TV Review – Parks and Recreation

PARKS AND RECREATION — “One Last Ride” Episode 712/713 — Pictured: (l-r) Chris Pratt as Andy Dwyer, Aubrey Plaza as April Ludgate, Retta as Donna Meagle, Rashida Jones as Ann Perkins, Nick Offerman as Ron Swanson, Aziz Ansari as Tom Haverford, Rob Lowe as Chris Traeger, Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope, Adam Scott as Ben Wyatt, Jim O’Heir as Garry Gergich — (Photo by: Colleen Hayes/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)

If a sitcom happens to be created, produced, or written by Greg Daniels, enter the name in your watchlist because there is a chance that you develop fondness towards his show. Personally, I had watched his American adaptation of The Office, Space Force, and then Upload before Parks and Recreation, and none of these disappointed me. In fact, The Office is one of my all-time favorite sitcoms.

Parks And Recreation give you the same vibes as The Office. Why not? After all, both the sitcoms have been set up in the office. If The Office was based on a fictional Dunder-Mifflin Paper Company in Scranton where that crazy Michael Scott was the Branch Manager then ‘Parks And Recreation’ is based on a fictional Pawnee City Hall where Leslie Knope is the deputy director in Parks and Recreation department.

Amy Poehler‘s Leslie character went through changes with time. Leslie was a bit silly in the first season and then the attitude towards her responsibilities changed especially when she involved herself in politics when her progress began to grab attraction and got offers to run the campaign. The PR to politics journey of Leslie was excellent.

Besides Leslie, my favorite character was Nick Offerman‘s Ron Swanson, the department director. He was socially detached who had parted ways with his wife, Tammy played by Offerman’s real-wife, Megan Mullaly. His dialogues were sparingly thoughtful and sometimes a soft curmudgeon’s bible.

The writing of the show gave a lot of breathing to the supporting characters and made the Pawnee diary exciting. Correlated themes like media and journalism portrayals also helped in the plot continuity. Pawnee crackdown through the failing budget was also an interesting move.

Without a doubt, Chris Pratt‘s Andy Dwyer had the best character development in the show. From being a lazy ass to becoming a television celebrity, Andy’s journey was fun to watch.

At some point in the middle, I had a feeling that the show was possessing time and wasn’t continuing well. The comic timing of the characters was getting a little flat. Aziz Ansari as Tom Haverford was an average beginning in a couple of seasons but then I began to ask myself what significance of the character really was. Tom was getting ridiculous minutes. Especially his comic partnership with Ben Schwartz‘s Jean-Ralphio in the show was extremely boring and annoying. If the latter’s contribution to the show was a question mark, the character’s sister Mona-Lisa raised the alarm about the decline of comic quality. Thank God, Jean and Mona were not promoted as regulars.

I will surely have one deep irritation about lacking the idea of not creating its own universe of department sitcoms. PR started after three or four seasons of The Office. The same team created both the shows, Greg Daniels and Michael Schur (yep, Dwight’s Amish brother, Mose Schrute). Both shows mostly ran together and that too on the same network, NBC. How could the producers not consider possible connectivity? Imagine Scranton-Pawnee crossovers! Michael Scott and Leslie Knope on the same stage!

Without a doubt, The Office was a way better sitcom than PR but the former should vanish from the mind in order to watch the fun of PR because, in all honesty, PR is really an exciting sitcom. I very much enjoyed it and will remember it for a long long time. The Office fans are definitely recommended to watch Parks And Recreation.

TV Review – Steptoe and Son

The poor father-son duo of Albert Steptoe and Harold Steptoe run a rag-and-bone business while living in Shepherd’s Bush, London. With time, Harold’s desires and aspirations meet Albert’s rigid tendency of accepting change. His naivety irritates Harold and pretends to be ill if the son leaves to live some portion of his life on his own. Dirty ol’ man Albert lies to unsuccessfully avoid the blame of his mischievous blunders. Albert jeopardizes wherever Harold takes him, say cinema, restaurant, party. The best writing lies in the generational conflict of these two characters for eight seasons and they never disappoint at all.

The old BBC classic sitcoms were always known for their rich content especially a thoughtful theme on which the quality of humor was so delicate and rib-tickling. Steptoe and Son (1962-1974) is an influential and groundbreaking sitcom that made its rounds in British households in the early 1960s, right on time. Because around three million people in Britain were living on the poverty line. So this sitcom was a fit to their sentiments, especially for the Cockneys.

I will not skip mentioning both the leading actors, Wilfrid Brambell and Harry H. Corbett. I mean what better father-son chemistry you will ask for. The generational conflict and comic timing between them were so striking and growing their partnership with the viewers for years being the only two major characters of the show is extremely difficult. Even Sandford and Son needed the assistance of the supporting characters especially Aunt Esther but the original show remained constrained.

Another significance of this sitcom is its cult status in Britain. Steptoe and Son was easily the first well-known British sitcom about a working-class, describing poor working men living without women in different setups. You can take an example of Ronnie Barker‘s Porridge and Open All Hours in the 1970s or most specifically the greatest British sitcom, Only Fools and Horses. The sitcom’s international influence can be measured by the fact that American tv producer and developer Norman Lear adapted the show and created Red Foxx starred Sanford And Son for NBC. 16 of Steptoe and Son episodes were recreated in the American adaptation. Steptoe & Son helped Norman Lear build his legacy in the 1970s when his developed sitcoms on NBC and CBS dominated the decade.

Had Steptoe & Son never happened, I wonder what the state of comedy would be in both regions. This is easily one of the best British sitcoms I have ever watched.

My favorite Steptoe and Son episodes:
01 – Season.1 – Episode.1 – The Offer
02 – Season.1 – Episode.2 – The Bird
03 – Season.1 – Episode.3 – The Piano
04 – Season.1 – Episode.4 – The Economist
05 – Season.2 – Episode.2 – The Bath
06 – Season.2 – Episode.4 – Sixty-Five Today
07 – Season.2 – Episode.6 – Full House
08 – Season.2 – Episode.7 – Is That Your Horse Outside?
09 – Season.3 – Episode.1 – Homes Fit For Heroes
10 – Season.3 – Episode.2 – The Wooden Overcoats
11 – Season.3 – Episode.4 – Steptoe à la Cart
12 – Season.3 – Episode.5 – Sunday for Seven Days
13 – Season.4 – Episode.2 – Crossed Swords
14 – Season.5 – Episode.1 – A Death in the Family
15 – Season.6 – Episode.1 – Robbery with Violence
16 – Season.6 – Episode.2 – Come Dancing
17 – Season.6 – Episode.3 – Two’s Company
18 – Season.6 – Episode.5 – Without Prejudice
19 – Season.6 – Episode.6 – Pot Black
20 – Season.7 – Episode.3 – Oh, What a Beautiful Mourning
21 – Season.7 – Episode.4 – Live Now, P.A.Y.E. Later
22 – Season.7 – Episode.6 – Divided We Stand
23 – Season.8 – Episode.2 – And So To Bed
24 – Season.8 – Episode.3 – Porn Yesterday
25 – Season.8 – Episode.4 – The Seven Steptoerai
26 – Season.8 – Episode.5 – Upstairs, Downstairs, Upstairs, Downstairs
27 – Season.8 – Episode.6 – Seance in a Wet Rag and Bone Yard

TV Review – Downton Abbey

I am not sure from where to start because writing a mere formal review of a period costume-drama like Downton Abbey is unjustly and undeservingly shorter to write. I have a staunch interest in classic period dramas and that is why shows like Cranford and Poldark hit my list of the shows that I like the most under this classic genre. Downton Abbey is something else.

Created and written by Oscar and Emmy-winning writer and novelist Julian Fellowes, Downton Abbey is about the Crawley family who exists in the early 20th century when the world is shaping towards a difficult period in the European regions. In between 1912 and 1926, the Crawleys led by the patriarch Robert Crawley, the Earl of Grantham, and his wife Cora, the American heiress, struggles to tackle many domestic conflicts running in the family and the business affairs that occur in the different phases.

The plotting of the show is divided into two different classes. One is the rich Crawleys and the other is their working staff. Their stories and characters play on parallel notes and are given equal importance that successfully shows that Downton Abbey is not only about the sophisticated luxury but the human value where the rich and the working class coordinate in harmony and build strong mutual respect. Internal conflicts and characterizations are dealt with with meticulous care. I liked how the three Crawley sisters were distinguished in characterization and their sisterhood was tested with time.

The presentation of their aristocracy and costume designing is the zenith of the show that never disappoints. Screenwriting and dialogues are powerful, less pragmatic but also less dramatic. There is a tremendous balance of dramatizing humor to the seriousness of the subject. When it comes to dialogues, the unanimous winner amongst all the characters is matriarch Violet Crawley played by the legendary Maggie Smith. Your ears won’t fall deaf when Violet begins to speak.

Speaking of pragmatism, I was a bit skeptical about the respect the writer builds between the Crawleys and their staff; because I felt the writer was being too humble to let the Crawleys go soft on their staff that doesn’t look realistic. But see, I am a history digger but I need to be convinced with the detailing. Does the history really make the viewers believe that the daughters of the estate would show fondness in driving the tractor or work her kitchen in the maid’s quarter or allow one of the staff to leave unpunished when the voice is to be raised? Lord Grantham letting his daughter marry a man, not from their ranks is also debatable. Being so merciful, generous, and treating so well to their servants is pretty doubtful. There was a scene where the ball was organized where each of the Crawleys dance with each of the servants. In another scene, Lord Grantham himself serves with a tray for a drink when working staff member Anna gives birth. Really don’t know if such things actually existed in the past and with such a level of delicacy.

Yes, Mr. Fellowes didn’t exaggerate glamorizing the royalness of the Crawleys but rather focused on the changing times where the family took time to accept change and this is where characterizing in the plot plays a major part. One impressive aspect that the show enlightened was the ladies of the estate supporting liberalism. All the three sisters Mary, Edith, and Sybil believed and advocated for the education and employment of women.

The most shocking moment of the show was the sudden death of Matthew Crawley, out of nowhere. Good to know that the character was deliberately killed because actor Dan Stevens decided to leave. Otherwise, there was no reason to kill the character that soon. My favorite character was definitely Violet Crawley, her presence was the minty alfresco. The other characters I very much liked were Mr. Carson, Mr. Molesley, and Lord Grantham. The best character development definitely was Thomas Barrow, he was someone to whom the viewers hated and loved equally.

