Modern Love Mumbai is the Indian version of the Amazon Original anthology series, ‘Modern Love‘. MLM follows the same aesthetics as the original work. Set in Mumbai, each of the six episodes present different love stories expressing freedom and questioning the boundary to reach the human desire.
Modern Love was set in New York and all the stories were based on the essays published in The New York Times under the same title. So I am not sure if MLM also followed this route. But each of the stories has its significance and has the essence of the plot’s simplicity to sensualize. These stories are very close to life and most of the audience can relate.
Three of the six stories are about married women thoroughly divided in ages. One is as young as their twenties, the second is in her forties, and the third is in her late fifties or mid-sixties. One is about homosexuals, and another is about a young woman searching for the ideal man through a dating app. And there is one particular for the Northeast Indian mother-son story who is in the conflict of getting or not getting mixed in multiculturalism. So this indicates that MLM was written and developed with care.
I liked the panel of directors who worked on their part of the stories. Shonali Bose returned to the director’s seat for Raat Rani years after ‘The Sky Is Pink‘. Raat Rani is about A girl from Dal Lake, Lali, who marries a Mumbaikar, a security guard Lutfi and arrives in Mumbai but her life is dull until Lutfi is transferred to the other station leaving his bicycle behind for her.
Hansal Mehta directed a controversial episode ‘Baai‘ about homosexuality. Hansal previously directed ‘Aligarh‘ with the same subject. This is about Manzar Ali who belongs to a conservative Muslim household but is interested in men but is not able to tell his ailing grandmother Baai.
Another veteran director Vishal Bhardwaj did the Northeastern family drama ‘Mumbai Dragon‘ where the mother faces difficulty in accepting her son with his girlfriend who doesn’t belong to her ethnicity.
Alankrita Srivastava did ‘My Beautiful Wrinkles‘ about an old widow Dilbar who takes interest in a young athlete Kunal, a plot that is similar to one of the four stories in her ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha‘. Alankritas direction is like a wave for the liberalism of womanhood where she develops bold intentions in the plot and addresses them in a peculiar way. Alankrita shows the loneliness of Dilbar that absorbs and the passion and hunger in women in general for more adequate lust melts young men to daydream and draw their nudity in their honest illustration. Sticking with the old memories may lessen your optimism. Confessing private intentions is courageous but healthy for releasing the negative energy she had in life.
Super excited to see Little Things-famed Dhruv Sehgal who directed one of the episodes ‘I Love Thane‘ about Saiba who is seeking her ideal through a dating app but gives a shot at Parth to whom she finds out through work this time.
Nupur Asthana did the last episode ‘Cutting Chai‘ about a married woman Latika in her forties thinking about her life decisions, about becoming a wife, and a mother but not a novelist, something that was her ambition.
It is the beauty of small portions in the screenplay that gives you the feel about how these things matter in life, the human connection is strong in the drama. Like in Cutting Chai, Latika begins to regret her life decisions and imagine people around her agreeing and disagreeing with her. That is indicating how careful a young man or woman was when he/she was young and had to listen to society about what he/she should have decided and what not. In Raat Rani, Lali is about to throw her husband’s old bicycle from the flyover until she thinks about utilizing it by learning to ride it and earn bread through it.
Modern Love Mumbai is the positive energy that addresses optimism and encourages us to move on or give it a chance. Although, any tv or film product can have similar elements, but the beauty of MLM stories is that the plot inclines towards a push that is needed to make the audience think. The continuity of each episode never looks pressing too hard at all.
I enjoyed when Dilbar gives a try to fantasize about young athlete Kunal in the fourth story or Manzar meets Rajveer after his fondness for the previous boy matters into heartbreak in the second episode. Same case with Saiba who gives a shot at Parth by breaking her norm to find men from the dating app. That explained a lot. Therefore, the audience gets to learn or realize a few things in life if not all by watching Modern Love Mumbai.
I don’t remember if I ever happened to see Naseeruddin Shah playing a Sikh character, that is another accomplishment in his celebrated career I reckon. Good to see Sarika after a long time, she deserves to get more recognition. Pratik Gandhi is quite an actor who has the ability to play different roles. From a rich Gujarati stockbroker to a Muslim homosexual from a conservative household, Pratik really has made a distinction in his choices. For me, from all the stories, the one actor amongst all who is the winner is Fatima Sana Shaikh in the first episode. The accent, the body language, the emotional breakdown, everything was there. She nailed her character. It was a delight to see such a quality performance.
