Another year goes by, and it is time to bring out the best and worst lists. When it comes to Bollywood, 2023 has been quite a year. Box office-wise, it was quite rocking, with some major all-time blockbusters coming out, starting with Pathaan and (at the time of writing this article) concluding with Animal. While some producers did earn big bucks, quality-wise the industry continues to churn out pretty average fare, with only a handful of films (or less) managing to raise the bar, especially when compared to Tamil cinema or Malayalam cinema. Not to mention, Bollywood is still on the hate-enabling track of producing propaganda content, unfortunately also clicking with the audience, like The Kerala StoryYear–Ender 2023: Shah Rukh Khan, Ranbir Kapoor, Sunny Deol – Check Out the Actors Who Gave Biggest Commercial Hits This Year!

In this special feature, we are looking at 11 Bollywood films that left us utterly disappointed in terms of their making and content (no space for The Kerala Story here... had no such expectations in the first place, but you can check my review to read why I dislike this movie). Some of these movies were big hits at the box office, so their business is not the criterion, but rather how they impressed upon us as 'cinema.' Feel free to agree or disagree with the writer's choices in the comments section below, while also sharing your own disappointments from the year.


A Still From Shehzada

Allu Arjun's blockbuster Ala Vaikunthapuramaloo became an OTT hit as well when people were stuck at their homes during the first wave of COVID-19 and watched cinema beyond barriers of their mother-tongue. It got resurgent viewership thanks to Pushpa's Pan-India success, so remaking such a popular recent film was a terrible idea. Unfortunately, no one told this to Kartik Aaryan, who boldly stepped into Allu Arjun's shoes for Shehzada, directed by Rohit Dhawan and expectedly couldn't match up to the National Award-winning star's entertaining antics. Shehzada Movie Review: Kartik Aaryan and Kriti Sanon's Remake of Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo is a Joyless Facsimile.

Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan

A Still From Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan

2023 is a year that keeps hammering Bollywood should stay away from remakes, especially of South films. This time it is Salman Khan who said yes to this remake of the Tamil hit Veeram, which in itself wasn't a very good film to begin with. Directed by Farhad Samji, Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan tried to ride the wave of Hindi audiences liking Tollywood entertainers and flavoured itself like one, even casting Venkatesh as a parallel lead. It is just that... KKBKKJ is just not that good enough for the Telugu star to make it as his comeback to Bollywood, where neither action, humour or romance work. Bhai simply waddles through the motions with a different hairdo but the same set of expressions, and the rest of the cast ranges from just about bearable to pretty insufferable. Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan Movie Review: Salman Khan and Pooja Hegde’s Action-Entertainer Impresses at Being an Utter Slog-Fest!


A Still From Adipurush

If there is a film that should be awarded the biggest fiasco of Indian cinema in 2023, then it would be Om Raut's ill-advised adaptation of Ramayana, or whatever you want to call this weird live-action/animated hybrid. We should have all seen the signs when the first trailer came out and it was simply, for the lack of a better word, terrible! For a film whose budget is reportedly between Rs 500-700 crore, not much of those numbers are reflected in what you see on screen. It is not just poor VFX that was the problem, 'poor' also reflected in the writing, in the dialogues, in Prabhas' wooden expressions and in how it lifted scenes from popular films, including The Avengers! At least Saif Ali Khan seems to be having fun with his Lankesh! Adipurush Movie Review: Prabhas, Kriti Sanon and Saif Ali Khan's Film is a CGI Mess That Does Lanka-Dahan Of Our Senses.



A Still From Bawaal

Is there no misguided film this year as Nitesh Tiwari's attempt to use Nazi atrocities and the Holocaust as metaphors for a couple's broken marriage? Did anyone in the writing team not see a problem with it? Even Simon Wiesenthal Centre, an NGO for Holocaust survivors, had to call out the movie for its insensitive representation of what is one of the last century's most gruesome mass-crimes. Even taking those parallels apart, Bawaal is just a meandering, average marital drama about two characters who should never have ended with each other in the first place. Even in the beginning, even in the end. Bawaal Movie Review: Varun Dhawan and Jahnvi Kapoor Take You Through a Tedious European Tour in This Nitesh Tiwari Film.

Gadar 2

A Still From Gadar 2

Okay, now that the dust has settled in the wake of its blockbuster run, tell me, dear readers, was Gadar 2 a really good film? Okay, scratch that. Was it even a worthy sequel to Gadar: Ek Prem Katha? Yes, the jingoism, the screaming, and the chest-thumping were amped up (which suited the present political climate and audience taste), but everything else just suffered. Director Anil Sharma tried to mask Gadar 2 as a relaunch for his son Utkarsh Sharma, and though the youngster wasn't bad, heavy focus on his character and his love story meant Sunny Deol was kept out of the screen for a bit too long. Even when he returns, things slightly improve, just slightly. The action is terribly edited, those chase sequences are stretched, the villain is disposable and most of the technical aspects are compromised just to indulge in more Pak bashing. Gadar 2 Movie Review: Sunny Deol Roars Again In Anil Sharma's Washed-Out Sequel to His 2001 Blockbuster.

