Worst Bollywood Movies of 2018

As with my Best Bollywood Movies post, I’m only including five titles in my Worst Bollywood Movies list for 2018. There simply weren’t enough Hindi films terrible enough to warrant such a dubious distinction. But believe me, those that did make the list earned their spots.

In fifth place is Fanney Khan, a dull but mostly harmless family film, except for one very troublesome subplot. The parents of aspiring teenage singer Lata (Pihu Sand) fret that their daughter will be pressured to trade sex for stardom. Yet her father Fanney (Anil Kapoor) has no problem trading another woman’s body in exchange for Lata’s success, kidnapping Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s pop star character to do so. That sound you hear is me smacking myself in the forehead.

Aiyaary makes the list due to its muddled writing. Filmmaker Neeraj Pandey belabors obvious points while glossing over complicated conspiracies in this bland, slow spy thriller, starring Sidharth Malhotra and Manoj Bajpayee.

Race 3 is another bloated narrative mess. I’m a fan of director Remo D’Souza’s movies ABCD and A Flying Jatt, but this franchise outing proves how hard it can be to include a superstar actor in an ensemble picture, while still allotting said superstar a disproportionately large portion of screentime. It also proves that Salman Khan’s star power doesn’t guarantee a movie’s box office success (more on that to come).

The two worst Hindi films of 2018 are bad for many of the same reasons. Both bungle their handling of traumatic injury and disability. Both feature loathsome male protagonists who depend on the suffering of women in order to grow emotionally — only the protagonists don’t actually undergo any emotional growth.

That’s how October wound up in second place for the year. Varun Dhawan plays the awful male lead in question. His character is obsessed with a comatose co-worker because he thinks she may have harbored feelings for him before the accident that injured her. The premise is plain gross, made all the worse by Varun’s character inserting himself into the finer details of her medical care (he LOVES checking her catheter bag). Even after the co-worker regains consciousness, her brain and body are so damaged that she can’t tell him to leave her alone if she wishes him to do so, let alone physically push him away. He takes advantage of her vulnerability, and he ends the movie no more morally improved than he was at the beginning.

As demoralizing as October is, first place goes to a movie that failed on a grander scale. Zero is my Worst Bollywood Movie of 2018. Granted, Shah Rukh Khan’s film wasn’t the biggest box office flop by one of the Three Khans for the year (in North America, that honor belongs to Aamir Khan’s Thugs of Hindostan). But Zero was easily the most offensive of the year’s disappointing films. Khan plays Bauua, a man with dwarfism —  his diminutive stature achieved using CGI and camera techniques — who falls in love with Aafia (Anushka Sharma), a woman with cerebral palsy. Writer Wendy Lu posted a piece on Huffington Post just yesterday explaining the problems with able-bodied actors playing disabled characters in Hollywood, and the same problems apply to the two lead actors in Zero. This is a movie that should never have gotten off the drawing board.

Yet Zero went ahead, and the resultant movie is even worse than feared. Not only is the movie out-of-step in the way it treats disability, it’s also sexist. Bauua thinks Aafia is his equal since they’re the same height when she’s in her wheelchair — never mind that she’s a rocket scientist and he’s an almost-40 high school dropout who’s never held a job. The rest of the story is utterly ridiculous. The only person who emerges from Zero with an unblemished reputation is Katrina Kaif, whose excellent performance stands to be overlooked, as everyone else tries to pretend that Zero never happened.

Kathy’s Worst Bollywood Movies of 2018

  1. Zero
  2. October — Buy at Amazon/watch on Prime
  3. Race 3 — watch on Prime
  4. Aiyaary — Buy at Amazon
  5. Fanney Khan — watch on Prime

Previous Worst Movies Lists

10 thoughts on “Worst Bollywood Movies of 2018

  1. Thank You

    Thanks to the work of reviewers like you, I successfully managed to avoid all five of these creative works. This is clear evidence that not all is worthless on the internet. Regards.

      1. Gospvg

        Doh! I watched October, Fanney Khan, A Flying Jatt.
        Insert facepalm emoji 🤦‍♂️

        I will probably watch Zero just to see how SRK has fallen from his mantle.
        I also wasted my time watching Tiger Zinda Hai (2017), Bum Bumm Bole 2010 (Child actor Safary from the excellent Taare Zameen Par) & I did not enjoy Mubarakan (2017).

        All the best for 2019 & thanks for all the work you put into this site Kathy.

  2. Courtney Waring

    Definitely agree with this. I haven’t seen Zero yet, but the more I hear about it, the less likely I am to check it out, even if I’m a die hard SRK/Anushka fan. I’m shocked this is the first time I’ve seen Aiyaary on any sort of worst of 2018 list, especially because I 100% agree that it was the most boring movie I’ve ever watched. Even though I love Sid. And Varun too, but I didn’t like October for the exact same reasons you did, and I’m shocked it made so many best of 2018 lists. I hope after this and BKD, Varun takes note to stop making movies about entitled, chauvinistic men who spent 2+ hours failing to redeem their terrible behavior.

    1. Kathy

      “I hope after this and BKD, Varun takes note to stop making movies about entitled, chauvinistic men who spent 2+ hours failing to redeem their terrible behavior.” — My feelings exactly, Courtney! Varun has so much charisma, but he’s wasting it in regressive films.

      Let’s resolve to forget Aiyaary ever happened, shall we? 😉

      1. Courtney Waring

        “Varun has so much charisma, but he’s wasting it in regressive films.” Case and point, Judwaa 2. I’d like to forget about that movie as much as I want to forget about Aiyaary. Both actors deserve better movies.

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