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. Pretty much covers the awesome-ness of the awefull-ness of Hindi movies. Looking forward to more categories next time!

    Cheers!

  2. Finally someone thinks the same as me about Fashion and Madhur Bhandarkar. Why did he have to show Priyanka sleeping with a black man to indicate the depths she has fallen to? I could not believe that the movie with the same old crap rehashed in a different industry and calling it reasearch was a hit and people are calling it a good movie. How??????

  3. Awesome awards!! i have seen fashion and drona and totally totally agree with your analysis of these films! Cross between harry potter and Indiana jones LOL.. Now after reading about LS2050 i want to watch it as i generally enjoy the awesomely aweful movies ( jaani dushman is an all time favourite :-P) Keep up the good work.

    Cheers

  4. Hi, I have always read your reviews on Rediff, and most times, have liked them. Never commented though, since that section is a ‘free-for-all’ where the father and the son might be calling names to each other under pseudonyms… Not my cuppa…

    What made me write here is the ROFL-substance you have unleashed on the unsuspecting readers… My only grudge against you, even though you have tried to make it clear in your disclaimer / intro, why didn’t you include “Deshdrohi” in any of the categories? I was specifically looking at the dialogues section… tumhaare dil mein hamaare liye jitni nafrat hai…. WOW

  5. It drives me crazy seeing people flock up to see and then praise these trashy pieces of art(supposedly). And then these actors are awarded for such despicable work. People mistake hamming for good acting and refuse to see beyond reputation. What will happen to our cinema? Is there hope?

    note: Amitabh Bachchan is the most over-hyped actor of all time.

  6. I’m so, so extremely glad I skipped all the movies except Rab Ne…and Fashion. The first left me dreaming of the joys of DVDs and the fast forwards, and I walked out of the second when it didn’t seem like it was ever going to end. But great, great award ceremony..we should actually stage one of these!

  7. Raja Dude!

    This one is a great read. I read it an year later from a link on rediff and am waiting for a 2009 list now. I agree with this list 100% and will visit this page regularly

    I have found your every review bang on! except slumdog and 3 Idiots but thats fine, as two humans can diagree sometimes :-) and may have their own biases when they go to watch the movie

    But cheers to your style dude!! you rock!

  8. Ghajini should have been bashed too, I strongly believe Aamir Khan redeemed his goodwill for Ghajini’s success, the movie was an 80’s type entertainer…

    1. I agree completely! Ghajini was God awful movie… It sucked big time. I dont know why it broke records? People are still not out of that B Grade 80’s mindset! I guess same reason can explain the case for success of WANTED! Save us from this emotional atyachaar!

  9. I love reading comments people throw at you on your reviews on rediff. I wish you could answer them all back and wish most of those read the real thing here. It was a fun read. Just on a wee comment above which says why you included RNBDJ and Ghajini; the answer probably was because there is a species that still watches it…
    I’m actually happy because there are reviewers so I dont have to watch a load of trash that these bollywood families churn out. I’ll let you know when we can automate you so you have the same luxury :) Thanks mate.

  10. Have been a fan of Raja for long…but he missed BLUE !!! That was the worst dear, and the dialogues , probably cribbier than Love Story ..Poor Fat Sanju baba :)

  11. Hi Raja Sen, Its a rather hard job to criticize this particular industry as most of these films and dialogues seem to be made this way on purpose. The fact that most people prefered to watch a walking pharmacy of steroids in Gajini over Kaminey and the fact that 95% of the movies needs to be set somewhere in “Phoren” is a testament to the general movie tastebuds. The reason for this is either escapism from reality, a set notion that a movie has to follow a particular style like 4 songs, 3 fight sequences, 56 family moments and 100,023 college romance moments, or simple blind hero-worship. Simply put, these bollywood movies(especially the hits) mirror our countrymen’s expectations quite well.
    So, please dont get disheartened at certain responses from your reviews at rediff boards, people are just being them – people; and you just have to do what you do good – call a bad movie just what it really is – a Bad Movie. So here’s a Cooke for the article.. *Hands a cookie*

  12. Dear Mr. Sen,
    Happy New Year
    I have been reading your reviews for quite some time now and agree with the most of them, to say the least. A few days ago i was wondering if there is some other place where i could read more of your work because i was (impressed) by your writing; and then i found your blog. I read this article and was totally disappointed after reading your comment on Kangna’s accent (assuming from your statement above). If that be the case, it is preposterous and totally judgmental of you to be criticizing something as insignificant as someone’s accent.
    I apologize for being so blunt since i hardly know you. The fact of the matter is that ‘it’ just didn’t go along with your image formed in my head.

    Simran

    1. Dear Simran, I’d just like to say that I didn’t mean any offense. I enjoy Ms Ranaut’s acting and think she is an unconventionally striking woman, but the fact remains that with acting one has to play to one’s strengths. If an actor is finding it difficult to pronounce certain words, then either the filmmaker should alter those words or the actor should spend time on diction lessons. If a scene with an intended dramatic impact turns into something unintentionally comical, there is clearly something wrong, don’t you think?

      1. I agree, of course. I just thought that “a pretty girl who should never be given an English line” was subjective.

        Anyways doesn’t really matter.
        Cheers.

  13. that was so on the spot!! what makes me wonder though are the reviews …. are critics just plain scared to write the truth ??? So many movies are given wonderful reviews especially the khans and the chopras … and then the so called ‘comedy movies’ which are a lame excuse for slappin sidekicks and cheap fart and sex jokes…..

    and I am glad you bought ‘Shaurya’ to everyones notice … that was torture – especially when one is a huge fan of ‘A few good men’ …. waste of good actors like KK and Dabral …. Rahul Bose is comepletely over rated … honestly after Mr and Mrs Iyer and prob English August … he hasnt given a single memorable performance … no variations in either accent or emotions ….

    I did like Rab Ne Bana di Jodi …. I think most female population did, mostly due to the fact that all females see a ‘surinder’ in their resp spouses/bf’s :)

    Am gonna make a point of reading all ur reviews henceforth … hopefully they are honest.

    Cheers!

  14. Its funny Raja when people call you SRK fan!! You have trashed almost every SRK movie off late except OSO ( which was a cool entertainer). Don, KANK, RNBDJ etc. I cant find a way to answer those guys who hurl stones at you on rediff. Its impossible to answer them

  15. Hmm, I’m a little divided on your reviews. I agree with your criticism most of the time. But sometimes I’m confused. You, who come down so hard on stupidity and lack of script in movies, actually liked Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani? It was so utterly long and boring. The climax reminded me of old 90’s films where all the built up action disintegrates into a farce in an abandoned factory where the previously helpless heroine tackles “lesser” bad guys. And the ending reminded me of a Telugu movie Malleswari, where a much better Katrina has a revelation and leaves to go find her hero. I barely cracked a smile the entire movie. Perhaps I have high standards. I just thought you did too.

  16. Agree with most of them. Though I did not mind Fashion(fan of Kangna Ranaut
    ) but I did hate the way they showed how far Priyanka has slipped by making her sleep with a black man. Being a dark skinned myself I was hurt but not shocked/surprised by it as I grew up in India and I had dark skinned jokes every day along with my rice and daal.
    Paa is a drag and I think All izz not well with 3 idiots also. Would love to see your best movies of the year.

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