REFLECTIONS 2014: Box Office Versus Critics

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It’s a given that critics and the box office don’t always agree; one critic’s rubbish is another theatergoer’s paisa vaisool.

2014 proved that with most of the year’s top grossers receiving lukewarm reviews from critics at best.

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Salman Khan’s Eid release Kick was the year’s top grosser in India with 231 crore. According to review aggregating site Weird Angles, Kick got an average score of 5.5 from critics on a scale of 10. Saibal Chatterjee from NDTV gave the movie 2 out of 5 and said “it provides a kick only sporadically,” while Sarita Tanvar from DNA gave the movie 4 stars and called it “a non-stop entertainment and Salman Khan at his best. We here BollySpice only rated it 1.5 stars.

Another Khan holiday release came in second at the India box office: Shahrukh Khan’s Happy New Year (202 crore), which also got mixed reviews an overall 5.1/10. Rediff rated the film 2 out of 5 stars, and said “the film plays out like a spoof from the get go, a gigantic lark where nothing is taken seriously.” Our thoughts were more positive with a 3.5 star rating saying,”Farah Khan is back with a bang.”

Third was Hrithik Roshan and Katrina Kaif’s official Knight and Day remake Bang Bang (181 crore), which got a very low overall rating of 4.3 out of 10 despite praise for its action sequences. Among critics’ comments were “It has some ‘must-haves’ of a pot-boiler, but misses the real thing – a solid story” from India Times (rating 3.5/5) and from two different Rediff critics: “a pointless official remake of an already bad original” and “a stupid, stupid film trying to be slick, a B-grade film made on an A-list budget.” We were left very disappointed with pretty much everything except Hrithik Roshan and only gave the highly anticipated film 2 stars.

Fourth was Ajay Devgn and director Rohit Shetty’s sequel Singham Returns, which drew inevitable comparisons to the 2011 Singham and got a rating of 5.3. Of the Independence Day release, critics said, “The predictable story tires you out eventually” (Rajeev Masand of CNN-IBN, 2.5 stars) and “The Singham is back. This time louder, wilder and more a man-eater” (Times of India, 3 stars). Bollyspice with its 2 star review found the film’s plot full of holes that could not be filled with all the action even if it was Ajay Devgn.

Fifth at the box office was Salman Khan again with 140-crore-grosser Jai Ho, which received many negative reviews and got a 4.7/10 total. Anupama Chopra of Hindustan Times gave it 2.5 stars, saying “it’s not a film. It’s a cartoon … the story is laughably ridiculous or that the characterisation has no depth.” Yahoo Movies gave it 2 stars, saying “The least expectation from a Salman film is that despite its complete disregard for logic, it will succeed in entertaining but ‘Jai Ho’ fails even on that account.” We actually gave it a good review with the last line saying, “So to the Bollywood film lover who wants to see a Salman Khan film, you will enjoy this as you will see him in a ‘slightly’ different role but just as much action to keep your eyes popping. But don’t be surprised if that message lingers in your mind.”

So what were critics’ favorite movies of 2014?

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According to Weird Angles’ aggregator, Kangana Ranaut’s Queen was critics’ favorite movie of 2014, with an overall rating of 8.0. It was undoubtedly the sleeper hit of the year, made on a shoestring budget of 12.5 crore and bringing in a respectable 98 crore. Critics seemed to feel similarly: CNN-IBN gave the film 4/5 stars calling it “rare and disarming.” In our 4 star review we called Queen a must watch film and were full of praise for Kangana Ranaut and the entire cast calling them “flawless”!

Another critical favorite was Vishal Bhardwaj’s Haider (7.1/10), which earned 56 crore. That put it at No. 17, behind such widely panned films as Humshakals and Action Jackson, despite reviews like 5 stars from Rediff saying “Haider is one of the most powerful political films we’ve ever made” and international reviews like the Guardian’s calling it “a palpable hit, in any language.” Haider was one of our highest reviewed films of the year saying, “Haider is a cinematic triumph for Vishal Bhardwaj and the crescendo of his three Shakespearean adaptations.”

Another critical favorite was ensemble movie Finding Fanny (7.2), which earned 35 crore, and Madhuri Dixit-starrer Dedh Ishqiya (6.8), which earned just 27 crore.

One place where critics and the box office have seemed to agree is Aamir Khan’s recently released PK, which had grossed 116 crore in its first week and received a 7.6 overall rating, with Bollywood Hungama noting in a 4.5 star review that it’s “a solid entertainer that will surely entertain the masses and classes alike.” Of the movie, NDTV said, “Bollywood enthusiasts who value their intelligence – and their hard-earned money – finally have reason to rejoice.”

We also have to mention Anurag Kashyap’s Ugly (7.2), which is garnering rave reviews including here at BollySpice which gave it 4.5 stars. “Ugly is the kind of film that must be seen. Not everyone has a taste for an Anurag Kashyap film but if there is one Anurag Kashyap film you’re to watch, it should be Ugly.”

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