Best Of Bollywood Films 2023: An Overview Of Some Impactful Hindi Movies That Did Good Business

2023 has definitely been a far better year for Bollywood in more ways than one. Films like PathaanJawanAnimal, and Gadar 2 have become major blockbusters.

In addition to being blockbusters, both Pathaan and Jawan opened to good reviews.

On the other hand, Animal had mixed reviews. Despite severe criticism about the toxic masculinity promoted in the movie, Animal broke many box office records majorly due to the performances of Ranbir Kapoor, Anil Kapoor, and Bobby Deol.

Gadar 2, as a film, has no emotional impact like its prequel, but there was enough for the hardcore masses to enjoy. Sunny Deol proved he still has the charisma to play a mass hero by pulling off the gravity-defying action sequences.

Apart from these blockbusters, other films that attained hit status include Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani and OMG 2.

2023 has also been a year where not-so-mainstream actors Pankaj Tripathi and Vikrant Massey successfully carried their films on their shoulders. Well, I’m talking about OMG 2 and 12th Fail.

Now, let us get into more details about the best of 2023 Bollywood films, not necessarily the blockbusters.

Pathaan

Siddarth Anand’s globetrotter was an eagerly-awaited movie since it marked Shah Rukh Khan’s comeback to the silver screen as a leading man after a long gap of five years.

Shah Rukh in a still from Pathaan
Shah Rukh in a still from ‘Pathaan’. (X)

Siddarth Anand had a huge responsibility on his shoulders, and the director more than succeeded in delivering a popcorn entertainer with the aid of a fast-paced screenplay by Shridhar Raghavan.

What also made Pathaan the perfect mass entertainer was the strong antagonist in the form of John Abraham.

The combat sequences between Shah Rukh Khan and John were well-executed. John Abraham’s Jim was not just menacing, but he carried an angst. Jim had a solid back story explaining why he did what he did.

Another strong aspect of Pathaan is the backstory of how this spy gets this name. The scenes of Shah Rukh Khan with the locals of Afghanistan have so much warmth in them.

Shah Rukh had a blast playing a full-fledged action hero. He was in equal parts charming and rugged. However, after delivering a series of subpar outings, John Abraham surprised everyone in this action entertainer.

Dimple Kapadia, as the boss lady, was also in fine form.

There were some things in Pathaan which did not quite work. One was the simplistic way the topic of patriotism and the Pakistani angle were dealt with.

Also, the love story between Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika practically jumped out of nowhere.

However, in the final tally, Pathaan was the ideal mass comeback for Shah Rukh Khan.

Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani

Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani and Satyaprem Ki Katha were easily the best romantic films Bollywood produced this year.

Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani poster
A poster of ‘Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani’. (X)

Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani had all the staple elements that one expects from a Karan Johar entertainer.

There were larger-than-life sets and some exquisite costumes, particularly gorgeous saris worn by the women. However, there was more to the film than just mere gloss.

Karan Johar subverted some of his own themes from his previous films — like how fear is camouflaged as respect in our culture. He also made some pertinent points on the side effects of toxic masculinity.

Most importantly, Through the role of Ranveer’s Rocky Randhawa, Karan Johar presented a protagonist willing to change and evolve into a better human being.

Just like Ranbir Kapoor’s Ranvijay Singh in Animal, Rocky does not share the best relationship with his father. But he never uses it as an excuse to become a wild “animal”.

In Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani, many scenes could be watched on repeat mode. The sequences of Rocky flirting with Alia’s Rani Chatterjee in his broken English and her amusement bring a smile to the viewers’ faces.

The decency of Ranveer backing off when Rani clarifies that nothing more can happen between them was refreshing.

The scene where Rani proposed to Rocky in the middle of a road was definitely filmy but adorable, given how Karan switched the gender roles.

A major highlight of Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani was the recreation of the song “Dola Re Dola” from Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas (2002).

