Hindi cinema saw breaking some more boundaries this year. From a dark crime dramedy to an insider look into the big bad and fantastic world of the Bombay film industry (sorry Raj “the” Thackeray – Mumbai film industry does not have the same zing to it). It is refreshing to see actors and producers taking their chances on risky subjects and the risks being paid off: Examples: Karan Johar producing Wake Up Sid with a debutante director and an unusual lead pair, Shahid Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra working for Vishal, Amitabh not being Amitabh in Paa, Dev D breaking all known boundaries of textbook romance and tragedy, Hrithik Roshan not afraid of displaying the vulnerability of a superstar (himself) in Luck By Chance etc. It’s a wonderful time for Hindi cinema. That’s not to say all was well – big money is still spent on tripe such as Blue, London Dreams, Aladin, Main Aur Mrs Khanna, Jail, Chandni Chowk to China, Wanted, De Dana Dan (Priyadarshan should be tried along with Ajmal Kasab), Dil Bole Hadippa and many more. However, along with the dimwitted stuff like the ones listed above, we were served with cinema that was entertaining and respectful of the fact that most of the moviegoers are completely sane and balanced individuals with reasonable intellect. It’s also a welcome change that not only were these good movies, but made reasonable money for their producers.
Here’s a quick rundown on this years favorites:
Director: Zoya Akhtar
Never before has a movie displayed the inner workings and the struggles of the people of the Hindi film world with such finesse, sensitivity and humor. Luck by Chance to me is the movie of the year. I am so thankful that Zoya got to this before Madhur Bhandarkar who would have positively made a pedestrian and a juvenile movie out of this subject. LBC is littered with many moments of true beauty and lyricism. It treats all its characters with real dimensions and shades of real people – each of them has his/her own axe to grind and the ensemble star-cast gives justice to even the smallest of the characters. Well played Zoya. This one, my friends will certainly age well.
Director: Vishal Bhardwaj
Twin brothers: check. One good the other not so: check. Mistaken identities: check. Bad guys and badder guys on the trail of the hero and heroine: check. Drugs and violence: check. Do not be fooled, this is not as you think an 80s masala flick, it is a bloody and a raucous dark comedy which runs faster than you can think. Vishal has created a pulp masterpiece (never mind the naysayers, in my books it is). Ohh, and did I mention it has one of the best climaxes of Hindi cinema.
Director: R Balki
A father who plays son to his real life son and the project involves the self-absorbed Bachchans. I had passed my judgment on the movie even before I saw it. Boy, was I proven wrong!! Crisp dialogs, straight from the heart performances and the right dose of emotions made this the feel good movie of the year. The central story delivers the goods so much so that I am willing to let go of the minor irritants (Paresh Rawal and the shtick about media’s social responsibility). This is the only movie, yes, the only movie where Amitabh is not being Amitabh.
Wake Up Sid
Director: Ayan Mukherjee
Boy meets girl, girl likes boy, boy doesn’t know what he wants, boy leaves girl, boy realizes he loves the girl and all is well – pretty pedestrian stuff. Ayan Mukherjee’s debut film takes this plot , avoids most of the cliches of the rom-com genre and creates new ones but how adorably. The lead pair is so wrong on paper – Ranbeer Kapoor and Konkona Sen Sharma – yikes! Yet, on the screen they light up an entire neighborhood. Also watch out for the supporting actors, finally Hindi cinema is making more of them than just woodwork and frame fillers. Special mention to Supriya Pathak – we need more of her and her delightful sister Ratna Pathak who also by the way gave a memorable Maa in Jaane tu ya jaane na last year.
Director: Rakeysh Om Prakash Mehra
Yes, sue me, but this movie worked for me, if not in its entirety, in more places than it didn’t. Agreed Mehra tried to cram as many issues about urban India as possible in a slightly confused screenplay, but the sincerity of his intentions were evident in every single frame. What further elevates the movie is its wonderful cast – Om Puri, Waheeda Rehman, Supriya Pathak, Pawan Malhotra, Divya Dutta (someone give this lady a decent role – she is a rockstar), Sonam Kapoor, Abhishek Bachchan, Prem Chopra, Rishi Kapoor (is it me or this man is a revelation in his older avatar), Deepak Dobriyal, Atul Kulkarni – all glorious. There was much joy in watching all of them perform. Mehra displayed tremendous eye for detail in numerous scenes in the movie and I am willing to forgive him for a hot-mess of a climax. This one will also age well. Talk to me after 15 years.
Director: Raju Hirani
Raju Hirani knows how to infuse social messages into a completely formulaic yet enjoyable screenplay, he proved it with the Munnabhai franchise and with “3 idiots” he does it again. So what if there are some scenes which stay longer than their welcome, some of the character caricatures and names are juvenile (Examples: Viru Sahastrabuddhe : since when did a 50 something Konkanastha Brahmin had an official first name “Viru” but only to come up with the nickname VIRUS), sure the casting of 40 somethings as college kids proves that the director does not quite trust the material with the younger generation of actors, yet you leave the theater exhilarated and satisfied – why, I am still trying to figure it out. Although this one will not stand the test of time, but as a raucous entertainer it works. All is well!
Other notable mention goes to Anurag Kashyap’s Dev D and Raj Kumar Santoshi’s Ajab Prem ki Ghajab Kahani. Also, I have not seen Kashyap’s Gulaal and Shimit Amin’s Rocket Singh, but I am sure Rocket Singh would have made the list had I seen it.
2010 seems to be another promising year, notably: Ishqiya (Vishal produces and his assitant Abhishek Chaubey directs) and Rann (RGV directs and seems like he is back to his senses).