crore Delhi-based DS Group, which manufactures the mouth freshner.
According to him, the heroine of the film, Kareena Kapoor, warms her way into Hrithik Roshan’s heart by offering him Pass Pass—a trick she learns from his ex-girlfriend. Rest is the stuff Bollywood flicks are made of.
Scene 3: From time to time, again not out of design, the camera focuses on the Hero Cycles extensively used in the movie.
Scene 4: Kareena Kapoor and her friends are visiting an island. A dangerous crocodile arrives. Everybody boards the boat and runs away. Not Kareena who is left behind. Along comes the crocodile. Crocodile. Kareena. The two monsters stare at each other their eyes locked. And then Kareena takes off her half jacket sensuously and throws it in the eyes of the croc. With his eyes obscured by the jacket and fearful of what he had just seen as the jacket was taken off, the crocodile turns around and starts running. Hero Hrittik Roshan comes by boat from the mainland and finds Kareena passed out on a tree. Or perhaps we should say “Pass Pass-ed”
Yaadein is a gigantic commercial helmed by the “great showman” Subhash Ghai passing for a movie. Add to it moronic ditties like “Mile mile dil mile, khile khile khile gul khile” and about twenty of the most standard Hindi movie cliches.
And oh how can I forget? Generous dollops of Jackie Shroff with streaked white hair.
What you have is one of the disasters of the decade, one whose yaadein refuses to leave you no matter how much you try.
Devdas:(2002): Oscar Wilde once said “Nothing succeeds like excess.” But then he had not seen Devdas. Like the legendary dial in “This is Spinal Tap” turned to eleven, Sanjay Leela Bhansali amps everything up to a level one can scarcely imagine. Kiron Kherr acts like a maniac who would make Hannibal Lecter fear for his life. The sheer brightness of the colors are an assault on the optic nerve. A local train carrying Devdas to his village seems to be a palace on wheels. A house of a Zamindar looks like a cathedral. The locality of “ill-repute” in 19th century Calcutta looks as lit-up as Las Vegas during Christmas.
And towering above all the hyper-melodrama and the declaration of war on the senses is Shahrukh Khan playing Devdas. Never known for subtlety and no stranger to the Worst lists (note how many times he has already appeared here), in Devdas he is firing all cannons like the Spanish Armada. Tottering and careening, eyes reddened, lips curled, eyes half-closed he is the Kalki Avatar of acting as he does “his stuff”, the Shahrukhianisms which make so many Paros and Chandramukhis go all weak in the knees.
Inured to his considerable charms I however kept on shaking my head in disbelief throughout the running time of Devdas, hoping that my sanity outlasts Devdas’s liver.
And just when I started thinking “His end will be any moment now” out would jump Chunni-babu (Jackie Shroff) and the two “ham”sters would do a Chalak Chalak jig as they touched each other’s “seeshe” leaving me groaning……..
Mar dalaa. Allah.
Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon (2003): Suraj Barjatiya, whom history will remember for creating the greatest music video of all time and for giving me one of the motifs I have lived my life according to namely “Ek ladka aur ladki kabhi dost naheen ban sakti. Yeh to ek bahana hai, tadapti raaton main bhadakti jismon ki dhadakhti aag ko bujhaane ka” , delivered this turkey when he tried to adapt his old-world garam halwa sweet value-based cinema to the new world of short skirts and pre-marital sex.
And nowhere was this uncomfortable pact between good-old world Indian values and tittilation more brought out than in the song “Ladka Yeh Kaheta Hai Ladki Se”. Hrittik Roshan (Prem Kishen) is helping a bunch of lissome lasses jump over a wall, as grown up men and women prance and play around like eight-year olds playing Chor Police, presumably to show innocence. After he helps Girl 1 and Girl 2 jump over the fence, along comes Sanjana (Kareena Kapoor) who is in the “I hate you” phase which we we all know precedes the “I love you” one. She refuses to let the hero touch her.
The hero withdraws like a Barjatiyan gentleman and continues singing. And then Sanjana finds herself unable to cross the fence and she stands there and the hero, all the time singing and with that innocent boy-child look on his face, comes to her, holds her waist and dripping with ethereal non-corporeal love, shows his devotion and veneration by nestling himself on her…emm….I will let this fant-ass-tic picture say the rest.
Of course putting the blame of the toxic waste that is Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon on such sequences would be like blaming a small chip on the paint on the hull of the Titanic for its sinking. From a derivative plot (Chitchor) to the propensity of the actors, principally Hrittik Roshan and Kareena Kapoor, to make over-exaggerated facial expressions ostensibly to show saadgi, from the “digital” red parakeet to the absence of Alok Nath (a Barjatiya movie without Alok Nath is like a sunrise without the sun), this was one painful experience.
Veer Zara (2004): According to Yashraj Movie’s official site: [Link]
Yash Chopra’s ode to unswerving love, “Veer-Zaara” was shown last year to sell out crowds and many film enthusiasts – be they Germans, Afghans, Iranians, Indians or Pakistanis were seen outside the theatre showing his film weeping because they were unable to get a seat. Both the screenings of “Veer-Zaara” saw an unprecedented response from the full capacity audience, with even the tough German men reaching for their handkerchiefs, as they all continued to clap throughout the end credits, after a 3 hour visual treat of colour, dance and fabulous performances riding on a wave of emotions that left them spell bound.
