We’re almost done with the year and what an eventful year it has been. Where some of the movies have done exceptionally well, some others could not make it as expected. And then there were some that were well made but could only make their presence felt in the International Film Festivals. However, considering our love for popular cinema we have chosen the top ten according to us that impressed us this year. We line them up her in no particular order.
Cast: Anushka Sharma, Neil Boopalam, Darhsan Kumar
Set in the Haryanvi patriarchal backdrop, this one comes as close as it can get to the social evil of honour killing. Anushka’s first production made a swift entry and left a mark of its own. The movie has a gripping plot and stupendous acting from the main protagonist. You want to feel the rage as it seethes through and the edge of the seat drama makes for an engaging watch. We hope to see more of such tightly knit scripts in the coming year as well.
Cast: Ajay Devgn, Tabu, Shriya Saran, Rajat Kapoor
This thriller by Nishikant Kamat borrowed from the Malayalam movie of the same name made for quite an interesting watch. The narrative was engaging and the story instantly grabbed your attention. The muder mystry was unlike any, where an (almost) uneducated protagonist manages to confuse an intelligent police officer and never gives up. Not just that the principal character’s affection for his family made bylines in your heart and you begin empathizing with him all the more. One of the best thrillers we have witnessed in the recent times.
The story of a dysfunctional family aboard a cruise ship along with friends, relatives and frenemies brings along the bitter truths of life as the family struggles to brush everything ugly truth under the carpet. Narrated by the wisest of all dog, Pluto, the narrative discloses the various faces of human behavior- happy, sad, insecure, successful, vulnerable, in love or breaking down. Some of the dialogues and scenes are amazingly weaved in the screenplay. Not for a moment does the story of this family seem forced however their pretentious behavior comes through and unravels the societal norms that we bind ourselves in and hence destroy our relationship/s with the ones closest to us. This one’s a winner simply for the chemistry of each of the main characters in the movie.
Tanu Weds Manu Returns
Cast: Kangana Ranaut, R Madhavan, Jimmy Shergil, Deepak Dobriyal, Eijaz Khan, and Swara Bhaskar
A sequel to the previous film seemed quite exciting. Considering that the main characters were pretty interesting and quirky, we definitely expected some fireworks from this one and it definitely did not disappoint. The brilliance of this particular movie was its dialogues by Himanshu Sharma – perfectly times and pretty hilarious. The topsy-turvy screenplay made for an appealing watch as well. The script was tight and the actors did perfect justice to their characters. What we loved most about the movie was the intricate study that went behind the background of the characters whether they were from Kanpur of Jhajjar. A perfectly entertaining movie, this one can be watched more than once.
This Sriram Raghavan revenge saga was one of the most surprising offerings this year. Varun Dhawan playing a character spanning his 24 screen years to 40 and what a varied character that is! From a loving family man to a Dexter-like slayer he manages to still walk away with the viewer’s sympathy. The script was crisp and focused, the performances excellent in every way, direction perfectly drafted and the narrative…well, nail-biting. The chemistry between the protagonist and the antagonist was so vivid one could feel the tension on the screen, and then by the time they switch places in the narrative one finds it more real that reality.
This story of a father-daughter duo was the cutest that we heard all year. It’s a story of families and their quirks and accepting them nevertheless. On one end it makes one weep at the nostalgia and on the other guffaw at the immense wit of the characters. Written beautifully, this one intricately weaves the relationships whether it is family or not. To add to the fun there is a road trip that brings out their best and their worst selves. Reaching their destiny is not just a final stop over but also a realization of sorts, a reminiscing layover to time and memories. This one not only stands out but demands attention.
Cast: Salman Khan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Kareena Kapoor, Harshali Malhotra
This year we saw Salman Khan being showcased in a rather emotional and coherent story. He was not seen unnecessarily bashing up goons saving irrelevant heroines and cracking low IQ jokes. This year, we saw an emotional, god-fearing character that quite courageously manages to cross the border to bring a little girl back home. Essentially a story about love, friendship and brotherhood, this one was a tear-jerker at most parts. Salman Khan stood out as the large-hearted Pavan as Kabir Khan made sure his image is not compromised. The fans got ample doses of the Salman magic that made this movie one of the biggest grossers of the year.
