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Top 5 Films of the Year 2013

The year that passed was a year of extremities. On the one hand, there was a benchmark number of really bad films that made me want to gouge my eyes out. On the other hand, more and more  experimental films were made and with great results. Here is the list of the top five films of the year in reverse, according to me. While many people out there wouldn’t agree with it, we’ll just have to agree to disagree:

(5) Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola: matru-ki-bijlee-ka-mandola-2a

One of the first and one of the best films of 2013, this black comedy/political satire was a fine example of what is wrong with our country’s audiences. A superb film that didn’t really get all the appreciation it deserved, it was bolstered by Vishal Bhardwaj’s eye for dark humor and Pankaj Kapoor’s fantastic, fantastic comic timing in a performance that certainly deserves all the awards, but might end up not getting any at all.

(4) The Lunchbox:  M_Id_422534_The_Lunchbox

A film that was certainly the most suitable candidate for India’s entry to the Oscars, it ended up being embroiled in a controversy instead. Akin to Dhobhi Ghat, another fantastic but even further less commercial film, it left a many people in the audience simply stunned as to the pointlessness of it all and it’s abrupt ending. But for the thinking and discerning film goers, it proved to be a wealth of cinematic joy, providing a peek into what love stories of ordinary people look like. It only helped that it had Irrfan Khan in the lead, a guy who could give a clap-worthy  performance as a corpse.

(3) Go Goa Gone: M_Id_380890_Go_Goa_Gone_Saif_Ali_Khan

Who would’ve thought Saif Ali Khan could ever be a part of one of the best films of the year? Introducing a completely new genre of films to Indian audiences, zombie-comedies, and merging it with slacker elements and stoner comedy, it was a laugh-a-minute ride without ever resorting to  slapstick humor. It left room open for a sequel, which might not come to fruition considering it’s lukewarm commercial success. Sad.

(2) Ghanchakkar: 141817e278a6197d98ad053c8dc3e0af_ft_xl

Take Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola, multiply the hilarity and awesomeness by 2 and multiply negative audience feedback by 10, and you’ll get Ghanchakkar. Probably the most hilarious and the smartest black comedy to come out of India, it was sufficient proof that Aamir and No One Killed Jessica weren’t a fluke for director Raj Kumar Gupta, who has managed to impress me with every single film he has made. While I was quite disheartened by the poor reception of this film, I find solace in the fact that this is one of those films that would be reevaluated years later and dubbed a cult classic that was “misunderstood” at the time of its release.

(1) Lootera: lootera-wallpaper-15-12x9

It was a close contest between this film and Ghanchakkar, but ultimately Lootera won the race simply due to the effect it had on me. Beautifully filmed, poignant and heart-rending, Vikramaditya Motwane’s follow-up to the now-classic Udaan was every bit as charming as the latter. Partly inspired from the book “The Last Leaf”, it told it’s story with an old-world charm in the first half and portrayed the protagonists’ anguish to perfection in the second half. All those who complained about the slow pace of the film, maybe this film wasn’t for them, and maybe they should stick to crappy “fast-paced” films like Dhoom 3. But all those who really love movies and missed out on this gem of a film, do try to watch the best film of the year one way or another, and with an open mind.

Honorable mentions:

Jolly LLB:

India’s first legal comedy, it mixed patriotic elements very well with the entertainment factor. With excellent performances across the board and Subhash Kapoor firmly in charge as the director, it was one of the most memorable films this year.

Madras cafe:

Although John Abraham may be a terrible actor and gave a performance with the expressions of a tree trunk in this film, he has balls of steel in the capacity of a producer. An extremely bold film, it was a major step in the right direction for espionage thrillers in Bollywood.

Aashiqui 2:

Although initially intentioned to cash in on the popularity of Aashiqui and make easy money, the producers ended up making a very decent film. Great music, good drama and decent performances; that’s at least 2 extra merits than most “blockbusters” out there.

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The Great Indian Blockbuster

As a student of film studies and a self- confessed movie buff, I’m positive that I couldn’t have been the only person who was reduced to tears after witnessing the line-up of Bollywood movies dubbed “blockbuster” over the past few years. It’s enough to make a grown woman cry. Quite justifiably, these movies took a lot of bashing from all around the world. Chennai Express, Krissh 3, Student of the Year, Zindagi Na MilegiDobara to name a few. Not that I’m singling out these movies, I’m sure a lot of other movies could’ve been shittier. Still these were just a few names that popped into my head when I thought “bad movie”

A lot of people loved Zindagi Na MilegiDobara. I do love the film’s soundtrack. But the film itself fell flat with its uninspiring story and left me with absolutely no urge to “seize the day”. Try as hard as I did, I just couldn’t bring myself to relate to these effluent, entitled characterswho could just afford to pack up and go scuba diving in Spain to deal with their text book “white person” problems.  Abandonment and daddy issues? Run with the bulls.  Girlfriend problems and fear of confrontation?  Jump from an airplane. Stick-up-the-ass, career centric, Wall Street guy stereotype? Insert token “exotic” female lead, then scuba dive and discover the exuberance of life amidst tomato pulp. All this BS in a movie which was little else than an unabashed 3 hour long tourism promo for Spain. And do I even need to point out that ZNMD is as close as Bollywood has come so far, to YOLO? If that isn’t enough to make you understand just how annoying this movie is, you’re pretty much a lost cause.. Picture1“The tomatoes have taught us the meaning of life!”

