2017 has been a year of surprises and we aren’t even remotely referring to the recently concluded Gujarat elections. While all the political drama that ensued in Gujarat in the run-up to the assembly polls kept us glued to television sets (and mobile screens, of course) in the last couple of months, Bollywood kept us entertained with some crackling chemistry between the most unusual of jodis in movies that made the year memorable.
Shah Rukh Khan-Nawazuddin Siddiqui in Raees
First on our list is the absolutely paisa vasool chemistry between Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Shah Rukh Khan in Raees. The scenes between the two leading men elicited a more thunderous reception from the audience than the ones between Mahira and SRK. The chase sequences, the well-crafted punchlines and the nuanced dialogue delivery make every frame that the actors share look terrific.
As the movie progresses, you don’t want the repartee between Raees, the bootlegger and Majmudar, the relentless cop to stop. This thrilling interplay between Shah Rukh and Nawaz is even more entertaining than a Tom and Jerry saga.
If I were to describe their chemistry in one word, I’d probably go with “electrifying”. So, if you haven’t already watched Raees, go do it now!
Women in Lipstick Under My Burkha
While Raees is a typical Bollywood masala movie, Lipstick Under My Burkha makes a strong feminist statement. The camaraderie between the four women protagonists shakes our collective consciousness and that is why it ought to be celebrated.
Though the stories almost run parallel with the women sharing very few scenes, the ones where they are seen sharing each others’ ordeals make for the most relatable ones. Aren’t we all fighting misogyny and patriarchy in some form or the other?
Lipstick Under My Burkha evokes myriad emotions but its strength lies in the fact that it, at no point, makes it overwhelming or didactic. The last scene where the protagonists – bearing catastrophic consequences of their rebellion – come together is one of the few where all four share screen space. But it is here, perhaps, where they unabashedly own up to their desires, at the same time exemplifying female bonding.
They have all been discarded by society. Have been told their place. But how does it matter? They nonchalantly share a cigarette, draw strength from each other and relish their newfound freedom. That is liberation – we are told in no certain terms. But it is reassuring to see them have each others’ back.
Zaira Wasim-Meher Vij in Secret Superstar
Secret Superstar lays bare the affectionate bond between a mother-daughter duo – yet another example of endearing female bonding.
For a film that has Aamir Khan in it, talking about two other characters and the effortless chemistry they share is certainly not the norm. But Zaira Wasim and Meher Vij shine in a film which takes the audience through the spectrum of emotion.
What makes Insiya (Wasim) and Najma’s (Vij) partnership heartfelt is how these two women, stranded in a world of domestic violence and orthodox mindsets, find refuge in each other. More than a mother-daughter duo, they are best friends. Remember how Insiya propels her mother to end her claustrophobic marriage? Or how Najma fights against all odds to keep Insiya’s dream alive? That she fought a fierce battle to bring Insiya into the world is another testimony to her unsaid commitment to her child.
The bond between Zaira Wasim and Meher Vij is the heart of the film – they laugh together, confide in each other, experience their shared pain with fortitude and help each other break free.
Vidya Balan-Neha Dhupia in Tumhari Sulu
However, it doesn’t always take a family member to help you achieve your dream. It could very well be a mentor, a teacher or even your boss. It is in this context that the subtle yet powerful camaraderie between Neha Dhupia and Vidya Balan in Tumhari Sulu deserves a mention. For a movie that was lauded from all quarters, the fact that this partnership didn’t garner as much attention comes as a bit of a surprise.
That Sulu guards her ambitions unfettered is inspiring in every bit but credit must be given to Maria Sood for giving wings to her desires.
It is the boss woman Maria Madam who gives Sulu the opportunity of a lifetime. It is she who, although after initial hesitation, identifies the potential in Sulu to become an RJ. Maria (Neha Dhupia) constantly nudges Sulu to get better at her job, celebrates her success and applauds her for beautifully balancing work and home. And when Sulu chooses to leave, she lets her go.
Perhaps, Maria Sood – tirelessly rallying behind her pupil – is the boss we all need. That of course, demands from us perseverance and spunk equallying Sulu’s.
There are films like Tumhari Sulu which leave you with a smile and then there are those that keep you on the edge. Ittefaq is the latter – a taut thriller that keeps audiences glued to their seats.
Akshaye Khanna-Sidharth Malhotra in Ittefaq
Ittefaq keeps shuttling between past and present with a measured cop on a mission to solve a double murder mystery. Sonakshi and Sidharth hardly match up to Akshaye Khanna’s heroics, who is actually the star of the film. He is pitch perfect and is given the best dialogues in the film. His unflinching commitment to uncover the criminal seems palpable but equally nerve-wrecking is the battle of wits between the no-nonsense cop and man on the run (for the murder of his wife).
As the movie nears its end – guided by some of the most unexpected turns and twists – it’s hard to take sides. Nonetheless, the impeccable love-to-hate-you chemistry between the men makes the whodunnit’s big revelation an absolute delight.
Ayushmann Khurrana-Rajkummar Rao in Bareilly Ki Barfi
Keeping the best for the last, I’d even give in to the temptation of bestowing on Ayushmann Khurrana and Rajkummar Rao the title of ‘best onscreen chemistry’ of the year 2017. Their charm is contagious. They are exceptional as Pritam Vidrohi (Rajkummar Rao) and Chirag Dubey (Khurrana). And boy, they have an almost infectious chemistry which makes sure there isn’t a single dull moment in the movie.
The ingenious dialogues – mostly directed at bringing the other down without an ounce of boorishness – are delivered with charming self-assuredness. This is where where Bareilly ki Barfi packs a powerful punch. The constant nudging and bullying between Khurrana and Rao keeps the audience chuckling at all times. We are convinced beyond a doubt that they are a perfect match for each other with their endless repartee.
At no point does it become monotonous and that is where the director Ashwini Iyer Tiwari scores. But coming back to the men in question, while Ayushmann plays to perfection his role of a jilted lover, Rajkummar Rao adds chutzpah to the movie. When the two come together on the screen, the movie takes flight.