Boasted as India’s Biggest Motion Picture, this one stood out not just for its crazily built hunks, but for its splash of visuals, amazingly done CGI and brave leaps of production value. The larger than life sets, loud spoken dialogues and outrageous romance made this a complete entertainer. Rajamouli’s brave and forward thinking opus left the audience wanting for more. In spite of being a script that has been beaten to death in the 80s, this one made us stand up and take notice for the sheer hard work that has been done in every detail, whether it is the costumes, the art or the characters. With brilliant graphics, the movie managed to create a make-believe empire for us that stays etched with us till we see its sequel the next year. Of course, we all were left lusting for a bigger blow as we all wanted to know why Katappa killed Bahubali.
Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Deepika Padukone
Being a Imtiaz Ali fan, it was not difficult for us to cherish this complex drama that set the tone beautifully on the intricacies of human nature. This one is definitely his most challenging and intriguing outing so far. A brilliant attempt at exploring love and life, this one delves deeper into the psychological bent of the society at large. The way the main character bends into and gives in to the mundane life as chalked out by the society for him, makes for a deep cut in anyone who has ever felt a similar pain. Thought the subject has been explored before in Taare Zameen Par and 3 idiots, but this time its love at stake. Tara and Ved are caught up between what ought to be and what is and fight hard to discover what should really have been. This one makes for our favorite this year.
Deemed to be the Magnum Opus of the year, this one definitely stays as a repeat watch for us. Not only are the characters real and contemporary in their thought but also the subject of polygamy has been dealt with utmost sensitivity. Set in the 18th century, the story talks about love, valour, vulnerabilities, sacrifice and submission. It also talks about how love is a religion in itself and far above the societal definition of faith. Sanjay Leela Bhansali has yet again managed to create a larger than life motion picture with beautiful costumes, elaborate sets, appeasing animation and characters that seem real. Deemed as his dream project, the movie falls a bit short as it does not grow large enough to tower over the movies made in the same genre previously. However, the chemistry of Ranveer-Deepika has yet again been put to test. Priyanka does a convincing job of portraying the one who is deceived, unlike her real life persona.
The ten above round up the year’s best for Movie Massala. Surely, you would want to add a few more to the list, so please feel free to share yours in the comments.
I am completely in awe of period dramas-always eager to find out how a particular time in the history is translated on the screen. I am always curious to understand the director’s perspective of a set era back in time. Just like always, this time as well, I knew I would like the movie as soon as I saw the promos. Also, I am a Sanjay Leela Bhansali fan so I was all the more looking forward to his latest outing.
Bhansali movies are known for their elaborate sets and extravagant costumes and also their larger than life portrayal of characters. Exactly what I was expecting and exactly what I was served. The movie set in the 1800s is the love story of Peshwa Bajirao who fell in love with the warrior-princess of Bundelkhund, Mastani, while he was already married to KashiBai. It is also the story of people warped around love where they are unable to devote their whole self and are divided in the turmoils of religion- something that rings true even today. Therefore the story in the present context is quite relatable.
This fictional depiction of Bajirao’s life has many shades-love, longing, bigotry, valour and sacrifice. Where Bajirao is fighting hard to balance his life which is divided between love and religion, there is Mastani, who is all consumed by love. Every step she takes, she aims to be closer to Bajirao. Then there is Kashi who is torn between her love for her husband and her husband’s love for another woman.She does excuse the deceit but she does not forgive. This is what makes the story pretty contemporary. How this love destroys the three of them is what sums up the story.
Where the ethereal Deepika Padukone has played Mastani to the hilt we wonder how in one year she could give us the outgoing Tara (in Tamasha) and the submissive yet strong Mastani, all with consistent poise. Her character has been built based on any woman who completely submits to her love and lives as per her desires. So when she is humiliated, shunned and brutalized, she refuses to give up on the man she loves and bears him a son, as well. She quietly but confidently makes way into his life, only to be remembered as one with her lover. There is Bajirao-the valiant. Ranveer Singh fits into the character so well, it’s almost as if the role is tailor-made for him. His mannerisms, his accent, his tonality all ring of originality as he gets into the skin of his character. He makes the character more believable than what it actually is written as. Every time he moves on the screen we can see grace- whether it is a fight sequence, romance or anguish. He is as effective in the battlefield as he is in the most vulnerable parts-taking Mastani as his wife and Kashi denouncing him. He make us feel for his character.
There is Kashi Bai played by Priyanka Chopra. Her character is the righteous wife who knows her husband of how he is perceived by the outer world. She connects with him as a friend though but nothing beyond that. Her love for her husband is more devout than spiritual. And when she understands the difference she is broken. Her heartbreak reaches out to you and you sympathise with the character. Her pain speaks at various levels during the course of the second half, whether she is airing it to out to her husband or his lover.
