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Best of 2021: Hindi films & series

Murtaza Ali Khan



T he year 2021, much like the year 2020, has proven to be a rather forgettable year for Hindi cinema owing to the continuing uncertainty created by the pandemic. And yet again the different OTT platforms have served as a strong substitute with several big banner films directly releasing on OTT. Here are some of the most outstanding Hindi films/series along with the best acting performances this year.


VIDYA BALAN (SHERNI): In Balan’s own words, her character in ‘Sherni’ is “passive-aggressive”. As an actor, she has played countless strong female characters over the years. But, unlike those characters, Vidya Vincent’s true strength lies in her passive aggression. She is a doer but she doesn’t believe in boasting about it. That’s what makes it a truly special performance.


Essaying the part of a newly married woman named Rani who is accused of plotting to kill her husband with the help of her lover Taapsee Pannu yet again shows the flair to try something different. In the words of writer-producer Kanika Dhillon, “Taapsee has the courage to take the risk and try and do it as convincingly as she can.”

PARINEETI CHOPRA (SANDEEP AUR PINKI FARAAR): Parineeti Chopra is often accused of not being a very good actor. She has also been criticized for her choice of roles. But she seemed to have turned the tables with a superb turn of a pregnant banker on the run in Sandeep Aur Pinki Faraar. This also happens to be her best work since Ishaqzaade (2012).

SARA ALI KHAN (ATRANGI RE): Sara Ali Khan is quickly building up a reputation of a fearless young performer. In ‘Atrangi Re’, she delivers an absolutely no holds bar performance, playing the part of a valiant girl from Bihar who isn’t afraid to question the societal norms.

 KIARA ADVANI (SHERSHAAH): Post ‘Lust Stories’, Kiara Advani has only grown in stature as a bankable actress capable of essaying a wide range of characters. In ‘Shershaah’, she totally nails the part of a strong-headed woman who isn’t afraid to express her love for the man she loves.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Kriti Sanon (Mimi), Mrunal Thakur (Toofan) and Dial 100 (Neena Gupta)



It is certainly not easy to essay a real-life character like Shaheed Udham Singh but Vicky Kaushal is up to the challenge. If ‘Uri ‘was a major milestone for him in a commercial sense then ‘Sardar Udham’ is certainly an important milestone in a critical sense. Through his mesmerizing portrayal of Singh, Kaushal has succeeded in taking a huge leap in his young but impressive acting career.

ARJUN KAPOOR (SANDEEP AUR PINKY FARAAR): Much like Parineeti Chopra, Arjun Kapoor too often gets accused of not being a very good actor. He is also criticized for her choice of roles. But all that seemed to have changed with ‘Sandeep Aur Pinki Faraar’ wherein he brilliantly essays the part of a suspended cop whose paths cross with a pregnant banker on the run.


Essaying the part of Kapil Dev, Ranveer Singh is the heart and soul of Kabir Khan’s ’83.’ It’s his performance alone that makes the film believable. Without him, the film wouldn’t have been half as gripping. That’s how good he really is. Also, Ranveer has a thing for accents and here again, he gets it to spot on.

DHANUSH (ARTANGI RE): Dhanush’s performance of a doctor hailing from Tamil Nadu who is forcibly married to a girl from Bihar is a major highlight of Aanand L. Rai’s Atrangi Re. Hindi filmgoers mostly remember Dhanush from the 2013 film ‘Raanjhanaa’, also directed by Aanand L. Rai. So in that sense his performance in Atrangi Re isn’t as refreshing as one would have hoped for but it’s still good enough to feature amongst the top performances of the year.

 SUNNY KAUSHAL (SHIDDAT): While watching Shiddat one feels that Sunny Kaushal was born to essay the part of Jaggi, a young Indian man who undertakes a road trip all the way to London, illegally hopping many international boundaries in the process, with the hope of uniting with the girl he loves. Full credit goes to Sunny for making a hopeless romantic like Jaggi come to life through his unforgettable performance.


Aayush Sharma (Antim: The Final Truth), Vikrant Massey (Haseen Dillruba) and Ensemble male cast of Chehre.



