The year 2019 contributed to the evolution of Indian cinema -- content-driven films took the centre stage, and there was no space left for below-par scripts, or even performances. There were mass entertainers like 'Uri: The Surgical Strike', 'Housefull 4' and others, and there were offbeat movies -- 'Gully Boy', 'Bala' and the likes -- that hit the headlines way too hard for even the filmmakers to process the reasons.
There were a few "problematic" films too that nevertheless raked in a lot of moolah at the Box Office.
As we open our arms to welcome 2020, let's go down the memory lane and have a look at the films that were the most talked-about in 2019.
Uri: The Surgical Strike [January 11]
The year began with a bang when Vicky Kaushal-starrer 'Uri: The Surgical Strike' hit the silver screen. The actor had already impressed the audience with his stellar act in 'Raazi' and 'Sanju', and 'Uri' further strengthened his popularity. The film told the tale of the Indian Army's surgical strike on Pakistani soil, in retaliation to the 2016 attack in Uri. Major Vihaan Singh Shergill of the Indian Army was in focus in the movie.
The film ran into controversy in its early days because of a dialogue in its trailer. Due to this, the makers had to crop it out of the narrative. The movie became a huge hit and registered its name in the list of the most popular patriotic films.
'Uri' also earned Vicky Kaushal his first National Award.
Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi [January 25]
Kangana Ranaut became the talk of the town when she came with the period drama 'Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi'. She played the role of Rani Lakshmi Bai in the film and also garnered praise for her performance. The road to the film's completion, however, was not easy for her.
'Manikarnika' ruled the headlines every other day over writing credits, actors quitting the film or over Kangana Ranaut's statements. Her sister Rangoli Chandel’s accusations against other celebrities also kept the film in limelight.
Gully Boy [February 14]
Inspired by the life story of rappers Naezy and Divine, 'Gully Boy' had an ensemble cast, featuring the best artistes from the film industry. Director Zoya Akhtar beautifully painted this story of Murad, a budding rapper from the slums of Mumbai, and forced the audience to become a part of his struggle. The film won the hearts of many owing to its performances, music, and direction.
'Gully Boy' even became India's official entry to the 92nd Academy Awards; but failed to make the cut in the top ten.
Kabir Singh [June 21]
'Kabir Singh', a movie about a surgeon who embarks on a journey of self-destruction when he doesn't get the love of his life, was a well made movie. But it remained a topic of debate in the country for long after it hit the theatres.
Shahid Kapoor gave his career-best performance in the film. But what irked a certain section of the audience was the "glorification of toxic masculinity" in the movie.
In the movie, Kabir slaps his girlfriend, Preeti, in a fit of rage. And does other mean stuff too -- because, entitlement.
"I have to play characters for their good and bad. I have to represent them honestly. That is what acting is all about. Otherwise, I am just wanting (people) to like me," Shahid said, when asked about his choice of role with regard to a toxic character like Kabir Singh.
The matter escalated when director Sandeep Vanga Reddy, who had helmed the original 'Arjun Reddy' too, said it was normal to slap each other in a romantic relationship. His justification enraged the feminists even more, calling for a ban on the movie.
The entire controversy did not impact the Box Office collection of the movie, and it became the only A-rated film to have crossed the Rs 200-crore mark.
Article 15 [June 28]
Anubhav Sinha's much-awaited thriller 'Article 15' was reportedly inspired by the Badaun rape and murder case. Starring Ayushmann Khurrana in the lead, the film was shot in and around Lucknow. It depicted how caste equations ate away the peace in the area, and India as a whole.
The Badaun rape and murder case took place in 2014 when the Akhilesh Yadav government was in power in Uttar Pradesh. The film eventually earned the ire of the Brahmin community in Uttar Pradesh.
Brahmins were upset over the fact that the story, with the intention of portraying the accused men as Brahmins, defamed the community -- all this when they hadn't even watched the movie.
This did not, however, impact the movie, and it earned critical acclaim. Ayushmann Khurrana was yet again praised for his performance in the film.
Super 30 [July 12]
'Super 30', a narrative on math wizard Anand Kumar starring Hrithik Roshan, was superlative on the newsmaking level too.