Downton Abbey is a cult phenomenon and one of the masterpieces works on British television. One significant point about the show’s remarkable legacy is that the show comes into existence in the newest times as most of the classical masterpieces in British television history are from the previous century. After my Sons Of Anarchy addiction, if there is another show that hooked me and bought my time, it is Downton Abbey.

TV Review – Squid Game

A wealthy secret organization invites scores of participants who suffer financial crises and heavy loans. The participants eagerly join and are sent to a secret place for a few days where they have to accept the rules and play six games to win the jackpot. Little do they know the price they have to pay to end their financial miseries. They have zero clue about the horrors they have to confront.

Yes, there have been similar plots before like The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner but this South Korean tv show Squid Game cannot be compared for having similar elements. One, the former shows were adapted from their novels but the latter is created by the writer and director himself, Hwang Dong-hyuk. Plus the script of Squid Game was developed back in 2008 when the creator himself was in financial crisis too. So let’s assume that the foundation of this show was laid by his own lows. Indeed, the stories are gritty, moving, and compelling when you have bad times in life. Would the show have worked if produced in 2008? A kind of million-dollar question applicable in George Lucas‘ shoes when Star Wars was struggling to exist after Star Trek happened a decade ago.

I think Squid Game qualifies to be considered a complete source of entertainment where the games, the anticipation, the drama, and the suspense was thrilling, mesmerizing; and in all honesty, the show built a tremendous harmony of dark elements and forced humor in the writing. Just super brilliant work in the production design, contrasting colors of the interior so compelling and you are in some hypnotic illusion when the synchronized ladder climbing from different directions trying to reach the event.

The show is meeting immense global popularity and the kind of plot is hooking millions of viewers around the world, the story must also be subjected to observe how the ugliness of realities are made so warmly welcomed. Squid Game is easily one of the darkest satire on social capitalism on the global level. The highly rich people having fun of witnessing the poor turned into evils and murderers for the greed and hunger for money. Exaggeration of childhood games placed on adults becoming some harmless flying birds for the hunting season.

The world-famous music, ‘The Blue Danube‘ has found a new place in history and will be remembered for a reason. I must also admit that it wasn’t certainly perfectly crafted writing at all. Dong-hyuk did miss some portions that he should have taken into account. The heaviest of all criticism rests over lacking character developments. For example, I wanted to know the making of the Front Man. There was so much potential in the character but didn’t utilize. Police officer Hwang and the foreigner Ali Abdul were wasted. Ali Abdul’s introduction was one of the most intense scenes of the show when he holds Gi-hun from one hand before the girl looks back.

If there is a follow-up season then I think the creator has made a big mistake in the ending. With all the limited content offered for the writing of the plot, the story concludes with most of the characters meeting their deserving ends. So continuing out of nowhere, you need much a bigger picture to attract the viewers for eight or nine new episodes again. The biggest revelation in the finale was needless. But again, do we really need the second season? Can you just leave that secret organization and the dirty power kill scores of participants? Should the madness be stopped by someone or was that a slap on our hypocritic cheek? So if there is the second season then the writer, with all the global hype, is taking a huge responsibility.

But overall, Squid Game is one of the most exciting shows released by Netflix. This is easily recommendable to all the viewers who are looking for a potential story.

How to Obtain a Vehicle Inspection Certificate in Saudi Arabia?

INTRODUCTION

This blog is the guide for those expatriates who have to visit one of the centers in their Saudi city of residence where MVPI (Motor Vehicle Periodic Inspection) is done to obtain the Vehicle Inspection Certificate. If you have never been to the center and there is no help to guide you on how to obtain the certificate from this place, then this blog will assist you and may respond to many of your doubts and questions.

Let me first break this mountain of overthinking from you that it doesn’t matter who owns your car? You or your dealer from whom you bought the car but the transfer of ownership is yet to be done. Because MVPI or shall I say the Arabic word, Fahas (the most commonly used term for this work that means ‘Inspection’) is done to obtain the Vehicle Inspection Certificate (another name is Inspection Report which is called ‘Taqreer Fahas’ in Arabic) which is one of the major requirements to transfer the ownership of your vehicle to your name.

CORE REQUIREMENT 

The most important document that you must have to show at the MVPI center is neither your Iqama nor your Driving License, it is your Vehicle Registration (VR) card which is called Rukhsa Seer in Arabic. Why? Because your iqama and driving license are individual whereas VR card is about the vehicle that needs to be inspected and passed.

Let me break another mountain of your catastrophic doubt because many of us overthink if we may get refuse to send our car to the inspection station for the inspection only because we do not have the original card of the Vehicle Registration. The straight answer is NO, you still can take your car with the copy of VR. Even if it is expired for YEARS, they will still accept your car for inspection.

If you bought a car on installments and that period of paying installments or shall I say that the contract between the two parties is over, and to further expand the scenario if years have passed in the expiry of that contract, guess what? You still can visit the center and show the VR copy. Workers in the fahas center don’t care about your vehicle story. All they want is to inspect your car and complete the proceedings by simply handing you a passing/failing certificate.

EXPATS WITH LANGUAGE PROBLEM

Is language the issue if you are weak in Arabic? The first thing is that there is simply no need for discussion unless you ask for it. Once the car enters the station and your turn comes for inspection, two different workers sit, drive and inspect your car and return you back. THAT’S IT!

They do not interrogate you about the body of your car if it is original or second-hand. No, they do not ask you anything but the VR and the ticket you get from the box. Confused? Let’s begin by driving my car to the main gate of the MVPI center.

SHOULD YOU GO TO REPAIR YOUR VEHICLE ISSUES BEFORE VISITING THE CENTER?

To transfer the vehicle ownership to my name, I simply decided to just visit the place instead of checking a mechanic, technician, or electrician first for any kind of vehicle issues. Because;

  1. There is every chance that some of the car issues probably have nothing to do with the inspection so just save the money.
  2. And maybe you fix the inspection-related problems with your car and STILL, the inspector discovers a problem to fail you.

PURSUIT OF FAHAS

My iqama and driving license is valid but I had a VR copy that was expired for at least 4 years. I own Hyundai Veloster 2014 and driving for the past eight years but just a month ago, I visited the MVPI center for the first time. MVPI centers open early at 7am and closes at night by 11pm. I think the best possible time to reach and expect the least number of cars is between 12pm and 3pm.

A long queue after the entrance that takes you towards the box where you get the ticket.

At the gate, the security guard asked about the Tawakkalna screen. Once I showed the app, the guard let me entered and I drove my car towards a route where the management has prepared different lines and queues to drive in and wait for your turn to reach the box.

The worker in the box gives you this detailed ticket that you will show to the inspector along with your VR card/copy.

The box is installed where you get the ticket to show the inspector inside the station. At the box, I was asked about my VR so I gave him the copy and he checked. Then he returned the copy and demanded to me to pay the charge of the inspection. So I paid 84 riyals as my car is categorized as a ‘Passenger Car’. If I fail, I will have to pay 28 riyals at the box to get the ticket.

The price chart that shows the category of your car and the inspection charges both the first time (top) and the second time (bottom).

You do not need to worry about how much will this fahas work cost you. Look at the chart above and know what category is your car. The chart on the top has four numerical columns. Most of us have passenger cars. So according to the first column after the category, you have to pay 73 riyals. The follow-up columns indicate VAT % and the amount adding to the original amount. So you have to pay 84 riyals. The chart on the bottom with the same detailing and a lesser amount is for those who are here for re-inspection.

So I got the ticket and stood in one of the queues heading toward a large hangar-style building where there are at least four stations for the inspection. They do not continue to work during prayer times and close the gates.

Once my turn came inside the station, one inspector demanded the ticket and my VR. I showed him and then he asked me to leave the car to him and stand in the waiting area that is situated at the corner of the building.

At the waiting area, I made pictures and videos of the inspection but I was stopped by the inspector with a warning. Maybe he was not comfortable with it but if you check this place on Google Maps, you will notice scores of pictures and videos.

The car was handed over to two different inspectors and they thoroughly inspected and analyzed it. The brakes and headlights were checked and were also analyzed on the sideslip tester.

After both the inspectors were done inspecting my car, the car was given back to me and asked to stop at the final box where I get either a passing or a failing certificate. If you are a first-timer, make your mind because this is totally normal, they will fail you. This happens most of the time.

When you reach your car to the last station and no one shows up to fix the sticker on the glass, it is understood that you have failed the test. So I just reached the final box and collected my failing certificate. No further charges were asked to pay. You only pay at the first box for the ticket.

My detailed Failing Certificate.
This small stapled piece lists the failed items that need to be repaired/fixed asap.

The passing/failing certificate (or inspection report) is a computerized document with strict details and readings about your car inspection results. Why do they provide you a failing certificate? It is not a sign of discouragement but a favor to show the car to a mechanic, technician, or whoever deals in those errors to repair/fix.

Once I was handed over my failing certificate, that meant that I leave the center and visit any of my contacts to show the certificate and fix the issues. If you have no contacts, you simply leave from the exit gate and you will discover a few people in nearby places checking and coming towards you to check the errors written on the page. Here, it is up to you how you deal with this business of yours. It is always better to take advice from your friends who have knowledge in vehicle matters and have potential contacts to refer.

Remember! You must fix your car issues and return for re-inspection WITHIN TWO WEEKS. If you don’t, you have to repeat from the scratch with the same charge demanded at the box with a complete inspection. The best part of re-inspection asap is that the inspector at the station analyzes only the failing items of the certificate.

SECOND ATTEMPT (RE-INSPECTION)

When my car had all its issues fixed, I returned in 48 hours for re-inspection with my last ticket and the failing certificate. Same procedure. Reached the same box but this time, I showed my failed certificate with the previous ticket stapled with it. 28 riyals were demanded instead of 84.

With the new ticket, I stood in the queue and waited for my turn. Inside the station, the inspector approached me and I handed over to him my ticket and the failed certificate. It took comparatively lesser time in the inspection.

