Formerly called The Golden Bananas, the Groanies celebrate the worst in Hindi cinema. Rewarded to the most painful work, the Groanies single out those exemplary underachievers who have stunned us with their mediocrity. And this is only sifting through the legitimate, big-ticket releases — who clearly sometimes outdo their B-grade counterparts.
These are the people and films responsible for many a migraine over the last year, and we feel justified singling them out — if only to point, glare and cackle at.
Yet there is something to be said for being the very bottom of the barrel, the dregs, the scum, the worst of the worst. For this, Groanie winners, we salute you. And sincerely hope these awards are taken in the right spirit: revenge.
Aishwarya Rai, Robot
Like watching a feared fast bowler try vainly to bat, this was just sad. Ash, never the strongest of actresses, was purely embarrassing in SUPERSTAR’s latest smash. She rat-a-tatted eyelids, popped open mouth obscenely wide in astonishment and smirked exaggeratedly, punctuating the proceedings often with an overdone, childish pout. Just when we thought her worst was behind her, here’s a performance to make item-girls rejoice and Barbie-fetishists cringe.
In the same year that his sister Sonakshi had the year’s biggest hit, this Shatrughan-son popped up in a turkey called Sadiyaan, a dated, awfully acted spectacle showcasing a singularly uncharismatic leading man. Almost in tribute to another harebrained 2010 film, Sinha made us, well, hate Luv Storys.
Worst Casting Decision:
Abhishek Bachchan, Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Se / Neil Nitin Mukesh, Lafange Parinde
A tie, this one. Ashutosh Gowariker somehow decided to cast an increasingly annoying and significantly spineless cellphone-salesman as a revolutionary, a leader of men. Meanwhile, Pradeep Sarkar took the palest of our lads, a blue-eyed pretty boy who specialises in looking nervous, and made him a ghetto streetfighter. Not wise, no.
Salman Khan, Veer
Tremendous screen-presence be darned, Khan bellowed his way through this Anil Sharma monstrosity, making it hard to even look at him. Overcommitment to the part scarcely looks this ugly, as Khan — who also wrote this script, apparently taking several years to do so — played a period warrior in leather chaps, his kajal’d eyes frequently bloodshot. Just imagine Conan the Barbarian hitting the clubs on ladies night.
Suhel Seth, Guzaarish
Any current film worth its salt features a celebrity or two popping in, either for a song or in a bit role, essentially showing their allegiance to the filmmaker. Mostly, these are fun or make sense, and it takes an alarming lack of grace to turn two minutes of screentime into a disaster.
Yet when Sanjay Leela Bhansali inexplicably cast the chubby columnist / TV talking-head as a humane doctor, something hadta give. It was impossible to stifle giggles whenever Seth started blubbering, and climactically, when he — tears trickling, porcine cheeks bouncing with emotion — hops aboard the hero’s bed, it marks the only time our heart really goes out to the film’s leading man.
Worst Line of Dialogue:
Ram, having rescued Sita from Raavan’s lair, stands with her on a moving train. His enthusiasm at having her back by his side is dulled by the suspicion that her demonic kidnapper might have rocked the casbah with his wife at some point, and he scowlingly asks if anything happened. She, dignified even when played by a constantly-startled Aishwarya Rai, assures him that nothing has. He can’t believe that, says she was there for a long while. She smiles and reiterates her promise, and he comes up with a solution:
“Toh phir polygraph test le lo,” he grunts, immediately, casually, devastatingly reducing the agni-pariksha of the Ramayana to one of the year’s most tasteless jokes. It is an unbelievably bad line, the nadir of a fatally flawed film.
Worst Original Screenplay:
Siddharth Anand, Anjaana Anjaani
He wants to kill himself because he’s in debt. She wants to kill herself because… well, because she broke up with Zayed Khan, an occasion that should rightfully bring about champagne, not hara-kiri. A pair of inept suicidal losers, they throw their lot in together and journey through bad clichés, the worst of which is his being a virgin who now wants to fall in love and change that — then die. Moronic beyond belief, this.
Worst Unofficially Adapted Screenplay, ie Ripoff:
I must confess I haven’t watched Priyadarshan’s Bum Bum Bole — where the filmmaker takes on Majid Majidi’s classic Children Of Heaven, turning the climax into a sneaker commercial — and have heartfelt sympathy for anyone who actually witnessed that piece of celluloid blasphemy, but what Vipul Shah did to Back To The Future was nothing short of rape.
A Lockhorn’d old couple, all leathery faces and greyed hair, has a son fed up with it all. One night, after a party where a family friend he’s never met starts sexually abusing his father, he goes off to his girlfriend’s uncle’s garage and hijacks his time machine. Back in the 70s, he befriends his geeky father, has horribly awkward birds-and-bees conversations, and tries to set up the square with the shrew. All the time-travel cleverness is sucked out of the script, and yet the film miraculously emerges much longer.
Fie, Vipul Shah. And to do this on BTTF’s 25th anniversary? Sick.
Mani Ratnam, Raavan
One of the country’s most respected filmmakers, Mani Sir showed off a disturbing lack of judgement with this film. Aimed at taking on the black and white good/evil dichotomy of The Ramayana, the film tried to humanise Ravan while showing Ram’s flaws. Except the script went too far, and just reversed the order of light-sabers: suddenly Ravan was valiant and misunderstood, while Ram was cold and monstrous. Add to that Abhishek Bachchan as a schizoid hero bordering on lunacy, making faces at the chaste Aishwarya Rai, generous with cleavage and tears in equal measure. Shudder. The only reason this isn’t Worst Film is Santosh Sivan’s luscious cinematography, but only that much can be said for prettiness in an epic attempt. Raavan is an overtly, childishly literal adaptation, one that shows a great director at his most amateurish.
There is something very, very wrong when a film about suicide makes you desperately want the protagonists to succeed, as soon as possible. It is also most unforgivable to take two of the industry’s best A-listers and straddle them with a film so inert that their most valiant efforts –spontaneity from the boy and short shorts from the girl — aren’t enough to make you give a damn.
There have been numerous insensitive, offensive, clichéd, badly acted films this year: Anjaana Anjaani just happens to be far more boring. And even a silly film about suicide ought be anything but lifeless.
First published Man’s World, February 2010