1. A Wednesday!
I still can’t come to terms with the fact that this film was made by a first-time director. What talent! Not only is Neeraj Pandey’s A Wednesday! a gripping experience at the movies, but it’s taken an oft-repeated storyline and put the perfect twist on it. All said and done, this film is unbelievably relevant at this point in time and says so clearly what so many of us want to say. Never before have I been so glued to a fifteen-minute monologue than I was while watching Naseerudin Shah during the concluding portions of the film. We’re so used to watching films about larger than life characters or people in situations we have never been in—but A Wednesday! connects with all of us on such a personal level. It’s insightful, powerful and as mentioned, so relevant. Forget about this year, A Wednesday! is one of the best films Hindi cinema has seen in a very, very long time.
Unfortunately, we can only limit this list to ten films and the following flicks missed the top ten by a very small margin.
Welcome to Sajjanpur — A satirical comedy on Indian society, Bengal proves how intricately he understands cinema as he’s able to put together a film that appears to be a comedy but in fact is so much deeper than that. Making several social statements without getting preachy, Welcome to Sajjanpur is heart-warming.
Aamir — This is one film that doesn’t let you breathe for a single moment. Gupta, a first-time director, takes us on a great journey with his protagonist who is forced to question himself several times over, forcing audiences to search deep within their minds and ask themselves—what would I do if I was in this situation?
U, Me aur Hum — It may have been inspired by The Notebook to some extent, but Ajay Devgan’s directional debut was a great romantic flick that had just the right emotional quotient to keep us hooked.
Sarkar Raj — Varma’s intensity as a filmmaker translated great on screen, as he brought three of the Bachchan’s together in a power-packed film that turned out to be a fairly riveting crime-drama.
Shaurya — This film was a great dramatic experience with excellent performances but didn’t quite make the list because it’s an obvious remake of a Hollywood film titled A Few Good Men.
What struck all of us when compiling this list is the great diversity we’ve seen on the silver screen this year. Just take a look at this list—Bollywood is finally learning to explore various genres, characters and subjects. Many people claim that Bollywood no longer has the magic it used to in the yesteryears, but this list proves otherwise. 2008 has been a great year of growth for Indian cinemas—for its filmmakers, actors and most importantly, audiences. It may not go down as the year with the most box office returns, but I can safely say that this year, the audience has grown up. Congratulations!