At the final station, I noticed a worker with a sticker reaching to my car and then he fixed it on the right top of the windshield. That was the relief point. I reached the final box and received my passing certificate and left the center.

Remember, if you have bought a brand new car, visiting the MVPI center becomes compulsory after three years of the contract signing. For example, if you buy a brand new car on the 25th of September 2021, you have to do fahas after the 25th of September 2024.

Fahas is valid for one year so maintain your car and do fahas immediately after the date expires because if the traffic police find your car with the expired sticker, you will be fined 150 riyals that are around double of what you pay for the first time at MVPI with a passenger car.

You can share your fahasperience in the comments section below or ask if you do not understand any of my detail. I wish the readers good luck with their vehicles.

My Passing Certificate
My car Fahassified

I AM SAMI NAIK

Film Review: Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021)

The immaculate success of Snyder Cut is built on two factors. One is Zack Snyder‘s determination to stay true to its roots of understanding that what he planned for his DC Extended Universe (DCEU) beginning from Man Of Steel (MOS) and continuing to Batman v Superman (BvS) was right no matter how severe were the criticisms that he received. The other is the passion of DC fans who believed in Zack Snyder’s vision for Justice League (JL) film, a soul that was besmirched by the-then CEO of Warner Bros. (WB) Entertainment, Kevin Tsujihara, who decided to screw the tone set for DCEU films and make it light and apply forced humor to drag the DCEU in an unconditional sprint race with the already well-established and globally-accepted Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) by appointing Joss Wheddon to complete the film and cut the length of 4 hours of the screentime of the film to only 2 hours. Results were pathetic, outrageous, and spine-breaking consequences resulting in Warner Bros authorities deciding to wide-open the slates of DC films and go solo for different projects. Snyder’s DCEU had lost the soul but DC fans protested/demanded to release Snyder’s version for years.

Global fans demanding to release a film they are wanting to watch had never practically happened before. The fans were right that Zack Snyder was right; global fans who demanded to release Snyder’s vision believed in his vision. The original idea about Justice League is now finally released and I wholeheartedly accept that Zack did it, he f**king did it. Whatever rumors or leaks media revealed about Zack’s original works all these years were all true. Whatever we came to know about his works all these years was all true.

After four years of wait, a wait that built more anxiousness after Snyder announced that the project will finally be released, I thoroughly watched this 4-hour mega film with the rollercoaster of emotions and excitement. And by watching this epic, I realized how Snyder Cut distinguishes a comic book film between DC and Marvel. Marvel films cannot be DC, and DC cannot be Marvel, in a positive way. Both are different universes with great superheroes, great supervillains, and extraordinary stories told in the past 75 years. Trying to be like each other loses the identity and soul during the process. This Snyder Cut is the most DC thing to have happened in years.

This Snyder Cut makes a statement and crashes the-then bosses of WB and the decision to appoint Joss Wheddon to dust. This film exposes how ugly was the previous JL film. If the audience was disappointed to watch that two-hour film, this film will make hate it more. Every single mistake that film made, every single plothole that came into existence to confuse the audience has been totally cleared with such a deconstructive construction of screenwriting in a cohesive way.

Does The Screentime Of The Film Justifies?

It took two hours for Batman to gather a team and around three hours for Steppenwolf to get all the mother boxes. And then the screentime of the theatrical cut was 2 hours.

Should the film be four-hours long? I liked and favored MCU’s idea of the foundation by going solo for the first superheroes and unifying them into The Avengers film in the first phase and this is how a successful foundation helped the universe construct a strong nexus to many future projects that were bound to be accepted with commercial success. Zack had his own way of storytelling and I respect that. Because four years ago, in the theatrical cut, building a team without understanding the superheroes was unimaginable but Snyder Cut is very distinguished storytelling. This lengthy film guarantees and justifies that introducing superheroes for a mission with enough detailed minutes was the right decision in its own way. Nothing was rushed; Aquaman, The Flash, Cyborg, they all get enough space to decide whether joining Batman and Wonder Woman to fight the war was the holy submission or a fool’s paradise.

Interesting Developments

Of course, I am not going to write every new thing the film added as the reel itself is two hours longer than the theatrical cut. So I will restrict to a few important events that happened in this film that builds the future.

Steppenwolf finds out the formula his lord, Darkseid, was searching for thousands of years, the anti-life equation. After failing to form the unity from the mother boxes, if Darkseid actually gets the weapon, he will be the supreme overlord of the universe. The original face or the character design of Steppenwolf from BvS has been restored. And generally, Steppenwolf has one of the best character developments in the film.

Then there is the gamechanger when The Flash saves the day by running back in time by using the Speed Force and giving the chance to Cyborg to separate the mother boxes. He says to himself that he has to break the rule. He talks about the rule twice in the film, previously when he helps in resurrecting Superman. That means The Flash already is a veteran speedster who had his moments of heroics in Central City fighting against some major crimes where he was forced to use this speed force. And this is why, The Flash’s solo film holds a lot of importance, especially if the film is based on the Flashpoint story.

In another scene, Martian Manhunter shapeshifts to Martha Kent and meets and motivates Lois Lane to start a fresh life. This comes surprising that the alien, the last survivor from Mars knows who Clark Kent is. He even visits Bruce Wayne and alerts him for the coming war that further confirms that he knows everything and has been following the developments for some time.

This film officially introduces Dr. Ryan Choi who is working in S.T.A.R. Labs. In comics, Ryan Choi is Atom. Yes, the body shrinker and another superhero, that will hopefully join the league. With the appearance of Choi, there may be a possibility that the first Atom, Ray Palmer, exists. Because in comics, Ryan Choi was Ray Palmer’s protégé.

Barry informing Bruce that he is fluent in Gorilla Sign Language is an understood indication that Gorilla Grodd does exist. Maybe, he shows up in The Flash film.

One of the most important moments in the film was Diana coming to know the biggest mystery – Darkseid. When Queen Hippolyta alerts Diana by shooting a firing arrow that drops straight into a Greek temple, she tries to discover the hidden secrets of the place. She finds a secret door, enters and many cave drawings about the ancient wars and the mother boxes are revealed to her. And this is where she finds out about Darkseid. All this scene never showed up in the theatrical cut and the audience thought perhaps Diana knew all this a long time ago while informing about the incoming war to Bruce. But the importance is that this scene gives a lot of weight to the development of Diana’s character.

One major of many improvements was the revival of Cyborg’s importance to this film. The old version gave Cyborg so few minutes that his significance in the team looked almost secondary but Snyder Cut propels the understanding that this fight with Steppenwolf and his army cannot be won without Cyborg at all. I am astonished by the fact that the heroes carried ‘almost’ the same weight as Batman and Wonder Woman. Barry and Arthur had their own heroics to save the day.

A needless element that was respectfully removed in the restoration of our faith in the JL project was discarding most of the forced humor. There was no joke about Bruce asking Arthur if he talks to fish, no Arthur confession to Diana on the lasso, no Batman fall from the height after Superman flies taking Lois with him, no comparisons of Flash rescuing a family in the car to Superman lifting and flying the entire building, no silly nonsense at all. The light humor was set only on Barry which was acceptable due to his fun-nature and being the youngest in the team.

Special praise to Zack Snyder for directing the ancient war that was fought 5000 years ago between Darkseid and his legion against a unified alliance of Atlanteans, Amazons, Olympian Gods, and the defenders of the earth that had so many historic legends like Britishers from the Middle-Age, the Mongols, Muslim warriors from ‘perhaps’ the times of Ghaznavid or Mughal empires. I think Zack got this idea of war from George Perez‘s comic book miniseries, War Of The Gods.

The epilogue part is the one that has new fresh scenes since Zack Snyder broke the news. In a very dystopian setup, Batman forms a team to take on evil-Superman and gives more details about this crazy adventure that surely looks like are the developments for the JL sequel (if announced).

Plus/Minus

The biggest accomplishment of Zack Snyder’s Justice League is that just like the Ultimate Edition of Batman v Superman fixed the plotholes of its theatrical cut, it has also fixed the puzzles and made the audience understand what looked like terrible mysteries, or the questions that went unanswered. The foundation of this universe and the creation of this team is now eventually acceptable. And just like BvS, we all audience once again will wish if this Snyder Cut was released four years ago, would have done wonders on the box-office and this DCEU would have been right on track.

There are ‘minor’ negative points but not blunders at all. For example, Wonder Woman’s new theme is needlessly overused. Then, in the ancient war, only one Green Lantern, Yalan Gur, shows up. Only one? How come the Guardians in Oa sends only one representative to fight this war?

And technically, just an opinion of a film critic no matter how much I loved this film on a personal note, this film achieves less. The motive behind making and releasing this film is to make the audience watch what was supposed to release in the theatres in the first place. The motive is to fix the plotholes and make the story understandable and convincing as it should have been a long time ago.

But from the very same perception of making this film, Zack Snyder’s film successfully develops the characters, most importantly Cyborg. The film directly connects with all the major films pretty well. With more screentime, the audience is mesmerized with more action and more sub-plots. Fabian Wagner’s cinematography and the new score by Tom Holkenborg (Junkie XL) attracts the screenwriting. Visual effects are stunning. Thank God, the red sky in the final battle changed. 

Will Justice League Gets Its Sequel?

Does the film hold the future for further continuity or if this is the end of Snyderverse? This is a big question but not a mystery to me. Warner Bros. has no plans to let Zack Snyder carry the torch but the success of this film can manipulate or shall I say reverse the decision. The film ends with an extremely enormous cliffhanger and the plot concludes raising a lot of questions that have been risen in the epilogue.

WB has to release future DCEU films like sequels of Shazam, Aquaman, and Suicide Squad. The Flash is a very important film to happen as I wrote above. So I think, the time is right for the authorities to reconsider the future of JL films. It is time to learn from the gravest mistakes WB has made in the past and execute better plans. There is no way the continuity from Snyder Cut will go uncertain. If a less-important project of this universe like Suicide Squad can get a sequel, if a needless film like Birds Of Prey can happen then I see no reason how Zack Snyder cannot get the chance to work on the sequel. After all, JL is the most important of all events.

How Will The JL Story Continue?

