The First Annual Golden Bananas

The First Annual Golden Bananas

For films released between January 2008 and February 2009

The hardest thing about writing an introduction to these new awards — awards that celebrate the worst of Hindi-language cinema — is avoiding a first-sentence pun about their a-peel. Phew, now that we’ve gotten that slippery bit out of the way, here’s what the awards are all about: The Golden Bananas are given out to the most awful Hindi films — the most pathetic legitimate releases, not the B-grade sort, that wouldn’t be fair — and these are awards that single out people who deserve far worse than a gilt-wrapped fruit.

The categories themselves are self-explanatory, and we see this cruelty as just payback to the nominees for making us sit through their execrable films.

Yet we suggest the recipients hold on to their Bananas with pride. They are, after all, the only awards they deserve.

Worst Original Screenplay

The nominees are:

Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi

Yuvvraaj

Fashion

Drona

Love Story 2050

It was a hard category to even find five films for, but here goes: A director so in love with his own great debut that he can’t get beyond constantly trying to recapture its glory; Another director firmly caught in a timewarp two decades old; Another who, like an assembly line, picks at various industries and singles out their most hackneyed and stereotypical ‘flaws;’ A film that tries hard to be a cross between Harry Potter and Indiana Jones and ends up becoming a witless stoner movie; And a screenplay that borrows so much from so many sources and makes such a hash of it that it can’t be called anything but original.

And the Banana goes to: Love Story 2050. The fact that a script like this — cribbed from a slew of time-travel movies and made into one without a single iota of coherence — is bankrolled shows exactly what is most alarmingly wrong with our producers.

(Who wins Worst Actress? What line of dialogue justifies screenwriter-slaughter? Read on, after the jump)

Worst ‘Adapted Screenplay’

Shaurya

Ghajini

Dil Kabaddi

Ugly Aur Pagli

God Tussi Great Ho

By ‘adapted’ we obviously mean straight-from-DVD films, and here are five particularly gruesome rip-offs: Rahul Bose stars as Tom Cruise in a horribly wooden remake of Rob Reiner’s A Few Good Men; Aamir Khan adding two hours of romance and much man-cleavage to Christopher Nolan’s Memento; A frame-by-frame remake of Woody Allen’s Husbands & Wives, deplorable coming from the arthouse crowd; A sluggish and charmless remake of the delightul Korean film, My Sassy Girl; And Bruce Almighty weakly distilled for Bollywood with Salman Khan going at it in the Jim Carrey role.

And the Banana goes to: Shaurya. Rahul Bose cockily asserting on a news channel that he hasn’t seen A Few Good Men and then going on to say ‘the Minissha Lamba character plays a journalist while the Demi Moore character plays a lawyer’ is reason enough, but this film and its hideous take on Hindu-Muslim feuding in our military is irresponsible enough to be injurious.

Worst Casting decision

The nominees are:

Rani Mukerji in Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic

Abhishek Bachchan in Drona

Imran Khan in Kidnap

Paresh Rawal in Oye Lucky Lucky Oye

Kangna Ranaut in Fashion

It’s a tough category, this: A chubby Bengali actress cast as an annoyingly exuberant Punjabi angel; a laidback out of shape actor playing a scowling loser cum superhero; a fresh-faced serenader trying desperately hard to look angry as hell; the year’s best performer (in Mumbai Meri Jaan) turning out to be the one guy who gets the accents wrong in the year’s finest film, a fact that kinda jars on the nerves; and a pretty girl who should never be given an English line here weighed down by swear words.

And The Banana goes to: Kangna Ranaut in Fashion. Her shrill ‘basterds! basterds’ shrieks — a precursor to Quentin Tarantino’s curiously spelt Inglourious Basterds — are already the stuff of legend.

Most Cringeworthy Dialogue

These nominees need elaboration, so here we paraphrase:

Love Story 2050: Harman Baweja and Priyanka Chopra are eating hotdogs and he is trying to comment on just how boring her life is. He then ingenuously likens her life to a hotdog with something missing, and instead of stressing the lack of mustard or relish, says, ‘Your life is like a hotdog without a sausage.’ Um, really.

Yuvvraaj: Salman Khan gets into a hit and run (ha!) and brother Anil Kapoor takes the rap. A much-chastened Khan goes to bail out Kapoor, and encounters an Austrian cop who asks why Kapoor took the blame for the accident. Khan, rolling Rs as only he can, says, ‘He’s my brrotherr.’ The cop is unimpressed, and asks, ‘So.’ Salman takes a deep breath and delivers the coup de grace: ‘He’s an Indian brotherr.’ ‘Aaah,’ says the newly enlightened copper.