German men might be tough. But I would challenge even those who had survived the siege in Stalingrad to not break down in a flood of tears after Veer Zara, though perhaps not for the same reason that the producers of the movie would like us to think. Yash Chopra’s ode to love across boundaries, full of appeals to universal brotherhood and the obligatory hour of sarson da khet and chak de Punjab where men and women live in innocent sylvan innocence was unbelievably bad, even by Yash Choprian standards. The crowing glory of course was when a Pakistani judge releases an Indian prisoner (played by Shahrukh Khan whose age is shown by a white wig and a shaking of the head) held without trial for decades after the judge gets emotionally moved by a poem he recites— “Main quaidi Number 786”. Now if we could only get a Pakistani judge so senti so that he gives LET leaders some actual jail time.
You might be wondering whether I have something against Shahrukh Khan seeing how often his movies occur in this last. Now if you do, I would like to turn that thought around and ask whether Shahrukh Khan has something against me, and against movie-going audiences in general, that he continues to, without fail, bring us rubbish like Veer Zara.
I think I know what SRK would do in response.
He would simply sing a song from Veer Zara.
Hum to bhai jaise the waise rahenge.
Black (2005): I have never been able to figure out, just like how Kasab is still enjoying our tax-payer’s hospitality, is why this light-absorbing piece of garbage is regarded as a masterpiece. For that I suppose the theme is responsible—-having a challenged individual as a protagonist automatically insulates yourself from criticism; people are afraid to say “This movie sucks” so as to not appear insensitive.
Black is not melodrama. It is hyperdrama. Slaps, hair pulling, clanging of objects, shrieks, screams and a very creepy child artist—-Black is more a horror movie than anything else, with a distinctive disquieting spooky atmosphere which most directors struggle to create but which Bhansali does effortlessly. Of course without wanting to.
Supposedly inspired from “Miracle Worker”, Black’s singlemost grating thing is Amitabh Bachchan’s immense overacting in which he shakes, spits out dialogue and raises his eyebrows every five seconds—-a performance as subtle and nuanced as a sledgehammer on a porcelain vase.
And so yes. At the cost of sounding heartless and a philistine, I will say it. Leela Bhansali’s great masterpiece sucks. Majorly.
Ram Gopal Verma Ki Aag (2007): The line between genius and madness is a thin one we are told. So is that between greatness (Sholay) and absolute decrepitude (RGV Ki Aag).
Just calling Ram Gopal Verma Ki Aag as terribly bad would be like calling grass green. It is in many ways indescribable. One of the most perfect Masala movies ever made is brutalized in every conceivable way possible. Shaky, supposedly arty camera-movements that make it appear as if Surma Bhopali is behind the camera after a drinking binge. A fascination with Nisha Kothari and more appropriately her butt. Dialogs of the sort “Tum twomuch naheen. Threemuch ho.” An Amitabh Bachchan-duplicate in the role of Jai. Mohan Lal’s impeccable Hindi accent. Gabbar Singh renamed as Babban, an unwashed homeless man with a proclivity for gnashing his teeth whose signature badass gesture is blowing air and saying phoosh like an old man with flatulence.
Sholay is legendary because it was one of the rare occasions when every ingredient came together perfectly and in the right proportions. And Ram Gopal Verma Ki Aag is the absolute nadir because it is also of the rare times when everything that contributes to making a movie watchable—acting, script, characterization, direction—- goes as wrong as it possibly can.
Saanwariya (2007): I don’t think I would like to say anything beyond what I said about it when I first saw Saanwariya.
Singh is Kinng (2008): The last slot. This one was difficult to fill up since there were so many contenders for the slot. Should I put one of RGV’s post-Company creations, all of them virtually identical having ugly evil men sitting in dark-rooms acting crazy? Should I put yet another SRK movie like Kabhi Kudkhushi Kabhi Sham or “Skank” ? Should I consider one of the sex-comedies like “No Entry” ? Or perhaps David Dhawan’s pathetic attempts to be hep and relevant?
After scratching my head, among other things, ultimately I settled on Singh is Kingg, perhaps because I was not brave enough to try to see Chandni Chowk to China. The reason for that being that having grown up in a CPM-ruled state, I did not want to waste my time on movie that sounds like the history of the Communist Party in India.
So why “Singh is Kingg”? , Primarily because it was less a film and more of a product. Producer Vipul Shah realized that if he made a movie that glorified Punjab and Sardars, then he would more than recover his investment from the North market as well that of US, Canada and the UK (and to make sure of that, a Snoop Dogg rap song is added). As for the rest, all he needed was Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif.
Singh is Kingg had no story. It needed none. It was not brainlessly funny in the old Govinda-school way unless of course you consider people running over roofs chasing chickens and people confessing not to have changed their kacchas as funny. Which I accept many do consider hilarious, considering the popularity that “comics” like Sidhu, Suman and Srivastava enjoy in this country.
Just not me.
As far as I was concerned, there was not one single funny moment in Singh is Kingg. Not one. Not even a small snigger. Even Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s movies get an unintentional laugh or two. Not Singh is Kingg.
Of course, the real reason I hate Singh is Kingg is because I fear that it represents the future of Hindi movies—as formulaic and as unoriginal as before, but without any of the endearing warmth or innocent “dudh ka karz” kind of hokiness that I so love. Instead we will see more and more of glitzy over-budgeted soulless circuses like Blue and Kambakth Ishq made by targeting specific demographics, accompanied by a storm of public appearances by the stars as judges on reality shows and carefully-planted rumors of break-ups and link-ups (note the media tamasha that surrounds Katrina, Ranbir Kapoor, Deepika Padukone, Kareena, Saif just before their movies release), where more than ever before ad-men, marketing managers and media consultants will call the shots over directors and actors.
It is a future I fear more than numerically correctly spelt names, SMS Ingliss and Himesh.