I think the Knightmare scene and The Flash warning Bruce from the future and then the scenes from Epilogue are all deconstructive parts of JL’s sequel. After Steppenwolf dies, Darkseid tells Desaad to ready the armada and use the old ways because anti-life is found. So what I am believing is that Darkseid will arrive with his legion to the surface where the anti-life equation exists and will kill Lois Lane, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman. By killing Lois, Darkseid will manipulate Superman and appoint him his deputy in Steppenwolf’s place by anti-life. Darkseid will guide Superman to the wrong path and fill his ears with lies that his Lois died because of Bruce Wayne.

Yes, Darkseid will know Batman’s identity because Steppenwolf will have informed his lord about the leak as Steppenwolf must have definitely been informed by none other than Lex Luthor when he met him in Superman’s spaceship. If Lex can inform Deathstroke, then why not Steppenwolf?

Batman will form a team comprised of Cyborg, The Flash, Mera, Joker, and Deathstroke to save the world. How come Deathstroke joins Batman? Maybe we come to know in the sequel but it is not as crazy as observing Joker in Batman’s team. While fighting, the parademons will capture Batman and send him to Superman. With the arrival of Superman in one of the caves where Batman is imprisoned, his mercenaries will bow to him. Within a few steps, Superman will kill his teammates by heat vision who are most likely to be Deathstroke, Mera, Joker, Cyborg but not Barry. Superman will take off Batman’s cowl and tell that Lois was his world and he took her from him and will eventually kill him. The cowl will be in his hand while he is in the air with omega-sign behind him. Barry will again use the speed force and run back in time to alert Bruce in the past and alarm him that Lois is the key and find them. While running back in time, he may enter the multiverse and may meet other Batmen, most importantly Michael Keaton‘s Batman. In this way, The Flash becomes an important film if it really builds the story in continuity on Flashpoint storyline. Yeah, this all sounds pretty crazy but this is just my theory of how I see this all developing. Who knows, only time will tell. For this moment, all I can say is “Thank You, Zack Snyder”.

Ratings: 8.8/10

Note: Most of the sources of the images in this blog are inserted in the images. A few images with no source indicate my screenshots.

My Bollywood’s Best of 2020

Welcome to my world where Sami Naik presents you his annual report about the best things that happened in Bollywood that year. It has been declared that the quality of Hindi-language films has declined due to mainstream commercialism and entertainment which is unfortunately true but believing that quality films in India are extremely less in production, I beg to differ. The prime reason is that the sensible audience has to discover such projects and in the times of streaming services, more chances have increased that a lot of writers and directors, who were not getting the platform, will get offers and earn recognitions from the audience when they release their work. Audience or film critic like me make efforts here by blogging and do justice for people who deserve to be recognized for their quality work.

Since 2014, I have been publishing an annual report into my blog about the Hindi-language film industry of India. The purpose of this report/blog is to inform my fellow cinephiles about the better prospects of filmmaking in the film industry and making them aware of the rich quality of films that either caught the viewer’s attraction and received the deserving praise or unluckily went unnoticed and unrecognized. Following are my previous reports about the best of Bollywood:

2014  2015  2016  2017  2018  2019

My judgments are based on the realistic measures fetched from the films whether those are big or small budgeted, comprised of the ensemble or lesser-known cast. No compromise on quality. Every year, I dig around three dozen potential Hindi films, watch, and judge, pass the reviews and note down the artistic and technical excellence. For 2020, the following 38 films were selected:

Bulbbul, Halahal, Love Aaj Kal, Taish, Anwar Ka Ajab Kissa, Chhapaak, Chintu Ka Birthday, Maska, Choked, Bhonsle, Kadakh, Thappad, AK vs AK, Ram Singh Charlie, What Are The Odds, Panga, Dil Bechara, Sir, Gunjan Saxena, Axone, Yeh Ballet, Pareeksha, Shikara, Kaamyaab, Mee Raqsam, Ludo, Gulabo Sitabo, Chippa, Ghoomketu, Kaali Khuhi, Serious Men, London Confidential, Cargo, Atkan Chatkan, Dolly Kitty Aur Wo Chamakte Sitare, Yaara, Operation Parindey, and Shakuntala Devi.

In addition, I have checked the soundtracks of Ginny Weds Sunny, Baaaghi 3, Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan, Angrezi Medium, and Malang to observe the music department.

Once I am done with all the selected films, I decide by finalizing the works and pick the winner.

SO HOW THIS ALL WORKS??
  1. There are 21 categories that are segregated into three different sections which are musical (5), technical (10), and major (6) sections.
  2. Each category has a winner and ‘maximum’ 5 honorable mentions which are unranked and labeled as ‘Other Notable Works’.
  3. If I require, I will provide short detail in each category.
  4. After finishing with 21 categories, I will write down the total number of nominations and wins submitted in my report as stat fun.

The wait is over…

Allow me to honor Bollywood’s artistic and technical excellence of 2020 according to Sami Naik.


MUSICAL SECTION

BEST BACKGROUND SCORE

AMIT TRIVEDI (BULBBUL)

Other Notable Works:

Karsh Kale (Choked)

Siddharth Mahadevan, Soumil Shringarpure, Qaran Mehta (Ram Singh Charlie)

Gaurav Godkhindi & Govind Vasantha (Taish)

Cyrille de Haes (Chippa)

A.R.Rahman & Qutub-E-Kripa (Shikara)

 

BEST MALE PLAYBACK SINGER

JUBIN NAUTIYAL (PHIR CHALA – GINNY WEDS SUNNY)

Other Notable Works:

Sachet Tandon (Faaslon Mein – Baaghi 3)

Arijit Singh (Hardum Humdum – Ludo)

Darshan Raval (Mehrama – Love Aaj Kal)

Ayushmann Khurrana (Mere Liye Tum Kafi Ho – Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan)

 

 

BEST FEMALE PLAYBACK SINGER

RACHITA ARORA (SUNN SUR JO – CHOKED)

Other Notable Works:

Monali Thakur (Muskurah – Anwar Ka Ajab Kissa)

Suchismita Das (Ratiya – Ram Singh Charlie)

Rekha Bhardwaj (Dori Tutt Gaiyaan – Gunjan Saxena)

Jyotica Tangri (Kol Kol – Taish)

 

 

BEST SONG & LYRICS

MEHRAMA (DARSHAN RAVAL/ANTARA MITRA/IRSHAD KAMIL/PRITAM – LOVE AAJ KAL)

Other Notable Works:

Phir Chala (Jubin Nautiyal/Kunaal Vermaa/Payal Dev – Ginny Weds Sunny)

Humraah (Sachet Tandon/Kunaal Vermaa/The Fusion Project – Malang)

Hardum Humdum (Arijit Singh/Sayeed Quadri/Pritam – Ludo)

Kudi Nu Nachne De (Vishal Dadlani/Priya Saraiya/Sachin-Jigar – Angrezi Medium)

 

 

BEST MUSIC

PRITAM (LOVE AAJ KAL)

Other Notable Works:

Raghav Sachar/Prashant Pillai/Govind Vasantha/Enbee/Gaurav Godkhindi (Taish)

Pritam (Ludo)

Mithoon/Ankit Tiwari/Ved Sharma/The Fusion Project/Adnan Dhool/Rabi Ahmed (Malang)

 


TECHNICAL SECTION

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

VEERA KAPUR EE (BULBBUL)

Other Notable Works:

Sachin Lovalekar (Shikara)

Edward Lalrempuia & Karan Singh Parmar (Axone)

Payal Ashar (Ram Singh Carlie)

Darshan Jalan & Manish Tiwari (Kaamyaab)

Veera Kapur EE (Gulabo Sitabo)

 

 

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

MEENAL AGARWAL (BULBBUL)

Other Notable Works:

Sonal Sawant (Shikara)

Shamim Khan & Sikandar Ahmed (Bhonsle)

Mandar D. Nagaonkar (Taish)

Meenal Agarwal (Kadakh)

 

 

BEST SOUND DESIGN

SUSHANT H AMIN (TAISH)

Other Notable Works:

Arun Nambiar (Ram Singh Charlie)

Udit Duseja (Yeh Ballet)

Subash Sahoo (Mee Raqsam)

Sukanta Majumdar (Chippa)

Anish John (Bulbbul)

 

 

BEST EDITING

NITESH BHATIA (HALAHAL)

Other Notable Works:

Antara Lahiri (Yeh Ballet)

Priyank Prem Kumar (Taish)

Manas Mittal (Chippa)

Nitin Baid (Chhapaak)

 

 

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

JIGMET WANGCHUK (BHONSLE)

There is a scene where Bhonsle is done with the meeting. Bhonsle is fixed in a crowd of 70,000 people during a festival of Anant Chaturdashi. That lengthy scene took six retakes to complete the shot. In all this continuity, Bhonsle becomes a deep muted narration of a revolutionary poet.

The most important consideration for a slow cinema is the camera work which makes the viewers observe the detailing of the smaller portions of the screenwriting. And this is where Bhonsle was very impressive. Visual shots fixing you to the neighborhood like dirty old tableware, a mischief of rats, a loaf of bread near to a street dog, etc are the essentials of adaptable graphics that squeezes you to care this kind of visual bravura.

Other Notable Works:

Avik Mukhopadhyay (Gulabo Sitabo)

Johan Heurlin Aidt (What Are The Odds)

Harshvir Oberai (Taish)

Ramanuj Dutta (Chippa)

Siddharth Diwan (Bulbbul)

 

 

BEST ACTION

IAN VAN TEMPERLEY (TAISH)

 

BEST STORY

DEVANSHU SINGH & SATYANSHU SINGH (CHINTU KA BIRTHDAY)

Axone highlighted the social challenges the Northeast Indian migrants were facing in the capital. Mee Raqsam depicted the fondness of a young girl about a classical dance in a conservative Muslim family and the consequences. Kaamyaab voiced their support for the lesser-known side actors and told an influential story about such an actor who wishes to conclude his career on a memorable note. Ram Singh Charlie gave a painful insider into the circus entertainers and their struggle to survive at an old age after the business is put to halt. AK vs AK was an unusual plot about celebrities taking professional and personal revenge.