MLM has impressive writing and direction as well as quality performances due to good choices about casting in the stories. Ram Sampath‘s music score is very touching and full of life. Modern Love’s creator John Carney was involved in financing MLM so that is also why the tone was maintained and none of the makers Bollyfied with curry aesthetics.
There is every capacity to go for more than one season. Because MLM is all about some quality essays to write about and stories to speak about. Stories will never die, and love won’t compromise. There is much human connection still to work on through different mediums. So MLM must go on.
In early 2000, Shahryar Khan was appointed the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and it was to my usual bitter disappointment that once again, the committee decided to elect an individual who had no experience in the field of cricket. In those times, I came to know that he was a diplomat. He couldn’t tolerate the situation of Pakistan cricket after that infamous Oval test and Younis Khan’s refusal of captaincy. A decade later, Shahryar Khan was appointed the chairman again.
Back in 2017, when Shahryar Khan left the position as the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board, I was googling him and found out that he was born in Bhopal. I further discovered that besides sports and a political career, he is an author. And one of the titles of his book that stroke the cord was the name, The Begums of Bhopal.
Being an ardent book reader and history aficionado, I gradually paced up digging about why a Bhopal-born octogenarian in Pakistan wrote about the wives of Bhopal. My eyes widen when I found out that Shahryar Khan belongs to some royal family who ruled Bhopal state for 241 years. But the most riveting part was that out of 241 years, his four female ancestors ruled for 107 consecutive years.
After understanding such a ravishing part of history, my honest feeling was that after learning so much about history, I was an ignorant fool not to have an inch of enlightenment about this. And it is a sad part, most of us have lost the hunger or enthusiasm to learn about one of the oldest civilizations. There is so much treasure of knowledge and the history of Bhopal is just a branch of it.
Curiosity bore so many questions about the book. The two most critical questions were that how come the Pathans ruled a state for more than two centuries where the Hindus dwelt in the majority? How come not one but four ‘Muslim’ ladies ruled a state in nineteenth-century India for more than one hundred years?
A brief introduction, nine chapters, an epilogue, and some drawings, appendixes, and some assessments of this book enrich you with the most precious detailing about the state’s history. Thanks to British India Office Records that preserves many scores of letters, documents, drawings, photographs, and history books that maintain the accurate information about the history of yore. Plus, dozens of books also assisted in shaping a proper history guide.
AN AFGHAN IN BHOPAL
The foundation of the princely state was laid by the traveler from Tirah, Dost Mohammad Khan of Mirazi-Khel clan of the Orakzai tribe when he joined Aurangzeb’s army and soon took control of Malwa, the region where the Gonds and the Bhils were the original and indigenous inhabitants.
Dost began to provide protection and made his presence stable in the region. In a few years, he persuaded his clan in Tirah to move and join him. As a result, fifty of his clan people along with his father, five brothers, and his wife Mehraj Bibi traveled from Tirah to Berasia. Thus, the Mirazi-Khel tribe became the pioneer settlers of Bhopal and were called the Barru-kat Pathans of Bhopal. With the steady progress of the Bhopal village that turned into a city, Dost became the first Nawab of Bhopal.
In the 19th century, Bhopalis faced the toughest times when Scindia of Gwalior and Bhonsle of Nagpur along with their army strength of 82,000 sieged Bhopal. Dost’s great-grandson Wazir Mohammad Khan successfully led the defense of an army strength of only 11,000 that included the Rajput allies, Sikh mercenaries, and the Pindaras of Tonk. I took a special interest in the detailing of this siege because this was the most important battle in their history where the lives of Bhopalis and the fate of Dost’s family and legacy were at stake. I have written a separate 2-part blog about the Siege of Bhopal that you can read here:
A decade after the Siege of Bhopal began the rule of female rulers of the Bhopal dynasty starting from Wazir’s daughter-in-law and 5th Nawab Ghous Mohammad Khan’s daughter, Qudsia Begum. The arrival of women’s rule to the state turned the fates of Bhopalis as the state began to progress and Dost’s legacy continued to influence.
