The Wrap-Up Of 2022: What Worked, What Didn’t and What Shined the Brightest!

With cinemas finally bouncing back with two years of an infectious virus that put the entire world on pause, with industries stopping and cinema taking the biggest bite of the crunch. Films pre-pandemic have finally or yet almost have made their ways of final releases – some with ticket paid audience and some with a subscription at home. Either way, we are glad that cinemas are back in full force in the year 2022 and hope that this virus was a speed breaker of the past. Earlier this year, the threat of the Omicron virus had caused a threat with cinemas closed and releases effected, even the Christmas releases of 2021 were placed in jeopardy.

This year where most of the releases planned pre-pandemic have made its way to the open with almost every major star with a release – with the exception of Salman Khan and Shahrukh Khan (both made some cameos but no solo releases). So how did the year fare? Post the virus the industry was hit with a virus called ‘Boycott’ where some major releases, for some very bizarre reasons, were boycotted on social media leading to a big wave of people avoid the releases.

The reasons may have been valid but these reasons were determined prior the release of the film. The change of the perspective and taste buds did knit out the fates of some features with some major productions bombing on day one and some medium budget films collecting millions.

Without doubt the South Indian film circuit has been taking a major advantage in areas like Mumbai, Delhi, Punjab etc – major films like RRR, KGF Chapter 2, Vikram, Karthikeya 2, Ponniyin Selvan Part 1, Sita Ramam and Kantara cashing-in with major Hindi speaking markets. The talk indicated that South films are new ‘Major’ cashers at the box office, but the ones doing this talk are also unaware some of the biggest South Duds this year have also been the biggest Financial colossal in terms of all Indian films. Films like Archarya, Sarkaru Vaari Paata, Beast, Radhe Shyam, Vikrant Rona and Liger were all huge films, mounted enormously with some of the biggest stars – ended up bombing on the opening weekend itself.

What worked at the Box Office in 2022

So lets take a look into the major grossing films and what worked this years in terms of the financial aspect of the industry. As 2022 was an acid test year for the Hindi Film Industry, basing on what works and if the audience have maintained their love for cinema and reaching out to see the major films or have the audience still got use to their home subscriptions from the lockdown. So in terms of financially, these are top five grossing films of the year: (This section only and only includes Hindi film productions)

  1. Brahmāstra: Part One – Shiva (Verdict – Hit)
  2. The Kashmir Files (Verdict – All Time Blockbuster)
  3. Drishyam 2 (Verdict – Blockbuster)
  4. Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 (Verdict – Super Hit)
  5. Gangubai Kathiawadi – (Verdict – Average)

There has been a lot contradicting reports of Brahmastra’s box office collection with regards of it being a 450 Crore budgeted film with it collecting 306 Crores domestically but collecting 431 Crores worldwide. If the budget be corrected (which yet to be) then the film hasn’t recovered its money. Either way, it’s the highest grossing (in terms of numbers) Hindi films this year.

The Kashmir Files is the actually the most profitable film this year with a budget of 25 Crores grossing a major 340 Crores worldwide and 297 Crores domestically. With no major stars, no festive release date and an Adult certification, it became one of the biggest films of the year. Whipping off many other releases of the map, The Kashmir Files ran for weeks in cinemas and became the official sleeper hit of the year. Drishyam 2 is still in theatres, already collected 301 Crores worldwide, living up to expectations of the audience and delivering a suitable and honest sequel. The prequel was not a major hit so Drishyam 2 has not only surpassed its preceder but lived up to the film expectations.

Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 became another sequel that cashed in majorly and was widely accepted of the fans of the original. The Kartik Aryan starrer become a family comedy caper for the summer and brought many of the comedy lovers back to the cinema, embracing that after a long hiatus a comedy had been appreciated. Gangubai Kathiawadi took a decent opening but at the same time the film was more appreciated for the production design and Alia Bhatt’s performance and less on the actual content of the film leading it to mainly mix reviews. The film being on a very high budget (almost 100 plus crore) it just about broke-even at the box office.