But my pick is Chintu Ka Birthday which was astonishingly built on innocent hopes between the screaming agonies of political conflicts. A six-year-old boy wants to celebrate his birthday with his Indian family, and friends in war-torn Iraq in the times when the US military has invaded the country. What is more observing about the story is feeling the agony of one of the great political conflicts of this century through the eyes of the kid who is not even a civilian of that country. That said so, the story indirectly takes you to so many millions of stories of Iraqi children into sparing a thought who wished to live free in those times enough to cut a cake on their birthday.

Other Notable Works:

Avinash Sampath (AK vs AK)

Nicholas Kharkongor (Axone)

Nitin Kakkar & Sharib Hashmi (Ram Singh Charlie)

Safdar Mir & Husain Mir (Mee Raqsam)

Hardik Mehta (Kaamyaab)

 

 

BEST SCREENPLAY

RAJAT KAPOOR (KADAKH)

Many of you have noticed about my film reviews that I concentrate and judge more about the film’s screenwriting. Because it is the most essential part along with the editing which keeps the spirit of the film intact and helps in maintaining finesse.

Halahal, Ram Singh Charlie, Thappad, and Bulbbul, all had the best screenwriting to compel the audience and drive into it. But why I feel Kadakh is the best work from all these? All four films have a story interchanging its parallels whereas Kadakh has time to spend in between the lines of an unusual incident to get a hold of the entire story towards the conclusion. Rajat Kapoor’s screenwriting had smartness of continuity by playing a lively party with well-crafted supporting characters giving the couples a helping hand in a limited time. The audience will feel the misery and stay in the party unnoticed and waiting for the couples’ next steps towards the body lying in the box.

Other Notable Works:

Gibran Noorani (Halahal)

Nitin Kakkar & Sharib Hashmi (Ram Singh Charlie)

Mrunmayee Lagoo (Thappad)

Anvita Dutt (Bulbbul)

 

 

BEST DIALOGUES

BUDDHADEB DASGUPTA (ANWAR KA AJAB KISSA)

Other Notable Works:

Juhi Chaturvedi (Gulabo Sitabo)

Anurag Kashyap & Vikramaditya Motwane (AK vs AK)

Gibran Noorani (Halahal)

Nitin Kakkar & Sharib Hashmi (Ram Singh Charlie)

Rajat Kapoor (Kadakh)

 

 

BEST SCENE

THAPPAD

What else can there be the best scene of the year than the slap? Thappad is Anubhav Sinha’s social drama film centering on a slapping culture generally forced by men as a sign of gender dominance over women. Now we as the audience know that Taapsee will be slapped at some time in the film. The excellence of the slapping scene lies in the whole buildup which makes it so special.

Vikram enjoying one of the best evenings of his life, celebrating with his friends until that call which infuriates him and makes him verbally come into a rough argument with his colleague. Enters his wife, Amrita, trying to take her man to avoid the scene until becoming herself a scene and then comes a whacker.

Interestingly, she was nowhere involved in this incident. She became the victim and all the party attendees stared at her. Even after the slap, the scene continues to shoulder her in a slow-motion camera work towards her room with the female members of the family shell-shocked.

This slap scene is the core of the film and that part was directed superbly than any scene I have watched last year.

 


MAJOR SECTION

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

BARUN SOBTI (HALAHAL)

Barun Sobti was one of the driving forces in Halahal’s excellence. Amongst the other best-supporting roles I have noted below, the only genuine competitor to him was Anurag Kashyap. But Anurag’s capacity as a supporting role was misleading and becoming equivalent to Anil’s leading character despite the plot’s thickness demanding the importance of Anurag’s role as secondary. What makes Barun worthier than Anurag to me is his supporting role justifying in the script and becoming a helping hand to Sachin Khedekar’s role. And Barun gave a realistic look to his role. His body language was more precise to work on the screenplay.

Other Notable Works:

Rajkummar Rao (Ludo)

Anurag Kashyap (AK vs AK)

Pankaj Tripathi (Gunjan Saxena)

Javed Jaffrey (Maska)

Deepak Dobriyal (Angrezi Medium)

 

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

MANISHA KOIRALA (MASKA)

Manisha’s terrific performance was penalized to a shockingly shorter period in the film where the leading roles were given to the amateur actors having a tough time running the film on their own. Manisha’s role had the weight, the charisma of the character who went into the skin and displayed rich body language, accent, and physical performance of a typical Parsi woman.

Other Notable Works:

Amruta Subhash (Choked)

Geetika Vidya Ohlyan (Thappad)

Seema Pahwa (Chintu Ka Birthday)

Shradha Kaul (Mee Raqsam)

Sanya Malhotra (Shakuntala Devi)

 

 

BEST ACTOR

KUMUD MISHRA (RAM SINGH CHARLIE)

Surprising, innit? None other than Kumud Mishra. Am I serious? Yes, I am. We have been watching him playing different character roles, most prominently since starring in Rockstar. But expecting to do a leading role? One has to ask the director’s thinking behind considering him for such a physically challenging role. He dropped his weight, he did Chaplin impersonations, he ran driving a rickshaw. And there were moments where Kumud executed so well. That scene where Ram Singh paints his face and gets emotional or when he meets himself and speaks to him, those were the melting points.

There were other actors who did so well like Adil in Pareeksha especially when he confesses his crime, drops my jaws. Sachin surprised me in Halahal. Sanjay did such justice to his role in Kaamyaab. Amitabh with age proved that he still is phenomenal in whatever role he considers to play. Anil Kapoor’s role in AK vs AK was the only tough competitor to Kumud’s as he gave his career’s best performance.

Other Notable Works:

Amitabh Bachchan (Gulabo Sitabo)

Anil Kapoor (AK vs AK)

Adil Hussain (Pareeksha)

Sachin Khedekar (Halahal)

Sanjay Mishra (Kaamyaab)

 

 

BEST ACTRESS

DEEPIKA PADUKONE (CHHAPAAK)

This one was easy for me. No, I am not judging her performance because the makeup was impressive. With this real-life character, Deepika smoked a soul and gave a performance she has rarely given before. She applied a different facial and body language. Notice how she smiles and laughs when she interacts with Amol.

Amongst the best performances I have written below, Deepika’s toughest competitor for me was Taapsee Pannu who had a similar victim card but less severe than an acid-attack which was a face slap. But Taapsee’s most acting minutes in consequences of the incident were gloomy and in despair. More emotional and a little slow.

Other Notable Works:

Kangana Ranaut (Panga)

Saiyami Kher (Choked)

Taapsee Pannu (Thappad)

Sanjana Sanghi (Dil Bechara)

Tillotama Shome (Sir)

 

 

BEST DIRECTOR

RANDEEP JHA (HALAHAL)

On his directional debut, I think Randeep Jha has learned a lot of directional techniques straight from Anurag Kashyap for whom he was assistant director in Ugly, Raman Raghav 2.0, and Mukkabaaz. Because you will see some glimpse of Anurag when you watch this Halahal. I am really impressed with the tone of the film on which the story is developed.

Keeping it to hardly 100 minutes, Randeep Jha wastes no time in building the plot and grows it to further implications. And the most important element which the director misses about the film in India, Halahal gets its deserving technical ending, a fitting conclusion.

Other Notable Works:

Vikramaditya Motwane (AK vs AK)

Devashish Makhija (Bhonsle)

Nitin Kakkar (Ram Singh Charlie)

Anubhav Sinha (Thappad)

Safdar Rahman (Chippa)

 

 

BEST FILM

AK vs AK

And now the final winner!!! Six films were in my mind. And after closely observing all of these works, I believe AK vs AK is easily the best film of 2020. AK v AK is about real-life celebrities, director Anurag Kashyap and actor Anil Kapoor, who were not destined to work with each other in the past, and at some event, they throw themselves into a heated argument resulting in a professional enmity. Anurag takes his revenge by kidnapping Anil’s daughter Sonam Kapoor and films his struggle to find her.

This is the funniest kidnapping you will watch in any Indian film. You are watching something you have never experienced. This mockumentary-style cat-and-mouse mystery chase is a blend of suspense, black comedy rich with entertainment.


Other Notable Works:

Halahal

Bhonsle

Ram Singh Charlie

Thappad

Chippa

 


MULTIPLE WINS & NOMINATIONS
WINS NOMS FILMS
3 7 Bulbbul
3 7 Halahal
2 3 Love Aaj Kal
2 9 Taish
1 2 Ginny Weds Sunny
1 2 Anwar Ka Ajab Kissa
1 2 Chhapaak
1 2 Chintu Ka Birthday
1 2 Maska
1 3 Kadakh
1 4 Choked
1 4 Bhonsle
1 6 Thappad
1 7 AK vs AK
1 10 Ram Singh Charlie
1 Shakuntala Devi
1 Baaghi 3
1 Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan
1 What Are The Odds
1 Panga
1 Dil Bechara
1 Sir
2 Angrezi Medium
2 Gunjan Saxena
2 Malang
2 Axone
2 Yeh Ballet
2 Pareeksha
3 Shikara
3 Kaamyaab
3 Mee Raqsam
4 Ludo
4 Gulabo Sitabo
6 Chippa

(Most of the images used in this blog are produced from the web sources inserted in the image.)

Thank you for reading my annual Bollywood honors report. I will return with a new report next year. Share your opinion below. Stay safe.

 

The Stooges: Those Fools On The Mean Streets

Born and raised in Jeddah, I had the luxury in my childhood to enjoy many memorable American sitcoms and cartoons on local channels. In the early 90s, Saudi Channel 2 entertained me with countless shows. One of those was The New Three Stooges cartoons, a very popular animated series of the mid-60s. I was hardly seven or eight and wasn’t aware if those three characters in the cartoons were real. I would have never known in my childhood about their being real had my school timings not changed.

In 1994, when I studied in the 5th standard, it was the afternoon shift of my school Pakistan International School Jeddah (PISJ) but my timings shifted from afternoon to morning when I entered into my 6th class. The year was 1995 when Sony Entertainment Television was launched later that year and the channel was airing three American television series one after one in the afternoon. First The Three Stooges (in English), then Dennis The Menace and I Dream Of Jeannie (both dubbed in Hindi). As Paulo Coelho says, Maktub, isn’t it? And I was astonished at the Stooges being real and funnier than the cartoons. I had to return from school and try to catch this show as soon as possible.