Among the other characters, Tanvi Azmi, as the peshwa’s mother shines through and creates ripples. However, the other fine actors like Raza Muraad, Mahesh Manjrekar, Aditya Pancholi, Milind Soman were quite wasted. We would have loved to see their characters play a more vital role in the screenplay. However, that does not hinder us from enjoying the narrative.
Even though the principal characters have worked really hard to bring the characters to life, it is but the sets and the costumes that complete the circle. Cinematography by Sudeep Chatterjee makes the first half quite distinct from the second half. Where the first half shows the life of the peshwa set within his family and his outings with the enemy, the second half in contrast shows how his life is torn by his family and his battles are more within than outside. Where the first half is sprinkled with deep frames, the second half brings the wide angles and outdoors, transitioning the story that depicts how large the war within the protagonist’s heart is. Additionally, the CGI brings the war scenes to life and some of the visuals get completely etched in your memory- like the one where Bajirao jumps on the head of an elephant and stabs the enemy. Wow!!
The costumes designed by Anju Modi are strikingly beautiful and come close to the extravagance of Jodha-Akbar. Deepika’s costumes are meticulously brought together to contrast with her various moods throughout the movie-as a princess, as a lover, as a mother. Priyanka carries the marathi look quite well. With slightly wavy hair tied in a bun, the shining gucha-nath, she makes the look complete with that thousand watt smile. Her vibrance brings much colour and life to the frames she is in. Ranveer takes center stage because he needed to bring character to the way he dressed. From regality to soldier his transformation was as elegant as it could be and pleasingly so.
Sanjay Leela Bhansali is a brave filmmaker to be able to pick up subjects like this and go all out to create what he visualises. Even though the product does not turn out flawless, but it still manages to soar higher than most of the products being churned out. With the colours- all sorts- sprayed courageously across the screen, this historical narrative looks brighter than it would on book. It took me a few days to chew on the movie and I can safely say that this review was worth the wait. The message is clear-love surpasses all- no religion can ever come close because love is a religion by itself.
In case, you have still not watched it I would suggest you to use this weekend to watch it. Here is what to expect:
Cast: Sandhya Mridul, Sarah Jane Dias, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Anushka Manchanda, Pavleen Gujral, Amrit Maghera, Rajshri Deshpande
Director: Pan Nalin
Music: Ram Sampath, Anushka Manchanda, The Local Train, Ashish Prabhu Ajgaonkar
What can we expect when seven women gather under a roof in Goa to celebrate a wedding in the offing? Fun, alright but there’s more to offer here. The film in the first few minutes manages to show us how all of these women are experiencing some or the other kind of battles which may somewhat relate to gender biases. These women gathern not just to celebrate together but also revel in nostalgia, clamour, hopes and laughter. They are the women of today in flesh and blood- women we can relate to at some level. Women who are as happy as they sound on the outside and as hollow otherwise.
So when Frieda (Sarah Jane Dias), a fashion photographer, invites her friends over to celebrate her wedding with her- because it has to be a very hushed up affair, and only her six friends are going to be a part of it- little does she realise that it’s going to get bigger than her own struggle with the world. Suranjana (Sandhya Mridul) learns that in a bid to prove to the world that she is no less than any man, and fit enough to lead a company as its CEO, she has lost all touch with her six-year old little daughter, who finds herself lost and lonely without the love of her parents. Madhurita (Anushka Manchanda) who is a pop singer going through a terrible dry spell, has no idea that her attempts to kill herself are merely a cry for help and not a brave display of her fight against prejudice. Pammi (Pavleen Gujral) is a housewife who finds herself away from her domestic battles and enjoys the freedom that comes with being in her comfort zone, that is with her friends.
Activist Nargis (Tannishtha Chatterjee) later on in the movie realises that being angry about issues does not stop them from happening- sad, that she submits though. I’d still have to collect the whole of her character, now that we know her portions were cut by the censorship. Laxmi (Rajshri Deshpande), the house-help is reminded that she is trapped in her revenge, while putting her life on hold. It is Joanna (Amrit Maghera), the wannabe actress, who makes her realise that. Well, she is the spark in this movie. She brings a certain magic not just to her character but also certain elaborate frames. Her conversation, out in the open, with Laxmi is deep and thought-provoking.
Even when you are enjoying the free-spirited Goan air and its narrow alleys along with the characters, you are pretty aware that it is not just the story of some girls who have got together to have some mindless fun, without being judged. You know that there is danger lurking at some corner and before you know it, it hits you! A rape and murder brings them together too. The individual battles that they have been fighting themselves in solitude become a combined aggression. The movie ends on a note where we all hope that it turns true. Though it still seems so far-fetched.