Amongst her vital contributions as the state leader was buying lodges in Makkah and Madinah for Bhopali pilgrims, and employing David Cook to construct a pipeline to provide her people free drinking water. She provided funds from her personal account to construct a railway station.
When Qudsia’s daughter Sikandar Begum took control and became the second begum to rule, she left no shades of their golden legacy behind but gave more reasons to believe why the begums of Bhopal were to be trusted as their supreme leader.
In Sikandar’s era, postal service started, a police force was formed, and constructed a treasury and a mint for the local production of coins and currency. Sikandar also constructed a hospital and a few dispensaries and invited Hakeems from all the states to settle down in Bhopal. To transform the royal household into religious intellectuals, Sikandar invited Yemeni scholars to teach them Arabic, Hadiths, and the holy book of the Quran. When it comes to her religious contributions, Sikandar introduced Majlis-e-Shoora that passed 134 laws during her reign.
Sikandar holds the distinction for working for harmony between Muslims and Hindus by constructing mosques and serais for them. She also appointed an Accountant General who would check the waste and corruption. Urdu became Bhopal’s official court language, previously it was Persian.
THE BEGUMS: SHAHJEHAN & SULTAN JAHAN
The third begum Shahjehan, Sikandar’s daughter, brought more reforms into the system. The postal and police services that were initiated in her mother’s reign, were modernized. The revenue system was improved. Shahjehan also constructed a jail, a dam, and a proper arsenal for the state’s artillery.
Shahjehan’s daughter and the last Begum of Bhopal, Sultan Jahan faced a lot of challenges when she sat on the throne. Only 40,000 rupees were left in the treasury to run the state. Bhopal’s political system was on a razor edge and the economy was compromising thanks to her step-father Siddiq Hassan whose incompetent leadership resulted in social and economic corruption and despite sharp criticism by the British, Shahjehan preferred to defend him.
Sultan Jahan’s era was the symbol of promise and in the first ten years of rule, she built hope, faith, and future for her people. Despite being very religious and conservative, Sultan Jahan brought educational reforms, liberalism, and modernization to Bhopal.
Sultan Jahan improved systems in taxation, irrigation, agriculture, armed forces, police, jails, judiciary, and public works. She initiated municipality elections that upgraded sanitation, hygiene, and supplying tax-free water. In her era, Bhopali women found their voice in Begum. They were encouraged to join the Bhopal Ladies Club. The technical institutes were opened to teach them embroidery, handicraft, and needlework. She became the first chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University that helped in raising the bar for education, especially for girls.
Four ladies from Dost Mohammad Khan’s bloodline ruled the state for over a century and laid a solid foundation of discipline, faith, courage, commitment, integrity, and self-belief. We do not find any such example of political dominance and ideal leadership where women ruled keeping the peace between people of different faiths, stayed loyal with the British, and brought numerous social, political, and economic reforms in political history.
My book review will be incomplete without mentioning the Bourbons of India, the French connection to the Bhopal Dynasty; the descendants of high-born nobleman Jean-Phillipe de Bourbon de Navarre. They were the superior loyalists to the dynasty for generations that fought and defended a few battles and supported them at every cost.
MY FAVORITE LEADERS
Amongst all the leaders of the dynasty written in the book, my favorite leaders were Mamola Bai, Qudsia Begum, Wazir Mohammad Khan, and Sultan Jahan Begum. I found them more distinguished and their leadership more propelling because they all encountered challenges and tackled them successfully.
Before the 19th century witnessed Bhopal being ruled by four ladies, Mamola Bai was the first significant woman in Bhopal’s political history. She was a Hindu but first, she was the wife of the first Nawab Yar Mohammad Khan, and Dost’s daughter-in-law, who ruled the state for 50 years. She faced a tough time from the opposition who was Yar’s own brother Sultan who wanted to sit on the throne. But she invoked Islamic legitimacy in favor of Yar’s son Faiz against the claims.
The British Empire’s connection to Bhopal state began with Mamola Bai when she warmly welcomed General Goddard in 1778. Abdul Qadir Jilani’s direct descendant Pir Ghous Ahmad Shah Jilani formally declared her Rabia Basri II, the author’s mother Abida Sultan held the custody of the formal attestation of this declaration.