Shoojit Sircar’s atmospheric biopic based on the life of Udham Singh, a freedom fighter from Punjab who assassinated Michael O’Dwyer to avenge the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre, is meticulously shot and crafted. Bollywood biopics have seldom been as good as ‘Sardar Udham’. The film not only introduces a nearly forgotten revolutionary figure like Shaheed Udham Singh to the youth but also brings us face to face with the British tyranny that he stood against all his life while trying to follow the footsteps of Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh.

83: Kabir Khan’s film about India’s first major sporting triumph in the global arena is easily the best mass entertainer to have hit the big screen since ‘Dangal’. ’83’ serves as a great reminder of how the India national cricket team led by Kapil D e v r o s e above insurmountable odds to win the 1983 Cricket World Cup. Khan’s roots as a documentarian are on full display here as he makes brilliant use of archive material to take the narrative forward.


Sherni marks the return of Amit Maurkar, the famed director of ‘Newton’. ‘Sherni’ stars Vidya Balan in the lead role of an honest and tenacious forest officer caught at the centre of human-animal conflict. Masukar isn’t merely interested in making a film about a tiger hunt. He aims for something much bigger and succeeds to a great extent in examining the power dynamics and socio-politics that govern the lives of those inhabiting the forest areas. And he does so with a touch of his trademark satire that had made ‘Newton’ so memorable.


This film is a top-class noir with a panoply of interesting characters, an unpredictable storyline, dark motifs with short bursts of humor. The mood is set by the opening sequence itself and how Dibakar Banerjee is able to flip the perspective only a few minutes later. The clever choice of narrative tropes and soundscapes is absolutely brilliant and Dibakar directs it with a flair and frenzy that one usually associates with him.


Directed by the veteran Indian filmmaker Satish Kaushik, ‘Kaagaz’ is based on the life and struggle of Lal Bihari Mritak, a farmer from a small village in Uttar Pradesh, who was declared dead between 1975 and 1994 and had to fight with the Indian bureaucracy for 19 years in order to prove that he’s alive. Two decades in the making, ‘Kaagaz’ is aptly presented by Kaushik as a satirical commentary on the flawed system of land resources in India and the disasters associated with it.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: ‘Shershaah’, ‘Haseen Dillruba’ and ‘Bob Biswas’.


HUNGAMA HAI KYON BARPA AND FORGET ME NOT (SEGMENTS OF THE ANTHOLOGY SERIES RAY): Abhishek Chaubey’s directorial as a singer named Musafir Ali and Gajraj Rao as a wrestler turned sports journalist Beg aka Jenga, is perhaps the best example of how a fascinating literary story can be remodeled and embellished decades later to suit the needs of a different medium. Srijit Mukherjee’s ‘Forget Me Not’ operates in a fascinating space with Ali Fazal shining in the role of a cut-throat corporate shark who prides himself on his vivid memory and his accolades until a chance encounter with a beautiful woman sends him down a vortex of self-doubt as he fails to remember her. SPECIAL OPS 1.5: ‘Special Ops 1.5: The Himmat Story’ is a major step forward for Neeraj Pandey in creating a fullfledged Special Ops universe. While the original ‘Special Ops’ was plotoriented, ‘Special Ops 1.5’ is more like a personal journey. This time, it is more about personal relationships than larger-than-life events. But the elements are all there making it one of the best offerings of the year.


Sometimes stories can bring places to life. That’s precisely what TVF’s new series ‘Aspirants’ succeeds in doing. It manages to present West Delhi’s Old Rajinder Nagar, the famous hub of UPSC aspirants, in all its glory. ‘Aspirants’ is a fun watch with some nice emotional moments and is very relatable if you have ever taken any competitive exams in India.

BOMBAY BEGUMS: Presented by Alankrita Shrivastava, ‘Bombay Begums’ is a fascinating series that follows five women across generations who grapple with temptation, desire, ethics, personal issues, and inner vulnerabilities to fulfill their ambition, in 21st century urban India. Despite its flaws and shortcomings, ‘Bombay Begums’ is an important show that’s true to the times we live in.

