By Hindustan Times
Mumbai, Dec. 31 -- Salman Khan (Bodyguard, Ready) was the top performer in Bollywood of 2011. Let alone that terrible news. Here's the good one: there's a whole world within striking distance from where you can hear cash registers ringing incessantly, and the movie that's killing it at the box-office is neither a Southern remake nor being panned by reviewers.
This was the year when critical acclaim, in a lot of cases, simultaneously spelt commercial success. In case you missed these films, you can watch them on DVD, many years later as well, which is what counts more than a first weekend's collections.
Here's my list of the top 10 of '11:
1. Zoya Akhtar's Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara Heartrending yet hilarious, expansive, still intimate, this is an urbane bro-mance that, like its predecessor Dil Chahta Hai (2001), will pass the test of time. Easily the best 'mainstream, commercial' film of the year.
2. Abhinay Deo's Delhi Belly At once outrageous and outstanding, this picture proved that crass toilet humour, served with such no-holds-barred sense of purpose, can be loved and appreciated for its honesty still. Full respect.
3. Kiran Rao's Dhobi Ghat Calm, lyrical, expressive, minimalist: all of it in about 90 minutes, paying tribute to a city where classes merge into a common river of sorrow, beauty and hope. We remain unaware of how each of us affects the other every day. If you're conscious, this film's subtlety will touch you for sure.
4. Tigmanshu Dhulia's Sahib Biwi Aur Gangster Punk chauffeur, scheming wife, credulous landlord, and a page-turner script set in Middle India that has a twist waiting for you at every corner. This Macbeth-like tragedy reminds you less of Guru Dutt's Sahib Biwi Aur Ghulam, more of Vishal Bhardwaj's Maqbool. What better compliment to pay.
5. Imtiaz Ali's Rockstar In a word, this movie displayed, beyond doubt, Bollywood has an altogether new rockstar now. In time-honoured tradition, if it's not a Khan or Kumar, it's a Kapoor!
6. Shoaib Mansoor's This Urdu gem's poetic enough in dialogue to mak you feel like you at a mushaira. Screenplay is a literary tour de force, almost like an accomplished novel, set in contemporary, apolitical side of Pakistan. Performances, especially of the flawed old Hakeem (Manzar Sehbai), remain unmatched. Truly, super bol, this.
7. Krishna DK and Raj Nidimoru's Shor In The City Very Guy Ritchie in its goofiness, completely Mumbai in its chaos, this richly textured, inspiringly cast, stream of consciousness plays along with several stories meeting on Ganesh Chaturthi. I suspect if Suketu Mehta's stupendous Maximum City was a film, it'd come close to this.
8. Rajkumar Gupta's No One Killed Jessica / Milan Luthria's The Dirty Picture / Anand Rai's Tanu Weds Manu Semi-realistic, hugely entertaining, smartly original: girl-power galore. I guess if the vane super-stars continue to play themselves on screen, it's the ladies who must take the lead. Audiences thankfully approve.
9. Amole Gupte's Stanley Ka Dabba / Sanjeevan Lal's Bubble Gum / Nila Panda's I Am Kalam Child is clearly the father of (the leading) man, the mentioned movies showed this well: each of them truthful at heart, sorted in the head, deeply evocative and marvelously inspired.
10. Sudhir Mishra's Yeh Saali Zindagi / Prawal Raman's 404 Both thrillers: one, slightly Dickensian, the other, supernatural. Tension is at once withheld, and released, and withheld again. So is the suspense. As they say, on the whole (ah, I love, on the whole), neither disappoints!