Right now, the jungles of Bollywood are lying in wait. All muscles tensed, all breaths held, not a leaf moving. As soon as the clocks turn 2019, the award ceremony panthers will leap out from their lairs and chew up the last grain of self-confidence left in every performer who cannot dance or doesn’t have a gym-scuplted body.
Wanted an award, did you? You dud? Chew cud! Grrr… snarl… chomp… and the best actor goes to Salman Khan for Race 3 and critic’s choice goes to Shah Rukh Khan for Zero and the lifetime achievement goes to Aamir Khan (which will be presented to him by Amitabh Bachchan as cameras focus on
Fatima Sana Sheikh Kiran Rao).
But of course, I am kidding. Ranbir Kapoor (Sanju) and Ranveer Singh (Padmaavat) have set up a battle royale for the male acting prizes while in a delightfully romantic pairing, Alia Bhatt (Raazi) and Deepika Padukone (Padmaavat) are in the running for the female category. The stars are backed by awards-darlings like Rajkumar Hirani and Sanjay Leela Bhansali, and I wouldn’t like to bet this time!
What I’d like to bet is the following awards not being part of any ceremony!
Best Performance in a Leading Role to be Overlooked in Absence of Commercial Success
Vineet Singh trained in Mumbai, trained in Patiala, developed boxer-like reflexes at an age when most boxers retire. He trained for 700 days straight among real boxers. He trained while being treated for a broken rib. He trained so well that national level boxing coaches couldn’t make out he was an actor, not a professional boxer. He now has a gym-sculpted body as well. But Mukkabaaz made less than what Race 3 made in the first hour of its release so…
Most Prolific Performer (Theatrical Releases)
This is the category where just when the camera focuses on Radhika Apte (buoyed by Netflix’s active promotion of its star actress), the announcer calls out Taapsee Pannu as the winner who managed to pull off four theatrical releases including two solid critical successes (Manmarziyaan and Mulk), one reasonably known number (Soorma) and one Bermuda Triangle (Dil Juunglee).
Radhika Apte had three theatrical releases (Pad Man, Andhadhun, Bazaar) and three Netflix releases (Lust Stories, Ghoul, Sacred Games), taking her into the league of Govinda and Mithun of the 1990s.
UPDATED TO ADD: Anushka Sharma also had four releases this year including the year's top grosser (Sanju), one massive star vehicle (Zero), one well-acclaimed big studio release (Sui Dhaaga) and one self-produced horror film (Pari) but somehow 2018 doesn't feel like Anushka's year as much as it does for Taapsee or Radhika!
Most Egregious Accent Award by a Lead Actor
Akshay Kumar and Mouni Roy of Gold deserve the Wills Made for Each Other awards for producing the most atrocious Bengali pronunciations since Johnny Lever in the late 1990s. Punjabi Akshay Kumar can take refuge in his starry reluctance to get an authentic accent though Mouni Roy – a Bengali by birth – also seemed to have forgotten her mother tongue.
Anil Dhawan said Tere galiyon mein na rakkhenge kadam and walked off into the sunset after a moderate and maudlin career as a hero in the 1970s. He kept returning as inconsequential elder brothers and fathers in the 1990s and 2000s, which we did our best to ignore. Nobody had bargained for the “Surprise” with which he leaped on to the screen in Andhadhun. A Pune property dealer with a sexy and shady wife didn’t need to have a Bollywood backstory but it did. And what a backstabbing
backstory it was!
Best Newcomer Pair
Gajraj Rao has been around for two and a half decades, if IMDb is to be believed. (It lists Bandit Queen as his first screen appearance.) Neena Gupta has been around for three and we all believe her. But no other newcomer – beneficiary of nepotism or otherwise – managed to inject so much charm into their roles as they did in Badhai Ho. In fact, their romantic chemistry and comic timing are something newcomers should aspire for and not feel bad if they get only halfway there.
Race 3. Race 3. Race 3.
“Our business is our business, none of your business”, drawled Daisy Shah. “Har kahani ke do pehlu hote hai. Two pehlus”, deadpanned Salman Khan holding two fingers up. “I am sick of this Sikku”, snarled Saqib Saleem. Race 3 put the ult in cult, with the dialogues of Shiraz Ahmed and Kiran Kotrial (both veterans of the Race franchise) who had more cheese in the lines and more holes in the plot than a Swiss cheese factory!
Best Soundtrack to be lamented by Oldtimers as the Death of Film Music as they knew it
Amit Trivedi put the amrit back in Amritsar with the soundtrack of Manmarziyaan that took some getting used to. And Shelle’s Punjabi-infused lyrics needed a Reddit thread or two to unravel. While reviews found the soundtrack “to be so lit that we’re listening on loop” (Indiatimes) and called it a “riveting follow-up to Udta Punjab” (Milliblog), it was a DevDja-vu for fans of classic Bollywood!
