Saturday, January 16, 2010

Most Disappointing Films of 2009

Never has there been such a disappointing year for Indian cinema, or maybe there has been, and I’m just blissfully ignorant. In either case, 2009 will be remembered for being the year of the dead. There were more than a bunch of big releases and tons of hoopla, and except for a miniscule minority, we had a gigantic batch of damp squibs. Here’s a list running down the films that let me down the most, and hence are the most disappointing of the year. Most of these came with big expectations, and a few let down even the sharply tempered expectations that were there from them. As per usual, this starts with the disappointment that mattered the least (aka the expected letdown) to the one that mattered the most (aka the shocker).

     10.       London Dreams
Vipul Amrutlal Shah is not a name you associate with genius, and yet he has enjoyed a blessed run at the box office with Akshay Kumar headlining all of his previous projects. This time he chose instead to go with Salman Khan and Ajay Devgan. If that didn’t serve as a warning signal, this should have: both actors, well into their forties were playing aspiring rock musicians making it big in…wait for it…London. Anyone who tells me they expected Rock On definitely needs some lessons in controlling their expectations, and yet, this abysmal film did not allow for even the tiniest glimmer of redemption. It is hard to decide whether to talk about the awful awful turn by Ajay Devgan or the uselessness of Ranvijay Singh and the other joker whose name I really couldn’t be bothered to find out. Or should I instead turn to the absolutely nonexistent screenwriting and the despicable dialogue. I actually really enjoyed a couple of tracks from the album, but even the music of Shankar Ehsaan Loy and the sometimes enjoyable, sometimes hammy performance of Salman Khan couldn’t save this film from being a disaster. As a parting note, would someone PLEASE tell me what Asin’s exact role in the band was, or should I resign to Ranvijay’s inane brief to her about “playing along” or whatever?

9.       Tum Mile
Now not a lot of people had big expectations from this film. I didn’t either. Until I heard the plot. They were taking the crazy cloudburst that all but drowned Bombay on the 26th of July, 2005 (and incidentally had me stranded away from home for 48 hours also), and unlike most event based films, using it as just a backdrop to tell a love story. All I have to say after sitting through the 140 minutes of this nightmare is, what a bald faced lie! I don’t even want to go to the synopsis, or the clear lack of direction, because essentially, the film had NOTHING to do with its premise, and was used only to lure people into watching the movie. If I ever met the makers of all the world’s most terrible cinema in one room, Vishesh Films will be the ones I’d most want to sue for my admission fee and that valuable part of my life. Suffice to say the film made absolutely no sense, and even to date has me seething in rage.

8.       What’s Your Rashee?
This is going to be the shortest of my rants, I think. I watched this movie to see twelve Priyanka Chopras, but I didn’t realize I would see absolutely NOTHING else. The longest bore-fest I have ever sat through, I am genuinely curious to know who seconded Ashutosh Gowariker’s harebrained idea to include a separate LONG song for each incarnation of Chopra or who thought that telling a story of a plan to usurp money by marrying someone you barely know would be wholesome entertainment. And yet, the biggest question remains why I didn’t walk out of the cinema ten minutes into this film. God knows I won’t get those hours back again. Ever. Again.

7.       Paa
Paa is another conundrum for me. On the one hand, I really do think that Paa has some of the finest acting this year in cinema. On the other, it is only painfully obvious from movies such as Devdas, that good acting is not enough to make a film. Not only did Paa have a painfully weak script, but also it fell into all the trappings of dialogue writing and ended up being too clever for its own good, or at least too clever for my enjoyment. The repartee, especially by Auro’s bespectacled friend in the movie, in fact, gets grating for you, and even Auro, played cleverly by Amitabh Bachchan is too astute a twelve year old towards the end. And my biggest issue with the film of course, was its paralyzing climax. If I had to sum up my problems with the movie, I’d say it was mainly the last half hour or so, which could be called “the painfully long and so unfunny dying of Amitabh Bachchan, Auro and my faith in God."
Damp Squibs '09

6.       Dil Bole Hadippa
If I had to rank DIl Bole Hadippa simply as a movie, it’s be somewhere at the bottom of the pile, much below Paa. The reason it ranks as a greater disappointment is because I had greater hopes, or at least different hopes from it. Whilst I watched Paa knowing that it would be a pretentious film, I deluded myself into believing DBH would be a good film. Call me a schmuck, but when a talent like Rani Mukherjee makes a film after a long gap, I cannot help but expect entertainment. And on that count, it let me down. It also let Mukherjee down in fact, who ended up being the only one not culpable for lulling me into a comatose state through this snooze fest.

5.       Ajab Prem ki Ghazab Kahaani
Now this one and the next are a little complicated. I’d like to reiterate that this isn’t a list of the worst films of 2009, but the films that disappointed me the most. I actually laughed quite a bit the first time I watched the film, not because it was hilarious, but because it was innocent, clean fun, and both the leads were very comfortable with the material. And yet, being the comedy follow up by Rajkumar Santoshi to Andaz Apna Apna, which is a cult classic and sheer comedic genius, this film doesn’t come close to matching up. I watched it the first time and enjoyed it, but by the second viewing, it did get a little arduous.

