The year 2018 saw some interesting movies that made the news or generated debates.
Here are a few that stood out:
This remained perhaps the most controversial film of the year. Karni Sena, a right wing outfit burned the sets and launched a massive protest against what they believed were romantic scenes between Rani Padmavati and invader Khilji. After court interventions and several cuts, the movie was finally released but not before launching a huge debate over the freedom of creative expression. Ultimately the movie ended up receiving criticism over stereotyping of Muslims as ‘barbaric others’ and glorification of the practice of Sati.
The film based on the life of entrepreneur Muruganantham who introduced low cost sanitary napkins started much needed conversations on breaking stigma around menstruation. While the film fared modestly, the issues of menstrual health and hygiene, normalizing the discourse around periods and the unmet need for safe and affordable sanitary products for women across rural India gained traction.
By Meghna Gulzar was applauded for dealing with patriotism and the idea of nationalism with the sensitivity that is missing in the present discourse. The film based on the book ‘Calling Sehmat’ on a true account of a RAW agent who marries into a Pakistani military family to relay information emerged as one of the highest grossing films of the year. The film was praised for depicting love for the nation with sensitivity, without unnecessary chest thumping, and without the demonizing of the Pakistanis.
This movie was discussed more on what it missed out than what it got right. Seen as a glamourized launch vehicle for star kids, it compared very unfavorably to the original Marathi language Sairat it was based on. Sairat raised the very valid issue of inter-caste love and caste violence – a point mostly neglected by the Bollywood version.
Veere di Wedding and Manmarziyaan:
Both movies centered on feisty and independent female leads albeit in a different class and cultural milieus. These movies depicted women with unabashed sexual desires, ambivalence towards love and matrimony, their rebellion against conservative and patriarchal family norms and attempts to navigate relationships on their own terms.
This middle class drama/comedy won hearts for touching a subject few are ready to talk about – sex lives of older parents. The film poignantly explores how a family overcomes its taboos and prejudices to embrace the celebration of love and life.
This Hindu-Muslim love story has been banned by the state government, citing law and order situation after BJP functionaries protested that the film “encouraged love jihad” and “hurt Hindu sentiments”. This comes after Uttrakhand HC had disposed of a petition that sought a ban on the film saying that who didn’t like it, needn’t watch it. Again this has raised questions on the freedom of speech and expression.
The year is ending with two three controversial trailers. The trailer of ‘The Accidental Prime Minister’ has been critiqued for presenting a biased account of years of Dr Manmohan Singh government. The fact that the trailer was promoted by the official BJP Twitter handle did not go down well with many who argued that this made it clear that it was clearly a propaganda film by BJP before the elections. The trailer ‘Thackeray’ based on the life of Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackerey was critiqued for an uncritical presentation of a very controversial figure. On a positive note, the trailer of ‘Ek Ladki ko Dekha toh Aisa Laga’ was universally applauded for depicting a same sex love story by mainstream actors and cinema.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.