THE EMPIRE: ‘The Empire’ is a sumptuous retelling of the story of the rise of Mughals. The series presents a largely unexplored story of a young Babur and his struggle to protect the honour of his family as well as his kingdom. It’s shot across multiple locations in India and Uzbekistan. We are talking about a massive production on an unprecedented scale as far as the Indian entertainment space is concerned.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: The Family Man 2, Mumbai Diaries 26/11 and Kota Factory 2.


SAMANTHA (THE FAMILY MAN 2): Portraying the antagonistic part of a remorseless assassin named Raji, Samatha not only succeeds in holding her own against an actor of Manoj Bajpayee’s pedigree but she also succeeds in eliciting a sense of empathy in the hearts of the viewers towards Raji who has few redeeming qualities.

WAMIQA GABBI (GRAHAN): Wamiqa Gabbi delivers a breathtaking performance in Grahan, essaying the part of a young girl in love with a rustic charm and total abandon. The songs “Chori Chori” and “O Jogiya” from the series serve as a testament to her grace and spontaneity as a powerhouse performer.

POOJA BHATT (BOMBAY BEGUMS): The OTT platforms are providing the perfect opportunity to the lead actors and actresses from the ‘90s to make their much-awaited comebacks. Perhaps, there is no better example than that of Pooja Bhatt who is riveting to watch as Rani, the CEO of a bank who must rise above office politics, patriarchal notions, inner insecurities, and a dystopian family to stay in command.

RIDHI DOGRA (THE MARRIED WOMAN): Ridhi Dogra plays a very complex character of Astha with great delicacy in The Married Woman. Astha is happily married only to realize that her true happiness lies elsewhere. Dogra deserves all the credit for making Astha so relatable despite her inner conflicts.

SUSHMITA SEN (AARYA SEASON 2): Sushmita Singh has impressed everyone with her portrayal of Aarya Sareen and there is no denying that she is brilliant the second season of ‘Aarya’ as well. It’s really heartening to see her essay such a gritty part with remarkable ease as if she were destined to play it.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Raveena Tandon (Aranyak), Drashti Dhami (The Empire) and Zoya Afroz (Matsya Kaand).


MANOJ BAJPAYEE (HUNGAMA HAI KYON BARPA – RAY): Over the last two-and-a-half decades, Manoj Bajpayee has managed to redefine himself again and again as a performer, constantly pushing the boundaries of acting for the screen. His work on the web has catapulted him to new heights of stardom. Essaying the complex part of a singer named Musafir Ali, Bajpayee not only gives a brilliant demonstration of his command over Urdu, but he also succeeds in showing a completely new dimension as an actor.


Kay Kay Menon essayed Himmat Singh with a scalpel-like precision in the original Special Ops and he takes it to another level in ‘Special Ops 1.5’ which presents Himmat in his 30s. He is youthful, intelligent and impulsive and lacks the judgment and wisdom of the veteran spymaster he would become in the due course of time. And Menon yet again nails it.

GAJRAJ RAO (HUNGAMA HAI KYON BARPA – RAY):Gajraj Rao’s portrayal of a wrestler turned sports journalist named Beg aka Jenga Abhishek Chaubey’s directorial ‘Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa’ is truly remarkable. Rao, who just seems to get better with each new performance, essays the part with such effortless ease that it’s difficult to think of it as a performance. Also, the chemistry that he shares with Bajpayee in the series is truly special.

RAVI KISHAN AND RAVII DUBEY (MATSYA KAAND): The MX Player series ‘Matysa Kaand’ proves to be a captivating cat and mouse game played between my character ACP Tejraj (essayed by Ravi Kishan) and the con artist Matysa, essayed by Ravii Dubey. Tejraj has a certain mean streak and the killer instinct to get the job done but Matsya is always a step ahead of him. The chemistry between the two actors is what makes the show tick.

ANKUR OBEROI (ILLEGAL 2): The real star of the second season of the Voot Select series ‘Illegal’ is Akshay Oberoi who is absolutely brilliant to watch in the role of Akshay Jaitley. It’s a deeply nuanced performance with multiple layers. One ought to watch him in the 2020 series ‘Flesh’ to truly appreciate his versatility as an actor.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:Naveen Kasturia and Sunny Hinduja (Aspirants), Ali Fazal (Ray) and Imaad Shah (The Married Woman).