Ranveer’s Rocky Randhawa performing Kathak with his prospective father-in-law (Tota Roy Chowdhury) was a pleasant surprise.

The different emotions that Rani Chatterjee went through — from shock, wonder, and finally extreme happiness — were portrayed brilliantly by Alia.

In the second half, the messaging got heavy. Nevertheless, it was not a deterrent.

The performances of the principal cast were brilliant all through, with particular mention of Tota Roy Chowdhury as the Kathak-loving man.

Satyaprem Ki Katha

A still from Satyaprem Ki Katha
A still from ‘Satyaprem Ki Katha’. (X)

Just like Rocky Randhawa in Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani, Kartik Aryan’s Sattu in Satyaprem Ki Katha was also a protagonist willing to evolve and change.

Sattu was initially shown as an underdog well out of Katha’s (Kiara Advani) range.

But circumstances not only bring them together but also get them married.

Katha had a haunting past that was initially assumed to be the result of a bad break-up with her ex-boyfriend. But later, it turned out to be something more sinister.

The film was essentially a relationship drama while dealing with an important social issue like date rape.

Director Sameer Vidwans did a good job of depicting the issue of consent in relationships.

At times, Sattu came across as too patient with Katha, but he was never presented as some social reformer. The change in Sattu happened gradually.

Both Kartik and Kiara delivered brilliant performances.

The supporting cast, led by Gajraj Rao, was also in fine form.

OMG 2

OMG 2 poster
A poster of ‘OMG 2’. (X)

This spiritual sequel to the 2012-released film Oh My God was a compelling social drama that looked at the taboo yet important subject of sex education.

The best part of Amit Rai’s direction was how he normalised the discussions around physical intimacy without making it look awkward or uncomfortable.

One of the standout scenes in OMG 2 was Pankaj Tripathi’s Kanti Sharan Mudgal explaining how the body parts of males and females should be taught in school. Pankaj Tripathi did complete justice to the arc of his role.

Akshay Kumar had an extended cameo as Lord Shiva’s messenger in human form.

In Oh My God, Akshay played Lord Krishna. Much like that film, here too, he played the part with the right amount of divinity.

The scenes of Akshay imparting wisdom to Kanti Sharan were good to watch.

Jawan

Jawan was a film that can ideally be described as a Khichdi of Shankar’s brand of vigilante cinema and Shah Rukh’s Chak De India.

At its core, Jawan was a father-and-son drama with 50 shades of Shah Rukh Khan as both father and son.

Shah Rukh Khan in Jawan
Shah Rukh Khan in ‘Jawan’. (X)

Atlee absolutely nailed these father-son moments besides addressing various grassroots problems like underdeveloped government facilities.

One of the women in Shah Rukh Khan’s vigilante gang was played by Sanya Malhotra. Her backstory was based on a real-life person named Dr Kafeel Khan.

Dr Kafeel Khan was falsely accused of the death of several kids at a hospital where the real issue was a lack of proper facilities along with corruption. Dr Kafeel Khan tried to procure oxygen, but his best efforts failed to save the children.

Yes, the presentation of these grassroots issues was simplistic, but still, it hit the viewers hard.

Jawan also benefitted immensely from Shah Rukh Khan submitting totally to the director’s script and giving it his all.

Nayanthara also made a solid Bollywood debut in her dual-shaded role as a determined NSG commander and a single mother.

On the other hand, Vijay Sethupati made for a good opponent, particularly in the second half.

The same cannot be said about Deepika Padukone and Sanjay Dutt.

The energy dipped during the brief flashback scenes of Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika.

Sanjay Dutt’s extended cameo did not add great value to the proceedings.

Nevertheless, Jawan, on the whole, proved to be “paisa vasool” entertainment.

Jaane Jaan (Netflix)

A poster of Jaane Jaan film
A poster of Bollywood film ‘Jaane Jaan’ . (X)

For those who are not aware, Sujoy Ghosh’s Jaane Jaan was based on the best-selling Japanese novel “Devotion of Suspect X“, which already has many onscreen adaptations.

