The year 2016 brought some new additions to the long list of great movies from the Bollywood cinema. Hindi films like Dangal and Pink took the front row and legitimized the importance of women’s voice in the Indian society. The movies based on true stories seem to capture more audience this year; maybe a sign of changing times where realistic dramas and stories are gaining momentum over the ‘formula’ films. Here are some of the greatest films of 2016:
1. Dangal: Based on a true story, Dangal is a biographical sports drama. The captivating film is directed by Nitesh Tiwari and stars Aamir Khan as Mahavir Singh Phogat who taught wrestling to his daughters Geeta and Babita and turned them into world-class female wrestlers. This inspiring movie showcases some brilliant acting, lively entertainment and equally good music. At the Filmfare Awards, Dangal won many awards, including Best Film of 2016.
2. Pink: Pink is a courtroom drama with Amitabh Bachchan in the lead role as a lawyer, carrying the burden of defending three young working girls in new Delhi, and proving their innocence in the eyes of Indian legal system. With the realistic urban and court-room settings and fantastic acting, the seldom exposed issues of sexual harassment and molestation take the center-stage in this epic production. Don’t watch this film just for entertainment values, but also for social education about the evils of male dominated Indian mentality. Oh, and by the way, don’t miss the closing credits, to watch the actual incident the movie is about!
3. Udta Punjab: Punjab produced some of the top sportsmen and wrestlers for India for a long time; and now, the same Punjab harvests some of the worst drug use of modern days. This is not a film you would want to watch for fun. The lead cast includes Shahid Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor, Alia Bhatt and Diljit Dosanjh. The drug abuse by the youth population in Punjab and the surrounding conspiracies are painfully exposed throughout the movie. Agonizing songs like ‘Ikk Kudi’, written by Shiv Kumar Batalvi – the famous Punjabi poet, suitably fit into the heart wrenching scenes of drug addition and its lasting effect on today’s youth. The film is worth watching, even though many sad scenes are hard to watch.
4. Ae Dil Hai Mushkil: This is a lively and romantic drama written and directed by Karan Johar. The main cast features Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Ranbir Kapoor and Anushka Sharma.This is a beautifully told story revolving around personal relationship, their interactions and interpretation. Composed by Pritam and mostly sung by Arijit Singh, the music is one of the many strong suits of this well-rounded film.
5. Kapoor and Sons (Since 1921): If you are looking for an entertaining and comic family story with surprising twists and turns, this is the one to watch. Directed by Shakun Batra, the film has a star studded cast of Rishi Kapoor, Ratna Pathak, Rajat Kapoor, Fawad Khan, Sidharth Malhotra and Alia Bhatt. The film is a story of two estranged brothers who return to their dysfunctional family after their grandfather suffers a heart attack.
6. Neerja: The flow of this interesting movie has the feel of a documentary at times, as if Neerja is narrating the story at her own pace. This is a historical drama based on the actual events centered around hijacking of Pan Am Flight 73 in Karachi, Pakistan, in 1986. The film features Sonam Kapoor as the title character along with Shabana Azmi, Yogendra Tiku and Shekhar Ravjiani in supporting roles.
7. Sultan: Sultan is a romantic drama with sports based story line. Directed by Ali Abbas Zafar, the film stars Salman Khan and Anushka Sharma in the lead roles. The movie focuses on Sultan Ali Khan, a wrestling champion from Haryana with a successful career, and the success impacting his personal life. Very popular at the theaters, this is one the highest grossing Indian film of all time.
8. Airlift: Loosely based on actual events, this is a historical drama directed by Raja Krishna Menon. The film stars Akshay Kumar and Nimrat Kaur as the lead actors. Akshay Kumar’s performance as a Kuwaiti businessman is superb, leading the evacuation of Indians living in Kuwait during the Invasion by Iraq.
9. Parched: Parched is a thought provoking movie depicting the age-old evils of rural Indian beliefs and traditions, with women often on the receiving end of a male dominated society. This is a touching story of four women in a desert village of Rajasthan. The film portrays the innocent yet miserable lives plagued by age-old practices of patriarchy, child marriage, dowry, marital rapes, mental tortures and physical abuse. Written and directed by Leena Yadav and produced by Ajay Devgan, the movie stars Tannishtha Chatterjee, Radhika Apte, Surveen Chawla, Adil Hussain, Lehar Khan and Sayani Gupta.