Chandni Chowk To China: Akshay Kumar has just buffed up using something called the Iron Forearm technique. He proceeds to take Deepika Padukone into these arms, saying (roughly translated), ‘It’s just iron forearms for now. Soon I will have iron legs, an iron chest, an iron stomach..’ Here he pauses to look down pointedly, and Deepika coyly clamps a hand on his mouth, saying ‘Bas bas.’ Kumar shrugs off this protest and growls, ‘Now my entire body is made of iron.’ Deepika looks at him dreamily and says, ‘Ohhh, mere iron man!’

And the Banana goes to: It’s a tie, believe it or not, between Love Story 2050 and Chandni Chowk To China. One would never have thought the hotdog line could possibly have any competition for the Golden Banana, but the way a simpering Deepika evokes our current favourite superhero pushes it into the impossibly bad league. This one’s a banana-split.

Worst Director

The nominees are:

Nikhil Advani – Chandni Chowk To China

Aditya Chopra – Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi

Ram Gopal Varma – Phoonk

Murugadoss – Ghajini

Kunal Kohli – Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic

It’s a category where we’ve taken actual directors, choosing to ignore debutants, doting producer daddies and former actors who suddenly consider themselves worthy of making movies. Here, scarily enough, are bonafide directors who really messed up: Nikhil Advani shows no sense of balance in his Chandni Chowk To China, going from corny over-the-top buffoonery to complete bad 80s melodrama, and not doing any of it well; Aditya Chopra achieves the near-impossible by making a film where the first ten minutes could actually segue into the last ten minutes without the two and a half hours in between, and does it glorifying his own film all the while; Ram Gopal Varma, former master of horror cinema, makes an inadvertently funny film that literally forces the audience to eat crow; Murugadoss makes his Hindi film debut with a horribly romanticised version of Memento that throws skilful plotting and non-linearity out the window, only to replace it with a very dated love story; and Kunal Kohli adds dollops of ghee to a very Punjabi version of Mary Poppins as he robs Saif Ali Khan of the ability to smile and Amisha Patel of clothes.

And the Banana goes to: Nikhil Advani, for showing the sort of absolute, unredeemable ineptitude which makes us question if he actually visited the sets while his film was shot. His first film Kal Ho Naa Ho was deftly made, but Salaam-E-Ishq and Chandni Chowk To China scarily exemplify the Bollywood bloat.

Worst Actor

The nominees are:

Harman Baweja – Love Story 2050

Akshaye Khanna – Race

Salman Khan – Yuvvraaj / God Tussi Great Ho

Amitabh Bachchan – The Last Lear

Abhishek Bachchan – Drona

It’s a pretty tight contest: There’s a debutant doing absolutely everything he can in his power to look like a reigning superstar, short of tacking on a prosthetic thumb; There’s a man successfully trying to get an actual salary for making blowfish-faces and pouting instead of doing anything remotely acting related; There’s a former stud showing off his hairweave and an increasingly ludicrous accent to prove himself the most annoying leading man around; There’s an absolute icon taking on an English-language role and making his fans cringe with his insanely hammy performance; and there’s his son trying hard to frown his way to intensity in a super-hero film where he’s out-performed by a CGI flower petal.

And the Banana goes to: Harman Baweja for Love Story 2050, for doing the kind of Hrithik Roshan impersonation that wouldn’t even be accepted at the Great Indian Laughter Challenge. Grow your own identity, young man.

Worst Actress

The nominees are:

Deepika Padukone – Bachna Ae Haseeno / Chandni Chowk To China

Rani Mukerji – Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic

Priyanka Chopra – Love Story 2050

Asin – Ghajini

Urmila Matondkar – Karzzzz

Ah, the girls have been rather spectacularly terrible this year: Deepika Padukone is jawdroppingly stunning and has one of the industry’s finest bodies, but it’s positively painful to watch her amble through celluloid, making Katrina Kaif look like Konkona Sensharma in comparison; Rani Mukerji’s had her share of well-deserved spotlight and impressed for many years now, but this pathetic angel turn had us all wishing Beelzebub would soon make a fatal appearance; Priyanka Chopra has terrific potential, but spent this film overdoing expressions — pout, blink eyelids, pout, rinse repeat — with all the subtlety of a pornstar; Asin did well in the Southern original but somehow was blinded by the star power of Aamir Khan, blinded and stultified, into giving a performance that earned her the suffix -ine; and Urmila Matondkar channeled her inner Rakhi Sawant as she squeezed into tacky outfits and spoke in English that made Kangna Ranaut sound like a Duchess.

