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It was the start of the millennia, and Karan Johar with royalty aplomb, was leading us into the worlds of Raichands and Kapoors who had their manicures on point and accents polished, even when they were broke or struggling. We are not complaining. We loved the stories and the characters, the reason they have achieved a cult status today.
However, more than a decade down the line, things started changing. For better, the audience opened its arms to grittier and earthier characters, and filmmakers also understood that did not need to demarcate between commercial and critical cinema, that small town need not necessarily mean abuses and dung, that the stories of small towns could also be weaved around the roses of love and friendship and still be as loved by the masses and classes alike. Vicky Kaushal’s debut ‘Masaan’ was proof of the fact.
And the year 2017 witnessed just the same.
The first small-town wonder Bollywood witnessed this year was Akshay Kumar-starrer and the second instalment of a surprise hit, ‘Jolly LLB.2’. The Movie was based out of Lucknow and had all the elements of a good screenplay and writing infused with the flavour of small town. Loved by all it went on to cross 100 crores and was a hit. The first quarter also saw ‘Badrinath Ki Dulhania’ which too emerged to be highly successful. The story of a Jhansi girl who runs from her marriage to pursue her career, and her fiance, a small-town Romeo who pursues her, coupled with issues of want of a boy-child, giving preference to marriage over career of a girl, came to highlight, making this another loved movie.
In came the month of May and we saw ‘Hindi Medium’, another realistic take on the topic of education. Replete with humour, though this one was based out of Delhi, this time the makers went into the underbelly of the capital and captured the gritty and real life of a couple trying their best to get their daughter admitted into the best English Medium school. Audience related and the movie was a success.
Soon after, after much hullabaloo and CBFC ban, we finally got to see Alankrita Shrivastava’s ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’, a film based on the sexual desires and lives of four women across different ages, in Bhopal. The movie too managed to win the hearts of critics and audience alike.
August saw ‘Toilet – Ek Prem Katha’. Akshay Kumar and Bhumi Pednekar-starrer was based in a village and dealt with the issue of open defecation. The movie turned out to be one of the biggest success of the year.
However, it was not that just movies with a social cause were successful, given they were set in small towns. In the month of August, also came a small-budget movie ‘Bareilly Ki Barfi!’. Starring Ayushmann Khurrana, Rajkummar Rao and Kriti Sanon, the movie was a simple love story set in the city of Bareilly, and no one knew that it would turn out to be the sweetest surprise of the year. Soon after, Ayushmann Khurrana and Bhumi Pednekar’s ‘Shubh Mangal Saavdhan’ hit the theatres and audience took it through the box office test by showering all the love on the bittersweet love story of a small town couple about to get married but facing a “small” problem.
The year may not have closed on ‘Padmavati’, the biggest and grandest movie of all, but it surely gave us two more small-budget small-town-esque wonders; ‘Qarib Qarib Singlle’ feat. Irrfan Khan and Parvathy and Vidya Balan’s RJ act in ‘Tumhari Sulu’, even though those were based in big cities. And guess what? These two too grossed at the box office.
Small town’s small happiness and bigger moolah. Bollywood’s mantra of dishing realistic stories with small town backdrop surely seemed to work its magic this year. Let’s see whether it will continue with the release of movies like Akshay Kumar’s ‘PadMan’ and Arjun Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra’s ‘Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar’.
Source: YouTube, Giphy
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