Top 10 Bollywood films of 2019

Updated: Dec 29, 2019, 08:34 IST | Meenakshi Shedde | Mumbai

Here are my top 10 Bollywood films of 2019 - films in Hindi, mainstream, indie and 'mindie' (mainstream + indie)

Illustration/Uday Mohite
Illustration/Uday Mohite

Meenakshi SheddeHere are my top 10 Bollywood films of 2019—films in Hindi, mainstream, indie and 'mindie' (mainstream + indie):

1. GULLY BOY by Zoya Akhtar: Pulsating with kinetic energy, this radically feminist Bollywood film opened at the Berlin Film Festival and was India's entry for the Oscars. Also aspirational 'minority report', about a Muslim couple from the Dharavi slums: when Murad dreams of becoming a rapper, Safeena, in hijab, says, go ahead, follow your dream, I'll become a surgeon and support both of us. Bravo to Ranveer Singh for redefining a Bollywood hero who is okay being financially dependent on the heroine (Alia Bhatt). On Amazon Prime Video.

2. SONI by Ivan Ayr: This remarkable, finely observed debut feature opened at the Venice Film Festival, then showed at the BFI London and Mumbai festivals. About two Delhi policewomen who, while fighting crimes against women, also grapple with patriarchy in their personal lives. On Netflix.

3. ARTICLE 15 by Anubhav Sinha: Superb 'mindie' film—with stars, yet tackling realistic issues. It is relatively rare for Bollywood to address caste discrimination frontally. Ayushmann Khurrana plays an entitled police officer determined to attack rural caste-based discrimination and violence. Strong screenplay and performances. On Netflix.

4. SONCHIRIYA by Abhishek Chaubey: Spectacular Eastern Western, set in the ravines of Chambal, as a gang of dreaded dacoits grapple with rebellion, patriarchy, karma and redemption. With terrific performances by Manoj Bajpayee, Sushant Singh Rajput, Ranvir Shorey and Bhumi Pednekar. On Zee 5.

5. HAMID by Aijaz Khan: National Award winner for Best Urdu Film and Best Child Actor Talha Arshad Reshi. When the adorable Hamid, 7, in Kashmir, calls a number he thinks is God's number, to ask for his missing father back, he connects with an army jawan in a poignant bond. Achingly beautiful, with brilliant dialogues, this is a two handkerchieves film. On Netflix.

6. SECTION 375 by Ajay Bahl: Compelling courtroom drama on a #MeToo case, exploring the thin line between rape and consent. Akshaye Khanna defends the accused, while Richa Chadha spiritedly defends the survivor, ending with a sort of cop-out. On Amazon Prime Video.

7. BALA by Amar Kaushik: Delightful film with Ayushmann Khurrana playing a man mortified by how his loss of hair has hijacked his love life. Though occasionally loud, Bala's vulnerability is endearing. 'Black-faced' Bhumi Pednekar underlines other Indian prejudices.

8. NOBLEMEN by Vandana Kataria: Rarely has Bollywood explored boarding school ragging with such brutality, as in this powerful debut. As Shay Sharma (Ali Haji) has a crush on the drama teacher (Kunal Kapoor), the film explores friendship, bullying, hero-worship, homophobia and drug addiction. Terrific performances. On Netflix.

9. MISSION MANGAL by Jagan Shakti: Akshay Kumar and Vidya Balan power a successful, remarkably jugaad, low-cost mission to Mars, mostly driven by women scientists. Fictionalised, inspiring account of Mangalyaan, despite pop patriotism and frying poori logic. On Hotstar.

10. THE SKY IS PINK by Shonali Bose: Based on a true story, Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Farhan Akhtar play parents of the terminally-ill Aisha Chaudhary (Zaira Wasim) in this perceptive evocation of grief and contested division of care-giving and guilt. Glamorous, lovey-dovey mum and dad and Aisha's cutesy posthumous voiceover detract from this film, that nonetheless celebrates the gift of life, however fleeting. On Netflix.

Meenakshi Shedde is India and South Asia Delegate to the Berlin International Film Festival, National Award-winning critic, curator to festivals worldwide and journalist. Reach her at meenakshi.shedde@mid-day.com

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