The Best Films of 2022

The years has had its mixbag of genres and not all of these films were all successful films at the box office. Some of the film fell prey to bad release strategies, at times with another film releasing on the same day taking the limelight. Some of these films found its audience on a streaming platform with a possible audience having doubt about the film originally, found its applause from its audience while the audience were sitting at home. Here is, personally the best films of 2022 (In no particular order and only based on Hindi films)

Jhund (Dir – Nagraj Popatrao Manjule)

Once the Omicron virus was learnt to be been a passive virus and cinemas had opened again, the line of films came in literally in a ‘Jhund’. With unfortunately Jhund being lost in the ‘Jhund’. With Gangubai Kathiawadi already in cinemas (released one week before), Kashmir Files releasing a week later and Bachchan Pandey a week after that – Jhund only lasted in cinemas for a week. But this Nagraj Manjule film, which has been completed since 2019 and lost in the Corona Pandemic, this Manjule directed film ended being one of the finer films coming out of the Hindi Film Industry. Manjuel returning to direction after his Marathi Blockbuster Sairat and first Hindi directorial covers the life of Social Worker Vijay Barse (played by Senior Bachchan) who changed the lives of many underprivileged young boys in slums leading towards their life in soccer.

Manjule after a long space of time delivered a performance of Mr Bachchan so sincerely and Mr Bachchan dedicating himself so much to the role making believe in the morals and achievements of the soccer coach. The film deals with issues such as the issues regarding International opportunities of sportsman in India, the governmental issues regarding sports in India and how social class playing a driving force for sports for the underprivileged. A special mention for Manjule of casting real people in the film, boys who not even professional actors but boys from real slums around parts of Maharashtra – training them and making them deliver tremendous performances.

Jayeshbhai Jordaar (Dir- Divyang Thakkar)

A film that also got lost in the crowd of continuous releases and films flopping like flies. The crowd of continuous releases, big ventures not finding an audience – during this environment, Jayeshbhai Jordaar was a film that was overlooked during its theatrical release. For starters, the audience had ruled off Jayeshbhai as a ‘theatrical film’ as many felt at its scale – it suited more for a home viewing. Once Jayeshbhai released on a streaming platform, the audience began to regret their decision of not making it a theatrical watch. This Yashraj venture somewhere found its audience at a later date this year but it didn’t fail to impress the audience.

This Ranveer Singh starrer raised many eyebrows of certain orthodox and conservative views on women in rural districts of India. How certain traditions made and followed by these so-called ‘moral men’ are not only conditioning unfortunate lives for the women of the home but even leading to poor health issues which even could lead to death. The film was designed as Ranveer Singh as the rural superhero reaching out to making sure his unborn daughter gets a life – with his family out to eliminate the child with a suspicion of bad luck from the child’s birth. Singh and Thakkar both being immensely proud of the film with it later finding its charm amongst the audience.

Rocketry: The Nambi Effect (Dir – R. Madhavan)

For people who point out to me that no South films only Hindi were suppose to be apart of the list, just for many who are unaware but Rocketry was simultaneously shot in Hindi and Tamil, with very few alternatives in both versions. R.Madhavan directorial debut sure had come as a surprise of a subject with many unaware of the life of Indian Space Research Organization scientist Nambi Narayanan, who was framed and accused of being a spy, delivering Indian science secrets to foreign countries and was arrested in 1994. Nambi spent several days in prison, his family being traumatised and spent years later in attempt of clearing his name.

One has to give extra marks for Maddy’s choice of narrative and research behind the amazing cinematic true story. His directorial debut marks his skills of a storyteller with it being packaged and made with such crisp and engaging moments with the audience in the palms of Maddy. Maddy as the actor convinces us of his performance of the scientist throughout the graph of the man’s life, whereas the director dwells the audience into the world of the scientist and the political controversy that took place during the early 90s. Hats off to Maddy giving a honest attempt for debut directorial.

The Kashmir Files (Dir- Vivek Agnihotri)

The true underdog of the year 2022, the film that gave the Hindi film industry a new lease of life and giving trade pundits a buzzer of their seats who had written off the film before the release. Agnihotri who was said to be ‘tredding on thin ice’ with this heavy subject of the 1990s exodus of Kashmiri Hindus from Indian-administered Kashmir. Stitched together with a fictious plot but dealt with several true events that lead to the genocide; in which some scholars around the country still believe are inaccurate.