The point where Qudsia Begum impressed me the most was when she unveils her burqa in front of all the family members, contenders to the throne, qazi and mufti, and reads her husband’s will. These were the times when Dost’s male descendants were fighting for the throne and then, this 19-year-old Qudsia, pregnant with her second child, announces her regency and begins the century-old era of women’s dominance over the state.
The dazzling aspects of Sultan Jahan Begum lie in her leadership that turned the fates of the Bhopalis, especially women. Plus, she cleaned the mess made by her step-father Siddiq Hassan who made a lot of damage in corrupting the economic and political situation of the state.
But my favorite amongst all the leaders of this Bhopal dynasty is Wazir Mohammad Khan, the true defender of the state. He is the one who protected the state falling in the hands of the Marhattas, twice. Once, Wazir along with Ambapani’s Jagirdar Kuli Khan with 1000 tribesmen defeated Sironj governor’s General Bala Rao Anglia of Gwalior, Raghuji Bhonsle of Nagpur, Pindara Amir Khan of Tonk with 40,000 force. And the second time, he courageously defended Bhopal’s siege against Marhatta’s heavy army force of 82,000. The four Begums would have never led the state if Wazir’s gallantry never existed.
The Begums of Bhopal guarantees history check and authentic detailing because of the four vital factors. One is that Shahryar Khan had his mother Abida Sultan’s library in hand that preserves books, documents, and rare manuscripts. Two, he had access to the British library where he scoured through confidential reports about the state by the-then British civil servants.
Three and the biggest factor that distinguishes this book from any history book a historian may have written in the past two centuries is that Shahryar gained direct knowledge about his ancestors through his mother’s tape recordings that recorded her impressions of the state’s history as related to her by her grandmother Sultan Jahan Begum, the fourth and final Begum of Bhopal. On the tape, the grandmother, old civil servants, and family members spoke in detail about their time and even recalled the time of Sikandar Begum’s golden era when she ruled Bhopal in the mid-nineteenth century.
And four, the book discourages to be quintessential or overpraise the pride of his ancestors. The book refuses to deceive the readers by exaggerating the details of their greatness of being the most ideal of all Bhopalis. The book highlights the state’s leadership that went in good and bad hands. The book stamps an unbiased history of centuries-old rulership where the author details the rights and wrongs of Bhopal’s leadership in safe and unsafe hands.
The golden example of the book’s historical authenticity is writing about one of his ancestors who sold his rank and Bhopal’s fate for his comfort and pleasure, Ghous Mohammad Khan, father of the first Begum of Bhopal, Qudsia Begum. Then there was Siddiq Hassan, the third Begum Shahjehan’s second husband, whose leadership in Bhopal raised questions in Bhopal and the British.
The author also holds no tolerance in courageously detailing the clashes in the royal family, complicated mother-daughter relation between Shahjehan Begum and Sultan Jahan Begum. The author was also not shy of speaking about the speculation of a romantic affair between Qudsia Begum and Shahzad Masih. Qudsia Begum disallowing to transfer her power of authority to her son-in-law is also spread in pages. The point of highlighting all of this is that the author pens the history of his ancestors in an impression that the Bhopal state and its people went through changes in the period of the leadership of their dynasty that resulted in good and bad outcomes. People lost their lives in their battles but also trusted for the reforms they made.
The author neither shows any pride nor does he write any respective names as his relatives but he broadly commentated their stories. You will not observe any page where he calls his relatives in person but rather speaks their names. He mentions himself in the epilogue but only writes his name. The preface is the only part where the author personally speaks and writes ‘I’.
I began to read The Begums of Bhopal back in March 2018. The knowledge was so driving that I began to prepare notes and draw myself the lineage of the princely state. Although, the drawing is there in the book, but for me, it was helpful to update all the lines with the completion of chapters I read. This book made a lot of reading intervals due to my own mid-life crises. But with a strong will, I have finished reading this book by the end of 2021.
The beauty of reading this book is that you grow with the timeline from Dost Mohammad Khan’s arrival in Malwa in 1707 to Hamidullah Khan’s succession of the throne in 1926. It is like if you are watching the American television show Roots and following Kunta Kinte’s descendants. This book deserves a television series with an extremely huge production budget, and I wish if this ever happens. Because this part of history needs to be told.
