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

81 thoughts on “The First Annual Golden Bananas

  1. Excellent piece. Just be careful of running into the Bawejas in future. I cannot help but agree wholeheartedly about the last award going to Fashion. What a pretentious piece of shit! Though I must say I did love Priyanka’s performance (In Fashion of course, not Love Story 2050 :-) )

  2. i usually like your reviews on rediff, but i always used to think u were pretty soft on bad movies, since u would try to find some good in them. but this post is rocking!! and i am proud to say that i have watched almost all the movies in this list, except for LS2050…i still have to work up the courage to sit through that one….hehe

  3. ha ha…thanx a ton Mr. Sen…hd a gr8 afternoon laugh…nd am kinda touched actually…after watching the Filmfares (“the oscars of hindi cinema” as some smug industry damsel pointed out) virtually rape the sensibilities of any discerning film viewer…it’s heartening to see ‘Bada kelas’ being handed out to so many wtf recipients of our prestigious film honours….frm asinine debutantes to basterdious actresses…ur post doesn’t spare ny1!…spare a thought for RNBDJ though…which ws an admittedly mediocre but well intentioned underdog film….n a special kudos to ur choice for the Big Banana…ws painful to see audiences go gaga over Bhandarkar’s potboiler-ish piece of pretentious trash. Wud also like to thank you for ur superb review of LS2050 on rediff….hv seen most of the trashy films in d list but ws relly lucky to hv missed out on this masterpiece.

  4. nice read, definitely funny. the Indian take on Razzies should get a little more prominence. Oh, it’d be fun if all the stars turn up to receive this! What? They make it to the opening of an envelope… I doubt they’d understand whats going on anyway!

  5. Is this true ?

    “Well, the film shows her sleeping with a black man — and then scrubbing herself off because of how unclean she feels.”

    why didn’t any reviewer mention this. makes me feel sick, honestly.

  6. I follow your reviews at Rediff religiously and IMO, you are one of the few impartial, balanced reviewers of Hindi cinema who knows cinema well. Loved reading this post.
    Keep writing and regaling us.
    –byomkesh
    p.s:–Thanks for pointing to “Love and Death” in one of your Rediff articles(was it great 70’s films?). It has become one of my favorites.

  7. Cheers Raja!

    Good job done…like with some of your more unkind reviews of rediff that I’ve grown used to, I thoroughly enjoyed the trashing you gave these. I haven’t watched some of them, but that, in part, is your doing too!

    One major quibble, though….what did Tashan do to escape attention pls? And, while I am not a fan of hers, I thought adding Deepika Padukone’s turn in Bachna Ae Haseeno was a little harsh…I could think of many worse.

    Let’s hope these become the Indian Razzies in times to come!

  8. Hi Raja,
    I like your reviews in rediff most of the times..
    but this one is really great!!! Agreed with you in most of your analysis – but just beg to differ – wort movie of teh year was DRRRRONAA – or ‘Darrrooo naa’ …. :-)

  9. Hi,

    I just loved the digs you took at “Fashion”, especially the one about the scene in which the megalomaniac lavishes himself with the tag of ‘realistic filmmaker’. I think Madhur Bhandarkar should turn to making documentaries rather than tarnishing different industries.

  10. The comments about CC2C and Love Story 2050 are bang on target…really appreciate your reviews…a very good indicator on how to avoid the junk doled out by the industry and concentrate on the good stuff…i would term it as quite entertaining and a bit didactic at the same time…keep writing…its brilliant stuff…

  11. You’re readable as usual because you’ve chosen between profound and sassy and come up with catchy. It’s a pity though that you’ve expended so much of your space and rediff space in promoting these films because I’ll bet there’ll be those who may now buy a ticket to see Priyanka Chopra doing her stuff with a black man. Pornstar, indeed. Me ? I’ll settle for Alba.

    Instead, do us a favour. Give us your list of the bests this year. Maybe you have and I’ve missed it. Doesn’t that make more sense than having to endure all that shit in the dark because that’s maybe your job requires, poor you, and then letting us have it between the eyes.

  12. Raja why are you always negative… it is very easy to be critical and pass acidic comments sitting on your chair. For example, why don’t you do a genuine awards list also?

  13. this is amazing. why did i miss this write-up earlier. thanks for posting the link to the new rediff article.

    have been following ur articles/reviews, and needless to say, you are the only critic, who i follow and look forward to read. it was a pity some Mr. Hegde reviewed No Smoking. even you could have rated it as a bAD movie, but at least you would have wrote it properly – telling us what was BAD in it.

    what i miss from you is that u are a powerhouse of hollywood cinema, but have never heard much bout World cinema from you. Try it, a few directors out there are worth each of your second.

    cheers..:)

  14. I think its worth doing a “shabbas” award….trying to keep track of original movies. It can be the worst made movie, but if the script is original it can get a “shabbas”..

    I think making a movie has been too overrated…

  15. raja , u really deserve credit for sitting through each one of them from start to end and then manage to sift out the kelas….kudos to you. may god would bless us with such perseverance ..

  16. I am SOO happy that someone hates Fashion as much as i do. God knows, they are people around me who are actually *inspired* by priyanka’s complete U-turn from sleeping with black men to walking the ramp in milan :P

    Raja sen rocks. Period.

  17. Hello RajaSen,

    Once upon a time, I always envied you guys, you earn by watching movies.. These days I really pity you for all the painful movies you have to go through (understatement) for living..

    But I love to read your reviews, even though dictiory is very much needed once in a while ;-)

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