From 'Bhuj: The Pride of India' to 'Bhoot Police': The 7 worst films of 2021

Written By: Subhash K Jha
New Delhi Published: Dec 30, 2021, 06:42 PM(IST)

The worst films of 2021 Photograph:( Twitter )

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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?

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