Sunday, December 21, 2008

Bollywood in 2008: The movies I loved.

Originally published on The article has been originally published here.

It is that time of the year again when we look back at the year and analyze the year’s movies we loved. I don’t watch many movies in a year(or let’s put it, not being able to), so this is the list of movies I loved amongst the lot I watched. Since I couldn’t watch some of the most talked about movies of the year like Aamir, Mumbai Meri Jaan, Welcome to Sajjanpur, Dostana. So, they don’t make it to the list for obvious reasons.

They rocked it. And how! (Rock On!!)- After a spate of failures, Excel entertainment finally delivered with Kapoor’s Rock on. The poignant story of 4 individuals discovering themselves when they have ‘moved on’ in life and ‘compromised’ with life. Beautifully understated and surprisingly subtle, Kapoor’s story telling ability showed huge improvements since his forgettable Aryan. Farhan Akhtar looked very assured in his first stint in front of the camera, while Shahana’s portrayal of a frustrated wife was commendable too. The soundtrack of the movie left a lot to be desired, and Farhan’s voice received an emotions of mixed hues, I found it to be strictly okay. For me, it worked within the context of this film, it won’t anywhere else. With due respect to Javed Saab, the lyrics were pedestrian to say the least. Sindbad the sailor, and Na na na na were the only two songs that had those truly cool, zingy, carefree moments . Socha Hai tried too hard to impress, and so did the rest, though Phir Dekhiye was sung soulfully by Dominique. Kenny being diagonised with cancer and all that associated drama were the only staring blemish, the movie was going beautifully till that point dictated by the demands of the characters and setting, not by any formulaic structure. The movie could have still fallen after that cliched angle, but was deftly handled thereon and turned out to be quite decent in totality.

No Good bye to a movie like this. (Dasividaniya). - Vinay Pathak plays Amar who discovers that he has only three months to live. The subject of the sort has been handled in many movies( though only as direct and explicit in method like Bucket List), but the way Vinay Pathak portrayed the hidden, unexplored desires of an ordinary middle class guy was exhilarating to see. Almost every wish of his is sewn with some really beautiful scenes and the moment you think the movie is going into the maudlin and itching to become sugary dramatic, it snaps out and comes back on track. Although, I believe the movie lost all its impact towards the end. It could have easily been 15 minutes short. When Vinay and his brother are having a conversation in the balcony about life and how we miss the minute details only to repent it later, was heart warming. Then, Vinay says yeh zindagi kitni khubsoorat hai na bhai…The movie should have ended right there. Right there. To see the movie end on a detatched note was a tad dissapointing.

The common fear of unknown faces. (A Wednesday) - A dynamite debut. Neeraj Pandey. A tight gripping thriller that almost never sways off track, barring few amateur dialogues, and a couple of minor inconsistencies here and there. People will always debate how practical and logical the whole thing was. The make up of the common man can be debated and so will be his motives. If not for anything else, if his motive can be looked as a symbolic representation of everyone’s anger that is seething within, that too in wake of recent bombings, we can appreciate what A Wednesday wanted to say. Also, A Wednesday never tried to spell a solution, it was just an exaggerated version of the latent anger. If this continues, something is gonna break, that’s what A Wednesday was about. Naseeruddin was the Shah of the movie, while Anupam Kher is as always was a delight to watch.

So when can the most cliched story be entertaining? (Jaane Tu..Ya Jaane Na): Okay. It can be argued that he might not be the same Tyrewala who wrote the Main Khuda of Paanch, but even on his bad days Tyrewala can be fairly sharp and intelligent than most of the people in Bollywood. I had always thought Tyrewala’s first film would be different, but his choice to direct a typical bollywood rom-com flick came as a surprise. The story was cliched as it could get, nor was the treatment of the love story any different. The same we are only buddies, the third one ensuing jealously, etc.etc. But, I never thought the high points of this movie would be the comic element. After a certain point, the movie just ran berserk and was pointlessly hilarious, and ala Singh is King and their cousins, the jokes were not cliched, although bordering on to unbelievable madness at times, the movie was fun. The movie worked for me only because of its mindless humor, you know, dimaag ghar pe chod kar aane wali movie. I enjoyed it like I would enjoy any ‘good’ Govinda-David Dhawan flick. Romance and the lovey dovey scenes( or their effect) was conspicuous by its absence. Also, Kabhi kabhi Aditi was reason enough to throng the theaters.

God was with this movie till he was not in the movie. Rab Ne Bana di Jodi(only the first 40 minutes): We all knew Aditya Chopra could do it after DDLJ, and we were all waiting for it, with almost bated breath. The movie introduces Punjab in an uncharacteristic Chopra way, and surprisingly, Chopra captures the nuances of the small city in a manner we all had wanted to see for a long, long time. The character of Suri is so cute and sweet, that you feel like saying a girly Aww…cho chweet whenever he says Thani ji. Shahrukh steps out of his King Khan umbrella and delights, dazzles, and sinks into Suri’s Action shoes to provide one of his most believable performances. This movie could have been a different story all together(literally!), had Aditya Chopra plugged in some common sense and a shade of practicality. He killed the movie after that. Well, that is a different thing all together. But, I still can’t get over the first 40 minutes replete with magical moments like Maine to aj tak kisi ladiss se baat hi nai ki, and when he gazes over the new tiffin with Haule Haule playing in the background.

Sarkar Raj: Sarkar Raj is not amongst the Verma’s best work, but, given Verma’s horrendous form of late, Sarkar Raj wasn’t that bad either. The first half was distinctly better than the second half. Abhishek brooded more than he did in Sarkar, while the camera was obsessed with exposing every wrinkles on Bachann’s face. Even though the climax was a bit too easily spelled by the know it-all-Godfather-turned-God, it was still pretty engaging for most of the parts.

Oye Lucky Lucky Oye - After Khosla’s success, expectations were sky high from Banerjee’s next movie. And Banerjee didn’t disappoint. This tragicomedy had some stellar performances from the entire cast, backed by a layered script, and the capital city at its barest best. I had said almost everything about the movie in this article. So, any more adjectives in this space would just be redundant.

And for me the real hero award of this year was….? UTV Motion Pictures for giving home to some of the most varied, fresh and exciting ideas in the industry. One just hopes UTV continues sheltering this new breed of Indian cinema. The Pandeys, the Banerjees and the Kamats have just begun to emerge and aren’t we loving it? We must thank UTV for that.

So, that was 2008 for me. What movies made it to your list?


Sanjeev said...

I don't know if this is a mere coincidence that I also loved the same movies which u ve mentioned in ur post.....I think Rock On was the best of them all.

sudhir said...

I agree completely with you regarding UTV.

Ronnie Screwala and his friends also helped produce Welcome to Sajjanpur and Amir. THese were also good movies and have done reasonably well on the boxoffice