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Lifestyle & Entertainment

Comedian Raju Srivastava suffers heart attack, admitted to AIIMS



Raju Srivastava

Comedian Raju Srivastava has suffered a heart attack and has been admitted to AIIMS, Delhi. Comedian Srivastava’s health deteriorated last night after which he suffered from a heart attack.

Srivastava fell unconscious when he was working out on a treadmill at the gym. Later he felt severe chest pain and then collapsed after which his trainer brought him to the hospital.

According to comedian Sunil Pal Srivastava’s health is good now. He is recovering rapidly and will be home soon.

Meanwhile, just hours before Srivastava suffered a heart attack he shared a stand-up comedy piece on his Instagram. He mimicked a few veteran actors on information being spread on Covid-19 via caller tune on the phones.

However, Srivastava got recognition by participating in The Great Indian Laughter Challenge. He has done roles in films like Bombay to Goa, and Aamdani Atthanni Kharcha Rupaiya. Moreover, Srivastava is also the chairman of the Uttar Pardesh Film Division Board.

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Taapsee Pannu’s ‘Shabaash Mithu’ to stream on Voot Select; streaming date awaited



Taapsee Pannu

Bollywood actor Taapsee Pannu’s film ‘Shabaash Mithu’ is all set to stream on OTT platform Voot. Recently the movie released in theaters but failed to impress the audience.

The movie is based on the life of Indian cricketer Mithali Raj. Pannu’s movie is slated to stream on Voot select in Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu. Meanwhile, the final streaming date of the film is still awaited.

Earlier on Tuesday, Voot Select dropped a teaser of the film on Instagram. “The untold story of a fighter, an achiever, and a game changer who deserves a ‘Shabaash’ over and over again. Watch Taapsee Pannu as ace cricketer Mithali Raj, in the World Digital Premiere of Shabaash Mithu, Coming soon on #VootSelect,” Voot captioned.

Taapsee portrayed the role of a sportsperson for the third time in her career.

Meanwhile, Pannu shared her excitement about the movie’s OTT release and said, ” This film is very close to me. As someone who prides in championing roles and characters that celebrate women, playing the character of an iconic and truly inspiring cricketer has been a matter of immense pride and satisfaction. It was a challenging character to portray, especially as every chapter in Mithali’s life revealed the many layers of this national inspiration. I am very excited about its release on Voot Select.”

However, the movie was released on 15 July 2022 and is helmed by Sriji Mukherji.

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Scared to work on a film on Mahabharat, explains Aamir



Aamir Khan has discussed his long-term goal of developing a movie based on the Hindu epic poem Mahabharata and stated that he is frightened to begin work on it. An ambitious plan to produce a high-budget movie based on the Mahabharata has been under development by Aamir. In fact, writer Anjum Rajabali revealed to the media in 2018 that he left the Rakesh Sharma biopic in order to concentrate on the movie, which is rumoured to have a budget of Rs 1000 crore.

“When you make a film about the Mahabharata, you’re not just making a film,” Aamir explained. “You are performing a yagya. It is not just a film, it is much more. That is why I am not ready for it yet. I am scared of bringing it out. Mahabharata will never let you down, but you may let down Mahabharata. “

Aamir previously discussed how long a movie on the epic would take, saying in an interview, “It is a longing. The task is enormous. For me, it is a dream come true. However, if I make the decision to succeed now, I will have to dedicate 20 years to it. The content is incredibly intriguing to me, but I’m afraid that if I say yes and decide to do it, five years will solely be spent on research before it can be put into practise.”

Aamir’s forthcoming movie, Laal Singh Chadha, is now being promoted, a legitimate reimagining of the 1994 Forrest Gump, a Hollywood production. Laal Singh Chaddha is the movie that Aamir spent more than ten years working on.

The Advait Chauhan-directed movie also prominently features Kareena Kapoor Khan and Mona Singh. The movie is scheduled to hit the theatres on August 11. Rakshabandhan, starring Akshay Kumar, is expected to compete with the movie at the box office.

