From 'Bhuj: The Pride of India' to 'Bhoot Police': The 7 worst films of 2021
While the year witnessed some great stories, there were several misfires even.
From 'Bhuj: The Pride of India' to 'Bhoot Police': The 7 worst films of 2021
2021 saw filmmakers take a bold step in telling refreshing, new and thought-provoking stories. While the year witnessed some great stories, there were several misfires even. Subhash K Jha picks the 7 worst films of 2021.
Bhuj The Pride Of India: This is the shame of 2021. A pulp patriotic drama it is shamefully shoddy work, exposing its glaring inadequacies under the garb of nationalistic jingoism. Everybody in the film talks with flag-waving braggadocio, as though competing for the best actor award at the local amateur theatre workshop. So devoid of cinematic quality is this war film, and so oafish are the battle sequences, that I wondered if the whole endeavour was planned as a Doordarshan serial on the occasion of Veer Diwas. While purporting to honour our brave soldiers Bhuj insults the entire army by deploying the worst computer graphics for the aerial and ground battle scenes that I’ve ever seen in a war film. While Pakistani soldiers drop bombs erratically on the vulnerable airbase in Bhuj, none can equal the bomb that the film proves to be. Nothing prepares us for the sheer volume of clumsiness and mediocrity that Bhuj so proudly displays. From the opening airborne attack to the closing runway hijinks, the soggy saga reeks of sham valour. Each frame groans with tons of rabblerousing rhetorics punctuated by sounds of aerial bombs dropping on land as arid as the screenplay of this clumsily punctuated war drama. The director just doesn’t know where to stop. Or for that matter where to begin.
Haathi Mere Saathi: First things first. This Haathi Mere Saathi has nothing to do with Rajesh Khanna’s 1971 blockbuster of the same title. This one has lots of elephants in it but fails to address the elephant in the room: why has this film been made? If I was the producer I would quickly throw the footage into the sea and pretend it never happened. Haathi Mere Saathi has Rana Daggubatti running around with a wild look in his eyes as if he’s just seen the Chinese releasing the Covid virus. He plays some kind of an animal conservationist battling to save elephants from evil capitalists.Ananth Mahadevan is the greedy entrepreneur who builds a big wall blocking the elephants from the jungle.Someone should block the elephants from queuing up too see this film. They would feel insult is being added to injury.And poor Sheeba Chadha! That extraordinary actress is reduced to a prop in a film that is not really a film. It’s torture chamber , sure to but conservationists off conservation for a lifetime.There is a whole lot of noise and screechy sermons on how human plunderers are destroying the elephants’ natural habitat. But the tone is way too shrill to convey the message . Messages work only when conveyed in a reasonable tone.Haathi Mere Saathi is the sledgehammer of conservationism.The CGs are extremely.Poor Daggubatti monopolizes the footage . The voice that’s dubbed for him in Hindi doesn’t suit him. Ditto Zoya Hassan running around the jungle trying to save the elephants and trying to save poor Pulkit Samrat who looks lost in the jungle.Anyone would, after running from dawn to tusk.But who will save the audience from this hysterical tripe about the plundering tribe? This film should be referred to the SPCA. The Society for Prevention of Cruelty to the Audience.
Radhe Your Most Wanted Bhai: So much has changed. But not Salman Khan. He continues to be a one-man vendetta army , this time out to clean Mumbai of drugs and drug peddlers.And there are so many of them! The villains just keep pouring in like unwanted monsoon showers. I tried to keep a count . But after the 17th baddie I simply gave up. I hoped Radhe’s crime-fighting skills are better than my counting. And I was right! At the end of the 1 hour 49 film Salman’s cop act had eliminated all the villains,two of them, Gautam Gulati(playing a henchman named Girgit) and Pravesh Rana from Bigg Boss. If post-Covid this is what big-screen entertainment is meant to be, then we are better of watching OTT serials at home. Radhe India’s Most Wanted Bhai is strictly for the Salmaniacs. It transports Bhai , the plot and the audience into a never-never land of freewheeling combats where we get an extremely hazy, lazy , crazy view of who’s beating whom to a pulp.All that is for sure in the action scenes is that our hero emerges from each physical conflict looking like he has just finished a bath and a meal with a little bit of the ketchup from the French fries stuck on his cheek and sleeves.
Bhoot Police: How bad is Bhoot Police? It’s hard to say. This work touches such unscaled peaks of dumbness that one is at a loss for words.Descriptions like, awful and mediocre would just about touch the tip of the tale’s woeful inadequacy. If I say it was unbelievably bad, I’d only be talking about Saif Ali Khan who tries so hard to be funny, it’s scary. In fact I could write a whole thesis on Mr Khan’s ‘Bihari’ accent, Being from Bihar I am yet to hear anyone speak like that.Bhoot Police is filled with such never-before sights and sounds. …Like A Chudail belching profanity like Linda Blair , like Saif trying to mimic Rajkummar Rao in Stree and failing miserably,or Arjun Kapoor puking into a holy earthen pot while Saif holds it for him, or…never mind! This pointless illustration of the horror-comedy that neither horrifies nor amuses can go on all day, and we would still not be able to do justice to the plot holes and storytelling absurdities.