Many had accused Agnihotri’s venture to be a ‘misleading account of the truth’ and some labelled it as Islamophobic. While a big section of the crowd, some of which had gone through the 1990 Exodus raised the concern of the suppression by a conspiracy of silence – this issue was never spoke about in the open public eye. Not only did Agnihotri’s film made the audience leave the auditoriums with a heavy heart but did spark off a debate in the national trust, which is still in debate right now. For all who have seen or haven’t seen the film – it truly is a film that will go down in history and very brave attempt by a director. Salutes to his courage.

RK/RKay (Dir – Rajat Kapoor)

One gem of a film I had the privilege to see early this year, which truly took me by surprise is Rajat Kapoor, acting and directing, RK/RKay. The film had actually visited a few film festival circuits last year but got this theatrical and official public release this year in July. This public funded, independent made film has very differ genre of its own – witty, novel and imaginative. The plot of a failing film director (played by Rajat Kapoor) who casts and directs himself to redeem is film image, makes a film which also seems to be going down the daunted path again. Things take a twist when his character, he himself is playing, steps out from the reel world into the real world – with RK facing the character he created with the obstacle of putting his Doppelgänger back into the reel world in order to complete his film.

Although one is reminded of The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), but this vast attempt in terms of narrative and the coition between both the reel and real world is indeed praise worthy. Very rarely some makers get the emergence right but Rajat Kapoor breaks this wall with ease. The actor not only pulls off both characters with ease, the director RK as a snobby, uprighted filmmaker and the fictious on-screen, down-to-earth simpleton Mahboob are done so perfectly. In fact a line from the film stays with you, ‘buri buri filmein log independent ke naam pe dekh lete hai’ (people see bad films in the name of independent cinema) which indeed is not the case with RK/RKay!

Sadly, RK/RKay went unnoticed and suffered from a lack of attention due to the film being pitted against Shamshera, which actually eat away most of the screens and showtimes, where RK/RKay was left with hardly any decent showtimes and the second week it took an exit from cinemas. But a request to everyone of good cinema, do give it watch!

Monica O My Darling (Dir – Vasan Bala)

Being apart of the Phantom clan for years as a writer, Vasan Bala proves with his second outing as director that he is here to stay – and definitely has a good knack for black comedy! Bala’s adaption of the 1989 Japanese novel Burutasu No Shinzou with his twist of his own, an unconventional plot with not-your-nextdoor characters carried out with some very interesting and out-of-the-ordinary performers. Rajkumar Rao, Sikander Kher, Huma Qureshi and Netflix’s favourite Radhika Apte all perform superbly, suiting to the sensibilities to their characters and complementing the director’s vision.

What really worked for Monica O My Darling for me was the entertaining value in a thriller that too coated in improper humour, making you laugh literally at the most inappropriate notions in the film – that too done with ease. The twists and unforeseen plot keeps the viewers away from their mobile phones wanting to know more – the notions of loose threads being tied together at the climax, done so perfectly makes you give a bow to the writer.

Unconventional storytelling and peculiar characters seems to be Bala’s trump card, which was seen done so well in his last outing Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota (2018), which was a superhero film based in suburbs of Mumbai. Bala’s visual style and packaging his features drawing the audience into his world he’s creating with a retro style (which goes without saying from the title!). This Bala’s venture saw deserves marks and even a repeat view (just to fill on those empty holes!)

The Worst Films of 2022

Like every years, the industry does have burners and lowers – this year the success ration though being low, it wouldn’t even be wrong to say the level of film quality has been very minimal. More films we avoided and many that left us pulling out our hair. So, let’s dip in, presenting lowest of the low for the year 2022.

Rashtra Kavach Om (Dir – Kapil Verma)

What was hard this year of which film to place first and which was actually the worst out of the lowest three films I had saw this year. Possibly, Rashtra Kavach Om might have to take the top spot. Rashtra Kavach Om is actually a snoozefest from the word go, god knows how I had made it till right of the end of the film but Rashtra Kavach Om was maybe trying to be Rambo mixed with Ek Tha Tiger mixed with Max Payne with a dash of Manmohan Desai lost and switched at childhood angle. Not only is the film cringe-worth, but it’s way too cliché for its own good. One wonders if the director was trying to be retro or just began to make his actors remember the hammiest performances they have ever seen.