The Three Stooges were the vaudeville team in the golden age of comedy which mostly featured Moe Howard, Larry Fine, and Curly Howard. The man who made me laugh at that show was that fat bald funny guy Curly but I used to get annoyed sometimes when I return from school and catch the show and notice that someone else than Curly was featuring on that day’s episode. And I asked myself where did that fatty go? With time, I came to understand the backstories of unarguably the most well-known comedy team the world has ever known.

When The Three Stooges came to prominence in the mid-1930s, the golden age of comedy was still on the run with Charles Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, Laurel And Hardy, and The Marx Brothers already dominating in the United States for more than twenty years. And this team, along with other greats like Abbott And Castello began to carry the torch.

But those were the sickening times as the world moved towards the second Great War. Sometimes I wonder how the golden age of comedy coincided with those depressing decades. Perhaps the entertainers with a disturbed struggling journey, unhappy life, and the tragic personal tales know the meaning of happiness and have the best of laughs.

How The Team Was Created?

In the early days, Moe and his brother Shemp were seeking work in show-business. Then in 1921, Moe got the chance to work in Ted Healy‘s vaudeville shows. Two years later, Moe was performing in one of Ted’s stage performances when he noticed Shemp in the audience. Moe yelled at him and Shemp responded which led to a funny argumentative performance between the brothers leading to amusing the spectators. Ted took notice of all this and immediately hired Shemp.

Larry’s parents, in his teenage years, were sending him to a European music school to make his professional career as a violinist and he would have joined if the first World War had not interfered. By 1925, Moe had prematurely retired from acting when he got married and focused on his new life. So only Shemp was working under Ted for some years until Larry met them and joined in 1928. By the end of the same year, Ted pulled Moe out of retirement to rejoin him. By 1929, Moe, Shemp, and Larry worked as a unit for the first time.

Readers! this is how Ted Healy created the team or to be more precise, the three stooges were unified to perform with their boss. Moe, Shemp, and Larry were the original line-ups and along with Ted, they were named ‘Ted Healy and his Racketeers’. Later on, they were ‘Ted Healy and his Stooges’. Together they performed for some years until their contract expired in 1934.

It is said that employer Ted Healy was alcoholic and abusive. Shemp gave up on his behavior, quit the team, and focused on his solo career. And then entered the man who carried this team on his own to make them world-famous, Moe’s other brother Jerome Howard.

When Moe introduced Jerome to Healy, he was unimpressed because he thought he doesn’t look funny with long chestnut-red hair and mustache. Jerome left and returned with a shaved head and said “Boy do I look girly”. Healy heard girly as Curly and hired him as Shemp’s replacement with a convincing shaved funny face. Boy, I wonder if Shemp had not given up, this team would have never made the name for which we remember them for. It seems like sometimes giving up is the best idea. It was a golden twist of fate as, after the contract expiry in 1934, Ted Healy departed and they officially became The Three Stooges and signed Columbia Pictures.

Curly’s Peak to Tragic End

Columbia Pictures first offered them $600-a-week for the first year with a renewable option. After the huge success of the first film, they earned $1000 for it and the future offer went lucrative with $7500 per film. This hugely successful journey continued for 23 years with the production company. During the period, the team made 190 short films out of which Curly featured in the first 97 films and is widely considered to be the most successful period for the team.

Curly was the God-gifted mercurial talent of the slapstick comedy. Before joining them, Curly used to hang around behind the backstage and enjoy his brothers performing with Healy and enjoy their acts. For me, he is one of the greatest comedians of all time for one major reason, he was an original performer without formal or professional training. Most of the comedy greats of his time were trained but he was handpicked by his brother to take Shemp’s place and the rest is history. His childish mannerism, funny facial expressions, high-pitch voice, silly noises, and physically nonsensical comic timings were his features making most of his fans entertained.

Change of moods...
Three different expressions in 0.75 SECONDS!!!

This is from their short film Pardon My Scotch, a short film released in 1935 (their 9th of 190 films). Here you see his reaction to the bread as if it is staring him. These are the three different facial reactions he gave to bread in around 0.75 SECONDS! If I include the retakes, I wonder how many times he pulled his muscles to one single shot. And many more in his career. And that was Curly’s greatness in the comedy. He was fast and holds an absolute distinction in physical comedy.

Viewers often remember Jerry Lewis, Rodney Dangerfield, Jim Carrey, Peter Sellers, and many many more in the category of one of the greatest physical comedians from the talking cinema of the 20th century. And Curly is mostly forgotten.

Collectively, the team peaked from 1934 to 1941 which many critics agree that Moe, Larry, and Curly were physically at their best to make the viewers laugh. But to the team’s unfortunate innocence, the team never realized their potential and worth. They could never believe how significant was their rank in the world of comedy that for 23 years of business with Columbia Pictures, they remained underpaid and the salary never increased. The biggest culprit was Harry Cohn, the co-founder of Columbia Pictures whose deception to their misjudgment made them realize too late that they were worth millions. All those prime years, Harry Cohn kept lying to them that the market of comedy shorts was meeting downfall.

Harry Cohn’s biggest damage to the team was not taking Curly’s dropping health into a concern for once. In the early 40s, Curly’s physical decline began and suffered minor strokes. His weight increased, wasn’t physically and verbally quick as he used to be. In 1945, Curly was found to have serious hypertension, obesity, and retinal hemorrhage. The doctors had recommended for the rest so that he can regain his health and strength. Moe had pleaded to give him rest for good but Cohn was afraid of losing profits. So he refused to give Curly rest and forced him to continue working leading towards disturbing consequences.

As expected, Curly’s health deteriorated further. In the last few films from 1946 onwards, Moe was coaching him his dialogues as he was forgetting. Frequently collaborated director Jules White had admitted difficulties shooting with Curly. Curly’s voice went deeper and his actions slowed further. A viewer can easily observe the decline in Curly’s comic timing in his final 20 films out of 97. Curly had to prematurely retire from acting when he suffered a stroke during the shooting of Half-Wits Holiday. Shemp was immediately called back to take his place.

Curly's facial difference in 11 years!!
Curly on the left in 1936 picture ‘Disorder In The Court’ and on the right in 1947 picture ‘Half-Wits Holiday’.

Curly being the biggest reason for The Three Stooges’ success faced the most painful years. The miseries hadn’t ended at retirement. After work, he suffered a massive stroke in 1947. A few years later, he was partially paralyzed and was in a wheelchair by 1950. He suffered another stroke the very next year and had to live in the hospital. Later that year, the Howard family was informed to collect him as his mental condition was collapsing and had become a problem for the nursing staff. Moe, being under the contract, was unable to give his family the much-needed time and moved his brother to the other hospital. In early 1952, the Howard family was informed that Curly has died in the hospital. He was only 48.

With Curly’s departure from the films, the team met an obvious decline in humor. It was pretty obvious and predictable that none of his replacements (Shemp, Joe, DeRita) will match his comic timing or fill the gap he left wide open. The weakest of all replacements was Joe Besser. While joining the team, he actually put a clause specifically prohibiting not to hit him. The physical beating was one of the norms of the team’s prime segments of comedy when Moe used to hit the other stooges. In Curly-Joe DeRita‘s time, the team met resurgence when they featured in six films and the animated series ran in the 1960s.

My Favorite The Three Stooges Short Films

1934 – Punch Drunks

1934 – Men In Black

1934 – Three Little Pigskins

1935 – Pop Goes the Easel

1935 – Pardon My Scotch

1936 – Ants in the Pantry

1936 – Disorder in the Court

1936 – False Alarm

1936 – Slippery Silks

1937 – The Sitter Downers

1938 – Tassels in the Air

1939 – We Want Our Mummy

1939 – Calling All Curs

1940 – You Natzy Spy!

1940 – A Plumbing We Will Go

1942 – What’s the Matador?

1942 – Sock-a-Bye Baby

1943 – They Stooge to Conga

1943 – Dizzy Detectives

1943 – Back from the Front

1943 – Three Little Twirps

1943 – Higher Than a Kite

1943 – I Can Hardly Wait

1944 – Idle Roomers

1944 – Gents Without Cents

1944 – No Dough, Boys

1945 – Three Pests in a Mess

1945 – Booby Dupes

1946 – G.I. Wanna Come

Men In Black, release in 1934, is the only Stooge film to reach the Oscars when Jules White got nominated for Best Live Action Short Film.

The Natzy Spy! became the first Hollywood film to satirize Nazis, The Third Reich and Adolf Hitler. Moe Howard was the first actor to play a comic version of Hitler, nine months before Charles Chaplin’s The Great Dictator.


In the past few weeks, I have watched all the 97 short films featuring Curly and I want to sum up that there is no comedy team like The Three Stooges who could perform better surreal humor than them. Their nonsensical slapsticks are a separate dimension of comedyverse. You can pull the same silly actions they attempted but you won’t get that popularity and acceptance which they built in their time. They were unique assembling. They were hardworking and dedicated comedians. In one of the earliest films, Pardon My Scotch in 1935, Moe broke three ribs during one shot. The camera continued to roll, he lifted and walked towards Larry and Curly, and slapped them, and then fainted down.

See, every comedian or a comedy team had the artistry to attract the viewers. But The Three Stooges had no honest quality of presenting comedy of above par standard. They were the stooges who make people of all ages and in every period laugh and burn their bellies out. Entertaining the people by being stupid was their main charisma. They didn’t hold any critical acclaim but watching all those short films make me think about their characters being of lower-class fellas struggling to find work and failing again and again when the Great Depression was alarming at their very pinnacle of comedy.

A bunch of degenerates faking as highly reputed officers, doctors, scientists, and businessmen joining elite parties and ending up throwing pie cakes on each other was a slap on the society. How immoral of those socialites!

