Bollywood’s most underrated and underwhelming films in 2018

There was good, there was bad and then there was just meh in Bollywood this year. Amid the multistarrers and big budget spectacles, there were many spectacular films that were underappreciated and needed far more attention than they got. And there were also films that should’ve been better.

Here’s counting down Bollywood’s most underrated and underwhelming films of 2018.

The Most Underrated

Courtesy: Eros Now/YouTube

A grim, moody fable about the ill-effects of avarice, director Rahi Anil Barve’s debut film can well be described as Hindi cinema at its most phantasmagorical. Ship of Theseus-producer Sohum Shah and young Mohammad Samad starred in this visually rich movie that is loosely based on a short story written by Marathi writer Narayan Dharap. The film also gave us one of the year’s most quotable lines: “So ja warna Hastar aa jayega.”

Bhavesh Joshi Superhero

Courtesy: Eros Now/YouTube

Vikramaditya Motwane’s latest film isn’t a patch on his earlier two gems, Udaan and Lootera, but it still makes for a decent one-time watch. Harshvardhan Kapoor plays a DC Comics aficionado who believes that the world in which Insaaf TV, the social enterprise he is a co-founder of, is made is just as dark, just as edgy and just as cool as the universe that Batman inhabits. He is impressively earnest in his portrayal of a masked vigilante, and the film scores because of the impassioned everymen that lie at the heart of it.

Gali Guleiyan

Courtesy: Gali Guleiyan – In The Shadows/YouTube

This psychological thriller directed by Dipesh Jain is as much a dark and captivating tale of obsession and altruism as it is an authentic examination of penury and hardship. The film unfolds against the backdrop of the dusty, narrow by lanes of Old Delhi and is propelled by a tour-de-force performance by leading man Manoj Bajpayee. This self-confessed exponent of the Stanislavski school of acting continues to dazzle, not just in the way he internalises the angst of his characters, but also in the manner in which his subtle, almost indiscernible shifts in body language speak louder than any words would. One wouldn’t expect anything less.


Courtesy: RSVP Movies

An accident changes everything: a bus full of pilgrims headed towards Gangotri doesn’t reach its destination, two corpses get swapped and much mayhem ensues. What follows is a moving, heartfelt tale of three inherently discontented people who not only end up battling their inner demons, but also start questioning their respective worldviews. Coffins are not the only burdens being borne by the protagonists in this film, and the beauty here, as is usually the case in all road trip movies, lies in the unravelling of these characters, and in the way they open up to each other over the course of their unanticipated journey.

Beyond the Clouds

Iranian maestro Majid Majidi’s latest film is an unsettling, evocative tale about lecherousness and the futility of revenge. There are a few special moments when Majidi directs with a distinctive touch of poetic storytelling: one of the standout scenes in this film is one that involves a bevy of fluttering dhotis and a touch of gore, as is one that brings out the silkiness of a dupatta-framed silhouette.

Courtesy: Zee Studios/YouTube

Suitably enough, this is a film that begins and ends in grime.

The Most Underwhelming

Satyameva Jayate

John Abraham has a bone or two to pick. “Tum jaison ne ek naye dharm ko janam diya hai: corruption,” he bombastically declares, hoodie firmly in place. Over the course of 141 mind-numbing minutes, he goes on to punch, burn, and impale policemen in this hideous film—this when he’s not busy smashing gundas into pulp, flagellating himself, cleaving rubber tyres apart, screaming his lungs out, or videographing a scantily-clad Amruta Khanvilkar underneath the sheets. We are even told at one point that one doesn’t need a 9 mm bullet to take a life—all that is required is a heart full of courage.

Courtesy: T-Series/YouTube

It is not the truth alone that triumphs: judging by the box-office bonanza that Milap Zaveri and Co. have raked in for themselves, so does stupidity.

Welcome to New York

Katrina Kaif judges the acting prowess of an aspirant in Welcome to New York. You may, at this point, take a moment’s silence to digest the sheer incredulity of that fact.

Courtesy: PoojaEntertainment/YouTube

Chakri Toleti’s latest is a hare-brained, ludicrous nightmare of a film, one in which a group of incompetent dreamers plan to attend the IIFA Awards in the Big Apple of all places. The film boasts of the who’s who of Bollywood, from Sonakshi Sinha to Lara Dutta, from Diljit Dosanjh to Salman Khan, and yet not a single actor manages to leave a lasting impression in this atrocious excuse for a movie.

Race 3

The characters in Race 3 have an implicit code of conduct: they refer to each other only as “bro”. At one point in this insufferably moronic film, one that makes about as much sense as Virat Kohli does when lip-syncing in Telugu in a Manyavar commercial,  Sanjana (played by Daisy Shah) tells her twin brother, “Bro, ise dil nahi, Dell kholke dikhao.” 

Courtesy: Salman Khan Films/YouTube

The cast is decidedly cringeworthy, and the dialogues even more trite. “Toh ab tum mujhpe line maaroge? Officially?” Jacqueline Fernandez asks of her would-be paramour. “You’re such a jerk!” she later berates him, to which he replies, ever so subtly, “You’re right. I was a jerk.” Clearly, pronouncing bullshit as bulsit is what passes off for authenticity in Remo D’Souza’s world.

Thugs of Hindostan

Aamir Khan rides a donkey in Thugs of Hindostan. Mr Perfectionist he may well be, but it quickly becomes evident that Khan has successfully made the transition from being a badass in Dangal to, well, just being an ass in this film.

Courtesy: YRF/YouTube

He’s not the only A-list victim here, either: director Vijay Krishna Acharya makes Amitabh Bachchan, the man with the most famous baritone in the country lip-sync to Sukhwinder Singh even as Katrina Kaif utters her dialogues as if reading from a teleprompter. What we were promised was a lavish spectacle that pitted Bachchan and Khan against each other for the first ever time in a rousing, inspiring story of patriotism and valour. What we end up getting is a Tale of Two Grannies.


Chimpanzees play a huge role in Zero, a film in which simians screech and jump up and down on stage as a wheelchair-bound scientist unravels the mysteries of interplanetary travel with an Andy Weir-like flourish.

Courtesy: Red Chillies Entertainment/YouTube

Anushka Sharma is a reasonably accomplished performer, but her histrionics here are as contrived as they are overwrought—A Margarita with a Flaw, to put it succinctly. More a small blunder than a Small Wonder, Shah Rukh Khan tries gamely to lend some of his characteristic swagger to the part of a cocksure dwarf, but he is hobbled by the inconsistency of Aanand Rai’s sloppy direction. The film might speak of gravity in “four or five dimensions”, but it sadly has only one to speak of. A small step for man, a giant leap for K-Khankind this is not.

Shreehari H is a lover of films and an even greater lover of writing.