10. Kahaani 2: ‘Kahaani 2: Durga Rani Singh’, directed by Sujoy Ghosh, is sequel to the 2012 film Kahaani. Vidya Balan and Arjun Rampal lead the cast with Jugal Hansraj and Kharaj Mukherjee in supporting roles. Durga Rani Singh, who is charged with kidnapping and murder, carry the storyline from start to finish. Vidya Balan shines as fine actress throughout the movie, delivering a thrilling performance.
11.M.S. Dhoni – the Untold Story: This is yet another biographical sports film written and directed by Neeraj Pandey. The film, you guessed it, is based on the life of famous Indian cricketer and the former captain of the Indian national cricket team, Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Sushant Singh Rajput stars as Dhoni, along with Disha Patani, Kiara Advani, and Anupam Kher as the main cast.
12.Aligarh: Aligarh is a social drama film inspired by the true events and is directed by Hansal Mehta. It stars Manoj Bajpayee and Rajkummar Rao in the lead roles. This is a beautifully directed movie; it courageously highlights the issues of human rights, including those of homosexuals.
13. Sarbjit: Sarbjit is another biographical drama directed by Omung Kumar. The movie stars Aishwarya Rai as Dalbir Kaur and Randeep Hooda portrays the title role of Sarbjit Singh; Richa Chadda and Darshan Kumar play supporting roles. The film is based on the true story of an Indian man who was kidnapped at the border and sentenced to death by the Pakistani Supreme Court, consequently spending rest of his life in prison for alleged terrorism and spying.
14. Fan: This is an action packed psychological thriller directed by Maneesh Sharma and featuring Shah Rukh Khan in the lead role. The movie portrays the story of an obsessive fan of a mega star who looks just like the star. This popular film is produced by Aditya Chopra under the banner of Yash Raj Films. The music is light and refreshing; direction is natural and Khan is equally comfortable in his own skin.
15. Mirzya This is a romantic thriller based on the famous Punjabi folklore of Mirza Sahiban. Directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, it stars Harshvardhan Kapoor and Saiyami Kher in lead roles along with Anuj Choudhry, Om Puri, Art Malik, K. K. Raina, and Anjali Patil in supporting roles. The movie has a very soulful and folk style music, combined with an age old love story of Mirza Sahiban.
16. Raman Raghav 2.0: This is yet another psychological feature inspired by a psychopathic serial killer, active in Mumbai during the mid-1960s, named Raman Raghav. The movie is directed by Anurag Kashyap. If nothing else, watch this one for engaging and awe inspiring performance of Nawazuddin Siddiqui who play the lead role of the serial killer. Vicky Kaushal plays Raghavan, a cop assigned to investigate the serial killings.
17. Dear Zindagi: Dear Zindagi is a coming-of-age drama drama, a story of a budding cinematographer in search of a better life. She runs into a free-spirited psychologist who helps her gain a new perspective on her imperfections. Written and directed by Gauri Shinde, the film features Alia Bhatt in the lead role, with Shah Rukh Khan, Kunal Kapoor and Ali Zafar in supporting roles.
18. Force 2: If you are a fan of action movies, or that of John Abraham, this movie is for you. Written and directed by Abhinay Deo, this spy thriller is a sequel to the 2011 film Force. The film features John Abraham and Sonakshi Sinha in the lead roles performing all the humanly impossible feats.
19. Phobia: A talented young artist who develops severe agoraphobia after surviving a traumatic attack. She is terrified of the outside world. The film has an element of horror as she moves into a recently vacated apartment, accompanied with strange behavior of the neighbors and the mysterious disappearance of the apartment’s former tenant.
20. Dhanak: This is an award winning children’s film with a heart warming story line. Written and directed by Nagesh Kukunoor, the movie features Hetal Gadda and Krrish Chhabria as the two children, playing brother and sister, in the lead roles, with supporting performances from Chet Dixon, Vipin Sharma, Gulfam Khan, Vibha Chibber, Flora Saini, and Vijay Maurya.
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