2021 was a rough year, and one of the things that had to take a backseat for me was movie reviews. After a few months of catching up on some of last year’s releases, I feel like I’ve finally seen enough to pick some titles for my annual Best of and Worst of lists.
Here are my best and worst Bollywood movies of 2021, starting with the best:
Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar is one of director Dibakar Banerjee’s finest films — which is saying a lot, considering his sterling body of work! Parineeti Chopra and Arjun Kapoor play a banker and her kidnapper on the run from assassins out to kill both of them. It’s a beautifully-paced thriller that allows enough time for substantial character development as well as an examination of the expectations and limitations placed on women by patriarchy and capitalism. It’s for sure my favorite film of 2021.
Bollywood has produced several successful horror comedies in recent years, and Bhoot Police is right on trend. Saif Ali Khan and Arjun Kapoor (again!) play brothers who conduct sham exorcisms, only to find out that ghosts might be real after all. Themes about sibling bonds and the unique relationship each child has with their parents are expertly woven into the story. I’m jealous of the terrific screenplay, written by the trio of director Pavan Kirpalani, editor Pooja Ladha Surti, and co-writer Sumit Batheja.
Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui is Bollywood’s first mainstream romantic comedy with a transgender lead. Though it might have benefited from more transgender representation in front of and behind the camera, it does demonstrate the commercial viability of stories about transgender people. Plus, it’s a very enjoyable movie with likeable, complex leading characters.
2021 also had a lot of good but not great titles that fell somewhere in between — movies like The White Tiger, Haseen Dillruba, Tribhanga: Tedhi Medhi Crazy, and The Girl on the Train. (Just gonna note here that all four of these titles are Netflix Original Films.)
Of course, 2021 also had its share of duds as well. Here are my worst movies of the year:
Dybbuk is a ghost story with nothing to say about anything. It’s not even fun in a stupid way.
Bhuj: The Pride of India chronicles an interesting part of India’s 1971 war with Pakistan, but the story as it’s told is truncated to fit into a single movie. This would have been better as a series.
The title of Worst Bollywood Movie of 2021 belongs to the dreadful Akshay Kumar action flick Sooryavanshi. Part of director Rohit Shetty’s “cop universe,” Sooryavanshi the character is annoying. Sooryavanshi the movie is lazily written and hateful toward Muslims. I’m not sure why Shetty felt like he had to expand his “universe” (just kidding, of course I know: $$$), but he’d have been better off just making Singham sequels until the end of time.
Kathy’s Best Bollywood Movies of 2021
- Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar — stream on Amazon Prime
- Bhoot Police — stream on Hulu
- Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui — stream on Netflix
Kathy’s Worst Bollywood Movies of 2021
- Sooryavanshi — stream on Netflix
- Bhuj: The Pride of India — stream on Hulu
- Dybbuk — stream on Amazon Prime
Previous Best Movies Lists
- Best Bollywood Movies of 2020
- Best Bollywood Movies of 2019
- Best Bollywood Movies of 2018
- Best Bollywood Movies of 2017
- Best Bollywood Movies of 2016
- Best Bollywood Movies of 2015
- Best Bollywood Movies of 2014
- Best Bollywood Movies of 2013
- Best Bollywood Movies of 2012
- Best Bollywood Movies of 2011
- Best Bollywood Movies of 2010
- Best Bollywood Movies of 2009
- Best Bollywood Movies of 2008
Previous Worst Movies Lists
- Worst Bollywood Movies of 2020
- Worst Bollywood Movies of 2019
- Worst Bollywood Movies of 2018
- Worst Bollywood Movies of 2017
- Worst Bollywood Movies of 2016
- Worst Bollywood Movies of 2015
- Worst Bollywood Movies of 2014
- Worst Bollywood Movies of 2013
- Worst Bollywood Movies of 2012
- Worst Bollywood Movies of 2011
- Worst Bollywood Movies of 2010
- Worst Bollywood Movies of 2009
- Worst Bollywood Movies of 2008
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Thank you for this list, I have not really watched much Bollywood films last year. Highlights for me were Sherni (Amazon), Sardar Ka Grandson & The White Tiger (Netflix). A much older film I enjoyed was The Last Colour (2019 Netflix).
Thanks for sharing your highlights, gospvg!
So terrible year for jingoism and great year for Arjun Kapoor
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