5. Squad: It really hurts to see young Rinzing Denzongpa’s career being crushed under the undiscriminating wheels of such amateurishness.This is an unpardonably tawdry film. Those behind the making of Squad should be put in front of a firing squad. Those in front of the camera deserve our heartfelt sympathy. No actor, no matter how incompetent, deserves to be so brutally compromised. No film in recent memory has made such woefully inadequate use of a cast in desperate pursuit of some moments, some hope in the midst of the despair that shrouds this cadaverous compendium of the cretinous and the cacophonous.The humourless action film about RAW-like agents rescuing a little girl from Georgia is shot with all the seriousness of a drunken monk trying to trapeze across a tumultuous river. There is no interest in seeing the proceedings plumb new depths every moment. It is like watching a car crash into a wall.Debutants Rinzing Denzongpa and Malvika Raaj playing squad members have no opportunity to prove anything except that they are in the wrong fun. Seniors Mohan Kapoor and Pooja Batra try to have some fun with their roles as a couple of squabbling squad commanders with a chip on their shoulders. While Ms Batra takes her role seriously(the spectacles don’t really help) Kapoor tears into his part with wolfish delight. He is the only one who knows what he has gotten himself into.Debutant Rinzing Denzongpa’s character Bhim suffers from a serious deprivation of motivation. He is on a mission to rescue a little girl. But he is afraid of children, he says. Why? Because he saw one die during a terror flush-out operation. The relationship that grows, or is meant to grow, between the hero and his vulnerable visitant remains a flickering possibility in this laughably loutish film .The potentially interesting outdoor locations are squandered away with most of the heated discussion happening indoors.Producer-writer-director Nilesh Sahay owes everyone an explanation on what exactly the purpose of Squad is supposed to be. Is it meant to be a joke? Or perhaps to show future generations how actions films are NOT supposed to be directed?
The Girl On The Train: The biggest suspense for me was not whodunit(so don’t worry, no spoilers ahead). But whydunnit? Why oh why did Ribhu Dasgupta see the need to remake what was a middling thriller with a stand-out central performance by Emily Blunt as a trainwreck of a woman whose judgment we can’t trust.Turns out , director Ribhu Dasgupta’s judgement sucks even worse. There is no point to this remake that relocates the original thriller from New York to London and then proceeds to make some horribly misguided radical changes from the original which I can’t reveal because if I do, Parineeti Chopra will kill me. Having survived this remake I want to live some more. Hopefully the next Bollywood whodunit will get right and won’t barter the fright for the trite.I sensed something going wrong from the start of this 2-hour ‘whydunnit’ when five minutes into the narrative a shaadi song showed up. Coy glances, wriggly hips , the works. Emily Blunt must be choking her popcorn. It was a reminder of more indigenous moderations in the original script which was about a a woman on the skids drinking herself silly and making a nuisance of herself in other people’s lives .This poor remake takes itself too seriously with red herrings scattered across the unruly chaotic pandemic plot like confetti in a room filled with a wild party of revelers who wake up the next morning wondering what they did, and to whom. Worse still are the endless explanations… oh Lord, every move is explained in case the audience misses the point. And I still say this is a pointless remake.Parineeti Chopra starts on a shaky note but gets confident eventually . When the dialogues are not cheesy in their originality they are corny translations of the original. A sample: “Do you think tumne ussey hurt kiya hoga?”I understand these are Indians in London. But no one talks like this, anywhere. Parineeti Chopra,God bless her brave soul, ploughs through the incoherent remake trying to keep her sozzled stumbling character on its feet. Another bright(and brave) performance comes from Kirti Kulhari as a cop at Scotland Yard with a turban and a dark secret. Aditi Rao does what she is good at: look pretty. The male characters are all drug dealers, philanderers, killers and extortionists. Avinash Tiwary as Parineeti’s husband infuses some brio into his inert part. He might as well have saved himself the effort. This remake is DOA.
Dial 100: This one is a downright embarrassment for all concerned, specially Manoj Bajpai and Neena Gupta who have lately been going through a bright patch in their career. Little did they know that they would have to deal with an unforeseen hurdle .Dial 100 is so bland in presentation and the suspense so wan, you wonder if the director slept through its making. Or else, what was Rensil d’Silva thinking while casting Bajpai as a cop at a call centre who receives a distress call from Neena Gupta who is just a voice for more than 20 minutes after the show begins.Hawa Mahal could have done more justice to Neena.When she finally appears on screen , at Manoj’s wife Sakshi Tanwar’s door Neena is a full-on gun-toting psychopath , with the expressions that one sees on the face of a mother after she finds condoms in her son’s room, out to get revenge from Manoj and his wife.Neena Gupta, poor soul, struggles with her character trying to understand her motivations. The script doesn’t help her in any way, choosing to get even in the oddest of ways, getting more and more abstruse with every passing moment.A young boy playing Manoj and Sakshi’s son shows up as a delinquent selling cocaine(no less) to his friends. Why would a boy from a well-to-do family, a cop’s son to boot, fall into such awful company? The screenplay has no answers. Instead it makes Manoj grit his teeth and tell the partying boy, ‘Go home right home.’I would tell myself exactly the same if I were watching this film in a theatre. Luckily for us, the pandemic has reduced the torture level of a movie critic’s life substantially. I still watch the crap. But at least I watch it in the comforts of my own four walls. It’s like your mother holding your hand while you’re getting molar surgery done.The tortuous ordeal is made worse by the director’s persistent attempts to infuse suspense into the proceedings like boosters injected into a corpse. In one sequence Manoj’s son hides in an abandoned building while an undesirable type is looking for him with a knife. What is Manoj’s son doing in that godforsaken place? More importantly, what is Manoj doing in this comatose melodrama with the production values of a student’s film and the wit and intelligence of a lobotomized ventriloquist?At the end we have Sakshi doing a big breakdown sequence and Manoj trying to comfort her. And we don’t even get a sorry?