4.       3 Idiots
Once again, a film that I didn’t hate, just felt HUGELY disappointed by. From the outset I had tempered my expectations from this film, especially because both Aamir Khan and Rajkumar Hirani had disappointing last films (Ghajini and Lage Raho Munnabhai). And yet, somewhere in the midst of it becoming the highest grossing Indian film (I have issues with that tag as well, but that’s another story), and getting superlative reviews, I did get drawn into the excitement. My fault, I know! Apart from the brilliant Aamir Khan, who outdoes himself over and over, this film was poorly written, clichéd, uninspiring and just a tad too preachy. It had some fantastic moments, most of them courtesy Aamir, but that doesn’t save the film, not for me at least.

3.       Love Aaj Kal
Before 3 Idiots came along, I believe this was the highest grossing film of the year. This was also amongst the most fresh stories I’d come across. Imtiaz Ali has a very fascinating way of treating the same basic love story. Whether it was Socha Na Tha or Jab We Met, he brought out the fun of being in a relationship, with witty dialogue, intelligently written situations, subtle comedy and honest writing. In Love Aaj Kal, he made his most ambitious work, with parallel plots and a modern narrative. None of it came together cohesively though, and what could have been an edgy film ended up melodramatic and boring. It didn’t help that he cast a forty year old man who looks his age opposite a twenty something who acts her age. None of it worked, and even though it wasn’t Tum Mile bad, it became bleh, and isn’t that a worse fate for a film?

2.       Rocket Singh – Salesman of the Year
Yet another film I was whetted to watch. And yet another film I wish I had less hope from. Much like Imtiaz Ali, Shimit Amin fell prey to the third film curse. After making two diametrically opposite films in Ab Tak Chhappan and Chak De!, he tried to make a simple smart film. Some of the film was intelligent, some of it too intelligent, and most of it overwhelmingly soporific. Ranbir Chopra tries to be earnest, Gauhar Khan is definitely the most effective, but none of it can change the fact that this isn’t entertaining. I thought Jaideep Sahni did a fine job of the office humor and lingo in the beginning of the movie, but it didn’t add anything to the film, which tried to balance the beam between mainstream and art, and remain socially relevant (read: preachy). In the end, Kapoor, Amin, Sahni and Yashraj ended up in the mess of its box office failure. And I get it. I do.

  1.   Delhi 6
Finally, the biggest debacle of the last year: Delhi 6. A film that had amongst the best music scores of the year, crazy buzz, and the burden of being the follow up to Rang de Basanti. Personally, I got the film. I loved the intent of Rakyesh Omprakash Mehra and thought it was definitely a relevant theme. I wish he had worked on the script more though. It was choppy, and unremarkable, even annoying in bits. And the lead casting was an awful mess. To say that I enjoyed Waheeda Rehman the most in the movie should say it all, considering she had a measly three scene part.

So those were my ten. The movies I wish I hadn’t placed my hopes on. Do yours match mine? Did I miss any? Weigh in below.


  1. Well, you´ve already mentioned you hadn´t expectations of some of these movies (read: Tum Mile, What's Your Rashee, London Dreams). Neither did I. I had few expectations of Dil Bole Hadippa, Paa, 3 Idiots etc etc. So when I think about it, Paa and 3 Idiots or even Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahaani weren´t as painful to me ás they were to you. I expected nothing and got more out of it.

    The only films that really disappointed me were Rocket Singh and Delhi 6. Both films I´d really anticipated eagerly.

    While I do agree with your assessment of Love Aaj Kal, I have to say - I enjoyed it. I loved the freshness of the idea, the music was completely crazy and I liked the way he filmed those songs. I thought Rishi Kapoor was rather delightful too. Most of all, I loved his idea. Imtiaz Ali is an inventive man and he is an innocent filmmaker. So his films essentially have this goodness that tries to reaffirm your faith in the most intangible of life´s mysteries. I wish he´d hired me as a scriptwriter though. Or at least as an assistant. This film could have been so much more with a little bit of focus and consolidation. The screenplay was far too scattered and the dialogues were a major let-down. Now this comment is long but you get my point. Good movie :P

  2. I'm not going to go into the Love Aaj Kal debate because the could have should have argument is unending. I concede that it deserved kudos for concept, but then it's exactly these films that are more disappointing, when the concept is failed by execution.

    I guess we concur generally then 'cause Delhi 6 was the most disappointing film for me also, closely followed by Rocket Singh..I think EVERYONE knew how excited I was to watch that film. And I guess the reason Dil Bole Hadippa or Paa were disappointing was because I stupidly hoped that the talents of Vidya Balan and Rani Mukherjee deserved an adequate canvas. And Ajab Prem ki Ghazab Kahani reminded me so strongly of Andaz Apna Apna in the trailers that I hoped it'd be like that. Not that I hated APKGK either, it just felt very dated in it's content. Hence disappointing. 3 Idiots I think I've explained in detail. Ideally this list would be five films long, because the ones in the bottom 5 weren't expected to be good in any case, but I made the effort to watch all of 'em, (some way too much in hindsight), and none of them felt worth it.