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Rewind 2018: The most disappointing Hindi films of the year

As the year draws to a close, we take a look at the films that raised our expectations and then failed to live up to them.

Anita Paikat

With the success of films like Andhadhun, Badhaai Ho, Raazi, Stree and Veere Di Wedding in the year that is drawing to a close, it is clear that the average Hindi cine-goer was looking for something more than mere potboiler masala flicks and six-pack abs in 2018.

Then there was the inevitable set of films that carry the aura of doom about them from the moment they are announced. Titles like Jalebi, Genius and Bhaiaji Superhit spring to mind. These were neither expected to do wonders at the box office nor to impress the critics. And they didn't.

In between these two extremes lay films that raised the hopes of viewers before they were released, only to disappoint them later. The disappointment had not so much to do with box-office earnings as with their content, their aesthetics, and the expectations that they failed to live up to.

So, without further ado, we present our list of the Most Disappointing Hindi Films of the year, in chronological order. Let us know which choices you agree with and which you don't in the Comments section below.

1. Missing

With Tabu, Manoj Bajpayee and Annu Kapoor leading the cast, one thought Mukul Abhyankar's Missing would be an interesting thriller. However, while the film's premise was certainly interesting, the shoddy screenplay, amateurish dialogues and unconvincing performances simply pulled it down.

This was Abhyankar's first film as writer and director. Perhaps therein lay the problem. The overall effort seemed to be such a waste of talent (the cast's) and time (the audience's).

Missing review: Bajpayee and Tabu get stuck in a badly treated thriller

2. Daas Dev

Sudhir Mishra's Daas Dev was hyped as much as Missing wasn't. Months before the film hit the screens, Mishra had begun telling anyone willing to listen how different this adaptation of Devdas was and how well his artistes had performed.

While he was certainly right on the first count, he was far off the mark on the second, with the performances of the lead artistes being strictly satisfactory.

Unlike earlier cinematic adaptations of Saratchandra's classic, this one had politics as the protagonist with the prime characters playing the pawns. Richa Chadha, Rahul Bhat and Aditi Rao Hydari seemed lost. Saurabh Shukla alone was at his best, but he could not save the film that had way too much to say in too little time. In the end, the audience found it difficult to keep up with the overcomplicated political chutzpah.

Daas Dev review: Sudhir Mishra's epic political tragedy has potential, but falters on its own hubris

3. Race 3

While Race and Race 2 did well commercially under the direction of the brothers Abbas and Mustan, Race 3 saw two drastic changes. The director's baton passed on to Remo D'Souza and a host of experienced but not-so-talented artistes were added to the franchise.

Choreographer-turned-director D'Souza tried his best to adapt the Rohit Shetty style for his film, with flying cars and mid-air fights. However, the action scenes were a bit too much to digest, even for a cast lead by Salman Khan. The actor put Superman in the shade with his ultra-natural abilities, whether it was hopping into the passenger seat of a speeding truck or firing missiles without blinking an eye.

The rest of the damage was done by the other artistes (Jacqueline Fernandez, Saqib Saleem, Daisy Shah and Bobby Deol) and a plot that was thin as a  mobile SIM and wide as a spider's web at the same time.

Of course, only a fool would have walked into the cinema hall expecting anything more than a circus, but Race 3 just gave us a group of monkeys chasing one another and their own lineage. By the time the film ended, one lost track of who was whose son and how day and night function in the real world.

Race 3 review: This vehicle runs out of gas long before the finish line

4. Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster 3

Tigmanshu Dhulia served up the third instalment of his popular Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster franchise with an added and generous sprinkling of Sanjay Dutt. And this, perhaps, ruined the recipe that had had a unique zing to it till now.

Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster (2011) and Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster Returns (2013) were engaging with their complicated and twisted characters. Here, the characters simply lacked depth and conviction.

While Dhulia and his co-writers (Kamal Pandey for Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster and Sanjay Chauhan for Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster Returns) presented fresh plots in the first two films, the storyline of the third (co-written by Chauhan) looked more like a dried-up remnant. Perhaps it is time for Dhulia to look for a subject without a handicapped king, a plotting queen and a murderous middleman.

Saheb, Biwi Aur Gangster 3 review: Sanjay Dutt, Jimmy Sheirgill’s Russian roulette not enough to blow your mind

5. Fanney Khan

Atul Manjrekar's Fanney Khan had a promising trio in the cast — Anil Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Rajkummar Rao. The film's subject, of a failed singer rooting to turn his overweight daughter into a successful singer, also made for a great storyline. Fanney Khan clearly had the basics right. But the film itself was a disaster. The heartwarming story had way too much melodrama and the characters way too little common sense.

