The Best Movies of 2022
The Best Movies of 2022

Although both the critics and the masses were prompt to write off Bollywood as a fading industry, especially with the surge of South cinema, Bollywood has managed to not only survive but thrive. As 2022 closes, we look back at some of the most interesting films of the year

Badhaai Do

 

 

Where to watch: Netflix

 

A closeted gay police officer and a closeted lesbian PT teacher tie the knot to fit in and ease
out the family pressure to ‘settle down’. What begins with the marriage of convenience and
a web of lies develops into a poignant story of an unusual but deeply-rooted relationship. Apart
from the nuanced performances of its lead as well as supporting actors, what makes this film
on lavender marriage a must-watch is its matured and sensitive writing and storytelling, and
its gaze. The movie tackles the stigma associated with homosexuality without getting preachy
or ludicrous. Although laced with humour, the social drama never laughs at the protagonists –
their lives and life choices are not fetishised. What is also refreshing is that the movie resists the
temptation of importing a ‘cis male saviour’. The protagonists, like the movie itself, don’t even
seek validation from heterosexuals. Unlike a Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui, here, the heterosexuals
remain side characters, and never hijack the story.

 

RK/RKAY

 

 

Where to watch: Awaiting OTT release

 

In a year replete with remakes, Rajat Kapoor delivers one of the most original if quirky movies India has ever seen. Rajat Kapoor directs and acts in this film, where he plays a character named RK. who is acting in his own directorial, and realises that his hero (played by the filmmaker himself) has vanished from the rushes. Worse? He has entered the real world. Although the mise-enabîme or film-within-the-film format is not new and a movie character crossing the line between fiction and reality has been seen in multiple movies, what Kapoor creates is a poignant tale exploring the existential crises and creative angst of a filmmaker. The gloom-tinged but charming crowd-funded indie film reflects a filmmaker’s fear of losing control over the narrative, echoes the constant struggle to find a balance between commerce and creativity, explores the relations between art and its artiste, and also probes the concept of fate and freewill.

 

Vikram Vedha

 

 

Where to watch: Awaiting OTT release

 

The near-faithful remake of their 2017 Tamil thriller by the same name, Vikram Vedha blends South storytelling with Bollywood panache, and the result is an action-packed, larger-than-life masala entertainer that is a paisa vasool theatre watch.

 

The lead pair of Saif Ali Khan and Hrithik Roshan brings in their A-game as actors and as stars — and their chemistry together is electrifying. But the hero of this movie is the director duo Pushkar–Gayathri and their brilliant edge-of-the-seat storytelling. Kudos to them for envisioning such a taut thriller based on the age-old children’s story of Vikram and Vetal. If one has to make a remake, Vikram Vedha is how it should be done.

 

Qala

 

 

Where to watch: Netflix

 

Imagine Macbeth as a story of just Banquo and Macbeth — two warriors who are compatriots and friends, both poised for greatness, but one’s overarching ambition and self-doubt make him take a drastic step, a step that will keep haunting him for the rest of his life slowly pushing him towards insanity. This can be the story of Qala. What is interesting is in Vishal Bhardwaj’s 2004 adaptation of the William Shakespeare play, Macbeth aka Maqbool was played to perfection by the late Irrfan Khan. In Anvitaa’s, his son Babil makes his debut as Banquo aka Jagan.

 

Qala is a scathing commentary on gender discrimination in a professional setup, a mirror to the patriarchal society, a poignant take on mental health, and also a homage to the film industry of the ’30s. And it is a stark reminder that how little things have really changed over the years. But more importantly, Qala is about Anvitaa Dutt and her mastery over her qala. She, along with her crew, creates a heartbreakingly beautiful and opulent world where every frame is drenched in colour, oozes poetry and music, and is steeped in melancholia. It is Bhansali meets Guru Dutt, but it is a world that is uniquely Anvitaa Dutt.

 

Phone Bhoot

 

 

Where to watch: OTT release awaited

 

Two bumbling youngsters who are smitten by naapaak shaktis and chudails and darawni havelis, an enterprising ghost who has a kickass business idea, a daayan who is bored of freelancing gigs and is looking to land a corporate job, an app-enthusiast villain who sells moksha for a price. Phone Bhoot is the story of this motley bunch. Helmed by Gurmmeet Singh, this paranormal poltergeist flick is a celebration of the trashy aesthetic of the B-grade Hindi horror movies, but sans the raunchy sex scenes. There is serious craftsmanship that goes behind the making of the ‘funny’. The writing is intentionally absurd but also bristles with a kind of acute self-awareness that makes the scenes more amusing. It is refreshing to see both Ishaan Khatter and Siddhant Chaturvedi in their elements – their energy is infectious, their performances so effortless that even in the most contrived of situations it doesn’t look stilted.

 

Monica, O My Darling

 

 

Where to watch: Netflix

 

An adaptation of Keigo Higashino’s book Brutus no Shinzo or Brutus’s Heart, Monica, O My Darling is a story of Jayant Arkhedkar (Rajkummar Rao), a robotics expert, who has climbed almost to the top of the corporate ladder. What could have been Jayant’s rags-to-riches tale abruptly shifts gear midway, unceremoniously ejecting him out of the driver’s seat. It becomes a neo-noir thriller and leaves him grappling to reclaim his story. Vasan Bala, along with writer Yogesh Chandekar, builds a deliciously dark ecosphere of ambition, lust, greed, and betrayal, accentuated by blobs of gore. He also sprinkles a healthy dose of nostalgia and pop-culture references for the cinephiles. The ensemble cast of Rajkummar Rao, Huma Qureshi, Radhika Apte, Sikander Kher, and Sukant Goel ensures that this neo-noir film hits all the sweet spots while the groovy ’70s-inspired retro music by Achint Thakkar adds extra zing.

 

Images: Netflix, Mithya Talkies,

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