To all the readers who seek knowledge about the tareekh-e-Hindustan, The Begums of Bhopal is a part of it. A lot of information about India’s ancient history has not reached the internet; that makes me think that there is still a lot about the past to reach us. Gain it, treasure it, before all these cannons go further missing.
Alright, the time has neatly arrived to speak about the Hindi films released in the year 2017. Starting from 2015, I am yearly publishing my report through my blog about the best things happened in the Hindi cinema. My yearly season of watching Hindi films arrives every last quarter of the year. I pick some films from the list of year wide releases in which I find potential, watch, write a review and place the films in different categories where I believe the project was good for certain aspects.
I am delighted to observe a slight change in waves at some parallel lines which were drawn to follow and focus on mainstream entertainment. There do are numerous films which offer its viewers to enjoy the rollercoaster. But in a few years, the content of creativity and understanding the characterization and principles of filmmaking and visual cinematic presentation has changed. Viewers show interest and are excited to accept change but that innovation is and will increase by a minor percentage. The quality of filmmaking has changed, not because of the cameras but due to the producers offering talented filmmakers and people from other cinematic professions a chance to show their creativity. Films are recognized abroad in the different film festivals. Actors like Manav Kaul, Pankaj Tripathi, Rajkummar Rao, Radhika Apte, Seema Pahwa, Swara Bhaskar, and Sanjay Mishra are achieving recognition from the majority of viewers. These names were hardly believed to be discussed or remembered a few years ago.
From scores of releases, I picked only 28 films for watching and some other films, in addition, to listen to some tracks which did justice to the musical department and to my ears. Millions of people have their opinions, I have mine strictly on the bases of my observation, judgment and understanding as a film critic. No, I do not write for magazines or newspapers as a critic or writer because when most of the companies pay you, you are expected to pass the review to keep everyone happy. Blogging is freedom and before I proceed, let me forward to you my same work on Bollywood’s best in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
Like before, I will segregate the categories into three different sections i.e., musical (5), technical (10), and major section (6). In most of the categories, I will brief a small explanation where I find necessary. In most of the categories, I will also make some honorable mentions which are the individuals or the films deserve to be counted among the best.
This is to inform you that the list of 21 categories from the 3 sections is created and presented from my selection and observing the following films released in India in 2017:
The above-mentioned films which miss all the recognitions below are to be believed that those films didn’t live up to my expectations. Also for your reading, let me clarify that the films are not ranked in ‘Other Notable Works’.
Besides the films I have picked above, I have a special regret of missing the following films which I was not able to watch due to lack of availability or availability in extremely low video/audio quality:
There were not enough impressive singing to my ear to the tracks I listened to. But this Nachdi Phiraan came as a surprise. I first felt if Zaira Wasim was really singing in the studio but then I found out that she was another 17yo like Zaira whose voice perfectly fitted in her. What a phenomenal singing by this young girl. It is all magic when she raises her voice from Tere Ishq Da Chola Pehen Ke. Meghna Mishra is a new singing sensation with a lot of promises.
This is the first time I have heard Arko’s voice. I was actually not aware of his past contribution. I am informed by my brother that he was behind the composition of most of Jism 2’s tracks. Coming back to Nazm Nazm, what impresses me is his distinctive voice sung on his own lyrics and composition which gives the listener a real feel. Also, this song reminds the 90sh typical fall-in-love tracks.
There were dozens of impressive tracks and was pretty hard to decide my favourite from 2017. Many tracks build different variations of moods. So why Din Shagna Da? Because of an extreme simplicity of its being a wedding ballad blended with Jasleen’s addition to grand piano and guitar in a typical Punjabi wedding score.
Lyrics are simple and so realistic. Makes you imagine a young bride singing for her soon-to-be husband before the wedlock. And then, Jasleen Royal’s voice does the perfection of bringing a beautiful and utopian imagery of your beloved in her bridal dress.