Jaane Jaan was primarily about a single mother named Maya D’Souza (Kareena Kapoor), who runs a local café.

Maya has a dark past related to her ex-husband (Saurabh Sachdeva). Jaideep Ahlawat, Maya’s neighbour and a Mathematics teacher, secretly loves her but is socially awkward. Every day, he visits the café, leading to some amusing moments.

Maya’s life turns upside down after the re-entry of her ex-husband. From here, the movie goes into the zone of the Drishyam series.

Jaane Jaan was a survival thriller about a determined single mother. In this story, she gets the help of a neighbour who would go to any lengths to save her.

The soul of Jaane Jaan was the relationship dynamics between Kareena Kapoor’s Maya and Jaideep Ahlawat’s Naren. Sujay Ghosh did not miss a single beat in depicting this complex love. He also did complete justice to the novel “Devotion of Suspect X“.

The hill station of Kalimpong also became a character in itself, thanks to Avik Mukhopadhyay’s cinematography.

The scenes between Kareena and Vijay Varma, playing a charming cop for a change, were good to watch.

Both Kareena and Jaideep got into the skin of their characters.

Vijay Varma brought a lot of charm to his scenes.

12th Fail

12th Fail film poster
A poster of the film ’12th Fail’. (X)

12th Fail, directed by Vidhu Vinod Chopra, was a classic underdog drama about a real-life IPS officer — Manoj Kumar Sharma.

The DNA of 12th Fail was quite similar to the underdog stories that Rajkumar Hirani directed — 3 Idiots (2009) and Munna Bhai (2003, 2006) films.

It was meant to give the viewers a warm hug and make them leave the theatres with a happy feeling.

Vidhu Vinod Chopra mostly succeeded in his endeavour. The director, along with his leading man Vikrant Massey, did a wonderful job of showcasing the numerous challenges that Manoj faces.

There were places in the first half where the pace dipped, but having said that, there was also a lot to enjoy, especially if you are a fan of inspirational films based on real life.

Apart from the overall strong performances by technicians, 12th Fail scored distinction marks.

The cinematography of Hemant Wagh, in particular, stood out — whether it was the initial scenes in Chambal or the later ones in Delhi Streets.

Dunki

srk dunki
A still from Rajkumar Hirani’s ‘Dunki’. (X)

Rajkumar Hirani’s Dunki will not do the business of Shah Rukh Khan’s last two films — Pathaan and Jawan, but there is no denying that this is an important film in terms of how it addresses an important social issue.

The issue is about borders existing only for the underprivileged. It presents a hard-hitting tale of immigrants in this case Punjabi migrating to England through illegal means for different
reasons.

The first half of Dunki is mostly a breezy watch, but things take a serious turn just before the interval. Vicky Kaushal has an extended special appearance and is at his usual best.

The comic portions in this film don’t have the brilliance of the Munnabhai MBBS (2003), Three Idiots (2009), and PK (2014), but it recovers ground, particularly in the second half when the proceedings get serious.

The second half shows the many dangers Shah Rukh’s Hardy, Taapsee Pannu’s Manu and others go through to reach London. Here, their utopia comes crashing down. The viewers get a short but powerful glimpse of the menial jobs that these immigrants have to do even after securing citizenship.

One of these immigrants is Vikram Kocchar’s Buggu. Buggu passes the IELTS exam and goes to London legally before Hardy and Manu, but he is still not living a happy life.

Rajkumar Hirani’s directorial skills come out in the second half the way he handles the drama.

One of the things that work for Dunki is the love story between Shah Rukh Khan and Taapsee. Both the actors share a good chemistry in both light and emotional scenes.

Anil Grover and Vikram Kocchar also bring a certain gravitas to their respective parts.

Overall, Dunki is a well-made social film. It is not flawless but there is a lot to take away.

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