Orissa Presents Bollywood Sport of the Year
Hockey tumse pyara kaun? An unlikely hockey star returns to the field after fighting lower-body paralysis (Soorma). A Bengali manager puts together India’s first post-Independence team to prove all the Olympics golds weren’t flukes, after all (Gold). And a Punjabi sports-shop owner can’t decide between pyaar and fyaar as the soundtrack mocks her (Dhyan kitthe, Dhyan Chand? in Manmarziyaan).
In 2018, Bollywood sent in a just-out-of-teens spy on a cover operation deep inside Pakistan to ensure that their 2017 film had the plot point it needed. In a way, **azi was the prequel of **azi as the plans of an attack were smuggled out of an Army officer’s house in the former (but later) film to help the soldiers in the later (but earlier) film.
** censored to avoid spoilers and challenge quizzers
Yash Chopra Special Award for Promotion of European Destination
Given to T-Series for promoting Sweden by getting embroiled in a battle for the title of the ‘most subscribed YouTube channel’ with PewDiePie, an indy creator of video memes that seemed to go on for the better part of the year. And sees no sign of abating even now. Sigh.
In between, Bangladesh folks backed PewDiePie. PewDiePie mistook them to be Indians “working from the inside”. PewDiePie called T-Series “bitch lasagne”. And Aamir Khan walked out of a biopic of T-Series founder, Gulshan Kumar.
Twitter Presents Best CSR Campaign on Social Media
Thugs of Hindostan inspired a thousand memes among election followers, embracers, dog lovers and carpet lovers but wasn’t able to stop the stampede of people who started running away from theatres from Thursday afternoon. What was intended to be a cashfest of a long weekend ended up with the YRF social media team RTing every single complimentary tweet that came their way. By Friday morning, they were done with the RTs and ended up creating GIFs of the really effusive ones. Once those fifteen were done, they spent the rest of the weekend wiping tears off their keyboards and waiting for #DeepVeer wedding pics.
Ministry of Information & Broadcasting Special Award for Best Censorship Fiasco
Till a year back, Pahlaj Nihalani was throwing sanskari naseehat towards – who he thought were – truant filmmakers. This year, this film Rangeela Raja – starring his original favourite Govinda – got slapped with 20 cuts and Pahlaj suddenly saw the second pehlu!
(About a week or so out of his CBFC term, Pahlaj Nihalani hit the headlines when he ‘presented’ Julie 2 – a film billed as a “clean adult film”. That film got passed without a single cut!)
Most Marvellous Merchandise
Easily the celeb with the highest paparazzi per year of living ratio, Taimur Ali Khan broke the internet (again) with the launch of a doll modelled on him. The doll pretty much hijacked stepsister Sara Ali Khan’s Bollywood debut as she ended up having to hug the doll on the sets of reality shows. #truestory
The doll beat Anushka Sharma’s Madame Tussaud debut and Katrina Kaif’s performance in Thugs of Hindostan in the Best Likeness to a Human That’s Not Coincidental category.
Ching’s Secret Hindi Cheeni Bhai Behen Award for Best Diplomatic Relations
Rani Mukherjee’s well-intentioned but not-really-blockbuster Hichki got an almost-unexpected fillip in China as its sub-50 Cr domestic gross got quadrupled, thanks to it becoming the fifth highest grossing Hindi film in China. It also become a Top 5 grosser of the year and – BOOM – we have the announcement of Mardaani 2 and Rani Mukerji talking about self-defence in actor roundtables.
Best Hidden Easter Egg
Even before Sriram Raghavan fanboys could start counting the Tabu and Anil Dhawan references in Andhadhun, the Amrita Pritam curveball had been unleashed around Manmarziyaan.
Film dedicated to the poet – check.
Free-spirited heroine torn between two heroes – check.
Poetry quoted – check.
And yet, it took a perceptive Twitter user to point out the love triangle of the film seemed very similar to the one Pritam encountered in her real life.
'Awards' are done... so what are my favourite films of the year?
5. Mukkabaaz – Anurag Kashyap
4. Manmarziyaan – Anurag Kashyap
3. Raazi – Meghna Gulzar
2. Mulk – Anurag Sinha
1. Andhadhun – Sriram Raghavan
Andhadhun will be that delicious bar of chocolate that I have saved in my Netflix watchlist and will keep going back to again and again, heart skipping a beat when a blind piano player ‘sees’ a pool of blood for the first time.
Wish you a blinder of a year in 2019!