And the Banana goes to: Urmila Matondkar for Karzzzz, because it’s no mean feat spending all day on sets with Himesh Reshammiya and making him feel like he isn’t the worst actor around.

Worst Film

The nominees are:

Love Story 2050

Chandni Chowk To China

Drona

Hello

Kidnap

It’s a mixed bunch vying for the big prize: A derivative fantasy farce where the only science-fiction is the belief that the filmmaker’s son can be a star; a film marking the entry of one of the world’s biggest movie studios into India, and showing only how badly even the West falls prey to our madly star-centric system; a superhero movie that looks to Indian mythology for inspiration and comes up soulless, spiritless and stupid; a woefully-acted adaptation of a bestselling novel that revels in random America-bashing and embarrassingly unfunny stereotype-driven gags; and an excessively patchy thriller that goofs up at every level, including tossing up a costume change for the heroine from the time she’s kidnapped to the time she reaches the kidnapper’s lair.

And the Banana goes to: Love Story 2050. Drona and Chandni Chowk To China come very close as they top the scales of wasted budget and potential, but Love Story 2050 is borne out of a different breed of old-school Bollywood shamelessness. Buying a son a sportscar for a birthday is all dandy, but superstardom really oughtn’t be for sale.

The Big Banana

Celebrating special achievement in awfulness

This one is the year’s special award, going to a film that plumbs the depths of mediocrity in a more shameless and exploitative manner than films that might technically be much worse overall products. The Big Banana, the Banana D’or, the Bada Kela, is about the year’s most disgraceful film.

The Big Banana goes to

Fashion

Not just does Madhur Bhandarkar’s ‘hard-hitting exposé’ of the fashion industry not hit hard or expose anything new at all, but there’s some particularly deplorable subversion at work in the film. Aiming at showing Priyanka Chopra’s fall from grace, the film takes her from having an affair with a married man, to taking to drink, to taking to soft drugs, then harder drugs. What then could possibly further her complete descent into hell? Well, the film shows her sleeping with a black man — and then scrubbing herself off because of how unclean she feels.

And then there’s Madhur’s own cameo in the film, where two women point to him at a fashion show and excitedly coo ‘Madhur Bhandarkar, the man who makes realistic films.’ Yeah, right.

Blatant racism and total self-unawareness in the same film? Dude, you deserve the Bada Kela bigtime.

Published in Man’s World, March 2009

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81 Comments

Filed under Year In Review

81 responses to “The First Annual Golden Bananas

  1. Aditi

    Even though I had read this piece before, loved reading it again.
    Now you better not let this die with a single post :)

    Here’s to many more words on this blogsite.
    Cheers to one of my favourite writers – RajaSen!

  2. punkopinion

    What a brilliant read! Totally made my morning. Altho i have to agree with you on whats up there… We also have to agree atleast Indian Cinema has evolved from the boy-meets-girl, boy-loves-girl, girl-cant-marry-boy, have elicit affair, elopes, mess that we once were in!

    Nice. And i dont even like Indian Cinema, just remembered why!

  3. Great post. Just summed up almost everything thats wrong with Bollywood. I am glad I haven’t watched half the movies in here!

  4. I am *so* with you in celebrating the awfulness Fashion. And I see your special love for Love Story 2050, a film I missed. I am saddened that Yuvvraj never got any award. Very unfair, of you Mister Sen. Now, explain – “Paresh Rawal in Oye Lucky Lucky Oye.”

    • Salman came very close but Harman beat him fair and square. Rawal only because he hits a bum note — accent and all — in a film where everyone around his is flawless. I *love* Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye and consider it 2008′s finest film, and so held it up to a much, much higher standard.

  5. FTW!!

    I was thinking of doing a similar piece on the blog, but this satiated my appetite. I guess a special award to ‘LS2050′ for winning most awards, as well, no? or lifetime achievement to Mithunda.

  6. Heh, agree with quite a few choices there, though how come you missed out Jimmy? I thought Mimoh was exceptionally bad in the movie!! In fact, he looked like a mentally deranged chimp who’s lost his way!

    Also, the crow of phoonk deserves to be the best guest appearance banana.

    A ‘sen’sational post! :D Btw, I told a friend of mine who worked in rediff to tell you that I have a blog-crush on you, but I’m sure he hasn’t told you! :D

    Anyway, hoping for more posts from you! :D

  7. Nice categories and great set of nominees. Next year, this time, you could run a parallel award blog show :-) With a twitter poll, blog poll, facebook poll that can be then consolidated and audited by who else, but PWC :-) There’s also “Worst lifetime award” needed :-( Surely the first one should go to a deserving Kanti Shah.