Student of the Year was another vacuous, shiny, sparkly movie filled with beautiful people and was morbidly story-deficient. It played out more like a Disney Channel Movie, something along the lines of High School Musical, but with more skimpy pink speedos than PG 13 romances. Recently in an interview, the stars of the movie remarked that they were surprised most of their fan base comprised children rather than young men and women as expected. *faith restored in my generation*

Chennai Express however was a different story. I’m all for the huge melting pot of cultures, South meets North yadayada. But Rohit Shetty’s “meeting” felt as violating as Columbus “meeting” the Native Americans for the first time. The shameless caricaturis-ation of South Indians could have been forgiven in the presence of a semi-admissible story. However, that did not happen. And the minute I heard Shah Rukh Khan speak Tamil, I felt a little part of me die. It was a revelation to understand that South Indians sound like one of Russell Peters’ racial caricatures to Bollywood executives.  

Picture2” I love the way you say bokwas.” “Silly! That’s how ALL South Indians speak Hindi.”

Lastly and more recently, cameKrissh 3. My problems with this film are threefold. Firstly, just the title bugs the crap out of me. How sloppy do multi-million dollar producers have to be to absurdly name the movie Krissh 3 instead of Koi Mil Gaya 3 or even Krissh 2? With this sort of titling, I feel like those producers are almost giving normal audiences the middle finger and saying “Yeah. We make so much money we don’t even have to name the movies in our franchises chronologicallyGo ahead. Tell your ten year old child how outraged you are. You’re still gonna have to take him to watch the movie. AND buy him overpriced popcorn and watch him spill soda all over the food court.”

Secondly, anyone who has read my blog or knows me understands how superhero-centric my life is. And after decades of bad Superman and Batman movies (and god forbid Elektra , Green Lantern and Catwoman movies! Shudder!) I’m infinitely grateful to be living in an age where Superhero movies sweep the box offices and are nominated for Oscars. People are finally associating superheroes with real cinema and deep storylines, and not just “kid’s stuff”. Then along comes Krissh, successfully infantilizing and trivializing the entire genre. “Dude! It’s just a superhero movie. Of course it’s gonna be aimed only at kids!” say some people I know.  To that I say Krissh has done for Superhero movies, what Twilight has done for Feminism. Not only has it destroyed all the progress made over the past few years, it’s also made people think that’s okay. And abusive paedophilic boyfriends and weak plotlines have become the norm for fantasy films.

Finally, the fact that this movie ran so long, it made me wait outside the theatres for 25 minutes, while I was itching to watch Thor, makes me nurse an even more personal vendetta against Krissh 3.

2013 draws to a close with the release of Dhoom 3. I’m not a big fan of the Dhoom franchise; or as my friend calls it: the oxygen mask that keeps Uday Chopra’s career alive. And predictably, I heard from quite a few sources how bad the film was. Sure Uday Chopra and AbishekBachhan were just returning to the franchise. But this time they’d taken along Aamir Khan on their crazy spiral down the rabbit hole.  The same Aamir Khan who gave us Rang De Basanti, Lagan and 3 Idiots, reduced to outrunning cops (if you can even call them that) on a bike/boat/submarine. I was pretty upset. Even though there are some remarkable movies coming out, it’s mostly these nonsensical, vacuous, over the top and sometimes pseudo-intellectual movies that rake in the big dough. More importantly, these are the movies that represent Bollywood to the rest of the world.

The future seemed pretty bleak too as I looked up the releases scheduled for 2014. Though there were quite a few movies I’m pretty excited to watch, I saw an equal and even higher percentage of movies that I wasn’t exactly looking forward to.

That’s when I had an epiphany. I’ve always gotten so worked up about these types of shoddily made movies.  I used to blame the general public/ audience for enabling more movies like these to be produced, by setting their standards so low and expecting so little out of a film. It pained me that a deluge of such movies being released and also exploding in the box offices to become blockbusters lowered the standing of Indian cinema among the world’s audience.

But here’s the deal: These are not pieces of cinema that would stand the test of time. They are not pieces that would find themselves in Roger Ebert’s must watch lists. They wouldn’t observe and explore the inner workings of the human psyche. More than a dozen of these would involve laughably impractical plots and badly written characters.

But they are inarguably, plain and simple entertainment. They let the audience power down and lose themselves in filmy, dramatic and admittedly nonsensical worlds. These films take Coleridge’s Suspension of Disbelief to whole new levels. They defy the laws of physics and created superstars worthy of literal worship from their fans. Though I still do consider these movies pretty lazy film making, I also see the point in making them.