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‘If you don’t feel like watching the movie, then don’t’, Akshay Kumar reacts to boycott Raksha Bandhan trend



Raksha Bandhan

Bollywood star Akshay Kumar is in the news these days for his film ‘Raksha Bandhan’. A campaign of boycott is being run against Kumar’s film.

Meanwhile, Akshay Kumar himself has broken the silence on this whole controversy. He said in a special conversation that if someone does not want to see this film, then do not watch it, because we live in independent India. He recently said this at a promotional event for the film in Kolkata.

“If you don’t feel like watching the movie, then don’t. It’s a free country and the film is out there, so if someone wants to watch it or not, it’s up to them. I would like to tell you, no matter which industry it is, be it the clothing industry, film industry, or anything else, all of these help the economy. But doing things like boycotting movies, it doesn’t make sense,” Kumar said.

A few days ago, Aamir Khan also expressed his views about the ongoing campaign to Boycott Laal Singh Chaddha in India.

“That Boycott Bollywood…Boycott Aamir Khan…Boycott Laal Singh Chaddha… I feel sad also because a lot of people who are saying this in their hearts believe I am someone who doesn’t like India… In their hearts, they believe that… And that’s quite untrue,” Aamir Khan said.

Earlier in 2015, Aamir Khan made a controversial statement and said, “Our country is very tolerant, but there are people who spread ill-will.” Where his wife Kiran Rao also considered leaving the country for the safety of their children.

Moreover, on 11 August Laal Singh Chadda and Raksha Bandhan will clash at the box office. Akshay Kumar starrer ‘Raksha Bandhan’ is directed by Aanand L Rai and Aamir Khan starrer ‘Lal Singh Chaddha’ is directed by Advait Chandan.

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Abhishek Bachchan to be honored with the Leadership in Cinema Award at 13th IFFM



Abhishek Bachchan

Actor Abhishek Bachchan will be bestowed with the leadership in Cinema Award at the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne 2022.

“I’m excited and looking forward to being part of celebrating all things movies and cinema in Melbourne. I’m elated to have been invited by IFFM and to be part of a festival that truly celebrates Indian cinema in all its glory. For them to confer me with the Leadership in Cinema award is truly an honor for me and I’m thankful to the jury and the team of IFFM. To be in another country celebrating Indian pride and Indian content alongside my peers in something I’m truly looking forward to,” Bachchan said.

The ‘Guru’ star will also deliver a special speech about his journey in cinema at IFFM 2022.

This year the film festival will be in its physical version after being solely virtual for the last two years.

Moreover, the festival will run from 12 August to 20 August. The festival will also hold virtual programming between 13 August to 30 August for Australian audiences. At the festival over 100 films across 23 languages are being screened.

Meanwhile, the award night will take place on the 14 August in Melbourne. The festival will be opened with the film Dobaaraa directed by Anurag Kashyap.

However, Karan Johar, Kapil Dev, Anurag Kashyap, and Vaani Kapoor are likely to attend the Film festival.

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Bieber said sorry to an unidentified user, fans go crazy over his benevolence



Justin Bieber

The generosity of Justin Beiber has won the hearts of many on numerous occasions. Justin Beiber is well known for being extremely generous to his friends and fans.

The pop star apologised on his Instagram on Sunday for making “inappropriate comments” on a user’s post.

Contrary to his persona, Justin revealed that he had rudely commented on a user’s Instagram post and had eventually realised that he should not have done so.

On his story, Justin published an apology to the unidentified user.

He said,”For some reason, I commented on some guys’ page ‘sad existence’ because he was doing something I thought was dumb. I’m not quite sure why I felt the need to write that. If what he was doing made him happy, who am I to say anything? I hope it didn’t hurt his feelings. It’s been eating me up all day. To the dude I wrote it to, man I’m sorry”.

This kind gesture by Bieber has won the hearts of millions, pouring him love from his fans all across the globe.

Justin has begun his “Justice World Tour” after experiencing recent health complications, and he is currently in Norway, where he performed.

Justin will travel to India soon. On October 18, he will perform in New Delhi as part of his “Justice World Tour.” On the aforementioned date, he will perform at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi. Prices for the concert tickets start at Rs 4,000 and go up from there.

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