What is counted in ‘Best Music’? For me, it is the quality of Music. Almost all the tracks are relaxing, smooth and tempo builder. Khoya Khoya and Tere Mere are the toppers amongst all the tracks. Raghu Dixit’s contribution moves you and the story together and I honestly believe he deserves the credit as his hard work went pretty unnoticed in the mainstream media. I am not doing any favour but as compared to the other films, I find his tracks for Chef far better than the other notable works which are:
To be honest, it was a tough call. I actually picked Anvita Dutt‘s Phillauri and wrote one paragraph in reasoning why the story of Phillauri was the best. But then I stopped myself and looked towards other potential stories I watched.
In my other picks, there is Saket Chaudhary‘s Hindi Medium which shows in a funny way how much effort do the parents make to send their children to a better educational institution. Then there is Atanu Mukherjee‘s Rukh which speaks about a teenager who lost his father in a road accident refusing to believe if that was an accident or a murder. Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, written by Garima-Siddharth, raised the issue of having no toilet and emphasized on the eradication of open defecation. Mukti Bhawan, penned by Shubhashish Buthiani, was about a son helping his father to live his last few days to the holy city of Varanasi.
Then I made up my mind that the story has to be bolder with a brave message. Lipstick Under My Burkha surpasses the definition of being the best story. The film speaks about the compromised social lives of four women of different ages and statuses from the same society living in Bhopal. Being centered on feminism, the story splendidly executes and handles the issues of different women whether they are right or wrong.
Yes, that book in Buaji’s hand is one major reason but I am not aware if that fictional book is fictional to the plot. But the dialogues overall are lively and rich to reality. Gazal Dhaliwal had the audacity to speak out in different characters. All four leading ladies had their needs and lipstick was an important factor. Her dialogues give the space and importance to each of them.
It is emotionally a disturbing and morally a humiliating scene to watch Ratna Pathak’s Buaji character exposing to the truth in front of the whole neighbourhood. It was like a human who has never revealed his/her entire arm is stripped naked. The scene’s excellence of emotional decline should be credited to Alankrita who does a fantastic job in bringing the four ladies and their stories together at a point where they need the support of each other. It was predictable that the truth about Buaji will come someday to everyone’s attention but it is the beauty of the direction how she breaks the spine of her utopian escapism. Only an artist like Ratna can superbly handle that scene.
Other Notable Scenes:
Breaking Toilet on Pandit’s Command (Toilet: Ek Prem Katha)
Sridevi’s Breakdown in Hospital (Mom)
Spirits’ Reunion (Phillauri)
Shutu’s Suicide (A Death In The Gunj)
Father-Son Crying and Apologizing (Mukti Bhawan)
Sulu’s Heated Argument with Entire Family (Tumhari Sulu)
After so many impressive side roles in recent years, Pankaj has developed his acting finesse in 2017. This has been his most fruitful year with severe critical acclaim with the role in Newton the most to treasure.
Pankaj plays a cynical Assistant Commandant in a Naxal-controlled town. Newton is a Rajkummar-Pankaj show and Pankaj’s character weight is what Rajkummar’s keep on pulling all this time. They have assigned jobs but are completely opposite to commitments. In the whole film, it is hard to understand if Pankaj plays a helpful or a painful role to Rajkummar.
Yes. LUMB again. Ratna again. Her acting in Buaji character compels me to ignore the other contenders from the list of top performers in this category. I recognized her performance last year in the same category for Kapoor & Sons.
An impressive part of LUMB is that there is no leading character. The plot is so thick that all leading characters support each other, exactly like Kapoor & Sons. What impresses me about Ratna is her adapting any role in a supreme harmony. It doesn’t matter what you are asked, you are a veteran and versatile artist to subdue the character weight.
When she narrates the erotic novel, she makes me forget Rekha’s voice. Her Rosy avatar completely changes your perception about her being Buaji. It was a phenomenal performance.
Seriously, who else? Who else can be the best leading male performer than Rajkummar Rao?. And what else will it take to win the Best Actor award in a Filmfare function? For the fourth consecutive year, the best male leading performer of the year was not even nominated in the category of Best Actor! Sanjay Mishra for Ankhon Dekhi in 2014, Nawazuddin Siddiqui for Manjhi in 2015, Manoj Bajpayee for Aligarh in 2016, and now this. Absolutely shocking!
Coming back to Rajkummar, his efforts and commitments to the role are commendable. Bein a vegan, he actually eats meat in some of the scenes for the first time in his life. A big thumbs up! This guy goes to a strict carrot diet and drinks coffee for more than 16 days to show the emotional and physical decline of a healthy man. This effort helps Rajkummar to define urban loneliness in the character because he is new to Mumbai.