After this insight of the year, I’ve started to look at these crazy masala movies with an almost affectionate detachment. Sort of the same way you’d look at that blubbering drunk friend dancing on the table at a party. All hail The Great Indian Blockbuster and a Happy New Year to us all!

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11 Signs That You’re Watching A Movie In An Indian Theatre


1 – You have to stand up for the national anthem before the movie, and to this day you still don’t know why. You look around the movie theatre and every other patron has the same confused expression on his/her face. Nothing against patriotism, but you wouldn’t exactly dance to Munni badnaam hui before a Republic Day parade, would you?

2 – You get smacked on the head by Puneet Issar’s wife if you don’t stand up for the national anthem.

3 – There’s a couple canoodling to your left.

4 – The mandatory “Gutka Mukesh” advertisement is shown which has disfigured faces playing the lead, thereby killing one half of your appetite. (The other half dies during the interval when you look at the sandwich and popcorn prices.)

5 – The “Cigarette smoking is injurious to health” sign pops up every seventy two seconds because of the new government rules. (The same government that says cigarettes are harmful but won’t ban them because, well, taxes, duh.)

6 – There is a couple canoodling to your right.

7 – People walk in minutes after the movie begins and kick you and trample on your feet while they locate their seats in the dark. They walk past you six hundred and forty seven times, making sure you’re left playing a game of peek-a-boo with the screen, only to realise their seats are actually seven rows ahead.

8 – Five minutes into the movie, the person next to you gets a phone call. And yes, he answers it, completely ignoring your gobsmacked expression. And yes, the conversation goes something like this:

Hallo. Haan picture main hoon. Bol na. Arey woh Lanardo Depicrio wali dekh raha hoon. Inspection. Haan, wohi, Titanic wala. Tune dekh li hai? Kya, uski biwi suicide karti hai? Kya baat kar raha hai yaar.” Thus, ruining the movie for you before the first scene has ended.

9 – At least six people behind you murmer, “Bhai, picture main Dabanng jaisi baat nahi hai.”

10 – There’s a couple canoodling two rows ahead of you, at which point you begin to wonder if you’re the only person in the goddamn cinema hall that’s not getting some.

11 – After the movie ends, while you’re moving towards the exit, you overhear a couple of people saying:

“Bhai, kuch samjha teko?”

“Nahi, teko?”

“Nahi. Pata nahi ending main bhavra kyon ghuma raha tha woh. Chal chod, kal mast spicy wala masala entertainer dekh lege.”

Yep. God bless the cinema goers of this country.


5 Worst Bollywood Movies Of Recent Times

Apart from a few good flicks like Gangs of Wasseypur and A Wednesday, Bollywood has always given me garbage. And on some occasions – it’s given me even worse. Here’s a list of some of the most unforgivably bad movies of Bollywood.

5-Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna kank

A three and a half hours of torture, this movie is a total waste of good star-cast. With such talented souls in the movie, Karan Johar could’ve definitely come up with something sensible and entertaining at the same time. Compared to Karan Johar’s previous flicks Kuch kuch hota hai and Kal Ho Na Ho, this movie had nothing to offer except for the good costumes and glamorous and fancy lifestyle show of the characters. With some irrelevant sequences, the never-ending story could not keep the audience hooked through the movie. An expected climax, was yet another put down.

4-Bodyguard bodyguard

Salman Khan, Action Movie, Eid release- probably the best combo Bollywood could provide you with. However, with Bodyguard, this was not the case. Despite the hype, the movie could not live up to the expectations of the audience. It would better be defined as a movie which needed you to leave your brains and logical self away while you watch it. A common story line with some over-dramatic songs and overdone-action sequences literally made me want to bang my head against the wall. By the end of the movie, all one could do is feel bad for the current state of Indian cinema.

3-Saawariya saawariya

While this over-hyped movie with Rishi Kapoor’s Son and Anil Kapoor’s daughter making their debut was able to draw audience to the theatres, it definitely succeeded in disappointing the viewers. With a stupid story, undesired cinematography and set of completely not-making-sense costumes, this movie was nothing but a big time failure. It left people wondering how an established and sensible director like Sanjay LeelaBhansali could come up with something so non-sense.

2-Love Story 2050 lovestory2050

The movie was so pathetic that the ardent sci-fi lover in me couldn’t notice the much-hyped (but competent) special effects. With Priyanka Chopra at her worst with Hritik-look-alike co-actor struggling to act, this was nothing short of a bad attempt at science fiction. The other problem was the story or the lack of it.

1-Ra-one raone

The high-budget flick, with the promise of being one of its kind, certainly proved itself right- Indians definitely had not seen something THIS BAD before!

What a colossal waste of money!

The movie, as if, was meant to make you lose faith in superhero movies. The “Badshah”certainly did not deliver what was expected of him and once again proved that all he can do is romance on-screen. Special effects and action- that is all the movie had in store for the viewers. With a complete lack of story, here it is making its way to one of the worst Bollywood movies ever.

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©Sushmita Singh for