'Geeli Pucchi' to Salman's 'Antim': Bollywood & OTT's Best and Worst of 2021

Neeraj Ghaywan and Abhishek Chaubey wove magic on screen in 2021, but Salman Khan didn't have a great year.

4 min read

Cinema halls opened with renewed hope and then abruptly shut down again all in the span of one year. Watching films and shows on OTT platforms became a staple for those seeking entertainment or yearning for a worthy distraction. While there have been more misses than hits this year some of the lessons that Bollywood has taught us have been memorable. Here’s what we know:

Best Way to Tackle Anthologies Is to Trust Neeraj Ghaywan and Abhishek Chaubey

It has been raining anthologies and while most seem half baked uneven ventures, one of the finest films this year was Geeli Pucchi which helped make Ajeeb Daastaans richer. Caste has always played a significant role in Ghaywan’s stories but here it’s not just caste privilege but gender and sexuality that have been dexterously woven in.

The exuberant performances by Konkona Sen Sharma and Aditi Rao Hydari further add texture to a brilliantly insightful film. In Ankahi Kahaniya, sandwiched between two rather tepid stories is a gem of a film by Abhishek Chaubey about love, longing and the fierce need to let desire take flight. Also, his Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa was the best in the Ray anthology.


Stop Underestimating Vaani Kapoor

While Ayushman Khurrana was on home turf playing Chandigarh ka gabru jawaan, it was Vaani Kapoor who was the surprise package in Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui… Hers was a tough role playing a trans woman but Vaani gave her character an authentic depth of emotions. A woman wary of how she will be perceived, trying to live life by her convictions, Vaani imbues Maanvi with a quiet sense of dignity that the role deserved.

Taapsee Hai Toh Mumkin Hai

Taapsee Pannu has been pretty consistent with her choice of films and has managed to keep us riveted with her performances. Be it the whimsical housewife Rani in Haseen Dillruba or a feisty and focused athlete in Rashmi Rocket.

Neeraj Ghaywan and Abhishek Chaubey wove magic on screen in 2021, but Salman Khan didn't have a great year.

Taapsee Pannu in Haseen Dillruba and Rashmi Rocket.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)


Nothing Succeeds Like Cricket

The glue that binds Indians together- cricket- definitely is a national obsession. And when on-field triumph translates to a great on-screen portrayal, it’s sheer joy. 83 is a competently made ode to the game of cricket and the team that made all Indians feel like champions. The carefully chosen cast led by a scintillating Ranveer Singh as Kapil Dev was a definite high point of the year.

It’s All About Loving Your Family Non-Barjatya Style

There was a deceptive ease in the way films like Ram Prasad ki Tehrvi and Pagglait introduced us to authentic emotions and delicate relationships. We were glad to finally see families that felt intimate, fresh and authentic.


When Silence Trumps Background Score

Films like Amit V Masurkar’s Sherni, Ivan Ayr’s Meel Patthar and Shoojit Sircar ‘s Sardar Udham showed us how to work the silent moments beautifully by exercising remarkable restraint. No artless emotional manipulation, dramatic music and yet the message is efficiently and delicately conveyed. Even Shershaah did well by teaching us that a film on deshbhakti needs heart and not hate.

Neeraj Ghaywan and Abhishek Chaubey wove magic on screen in 2021, but Salman Khan didn't have a great year.

(Photo Courtesy: Twitter)

Now time to evaluate the not-so-great films that came our way and the lessons Bollywood should learn…fast:

Jab Ek John Se Expressions Nahi Aate, Toh 3 Johns Se Try Na Karein!

Truth be told one of the most painful memories of 2021 was Satyameva Jayate 2 and a John troika that crossed all levels of absurdity.

Must Stop the “Salman Khan Rozgaar Yojna”

Radhe was a cringe fest and then came Antim with dear brother in law Aayush Sharma. Salman Khan is known for his large-heartedness but now is not the time to help family and friends find a footing in the industry but an urgent need to resurrect his own 'bhai' brand. We need a fun Salman Khan film and we need it soon!

Neeraj Ghaywan and Abhishek Chaubey wove magic on screen in 2021, but Salman Khan didn't have a great year.

Salman Khan and Aayush Sharma in Antim: The Final Truth.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)


Dear Akshay Kumar, Stop With the Saviour Complex Yaar!

We are bored of being saved, first in Bell Bottom, then Sooryavanshi. So much so that even Akshay Kumar’s presence couldn’t save Atrangi Re from being so blah! Time for a new formula maybe?

Let Bygones be Bygones

Why force a completely unnecessary sequel of Bunty Aur Babli that no one, absolutely no one, asked for?

Aur Kitni Zubaan Kesari, Dear Ajay?

There are many moments in our country’s history that make us mighty proud but must we bring them all on screen, that too with badly written dialogues and a loud background score that do nothing but push us towards the end credits! What actually happened in Bhuj was phenomenal, but the film Bhuj: the Pride of India...not quite!

Where’s the Love?

While off screen, our star jodis are shining bright, what must we do to get a decent enough love story on screen ? Shiddat, Hum Do Hamare do and Meenakshi Sundareshwar made us balk at the idea of love and it's just plain heart-breaking.

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Topics:  Sooryavanshi   Salman Khan   Akshay Kumar 

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