Om was a missed opportunity for Aditya Roy Kapur as seeing our the next generation boys and the lacking we have of action heroes, this could have been his ticket to the genre had the makers actually found a script to work with. Even worse, the director, Kapil Verma has the accessibility to fine such actors as Jackie Shroff, Ashutosh Rana, Prakash Raj and still got buffoonery from the supporting cast members. Either way, Om was a nightmare to sit through and should be a textbook of many ‘don’ts for any aspiring filmmakers.

Shamshera (Dir-Karan Malhotra)

It cannot be a good sign if one film reminds you of another disastrous film from the same studio that too based in the same era. Shamshera been in the making since 2018, makes one wonder what made one of the biggest star youth icons say yes to? Was it Kapoor’s attempt at venturing at a big screen popcorn feature? If that’s the case, maybe listen to the script more carefully. Shamshera was Karan Malhotra’s ode to 80s cinema, inspired by major box office winners like Kranti (1981) with a dash of the Sultan Ahmed revenge sagas and Manmohan Desai formula. What resulted with Shamshera was a film that made the average Mithunda 80s starrer looking like a masterpiece.

Malhotra mounted the film on the scale that it was touted as one the most expensive films that came from the Yashraj Studio, but the film itself became not only one of the biggest financial disasters from the studio but even made the main lead disassociated himself from the film. Audience members during the opening weekend had exited auditoriums of the cinemas before the interval break, taunting the film as boring, sleep-worthy and literally way too predictable with the audience talking to the silver screen telling it what would be in next for the watchers. The biggest loss here belongs to Karan Malhotra with his second disaster from a major studio since Brothers (2015).

Samrat Prithviraj (Dir-Chandra Prakash Dwivedi)

When a director and actor do not see eye to eye on a particular project you can say the collapse of the bridge is not far, which became the case with Samrat Prithviraj. Dr Dwivedi had made a call out just after the film had bombed at the box office that Akshay was to blame for the film and his ‘41 one day rule’ and that his initial choice of Sunny Deol was a better call. Samrat Prithviraj already had the baggage of the controversy but the fact that the film had an utterly slow and sloppy feel did not help in conveying the message of the legendary warrior. The fact that we saw Sonu Sood break into a song sequence in the introducing 10 minutes of the film, warned the audience what they had signed up for.

Akshay’s portray as the historical character was not only unconvincing but it made the audience realise that his act as his comic Bala was far more entertaining and far more convincing in a comic caper. Samrat Prithviraj had everything for it going in terms of scale, production and even performers but the fact that the whole feature went tumbling down from day one left the studio and the maker disappointed until the blame game had begun.

Nikamma (Dir-Sabbir Khan)

Throughout the entire year we have had the share of south remakes but Nikamma does take the cake in terms being the laziest and sloppiest remake of the year. A remake of 2017 Telugu film Middle Class, the film yawned the audience who were in hopes of a massy potboiler but we ended getting a bizzare, confused tale of boy taking on a league of gangsters. Shilpa Shetty makes her comeback in the film which totally was a wasted opportunity for the yesteryear actress.

Sabbir Khan, out possibly trying to find his new ‘Tiger’ in Abhimanyu Dassani which did not shape up right but even made the act try his hammiest act to date. The film became annoying after a certain turn of a corner and made everyone feel more sorry for Shilpa Shetty and her comeback than anyone else in the cast. Dassani though has the capability of becoming a massy star, but requiring the right treatment and method. Nikamma surely would become in the hall of fame for the boredom and misdirected treatment.

Dhakkad (Dir-Razneesh Ghai)

Although Dhakkad’s numbers at the box office had come as a shock to how disastrous film had become but the film itself was alarming how bad a film could possibly be. Kangana already not having the greatest current reputation for her opinions on social media, but Kangana’s choice of film had proved to be even disastrous. The big budgeted spy thriller had the scale required but just needed its director to tell a story and its performers to act without a script.

The spy thriller used and threw every cliché used in a spy film and yet made the audience wonder which direction this thriller was headed. Although Arjun Rampal’s act in the negative role did make the audience wonder where he had been missing all this time but the audience then remember that Kangana’s spotlight on her own could not been taken away. Dhakkad by far, proved how much style and budget you have for an action thriller or being shot in the most beautiful locations of the world, your writers are the one who lead the existence of the project.

