2019: Films that tested our patience

The films made us wonder why we decided to watch them in the first place

A still from Housefull 4
A still from Housefull 4

Biswadeep Ghosh

Filmgoers who don’t skip excursions to the theatres every Friday seek satisfaction from their outings. Most such people ended 2019 without being particularly displeased with what the year offered.

2019 produced its share of watchable big-budget films as well as small-budget sleeper hits with unusual stories that made for interesting viewing. All in all, in other words, the year didn’t break our hearts.

But there was the flip side too. A few days before Christmas, the third part of the Dabangg franchise, Dabangg 3, landed as promised. Fans of the rogue cop Chulbul Pandey, the protagonist played by Salman Khan, had been waiting for the character’s reappearance for a long time.

After Dabangg 3 hit the marquee, many optimistic viewers were stung by the reality. The monotonous offering consisting of a series of set pieces instead of a well-knit screenplay offered little novelty or even momentary joy. The 54-year-old megastar, who romanced a 21-year-old youngster (Mahesh Manjrekar’s daughter Saiee), seemed bored and complacent, which few liked. That the film didn’t tank was a big, big surprise.

Few can explain how the ridiculously unfunny comedies of the Dhamaal and Housefull franchises woo viewers time and again. Total Dhamaal with a hugely talented ensemble cast and Housefull 4, also with an ensemble cast, struck gold. Critics tore into both because of their boring stories and wastage of acting talent, but that did not impact their business. Their success means that neither of the franchises will shut shop, which will be cacophony for a few ears.

The Accidental Prime Minister starring Anupam Kher as former prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh was an amateurish propaganda film that impressed few. PM Narendra Modi, a badly made hagiographic tribute to the present Prime Minister, didn’t cast a spell either. Their failure surprised nobody.

Why Cheat India dealt with our rotten education system, the need for scoring unrealistically high marks in competitive exams and the use of dishonest means to achieve one’s goal. The idea was novel but the execution flawed, showing that a good idea needn’t result in a good screenplay. Emraan Hashmi as a shark, who uses dodgy means to capitalise on the weaknesses in the academic system, failed to make an impact. His shaky performance and the film’s ordinary story resulted in the film’s quick disappearance from the theatres.

Few expected Kabir Singh to become the kind of phenomenal success it turned out to be. Shahid Kapoor experienced his most widely watched moment under the sun as the surgeon with anger management problems and addiction to drugs and alcohol in a film that glorified toxic masculinity and misogyny. The film grossed more than Rs 350 crore, which was astonishing business for a bad product that viewers ought to have avoided.

A handful of viewers made the mistake of watching the Arshad Warsi starrer Fraud Saiyaan, which sank noiselessly despite the actor’s comedic talents. Blank starring Sunny Deol as part of an anti-terrorism squad fired a blank with the actor’s uninspired performance coming under fire.

A great idea that went haywire resulted in , the parody of a cop-and-crime film starring the likeable Dilip Dosanjh as a sub-inspector and Varun Sharma as his sidekick. The film had a bunch of potentially interesting characters, but the result was disappointing because of its wafer-thin plot.

With the dawning of a new year rises, viewers are waiting for many highly anticipated films in the days ahead. Each one of them must be hoping that their favourite stars won’t disappoint them this year. That, as we know, is wishful thinking.

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