Even though the movie tries to impress upon feminism as its main agenda, along the way it fails to really go that far. Surprisingly, the issues that keep propping up in the first half did not quite take shape in the second half and got diluted sometime when the accident happens. The intent seemed like it was supposed to create a statement there but it fails to impress. The highlight at that time, though, is the way the characters act. They are beautiful in every way. All of the main ladies manage to create their own space and do full justice to the piece written for them. Whatever their agendas are- revenge, rape, homosexuality, suicide, divorce, childlessness, legal battle- they manage to hold it to their own and treat it well. Must watch if you have the appetite for niche cinema, else just don’t watch it simply to judge it. It’s not meant to be that way.
Appreciate the guts of the director, Nalin, to gather all these vivacious women together and build their lives for two hours, but more than that, a huge applause for the camera work by Swapnil S. Sonawane. The close ups, especially of Amrit and Anuj are superbly shot. Would love to see more of his work, now.
Here is a snippet of what to expect, in case you have not watched the movie yet:
From Bittoo to Bajirao, we have seen Ranveer Singh in many of his avatars and we have loved each one of them. Over these years he has grown immensely and has played versatile characters that have etched in our minds. Whether he is playing on the silver screen or not at the moment, his presence is pretty evident in the way that he moves in the filmy circuits. Some people may criticize him for being brash and loud, but that’s what makes him stand out, perhaps. He is out there- out in the open. So love him or hate him, but you can NEVER ignore him.
So when Ranveer Singh completed 5 years in the industry, last week, we knew we had to do something to participate in the celebrations!
He is suave
He is a ladies man. Pretty evident from the way he charms all his leading ladies. From Anoushka to Parineeti to Sonakshi to Deepika to Priyanka, all seem to be extremely fond of him. Their camaraderie is so evident on the interviews that you are sure he has been one of hell of an entertainer even on the sets.
Not just the way that he comes across, but also the way that he dresses. He is that cool dude who can carry a formal look and a boho look with equal elan. We have seen him as the guy next door Bitto to a casanova Vicky to a street style Romeo Ram (Goliyon Ki Raasleela- Ram Leela) and he has been able to carry each of the looks with such aplomb.
He is hot
Oh c’mon, as if you never drooled over the body he flaunted in the song “Tatad-tatad” in Goliyon Ki Raasleela-Ram Leela. And of course the song “Ang laga De Re” just sealed the deal to his hotness level. He just looks so delicious in this song, that you never want it to end. And I have seen the movie on the big screen, not once!! The hotness quotient does not get any less if he plays Kabeer Mehra (Dil Dhadakne Do), the young scion of the Mehras who simply can’t make up his mind.
Ranveer Singh has proved that he is one of the hottest we have in the industry presently.
He is cool
How can someone look so hot yet so cool, all at the same time. Well he does. He becomes the covetous Vicky in Ladies vs Vicky Bahl and then turns the reluctant Varun Srivastava in Lootera. He is so cool he can get into any character and make it his own. In spite of the fact that there are bigwigs like Anil Kapoor working beside him, he did not falter one bit in Dil Dhadakne Do and made a mark all of his own.
Not just his characters, but the way that he is in his life, just defines his cool attitude. Just recently he got many stars dubsmashing his dialogue from Bajirao Mastani including THE Big B, and that just goes on to show how cool he is!
He has the swag
Do you not recall the roll he go into with the AIB viral video. He has all the capability to get into controversies like that because he cares two hoots about what the world measures him as. Not only did he manage to create the roar but he swooped out of it just as smoothly. Not just that, he does not shy away from bringing out his funkiest, casual, wackiest, quirkiest self and yet appear so damn comfortable in his skin. He oozes confidence in each of his appearances whether it is on media, on the silver screen, on social media or even at the airport. He knows they notice him, and he’s all eager to show off!
He can act
Nopes, we would never argue about that. The Bitto Sharma still resides in our heart with his boy next door image and then with the vulnerability that he played Varun from Lootera completely etched him further. He is the one we look out for each year to come up with something that is different from his last appearance. And he never disappoints. He can act, alright. From bringing in the grins to enticing us with his sexiness to making us misty eyed all in a single movie in Goliyon Ki Raasleel-Ram Leela, he has shown versatility in each of the characters that he has played. It’s not just that he can act, but his eyes, his hair, his arms….they all act!
After 5 years, today, we wish Ranveer Singh many many more successful years in the movie business and may he shine even stronger than before. As far as Bajirao Mastani is concerned, am waiting for the BO window to open!!