Woo, Excel Entertainment! Such an odd interesting company, I was going to say that they have never produced a bad movie, but I forgot about Game. Besides Game, they have never produced a bad movie.
Farhan Akhtar is Javed Akhtar and Honey Irani’s son. Both his parents are major screenwriters and general talents in the industry. And his extended family, including his cousin Farah Khan on his mother’s side and his stepmother Shabana Azmi on his Dad’s side, are also major talents. Farhan himself took some time to find himself, went to college for a bit, worked in advertising for a bit, did this and that. And then wrote his first script and decided he wanted to direct it following his own unique vision. But what producer would let him do that? None! So, he set up a little company and asked his best friend from college (son of a business man, nothing to do with film) to help run it and they produced his funky little film Dil Chahta Hai. Which turned into a revolution and forever changed Hindi film. They took that money and folded it into Lakshya, Farhan’s second movie three years later, which was just as good (I think) but far less popular. But it made enough that they made a third movie (now with the official Excel logo backed by the Lakshya theme music) Don, which was a massive hit and left them with some money to burn.
Excel has a very distinctive corporate style. They take weird intelligent “multiplex” style film ideas, give the filmmaker creative and financial support, and then shop the film around to distributors and international studios for more backing. They still don’t have that much money and don’t seem interested in growing any bigger (no expansion into TV or distribution or anything like that). But they really want to find and support new artists and bring very VERY odd films into being.
Oh, and they specifically want to support artists Farhan is related to. Which I am cool with, because they are all very talented. There is Farhan’s sister Zoya, Zoya’s life partner in an ill-defined way Reema Kagti, and Farhan’s father in there with the beautiful lyrics and dialogue for most of their films, and his stepmother making an appearancein small parts.
Anyway, now that most of the Excel catalog is available on Netflix (not their very newest films, Prime most have an exclusive separate deal for them), I thought I should put out a post giving a suggested ranking of every Excel film. And then you can all yell at me about how wrong I am. It’ll be fun!
Dil Chahta Hai
The first and best! Sure, you can watch it now and get bored and feel like it is like every other film. But, see, it didn’t used to be like very other film! This is the first one! The very very first one!
Luck By Chance
Such a brilliant movie. No explanation or apology needed, the whole thing is genius start to finish.
See above. It’s a good movie on the first watch, and a great movie on the second watch. Sensitive, smart, loving, everything.
No one really talks about this movie any more, but it has so much in it that is good and unique. Starting with simple stuff like a girlfriend who breaks up with her boyfriend because she simply can’t wait for him to wake up any more, and going all the way to considering patriotism as part of identity and growing up.
Dil Dhadakne Do
“Rich people problems” or simply “people problems”? You decide! But the correct answer is “people problems”.
It’s not just a great complex film on its own, it’s a great complex film that subtly converses with the Masala genre of the 1970s.
Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Lmtd.
Okay, first time you may not agree with me. But it has superheroes! And middle-aged lovers! And a male-male kiss! How can I not put it above almost all the rest?
Newest one, not on Netflix yet, but awfully good. The soundtrack drives the story, the central performances are amazing, the ending is hopeful. But no superheroes, so it’s below Honeymoon Travels.
Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara
I should go back to this one, my first watch didn’t really impress me. But even on that uninterested watch, the beauty of the song sequences jumped out at me, and Hrithik’s story touched me.
It’s a slicker film than the original, but not a better film. The plot is a little less jawdropping, and the conversation with the classic Masala films is gone.
Best sports movie! And best patriotism movie, which really digs into what having a national identity means and what India lost when it gained independence.
I wish this could be higher on the list. Great performances all around, and plenty of stunning visual moments, but it just doesn’t gel somehow.
Baar Baar Dekho
Do you secretly kind of love Katrina Kaif? Do you find Sidharth Malhotra very pretty to look at? This might be a movie for you! Or not. It’s an extremely odd film, but it has good songs and a happy ending, you just have to learn to accept the idea that Sid M. is a genius mathematician.