Dream Girl 2

A Still From Dream Girl 2

For all its flaws, the first Dream Girl film was quite fun. Silly but entertaining. Dream Girl 2, however, just didn't know how to be amusing. Ayushmann Khurrana seems to have his golden touch during the lockdown period, as the actor, despite his best efforts, just couldn't raise this farce from mediocrity even with the help of a quite talented supporting cast. From the plot to the situational humor, everything feels contrived enough to feel this is no dream but an unfunny nightmare. Dream Girl 2 Movie Review: Ayushmann Khurrana's Return as 'Pooja' is Less Funny and More Farcical This Time Around!


A Still From Ganapath

You know it is not a good sign when makers drop 'Part 1' from the title merely weeks before the release (only to not do so when the film title is shown in opening credits). Ganapath - A Hero is Born is what you get when someone bites more than they can chew, and the result is an incoherent mess that does justice to not a single department. Still now, the writer wonders what exactly Amitabh Bachchan was doing in the film, or for that matter, the rest of the cast, including recent National Award winner, Kriti Sanon. He also wonders why no Bollywood director can offer a film worth testing Tiger Shroff's mettle in martial art skills and instead expects him to lift a film based on his, errr... acting. Ganapath Movie Review: Tiger Shroff and Kriti Sanon Fail to Impress in This Dull Dystopian Action Film.

Mission Raniganj

A Still From Mission Raniganj

Akshay Kumar just didn't have a good year in 2023. Sure, his OMG 2 was a good hit and also won over critics, but the actor had an extended cameo in the movie. The films where he led from the front - Selfiee and Mission Raniganj - were utter disappointments. But for the sake of this list, I want to talk more about the latter. It had a great inspiring story based on real-life events, and that even benefits the film in its second half when it depicts the rescue mission. But the makers squander the potential by making Mission Raniganj such a technical dud with very evident usage of green screens and atrocious VFX that it feels criminal to get such a film made in this time and era in a film industry that is the richest in the country. Just see 2018, the Malayalam film made on Kerala floods and on a fraction of a budget allotted to Mission Raniganj, and see how it pulls off those flood scenes. Not only did the film become a critical and commercial hit, it also went on to be India's entry for Oscars 2023. Meanwhile, Mission Raniganj became yet another addition to Akshay Kumar's growing forgettable filmography. Mission Raniganj Movie Review: Akshay Kumar's Survival Thriller is Drowned By Its Chaotic Editing and Overdramatic Storytelling.

Tiger 3

A Still From Tiger 3

A bad Salman Khan film is still worth a watch because of how cheesy it can be, see the earlier entry in this list. The crime that Tiger 3 commits is that it is just effing boring. In X-Men: Apocalypse, Sophie Turner's character says, the third film in the trilogy is always the worst, and Tiger 3 just lives up to those words. Not only does it feel over-stretched and underwhelming, it also destabilises YRF's promising Spy Universe, set up with Pathaan (even if there were other entries before, including two Tiger movies). But perhaps the most concerning aspect about Tiger 3 is the lead star himself. Salman still has oodles of swag, but there is a clear lack of energy in his performance and that really matters in a movie like this. Even a Shah Rukh Khan cameo couldn't save this film.


A Still From Animal

I am not going to talk about the misogyny perpetuated by this Sandeep Reddy Vanga film and how it glorifies alpha masculinity and Chad behavior. Better writers and social commentators than me have done a far more wonderful job elucidating those criticisms. I just want to instead bring your attention to one major flaw of Animal - it is simply long-drawn and loses focus when it diverts its own attention from a much-publicised father-son story to Vanga trying to include scenes whose only intention are to trigger the critics of his previous movie. Especially the second half that suffers big time in these diversion tactics, with Anil Kapoor and Bobby Deol's characters getting shortchanged in the process. Less said about the writing around the female characters, the better. Not even Ranbir Kapoor's performance can be a compensation here.

The Archies

A Still From The Archies

Zoya Akhtar makes her weakest feature film to date with this reimagining of The Archies set in the '60s within an Anglo-Indian community. While there are sparks here and there, especially in the choreography of the dance songs, and there is also a social commentary too about rampant urbanisation, corruption and media sellout., they aren't enough to sustain interest through its nearly slog of a two-and-a-half hour long runtime. Serving as a launchpad for its three starkids - Agastya Nanda, Suhana Khan and Khushi Kapoor - it felt amusing that the non-star-kid debutantes gave better performances, particularly Vedang Raina as Reggie.

(The opinions expressed in the above article are of the author and do not reflect the stand or position of LatestLY.)

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Dec 19, 2023 12:46 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website