Besides Curly, one major reason for the team’s success was that Moe Howard and Larry Fine stayed from the beginning until the end. The Three Stooges lasted for around 50 years in the business, and Moe and Larry featured in almost every single project.

circa 1939: American comedian Moe Howard stabbing his fellow comedians, Larry Fine (left) and Curly Howard with forks. The trio starred in countless films together as ‘The Three Stooges’. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

(Links of Pictures Used in this Article)

  1. https://i.pinimg.com/originals/ee/9c/d5/ee9cd51bfc5d43771e5dc3e880a172d5.jpg
  2. https://www.dailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/migration/2015/201511/FEATURES_151129600_AR_0_OSGLEFBUTKLZ.jpg
  3. https://i.pinimg.com/originals/a6/1a/da/a61adaed4721c8047c981583516d0561.jpg
  4. https://m.media-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BYmIyYTZlZTYtMTA1ZS00ODQ0LTk2OTktNDA4MGJlZDI1YmMzXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTg2ODExNzA@._V1_.jpg

My Bollywood’s Best of 2019

I cordially welcome to my 6th annual Bollywood honors report.

In the past three decades, I have observed that many showbiz platforms, especially the most prestigious Filmfare, do not do much of the justice with their Hindi-language films with their ultimate decisions about the nominations and wins. So, many ‘good’ work doesn’t get the credit.

Since 2014, I have been publishing an annual report on my blog about the Hindi-language film industry of India. The purpose of this report/blog is to inform my fellow cinephiles about the better prospects of filmmaking in the film industry and making them aware of the rich quality of films that either caught the viewer’s attraction and received the deserving praise or unluckily went unnoticed and unrecognized. Following are my previous reports about the best of Bollywood:

2014  2015  2016  2017  2018

My judgments are based on the realistic measures fetched from the films whether those are big or small budgeted, comprised of an ensemble or lesser-known cast. No compromise on quality. Every year, I dig around three dozen potential Hindi films, watch, and judge, pass the reviews and note down the artistic and technical excellence.

For 2019, the following 35 films were selected:

Gully Boy, Jaoon Kahan Bata Ae Dil, Badla, Bala, Chopsticks, Thackeray, Sonchiriya, Soni, Kesari, Hamid, Batla House, Bombairiya, Article 15House Arrest, The Accidental Prime Minister, Photograph, Laal Kaptaan, Upstarts, Mardaani 2, Saand Ki Aankh, The Fakir Of Venice, The Tashkent Files, Mission Mangal, Ujda Chaman, Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota, The Body, Mere Pyare Prime Minister, Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga, Super 30, Chhichhore, Posham Pa, The Sky Is Pink, Section 375, Manikarnika, and Kabir Singh.

Once I am done with all the selected films, I decide by finalizing the works and pick the winner.

So how this all works?

  1. 21 categories are segregating into three different sections. These sections are musical (5), technical (10) and major (6) sections.
  2. Each category has a winner and ‘maximum’ 5 honorable mentions which are unranked and labeled as ‘Other Notable Works’.
  3. If I require, I will provide a short detail for the category.
  4. After finishing with 21 categories, I will write down a total number of nominations and honors submitted in my report as stat fun.

The wait is over…

Allow me to honor Bollywood’s artistic and technical excellence of 2019 according to Sami Naik.


MUSICAL SECTION

BEST BACKGROUND SCORE

PETER RAEBURN (PHOTOGRAPH)

Other Notable Works:

Benedict Taylor & Naren Chandavarkar (Sonchiriya)

Andrew T. Mackay (Hamid)

Benedict Taylor & Naren Chandavarkar (Laal Kaptaan)

Karan Kulkarni (Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota)

Mangesh Dhakde (Article 15)

 

BEST MALE PLAYBACK SINGER

B PRAAK (TERE MITTI – KESARI)

BEST FEMALE PLAYBACK SINGER

SHREYA GHOSHAL (GHAR MORE PARDESIYA – KALANK)

 

BEST SONG & LYRICS

AZADI (DIVINE & DUB SHARMA – GULLY BOY)

To be honest, I decided the winner between the three best songs of 2019 unsurprisingly from the same film; Doori, Apna Time Ayega, and Azadi. All three songs were the outcry on social problems and rebel rage. Azadi was the one I felt the best with much deeper commentary.

Other Notable Works:

Doori (Ranveer Singh/Javed Akhtar/Divine/Rishi Rich – Gully Boy)

Apna Time Aayega (Ranveer Singh/Divine/Ankur Tewari/Dub Sharma – Gully Boy)

Ghar More Pardesiya (Shreya Ghoshal/Amitabh Bhattacharya/Pritam – Kalank)

Ve Maahi (Arijit Singh/Asees Kaur/Tanishk Bagchi – Kesari)

Tum Hi Aana (Jubin Nautiyal/Kunaal Vermaa/Payal DevMarjaavan)

 

BEST MUSIC

ANKUR TEWARI & VARIOUS ARTISTS (GULLY BOY)

Other Notable Works:

Amaal MallikMithoonVishal MishraSachetParamparaAkhil Sachdeva (Kabir Singh)

Arko Pravo Mukherjee, Tanishk Bagchi, Jasbir JassiChirantan Bhatt, GurmohJasleen Royal (Kesari)

Pritam (Kalank)


 

TECHNICAL SECTION

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

DIVYA GAMBHIR & NIDHI GAMBHIR (SONCHIRIYA)

Other Notable Works:

Manish Tiwari (Hamid)

Arjun Bhasin & Poornamrita Singh (Gully Boy)

Niharika Bhasin (Photograph)

Maxima Basu (Laal Kaptaan)

 

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

SUZANNE CAPLAN MERWANJI (GULLY BOY)

Other Notable Works:

Subrata Chakraborty & Amit Ray (Kesari)

Nikhil Kovale (Article 15)

Rita Ghosh (Sonchiriya)

 

BEST SOUND DESIGN

ANTHONY RUBAN (MARD KO DARD NAHIN HOTA)

Other Notable Works:

Anish John (Laal Kaptaan)

Kunal Sharma (Sonchiriya)

Anirban Sengupta (Badla)

 

BEST EDITING

MANAS MITTAL (THE SKY IS PINK)

Other Notable Works:

Charu Shree Roy (Chhichhore)

Monisha R. Baldawa (Badla)

Nitin Baid (Gully Boy)

 

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

SHANKER RAMAN (LAAL KAPTAAN)

Other Notable Works:

Tim Gillis & Ben Kutchins (Photograph)

Ewan Mulligan (Article 15)

John Wilmor (Hamid)

Ravi Kiran Ayyagari (Posham Pa)

Jay Oza (Gully Boy)

 

BEST ACTION

ANTON MOON & SUNIL RODRIQUES (SONCHIRIYA)

Other Notable Works:

Parvez Sheikh & Lawrence Woodward (Kesari)

Amin Khatib (Batla House)

Abdul Salaam Ansari (Laal Kaptaan)

Eric Jacobus (Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota)

 

BEST STORY

AIJAZ KHAN & RAVINDER RANDHAWA (HAMID)

Yes, it has to be Hamid. People tell me that Bollywood doesn’t make good films. The point is if Bollywood is coming up with quality stories, yes. That is the other thing if viewers are ready to accept or not. Article 15 raised the equality issue and Upstarts was a much-needed push for the people who create a startup with dreams of building it big. Section 375 was a courageous effort of depicting a misleading part of feminism and Photograph was a situational drama about the meeting of two very different people. While Gully Boy was about the struggles of the street rappers.

Hamid is a completely different plot than any 2019 film I have watched. Hamid is an impressive, heartbreaking and emotional story about a 7-year-old kid in Kashmir who has lost his father and his relatives comfort him that his father has gone to Lord to do some work. Desperate to meet his father again, he quests for some source to speak to God in all innocence.

Other Notable Works:

Zoya Akhtar & Reema Kagti (Gully Boy)

Anubhav Sinha & Gaurav Solanki (Article 15)

Ritesh Batra (Photograph)

Udai Singh Pawar (Upstarts)

Manish Gupta (Section 375)

 

BEST SCREENPLAY

KETAN BHAGAT & UDAI SINGH PAWAR (UPSTARTS)

I am much focused on screenplays whenever I watch a film. The entire film can drop your emotions wherever the screenwriting falls flat. It is a very essential part of filmmaking. People hardly know about this film and astonishingly is the best screenwriting against many excellent writings of 2019 for me.

Let me tell you why. In almost 120 minutes of the screen time, writers Ketan and Udai (who is also the director) tell you about some friends who think about creating a startup and convincingly fit all the phases of business cycles. The film neither runs in haste not goes slow. The pace is neutral and the story easily grows on me. It is not easy to tell all the business phases in precision in given limited screen time. And that is why for me, the screenplay of Upstarts is the best.

Other Notable Works:

Manish Gupta & Ajay Bahl (Section 375)

Ritesh Batra (Photograph)

Anubhav Sinha & Gaurav Solanki (Article 15)

Zoya Akhtar & Reema Kagti (Gully Boy)

 

BEST DIALOGUES

VIVEK AGNIHOTRI (THE TASHKENT FILES)

I don’t know if anyone will agree with me but this film actually had the most contrasting dialogues than any film last year. A young journalist gets an assignment to solve the decades-old mystery about the assassination of the former prime minister of India, Lal Bahadur Shastri. She gets a place in a committee to dig into this matter where different kinds of intellectuals sit and argue.

So for this kind of political thriller, the dialogues require a terrific momentum of an intellectual conversation, history talks, rumors, blames, heated arguments, bold and bullet criticism, and I believe Vivek Agnihotri nailed it. Impressive dialogues were the main reason that the loud performances of such an ensemble cast doubled the worth of this film.

Other Notable Works:

Manish Gupta & Ajay Bahl (Section 375)

Sumit Saxena & Ravinder Randhawa (Hamid)

Piyush Gupta (Chhichhore)

Anubhav Sinha & Gaurav Solanki (Article 15)

Aadish Keluskar (Jaoon Kahan Bata Ae Dil)

 

BEST SCENE

BASANTI DON’T DANCE (SUPER 30)

This may be unpopular or unexpected choice after watching all the films of 2019 but I found this 8-minute shot one of the best things ever happened in Bollywood in recent years.

This is when teacher Anand Kumar orders his students to perform a street act outside the school for 20 minutes strictly in English without uttering a single Hindi word. The next day, the kids strive out in front of the scores of students and get an outrageous response. The spectators roar to leave and the performers refuse. In repetition, the performers somehow finds the way to extend the act by giving an unexpected entertainment for which they didn’t prepare for. The beauty is that Basanti Don’t Dance naturally happens without the teacher’s instructions with the help of the spectators and angry response by floor beatings.