Oh Farhan, why??? After directing and producing amazing movies, he decided he wanted to be a movie star and play a rock star, and he produced this. But Arjun R. has really long hair and looks great, so that’s good.
No Farhan. No.
Want to see a “An Then There Were None” style thriller featuring Abhishek Bachchan and Kangana Ranaut as a romantic pair? Yeah, no one else did either, this was Excel’s first big flop.
Also, the movies I don’t know enough about and can’t rank:
Karthik Calling Karthik
Okay, now give me your spirited defense of ZNMD! Or your complaints about DCH. Or just your responses now that Netflix has these movies and you just watched them for the first time.
I’m currently watching the Sky is Pink because I love DDD so much I thought I would check out another Farhan & PC pairer. But based on your rankings, I guess I really need to watch Lakshya.
Yep! Although Lakshya gets kind of dark, so maybe do Honeymoon Travels instead.
On Wed, Dec 18, 2019 at 4:10 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:
I’m 25 minutes into Lakshya and so far it is really really boring.
It never super speeds up, just relax into it and enjoy the songs.
And if you really can’t stand it, you have my permission to switch to Baar Baar Dekho.
I need to see Lakshya for sure.
Dil Chahta Hai, I think the stories are lopsided. Akshaye/Dimple have the strongest story, followed by Saif/Woman whose name I can’t remember and Aamir/Preity a distant third.
You were asking for a feel-good movie? ZNMD is a very pretty travelogue that doesn’t demand much from you and Hrithik & Katrina are super sexy together in a sweet and life affirming way.
Gully Boy is still on my meh list. Just don’t find Ranveer or Alia convincing (I do like the guy who played MC Sher, he put in the best performance IMO)
Ooo, maybe I try ZNMD again tonight! I may end up reversing my original bad opinion.
Agree that the MC Sher guy put in a fabulous performance, I think he’s got 2 or 3 high profile films signed right after that, hope he lives up to his potential.
On Wed, Dec 18, 2019 at 5:58 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:
Not only that, MC Sher is totally hot in a cuddly confident teddy bear protective sort of way, to add to your Cuddly Men list.
It doesn’t count toward the actor though, only the character, because the actor is sleight of frame and gained tons of weight for the role.
He has shown up in at least 2 streaming series since then. And in each case he is better than the series is.
And let me gift you my Gully Boy fanfic that puts Sher together with Jasleen Royal (the female singer he defends in his intro scene)
On Wed, Dec 18, 2019 at 7:04 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:
I believe that Bangistan and the 2 fukreys will rise to mid list once you see them. Artsy with parallel actors, but funny and somewhat daring.
I think BBD suffers from coming out in the same era as DZ and K&S, its cousins wrt urban cosmopolitan style. But every type of film genre needs its A grade and B grade options. To me BBD is a solid B grade movie.
Yeah, it’s the Christmas season, I’m watching happy movies, and suddenly BBD is sounding really good! It’s just a nice pleasant little movie.
On Wed, Dec 18, 2019 at 7:11 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:
Fukrey series is a good time pass paisa wasool film with quirky characters.
I don’t know if u will get the nuances and hidden meanings as it’s a very west dehli lingo.
Don2 should get a better ranking.
I find ddd quite overrated. It never worked for me.
Couldn’t connect .
Lakahya is quite a coming of age film better than the innumerable ranbir films on same topic
The twist at the end of don was so unexpected it really blew me.
Rock on 1 was also good film and quite a rage back in the day.
Rock on 2 was meh.
I watched Lakshya last night on your recommendation — it was so good! The songs were all very catchy and I really liked the way they handled the time jumps between some of the scenes. I maybe won’t watch it again because it was painful to get to know everyone and then they die! It reminded me a lot of All Quiet on the Western Front, but with less of a super downer ending. Thank you for the recommendation!
Yes! The storyline is a hard sell, but it is this unique combination of coming of age and war movie, with a little romance thrown in, and somehow it all works. The time jumps, the songs, the performances, it all just comes together right.
On Mon, Jan 13, 2020 at 10:01 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote: