Bollywood's Biggest Surprises and Disappointments of 2021 So Far

·4 min read

2021 is half over and just like 2020, if there’s one thing that helped people get through the coronavirus-induced restrictions and lockdown of the past half-year, it’s the variety of films that were available at home through various streaming platforms. While it’s been a rough year for several big-budget Hindi films that are yet to see the light of day owing to the closure of theatres, plenty of refreshingly original and quality movies made their long-awaited debuts. Some were able to play in theatres for a few days, while others directly dropped on OTT platforms. As we wait for a mega second half of the year, where Sooryavanshi, Gangubai Kathiawadi, ’83, Bellbottom, all loom as heavyweights, let’s take a look at Bollywood‘s biggest surprises and disappointments of 2021 so far:

Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi (Surprise)

Seema Pahwa’s debut directorial received an overwhelming response upon its release. The film is inspired by Pahwa’s own personal experience– when her father passed away many years ago, her multigenerational family reunited at her place, leading to conflicts, complications and confrontations.

Where to watch it: Netflix

Madam Chief Minister (Disappointment)

The film was embroiled in controversy for its tone-deaf depiction of its Dalit protagonist. Starring Richa Chadha, the film is based on a Dalit woman who rises to be a chief minister of a major state. The film was panned by critics for being “superficial” and “half-baked”.

Where to watch it: Netflix

The Girl on the Train (Surprise)

Parineeti Chopra stars in one of the best thrillers of the year. In the film, Parineeti plays a barely functioning alcoholic who gets separated from her husband (Avinash Tiwary) when she loses her child in a tragic accident. The actress put in a chilling performance as a damaged, but sympathetic, young woman who is fighting her inner demons to get her life back on track.

Where to watch it: Netflix

Roohi (Disappointment)

Roohi seems entertaining on the surface level but over-the-top comedy can’t compensate for thin characters and a needlessly convoluted plot. The film, starring Rajkummar Rao, Janhvi Kapoor and Varun Sharma, revolves around a singing ghost who puts grooms to sleep so it can possess their brides.

Where to watch it: Netflix

Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar (Surprise)

Dibakar Banerjee’s black comedy Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar is a story of two vastly contrasting characters on the run. Even though the film opened to a lukewarm response at the box office, owing partly to a major spike in COVID-19 cases, it gained well-deserved attention upon its premiere on a streaming platform.

Where to watch it: Amazon Prime Video

Mumbai Saga (Disappointment)

Sanjay Gupta’s long-awaited multi-starrer, which was touted to break the dry spell at the box office, opened to mixed response and was unable to draw audiences to cinemas. The film, starring John Abraham and Emraan Hashmi, is based on the Mumbai underworld rivalry, which was quite popular in the 80s and 90s. John Abraham plays the role of a Mumbai gangster while Emraan plays a cop.

Where to watch it: Amazon Prime Video

Pagglait (Surprise)

Sanya Malhotra delivers a memorable performance in Umesh Bist’s black comedy-drama Pagglait, which is a nuanced story of a woman, Sandhya, coming into her own following the death of her husband just five months after their arranged marriage.

Where to watch it: Netflix

The Big Bull (Disappointment)

Comparisons may be unfair, but the web series, Scam 1992, also about Harshad Mehta was expertly paced, scripted, and performed by Pratik Gandhi with a flourish. Abhishek Bachchan pales here, and The Big Bull, in the end, looks like, well, “bull”.

Where to watch it: Disney+ Hotstar

Silence… Can You Hear It? (Surprise)

The film received largely positive reviews from critics and viewers. Manoj Bajpayee was praised for his intense portrayal of the hot-headed ACP Avinash who is assigned the murder case of a retired Justice’s daughter.

Where to watch it: ZEE5

Radhe (Disappointment)

Salman Khan-starrer Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai was the first biggest release of 2021. But unfortunately, the year’s biggest film turned out to be the biggest disaster. The film was panned by critics for its meaningless screenplay and poor execution. In the film, Salman plays a cop on a mission to rid Mumbai of its drug menace.

Where to watch it: ZEE5

Ajeeb Daastaans (Surprise)

Ajeeb Daastaans comprises four short films including Shashank Khaitan’s Majnu, Raj Mehta’s Khilauna, Neeraj Ghaywan’s Geeli Pucchi and Kayoze Irani’s Ankahi. Out of these four films, Ghaywan’s Geeli Pucchi got the maximum attention and praises for handling caste, sexuality, privilege with utmost maturity and sensitivity. Geeli Pucchi, starring Konkona Sensharma and Aditi Rao Hydari, revolves around two women, one upper caste, newly married and hired to do a desk job, and the other a factory worker denied the same job for coming from a lower caste.

Where to watch it: Netflix

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