Ajnabee for me was a watershed moment in movie-watching. For this is a film where the fate of Akshay Kumar's painstakingly accumulated $100 mn rests on Bobby Deol's surreal memory. A film where the intense climax takes place aboard a cruise ship set to cross the Swiss border (completely unrelated trivia: Switzerland is a land-locked country). A film where a murder suspect escapes border patrol through the most ingenious use of a carrot since gajar ka halwa. A film where the legendary Johnny Lever turns detective. A film where the mighty Bobby Deol during a morning run furiously fantasizes about his wife cheating on him with his neighbor.
Ajnabee is the film that introduced me to the vast realm of guilty pleasure cinema. Thank you, Abbas and Mustan.
Top moment: Three words – Everything Was Planned. Hindi cinema was never the same again.
Much before Anubhav Sinha was making grounded political dramas with actual actors, he was indulging his blockbuster side with hyper-stylized multi-starrers. Featuring the who's who of Bollywood's B-list, Dus is about a bunch of cops racing against time to prevent a terrorist attack in picturesque Canada. The film hasn't aged very well – the climax especially where everyone's talking a team member out of sacrificing his life is a laugh riot. But my takeaways remain Junior Bachchan's matchless coolth, Shilpa Shetty's roundhouse kicks, and a gloriously demented turn from Pankaj Kapur. Of course, any resemblance to The Usual Suspects was purely coincidental. I've always believed Dus was superior to the Dhoom series, simply because there's more of a plot here, even if it gets too overwrought. While Sinha might have messed up with Cash and Ra.One, a part of me is still hopeful for that ever-elusive sequel to Dus.
Top moment: "Poora stadium Dan!" yells a freaked out Zayed Khan about when he sees a car bomb. It ends up destroying one tree.
Blue (short for Blue Cheese, I'm sure) was India's first attempt at an underwater thriller, where a bunch of rich people battle an army of rubber sharks to retrieve a treasure chest from a sunken ship. Sounds fun, and it sure is, for different reasons. The film takes ridiculous amounts of time to get to the point – the aforementioned heist happens only in the third act, preceding which there are countless bike chases, shootouts, fisticuffs, Kylie Minogue uncomfortably shimmying on stage (not AR Rahman's finest hour), and some of the clunkiest dialogue you will ever hear – "Duniya ka sabse bada nasha, risk", says Akshay Kumar at one point. Katrina Kaif pops up with a pierced chin and a hidden agenda, and also features in a climactic rug-pull that turns this exotic adventure into an 'It's all about loving your grandfather' weepie.
Top moment: Akshay Kumar riding his bike off a yacht and breathing underwater from one of the tires. BALLOOOOO!
It's rather unfortunate that one look at the star cast could turn away even the most avid moviegoers, because Players truly is a class apart. Lines like "Russia hai toh mafia toh hoga hi", Sonam Kapoor as a hacker-cum-seducer, Neil Nitin Mukesh as a criminal mastermind-cum-pervert with a signature line ("Open the door baibaay"), more lines like "Aakhri twist villain ka nahi, hero ka hota hai", Johnny Lever in a double-role, and the majestic Bobby Deol as a magician who creates a moving illusion and, you know, sticks it on a train window to fool the soldiers inside it – this globetrotting, relentlessly twisty caper from the stable of Abbas-Mustan (them again!) is the kind of stuff drinking games were invented for.
Top moment: Abhishek Bachchan transferring gold bricks from one speeding train to another. Yes, it is exactly what it sounds like.
In this sumptuous buffet of bad acting, bad writing and bad, bad filmmaking, Arjun Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor are star-crossed lovers whom the universe conspires to keep apart. Based on the worst Chetan Bhagat book of them all (and that's saying a lot!) the film is packed with howlers from start to finish. Arjun's thick Bihari accent is one for the ages, as is Shraddha's warbling of English songs in a chipmunk voice every time she's sad. The two keep escaping to the roof of the India Gate for a date, like normal people do, no biggie, and it's a telling of how obnoxious the guy is that at one point the woman fakes her own death and moves to another continent to avoid him.
No, of course he doesn't learn his lesson. Yes, of course they get together in the end.
There are multiple iterations and derivations of the word 'half', pronounced as 'haph', because, umm…never mind, and the basketball scenes, where body doubles are used for dribbling and jumping, and shooting, are flat-out hilarious.
Top moment: A man with a mug of Bill Gates digitally superimposed on his face, plodding with Arijit Singh's voice in the background. Priceless.