The ones who Shined in the year

Amitabh Bachchan

The legend who turned 80 in 2022 had back to back releases with the resurrection of his game show Kaun Banega Crorepati. Jhund, Runway 34, Brahmāstra: Part One – Shiva, Uunchai and Goodbye proved that the actor not only is maintaining his versatility at his age but even his belief and surrender to a filmmaker. His act as Vijay Barode in Manjule’s Jhund in this year surely listed the thespian in the league’s best acts of the year. With five back-to-back films and ranging himself in different genre with contrasting characters make the audience feel what the actor fuelling on to keep ahead of the league.  A True breath of fresh air and hope the legend keeps his legacy running.

Karthik Aaryan

The year with a small ratio of success but it was Anees Bazmee’s sequel that rang cash registers again at the box office with Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2, marking Karthik Aaryan taste of success from the opening with many stars’ films bombing at the box office. Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 proved to be a family entertainer of the year making Aaryan one of the newer household names on the block. Aaryan’s second release of the year, Freddy, in which the actor played a simple dentist-turned-psychopath that became a digital release but showed the actor’s versatility and range. Aaryan with many in the bag in the newer year would be interesting to see his next range of work.

Tabu

Year in and out, the actress seems to be breaking more myths while making the audience fall in love with her performances. Tabu shined firstly with Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2, with her dual role of the good and evil making her character the crux of the entire film, secondly, she stood out for reprising her character of Meera Deshmukh, the possessive yet strict mother in Drishyam 2. No doubt, the Rukh Rukh actress only beats her own game every commencing year but surprisingly how the actress selects such perfect roles for herself.

Alia Bhatt

Not only turning wife and mother in 2022 but even turning producer and the newest member of the Kapoor clan. Alia had four releases in 2022, Gangubai Kathiawadi, RRR, Darlings and Brahmāstra: Part One – Shiva. Although Gangubai, minus the restrictions in the screenplay, her act surely proved a new leaf to her filmography in the same year of playing the role of the simple housewife in Darlings. Alia even made her debut in Telugu cinema with RRR, despite her role being small or short, the film went on being one of the most talked about films of 2022. 2022 has been a great year for the actress as well as her talking new streams in her martial life.

Who didn’t shine in 2022

Akshay Kumar

It goes without saying from an actor who has delivered five back-to-back films in one years and not a single one has worked either financially nor been fitting into the bracket of being ‘acceptable’. 2022 for Akshay had allotted dates with the actor having a Holi release with Bachchan Pandey, an Independence day release with Raksha Bandhan and a Diwali release with Ram Setu. One release inbetween the holidays with Samrat Prithviraj and one digital release with Cuttputli, despite having the hype, national holidays, correct screen times not a single film of Akshay’s had made a mark anywhere. A big majority of Akshay’s releases in 2022 were pre-pandemic backlog films and the audience have changed their preference in film watching since these films were the initial stages of writing. We hope that Akshay in 2023 bounces back with not a stamped of releases but substance amount of quality over quantity.

Ayushmann Khurana

It can be quite unfortunate for an actor who has placed by his market alibi only to release his target audience has moved on. The actor having three releases in the year with Anek, Doctor G and An Action Hero, all three films bombed at the box office and did not find any takers anywhere. Ayushmann being known for the ‘medium budget star’ with consistent films working in a strained budget yet working for the people’s hearts, Khurrana neither found the admiration nor the bell of the cash register in 2022. Either Khuranna’s image has played the spoil sport or it’s the case of the audience’s preference changing since the pandemic.

Taapsee Pannu

Sadly for Taapsee, not only have her films have not worked but her statements in her media interactions have stuck out like a sore thumb for her. With the regards of Loop Lapeta, that took appreciation from the public, her other films being Dobaaraa, Shabash Mittu, Blur, Mishan Impossible or Tadka – either these films were taken off the screens from the cinemas or didn’t find subscribers finding any interest from their homes. Most of the films Taapsee have been her as the leading protagonist in her films, either Taapsee’s choice of films for her being the lead have been horrendous or the audience have rejected the thought of sitting for 2 hours watching her in the lead.

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