The film was widely panned for the brown put-on on Hrithik's face -- done in order to make him look like a dark-skinned Bihari. Naysayers said the make-up was too plastic, and if the process of getting Hrithik to suit a "dark-skinned" character was an issue, a "dark-skinned" actor should have been cast instead.
The bigger issue the movie faced was #MeToo allegations against its director Vikas Bahl. The filmmaker was slapped with allegations of sexual harassment by one of his subordinates -- as a result of which, his production house Phantoms Films was dissolved.
There was also a chatter that the direction credits would be given to another person.
But when Bahl was given a clean chit in the matter, his name was retained in the credit scroll.
If this was not enough, the film was scheduled to clash with Kangana Ranaut's 'Judgementall Hai Kya'. Considering all the bad blood between Hrithik and Kangana, the makers decided to advance the release by two weeks.
Consequently, Hrithik Roshan did not actively promote this movie. It, however, still went on to earn more Rs 100 crore at the Box Office.
Judgementall Hai Kya [July 26]
Another Kangana Ranaut film that made headlines for everything else other than its art was 'Judgementall Hai Kya'.
The film landed in a soup as soon as its posters were released on the digital media. The Indian Psychiatric Society (IPS) wrote a letter to the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), and objected to then given title 'Mental Hai Kya', citing it was "discriminative, stigmatising, degrading and inhuman in projecting mental disorders and persons who suffer from mental disorders."
The title was then changed to 'Judgementall Hai Kya'.
Also, Hungarian visual artist Flora Borsi accused the makers of the film of plagiarism, and called its posters a copy of her trademark style.
The third controversy was perpetuated by Kangana at a press conference. She accused a journalist of planting "mean" stories about her. The journalist community came together to refute the allegations and asked for an apology from Kangana.
The firebrand actress refused. Producer Ekta Kapoor had to then intervene.
While these controversies kept the film in the limelight for long, it failed to impress the viewers much. 'Judgementall Hai Kya' received mixed reviews from the critics and was a dud at the Box Office.
Saand Ki Aankh [October 25]
'Saand Ki Aankh' is a cleverly made female-centric movie, and that too, one of the best in recent times. But what caught everyone's eye in the trailer, and subsequently, in the entire movie was the make-up of the two lead actresses -- Taapsee Pannu and Bhumi Pednekar.
The two 30-something actresses managed to lift the movie to great heights owing to their stupendous acting, but were still called out for looking too young even as they portrayed octagenarians in the film.
Leading the naysayers was Kangana Ranaut's sister Rangoli Chandel, who claimed that the former had rejected the movie, because she wanted senior actresses to play the role of the 60-year-old shooter dadis. Neena Gupta chimed in and agreed.
Taapsee and Bhumi, however, remained unaffected as they earned critical acclaim for the movie.
Bala [November 7]
Plagiarism has been a recurring issue in the Hindi film industry. Soon after the trailer of Ayushmann Khurrana, Bhumi Pednekar and Yami Gautam-starrer 'Bala' surfaced on the internet, filmmaker Abhishek Pathak accused the makers of copying the concept of his film 'Ujda Chaman'.
Abhishek even filed a case against 'Bala' actors and producer Dinesh Vijan. Both the films dealt with a similar concept -- a young man suffering from premature balding.
Pathak later dropped the lawsuit and advanced the release of his film 'Ujda Chaman', starring Sunny Singh. He said he was leaving it for the audience to decide which film was original and better.
Ayushmann Khurrana's 'Bala' fared better -- in terms of Box Office numbers and critical acclaim, while 'Ujda Chaman' was called out for doling out cringe in the name of serving a message.
Panipat [December 6]
There is a thing with period dramas in India -- they cannot get a release without facing challenges from a section of people. Arjun Kapoor and Kriti Sanon's 'Panipat' ran into a controversy owing to its portrayal of Rajasthan and its emperor in the medieval times, Maharaja Surajmal Singh.
State cabinet ministers Vishvendra Singh, and Govind Singh Dotasara, and former chief minister Vasundhara Raje took on the mantle to register a protest against the film.
As the result, the makers edited out the controversial portions, even when it had already hit the theatres.
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