It’s that time of the year when the interwebz is full of year-end articles (including our own) and best movie-worst movie lists.
I was going to do a list on those lines but then again I realized it wouldn’t be fair to place the horrible (read Khiladi 786, Housefull 2, Rowdy Rathod) and the absolutely out-of-the-world (Joker) with actual movies. Hence I decided I’d write about a few films I liked from the few I watched. This isn’t a list and is obviously incomplete (I don’t have access to much of regional cinema) and no, Gangs of Wasseypur isn’t an indie film.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I must admit 2012 saw a whole new bunch of stories and filmmakers who sort of filled in the gap that was created by stupid, mindless cinema.
Gattu was without a doubt one of my favourites. The simplicity and innocence that its children-oriented narrative brings to the screen was what we all needed. The movie’s brilliance I think, lies in the way it was written and the way it was seamlessly translated on screen. This truly was a film which made me happy, Without any stars or formula-based clichés. The innocence rendered by its child actors was enough.
Supermen of Malegaon was a ‘documentary’ and that one word itself, puts off lot of cinema-goers. Who the hell wants to watch a documentary and pay for it? And this is why I must say this now – don’t let the word ‘documentary’ mislead you. This is a story of absolute genius, the DIY attitude and the magic of filmmaking. And all this was from a set of working class men who we would never see as filmmakers otherwise. Insanely inspiring.
Greater Elephant was one film most of you may not have seen owing to the fact that it was released only in Pune (the Mumbai release is on 18th Jan 2013). I am told that the film will see similar limited releases all over the country. It has a beautiful story of a mahout’s search for his elephant that is told in an even more beautiful way. This film is a must-watch, not just because it’s a good film but also because it represents a thought process which sees films beyond being mindless entertainers. (Read our review here.)
Talaash was film that divided critics and audiences alike. There are just two ways to it – you like it or you don’t. I liked it and I am saying even though ‘the surprise ending’ was revealed to me by two female nincompoops on my way to the screening auditorium. Since it had a running plot element from Don’t Look Now, I would have guessed the supernatural end anyway. Well, films aren’t always meant to be the way you think of them or want them to be – sometimes they can be deceptive, and even deception is an art.
Kahaani was one movie that would appeal have to everybody. With enthralling performances by the perfectly cast actors, this smart film was entertaining too. Be it the protagonist, Vidya (Vidya Balan) , the CBI Officer, Khan (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), the Kolkata police officer, Rana (Parambrata Chaterjee) or the now over-memed Bob Biswas (Saswata Chaterjee), this film had believable characters that made all the unbelievable bits believable. (Read our review here.)
Gangs Of Wasseypur, and by that I mean both the films, should be made in to a TV series on the lines of Game of Thrones. That’s how detailed the movie was and maybe that’s where it lost some of its viewers. The film isn’t exactly a masterpiece but it is honest and unpretentious. It proved quite a few things – the most important being that smartly written lines and good actors can make a good film awesome and that Anurag Kashyap is that unlikely auteur which a whole bunch of kids would want to be. Also, that some as non-assuming as Nawazuddin Siddiqui can carry a film alone. (Read our reviews of both films here.)
Vicky Donor was rumoured to be an unofficial remake of the French-Canadian film Starbuck (its Wikipedia page even mentions a ‘Bollywood’ remake) but obviously the only common thing was the protagonist being a sperm donor and in a deeper sense, Starbuck is what Vicky Donor will be 20 years later. The film was unabashedly funny and drove home a social message which it probably didn’t intend to.
Shanghai was undoubtedly the best satire film I saw this year. The whole premise of the film had me even before I saw the film. People called it slow-paced and boring, but I felt it was hauntingly real especially if you bothered to soak in the finer details like the very cold but hard-hitting last scene. This film does more than just be a smart film – it comments on society and our political system without being preachy. Genius.
Paan Singh Tomar was a relatively old film that saw theatrical release this year. Right from getting the perfect dialect to casting believable actors (and at times non-actors), this film was my favourite choice as India’s entry for the Oscars. Yes, it’s about a criminal but then again the way it shows a part of India that most of us feel doesn’t exist, is simply stunning. (Read our review here.)
Bom was the other theatrically released documentary I really liked and again, it found itself out of the theatres within a week. That just reflects poorly on the audience’s stance at watching a serious film about a serious and important problem. And I am not talking about marijuana legalisation – that’s just a small thing the film talks about. The film is a critical look at our system of democracy and how it has failed us and many others on numerous counts. Bom is going to be re-released in 2013 and I hope more people go to see it then.