Manjrekar, along with co-writers Hussain Dalal and Abbas Dalal, wrote a screenplay that was impressive only in parts. The songs, written by Irshad Kamil and sung by Sonu Nigam, Sunidhi Chauhan, Amit Trivedi and Monali Thakur, and composed by Trivedi and Tanishk Bagchi, were enjoyable, but not to the point of staying in mind for long.

The film tried to give out a couple of messages — on body-shaming and the true meaning of stardom — but these were lost in the father's obsession with getting his daughter instant success.

Fanney Khan review: Too much melodrama plays spoilsport

6. Gold

With films like Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd (2007), Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011) and Talaash (2012) to her credit, screenwriter-director Reema Kagti's Gold was supposed to be the big Independence Day release of 2018. The film had everything right: an ensemble cast headlined by Akshay Kumar, the interesting subject of India's first Olympic gold medal as a free country, and a light touch upon the perils of communal disharmony. The perfect formula if ever there was one.

However, the film when it was released had a bit too much of both, drama and Akshay Kumar. A focus on the players and their struggles would have made for a more interesting plot than watching the 'star' in his fake drunken state speaking in an exaggerated Bengali accent.

The songs, again centred mostly on Akshay Kumar's Tapan Das, also failed to work any magic.

Gold review: A satisfactory attempt at revisiting a glorious past

7. Batti Gul Meter Chalu

Shree Narayan Singh's Batti Gul Meter Chalu had a corrupt lawyer, Ranvir Chopra (Shahid Kapoor), mend his ways and fight an even more corrupt system — the electricity board. While this could have made for a captivating courtroom drama, Batti Gul Meter Chalu spent the first half taking us on a sight-seeing tour of Uttarakhand while introducing us to the friendship among the three protagonists — Ranvir, Lalita (Shraddha Kapoor) and Sundar (Divyendu Sharma).

By the time the second half, relatively richer in content, arrived, the audience was lost in a reverie from which even the high-pitched performances of the artistes could not wake it up. While Kapoor's Ranvir is a self-proclaimed 'golden catch' outside the court, inside he thinks of himself as the irresistible chocolate boy who is free to make personal jibes at his opposing counsel (played by Yami Gautam).

Writers Siddharth Singh and Garima Wahal tried a bit too hard to Garhwal-ize the characters with the lingo. While the film was relatable for those who have been at the receiving end of huge bills from public utilities, Batti Gul Meter Chalu offered little more to engage with.

Batti Gul Meter Chalu review: Shahid Kapoor shines, but this crusader flick takes too long to switch on

8. Helicopter Eela

This mother-son tale, directed by Pradeep Sarkar, had much to attract audiences. The biggest of them was Kajol, who had only recently impressed viewers with her performance in Vellai Illa Pattadhaari 2, her Tamil cinema debut.

Helicopter Eela also boasted of Riddhi Sen in the cast. Sen won the National award for Best Actor in 2018 for his performance in the Bengali film Nagarkirtan (2019).

The story was also promising: a mother obsessed with her son learns that he, too, needs a bit of freedom.

Now, what went wrong, you wonder? Well, almost everything. Kajol, though fun to watch in some scenes, went overboard with her chirpiness. Then the screenplay lacked a realistic approach and hence was difficult to connect with. For example, Eela's (Kajol's) husband one day randomly decides to leave his wife and unborn child as he fears the men in his family die young and therefore his end is near. The first half of the film focuses too much on the past, leaving little time for the present-day story.

Also, the extent of the mother's obsession for her son is a bit too much to digest. With Eela almost stalking her son at school picnics and waiting for him to return by the house door, it is no surprise the poor woman had to abandon her passion for paucity of time.

Helicopter Eela review: Banal storytelling is the downfall of this Kajol-starrer

9. Thugs Of Hindostan

Vijay Krishna Acharya's Thugs Of Hindostan was the most surprising addition to this list. The audience had so much to look forward to in the action drama. Aamir Khan and Amitabh Bachchan were to share the big screen for the first time and the film was shot on a grand scale in Malta and Thailand.

However, it failed in the basics. The end result proved to be just another masala entertainer stretched too thin for anyone to grasp. For all its claims of being based on the legend of the Thugs, the film had only one. The rest were either patriots fighting the British or the Brits themselves.

The film also reminded us of two other films: Manoj Kumar's Kranti (1981) for its story and the Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise for its appearance.

The paper-thin plot led the makers to focus more on the antics of Firangi Malla (Aamir Khan). And while Khudabaksh (Bachchan) is only thirsty for revenge, Katrina Kaif's Suraiyya is kept on screen only as long as she moves her belly. Fatima Sana Shaikh and Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub have done decent jobs but are underused.

Looks like Acharya had only two words in mind while writing this film — revenge and drama. Everything else was just thrown in to make up for 2 hours and 44 minutes.

Thugs Of Hindostan review: Regular potboiler, not worthy of a maiden collaboration between Amitabh and Aamir

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Year in review