This crazy segment was deep, dark, bizarre and a remarkable commentary of class divisions. This was an astonishing presentation of a mind-blowing provocation against classism. Ganesh Acharya’s superb choreography and powerful performances by those youngsters gave that lengthy sequence a distinguished quality of filmmaking.


 

MAJOR SECTION

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

VISHAL JETHWA (MARDAANI 2)

Not MC Sher from Gully Boy? I am afraid not. I admit it was, without any doubt, a wonderful performance on his debut but my opinion is that it is the popularity of the character and the performances leading to his favor, especially in the awards function. Tremendous confidence in the role he played but there weren’t many minutes to invest for acting than the focus was on his performance. I think Murad’s other friend Moeen had a much sensible performance.

Another factor that the readers must understand is the comparison with the other supporting roles. There were other actors last year who I believe certainly did better than Siddhant. In my mind, two were the closest in this honor, Deepak Dobriyal, and Vishal Jethwa. Deepak’s case was highly physical and Vishal’s case was mental. Deepak has the experience, Vishal is a 25yo debutant whose incredible villainous role in Mardaani 2 caught our attention. Vishal’s facial performance and killer eyes brought horror in the script and gave a memorable performance which will certainly remind anyone of Ashutosh Rana’s earliest success in Dushman and Sangharsh. Imagine, both Dobriyal and Jethwa were not nominated in this category in Filmfare!

Other Notable Works:

Vijay Varma (Gully Boy)

Ranvir Shorey (Sonchiriya)

Manoj Pahwa (Article 15)

Deepak Dobriyal (Laal Kaptaan)

Varun Sharma (Chhichhore)

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

AMRUTA SUBHASH (GULLY BOY)

Other Notable Works:

Rasika Dugal (Hamid)

Farrukh Jaffar (Photograph)

Pallavi Joshi (The Tashkent Files)

Anjali Patil (Mere Pyare Prime Minister)

Mahie Gill (Posham Pa)

 

BEST ACTOR

RANVEER SINGH (GULLY BOY)

I never thought Ranveer will ever impress me but one thing was for sure that his energetic charisma can get the use of better promises. He needs a director who can develop his acting potentials and here we are. Zoya picked the right man for the role. Ranveer is naturally the perfect Gully Boy.

An escapist and socially furious Murad is lost in the troubles from his domestic life and love affair. Addicted to his passion, he raps his social commentary and inclines towards the changes in the coming times.

Other Notable Works:

Ayushmann Khurrana (Article 15)

Talha Arshad Reshi (Hamid)

Anupam Kher (The Accidental Prime Minister)

Hrithik Roshan (Super 30)

Akshaye Khanna (Section 375)

 

BEST ACTRESS

BHUMI PEDNEKAR (SAAND KI AANKH)

I don’t know how did Alia Bhatt win Filmfare in this category. Technically, Alia’s role in Gully Boy is more of supporting as the film is completely centralized on Ranveer as Gully Boy. More bizarre was Bhumi not being nominated for her performance in Saand Ki Aankh but won the critics award.

Anyway, why Bhumi? She plays the role of an old villager and the portrayal is spot on. She brilliantly gets hold of the Haryanvi dialect and superbly adopts the mannerism of an old woman. Observe her walking style, rage, facial expressions and all funny scenes with Taapsee. This is Bhumi’s best performance to date and I found her to be the most impressive in executing her role. 

Other Notable Works:

Rani Mukherjee (Mardaani 2)

Vidya Balan (Mission Mangal)

Sayani Gupta (Posham Pa)

Priyanka Chopra (The Sky Is Pink)

Taapsee Pannu (Badla)

 

BEST DIRECTOR

SHONALI BOSE (THE SKY IS PINK)

This was a difficult decision. The tie was between Zoya and Shonali. Why I chose latter is because she took a very sensitive subject to its utter depth and also directed a few shots which hit straight to the heart like the couples arguing over transplant in the hospital, Aditi’s first mental collapse, Niren falling on his son’s lap and crying and many more. Shonali had a tough time in developing the characters due to different time periods.

Other Notable Works:

Ajay Bahl (Section 375)

Ritesh Batra (Photograph)

Anubhav Sinha (Article 15)

Abhishek Chaubey (Sonchiriya)

Zoya Akhtar (Gully Boy)

 

BEST FILM

GULLY BOY

What other film wins this honor than Gully Boy? There is no strong competition. There do are excellent films as mentioned below but none comes close to this. Gully Boy is the outcry from the slums of Mumbai where Murad is stuck in his tense domestic life and for escapism, tries to focus on rapping and does the social commentary.

Gully Boy, from all sorts, was a unique cinematic achievement where the voice of a lower-middle-class common man was whispered and the struggle of street rappers was depicted. I wish Gully Boy had made to the final round of the Academy Awards for the foreign-language category because this film was the most potentially acceptable film from all standards to reach the Oscar.

Gully Boy is full of energy and covers a few significant aspects like parent abuse and child labor. The story, screenplay, and dialogues are so carefully worked that the film easily grows on the viewers. Then the characterization also goes in favor to apply on remarkable writing. Some very impressive characters in the support develop the plot. The brilliance in the musical numbers does the rest.

Other Notable Films:

Sonchiriya

Hamid

Article 15

Upstarts

Section 375


 

MULTIPLE NOMINATIONS
NOMS FILMS
15 Gully Boy
10 Article 15
8 Sonchiriya
8 Hamid
7 Photograph
6 Laal Kaptaan
6 Section 375
5 Kesari
3 Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota
3 Kalank
3 Badla
3 The Sky Is Pink
3 Chhichhore
3 Posham Pa
3 Upstarts
2 The Tashkent Files
2 Super 30
2 Mardaani 2
1 Marjaavaan
1 Kabir Singh
1 Batla House
1 Jaoon Kahan Bata Ae Dil
1 Mere Pyare Prime Minister
1 The Accidental Prime Minister
1 Saand Ki Aankh
1 Mission Mangal

 

MULTIPLE HONORS
HONORS FILMS
6 Gully Boy
2 Sonchiriya
2 The Sky Is Pink
1 Photograph
1 Kesari
1 Kalank
1 Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota
1 Laal Kaptaan
1 Hamid
1 Upstarts
1 The Tashkent Files
1 Super 30
1 Mardaani 2
1 Saand Ki Aankh

Thank you for reading my annual Bollywood honors report. I will return with a new report next year. Share your opinion below. Stay safe.

Film Review: Joker (2019)


“You don’t listen, do you? I don’t think you ever really hear me. You just ask the same questions every week. How’s your job? Are you having any negative thoughts? All I have are negative thoughts. But you don’t listen. I said, for my whole life, I didn’t know if I even really existed. But I do, and people are starting to notice.”


You know it is extremely difficult to write a review of Joker and sum up the presentation of Joker’s character. It cannot be explained in a few sentences or paras. It depends on how you judge the film and how better you can translate your opinion into words. I will try.

See, Joker, the archnemesis of Batman is reimagined out of the comic books and all those 80 years of the remarkable writings. You don’t have to follow or compare it with the comic pages. The understanding is that how one director understands human psychology and observes Joker as a human. Full marks to Warner Bros. for picking a very interesting name who I never imagined to direct about Joker – Todd Phillips. Amongst all the directors, alive or dead, if I am asked about the most fitting director who can do justice with Joker, it has to be Stanley Kubrick.

Many Gothamites will realize that most of Batman’s villains are mental and they all have their issues which we don’t follow because who wants to know about the villains. They are bad people, right? We only care about h.e.r.o.e.s. because they are good people and they are always right, they are angels, they are Godly people to serve humans. Bad people are evil, right?

But the provoking part is why villains choose this path? Why villains feel glad to make people suffer? Why Joker is so evil? He is one villain who has put Batman to the most difficult tests to the most extreme lengths than anyone in Gotham.


“I think I felt better when I was locked up in the hospital.″


Arthur Fleck, a failed comedian, a bullied, a society-reject, majorly ignored, mocked and an isolated Gothamite who suffers PBA and is bound to take care of the only person who is cordially associated with him – his ailing old mother.

Like I described before, this film is completely out of comic book pages about Gotham and the related characters. For me, Fleck is an assumption about his becoming Joker. Todd Phillips focuses on how the human loses his/her sanity in difficult circumstances and unfortunately makes him/her evil to society? How does he or she become a menace or a reckoning? Anyone of us can become Arthur Fleck in the given circumstances but only a few of them, unfortunately, turn to the wrong side of humanity and become a ‘problem’ for the society who were ‘victim’ in the past.


“I Hope My Death Makes More Cents Than My Life.”


Joaquin Phoenix‘s entire body language in the film needs to enter the case studies and lectures in the medical and educational institutions. How is someone so talented to describe the emotional fluctuations and reflex/nerve behaviors. Look at him when he tries to avoid those episodes of laughs on the bus, at the office, and in the stand-up comedy show. Observe his almost nervous breakdown when the boss warns him, or when he paces his feet to shoot the last culprit outside the station.

And then the iconic moment of Joker’s stair dance at West 167th Street at The Bronx was, I believe, much-needed breathing in Fleck’s terrible life. It aired freedom from all the sufferings. That is why that scene was so important. That scene has made that site a regular visiting spot.


“I used to think that my life was a tragedy, but now I realize, it’s a f**king comedy.”


So who played a better Joker? Ledger or Phoenix? I think it is a tie and on a different note, the roles cannot be compared. Both versions of Joker were interestingly not comic-based. One was created from Nolan’s imagination, the other from Todd’s. Fleck’s one is Joker’s sorry past reaching to the initial phase of his crime career as Joker, Ledger’s is the existing Joker at his crime peak. So both roles are excellent in different BATverses.

I still believe there was room for improvement in the plot writing especially in the final 30 minutes. But I think the story has met its ultimate ending and there is no need to bring the sequel.

Joker is an outstanding standalone film. I will count Joker amongst the best films which were fully centralized on the major character like Robert de Niro in Taxi Driver, Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange, Tom Hanks in Cast AwayAdrien Brody in The Pianist, and a few more.

Not aware of the outstanding male performances of this year but if Phoenix again misses the Oscar,

“Is it just me, or is it getting crazier out there?”

Ratings: 8.8/10

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