  8. Umm .. disagree with Kanti Shah as the choice for the ‘Lifetime A-kela award’.

    I watched Loha and Gunda and they both showcase Kanti Shah as an exceptionally talented man. You need courage and intelligence to make those two classics. And I am not .. really … am not joking.

  9. Super fun read! Looking forward to more Raja!
    You make me want to watch all these movies (oh and especially the winners) considering i have watched, trust me, none of these!!!

    (oh – except ghajini)

  10. Amrita

    I was going to give you major props for sitting through Love Story 2050 and then I remembered what you do for a living :D

    And pls stop making me want to watch Yuvvraaj. One of these days I’ll get trashed and make my friends watch it and then I’ll have to spend the next one year making it up to them.

    • Darling, watch LS 2050, I beseech you.

      Take a gang together, get very hammered/high, and trip on Boman Irani playing a cross between a Lhasa Apso, Albert Einstein and Christopher Lloyd from Back To The Future — Yuvvraaj doesn’t even come close, despite Salman saying ‘Aaaiiyyaammm a bad man.’

  11. Cheers to my favourite Bollywood reviewer!
    PS: I don’t get why the commentators at rediff slam your reviews so much. You rock!

  12. I still remember how everyone around me was raving about Fanaa and the only other person in the world going BLEAH with me was you. Been a fan of your reviews since then, especially when movies get Simon-Cowelled by you!

    I do a Bollywood series on my blog too (http://sayesha.blogspot.com/search/label/Sayesha%20smitten%20showbiz%20kitten) where I indulge in a bit of Simon-Cowelling myself. :)

  13. Good to see you trying to blog again! Your ‘spotboy’ was too spotty in its regularity. Hopefully you’ll find enough time and motivation to blog here.

    You happen to be one of only two indian reviewers whose reviews I read nowadays. Brangan is the other. (But I must confess that he is my favorite by a loooong way :P )

    As for this post, the only movies that I have seen among those nominated are Ghajini and RNBDJ. Fashion was probably the only other than I came close to watching, but then I couldn’t get myself to watch another Madhur Bhandarkar movie pretending to be realistic but presenting the most cynical view of the world possible. I hate it when someone says that Madhur Bhandarkar makes ‘well researched’, realistic movies. And it is amazing how many people hold that view!

  14. Dude, your banana split had me in splits :P It’s a great start. Now let’s get some cricket in here

  15. Ha ha, Nice one.
    I wrote an awards post last year, thnx for reminding me to do it this year as well.

  16. Vijay

    Brilliant Stuff Dude. Can you believe some of these movies nominated here actually made it to Filmfare and scores of other award final nominations. And I completely agree, Kangana was woefully miscast in Fashion? From her first movie (Gangster–I remember your review about her lovely ringlets of hair and the fact that you had to do one thing you hadnt done until then–go and watch an Emraan Hashmi film), she has only done roles that have involved her screaming all over the place. If it isnt Basterds , its something else. I have never seen her in a role where she doesnt have to scream.

    You should also include this category next time around! Worst Superstar Cameo , with a number of movies these days involving’ Cameo” appearances or extended guest appearances involving “Superstars”

    • Thanks a bunch. Worst Superstar Cameo is a pretty valid category, next time for sure. In recent films a certain jalebee-after-death moment comes to mind in that context.

  17. Vijay

    And , that scene in which she is drunk/stoned and she is at Mugda Godse’s character’s wedding, she suddenly just raises a toast and I was cringing to hear her speak in her english and she just said “Cheers” or some such thing. The scene seemed so out of place???

  18. Great site this rajasen.wordpress.com and I am really pleased to see you have what I am actually looking for here and this this post is exactly what I am interested in. I shall be pleased to become a regular visitor :)

  19. DevilsGrave

    I absolutely love your reviews and you are spot on almost all the times. I did have the patience to watch Drona not because I liked it but I wanted to see how much pain I can go through before giving in. Now going by your descriptions here I don’t think I can sit through LS2050 and other crappy movies for even 30 mins. And you are absolutely right about Fashion. Even though it wasn’t that bad a movie but that one scene that showed Priyanka going crazy after sleeping with a black man was an absolute wtf moment. Why stoop so low?

    And RNBDJ was actually good. I don’t know why you included it and so was Ghajini. But the top award should have gone to CC2C. Can’t believe people still make movies like this. I am still waiting for someone to top Omkara and Maqbool. That was film making at its finest.

    Keep going Raja Sen.

  20. Nice write up..an eye opener of sorts considering the fact that I have rightly missed most the movies.( Gave it a miss)

    Dialogues were hilarious..good nominations.:)

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