In the Indian cinema, typically the most popular industry which is Hindi cinema, what do the viewers expect from a teenage newcomer in the line of professional acting? Yes, there may be promises but we will expect a young boy or a girl to struggle in front of the camera, try to balance the body language and dialogues together. Right?
Zaira Wasim was 16 when worked in Dangal with Aamir Khan. Next year, he gave her another opportunity to exploit her acting talent. And this time she has astonished me in Secret Superstar. It is nearly impossible at 17 years of age to be so mature and well adhered to the character and its details. Yes, she is a teenager playing a teenager but acting that well in front of the camera is some achievement.
Zaira plays the title role who isn’t being the princess in the film but a dreamer who is surrendered with a very disturbing domestic life. Her facial performance and emotional fluctuation are marvellous. How real it looks when she acts in the song ‘Nachdi Phira’, that scene can make anyone admit if she really was singing. How tempestuous when she argues with father before he beats, or when she refuses to go abroad.
If this incredible newcomer continues to perform like this with consistency, then she is one massive name in the making.
Aye. Brilliant mind on the director’s chair do his/her work different from others and that is how the filmmaking is exemplified. Ajji is about a ten-year-old girl Manda who is brutally raped before being found by her grandma, Ajji. When the culprit is found to be the son of a politician, everyone in the family goes silent but Ajji.
One of the simplest stories is stretched to a lengthy 103 minutes. But why too lengthy? The answer lies in a terrific direction by Devashish Makhija. In 103 minutes, the director settles the minds of the viewers by taking the parallels of the slums from different angles. He shows the lowest standard of the rapist and tortures your observation for almost 15 minutes to make you believe how far can they go from being sober.
The director never discards in presenting a slum life as the deepest detail is very decorated on the camera, take a keen observation of childish drawings on the wall, dust fixed on the mirror, blinking tube lights, or holes in the shirt of the butcher.
Daya (Lalit Behl) in his late 70s is believing that he is about to die soon and wishes to go to the holy city of Varanasi to attain salvation. His son, Rajiv (Adil Hussain), accompanies him and leaves his family behind to travel and stay with his stubborn father at the desired place.
Mukti Bhawan is that one film which happens once in several years. Technically, this is one of the most gifted films to the Hindi cinema with every department giving you the highest quality job. A fascinating cinematography capturing the heart of Varanasi, the city of Lord Shiva.
Tajdar-Junaid’s soothing background score helps to build the tempo. Production and costume designs give severe originality to the screenplay. The rest lies in a spectacular direction which subjects on one of the best father-son onscreen chemistry ever picturized. Dialogues are very lively and the whole filmmaking is so charismatic.
So many scenes buy your attention like Daya-Rajiv crying, family posing a joyous funeral as wished, Rajiv’s internet chat with family on a weak signal, Rajiv observing final rites of cremation, etc.
Mukti Bhawan’s richest essence is the translation of human emotions and complexities, fluctuation of rage and inability of understanding the generation gaps and its harsh realities. Hard to believe that this gem is directed by a debutant (Shubhashish Bhutiani) who is only 26 years old. Surely a filmmaking prodigy in the development.
Overall, Mukti Bhawan is indisputably the best Hindi film of 2017.
Other Best Films:
Lipstick Under My Burkha
Please share your views about my selections. Write your opinions in the comments below. Let me know if you don’t agree and explain your reasons.
Here, I conclude my special report about the best of Bollywood in 2017. I will be back next year with the same reporting for the year 2018. Thank you for reading.
The thing is that I am indulged in presenting the very best of Hindi-language cinema every year and I enjoy investing my precious time for the sensible readers and filmgoers who would like to know what honestly have been the best films under different categories. It is a common understanding that the film awards in India have lost its credibility by handing the awards mostly to the wrong hands from a very list of nominations. It exasperates me when the deserving individual or a film is not recognized on the stage in any given function.
For the past two years, I am making such a specific blog to recognize the contributions from the Indian films released in India in that specific calendar year. You may read my previous selections here in 2014 and 2015.
This blog will focus on the year 2016. Like before, I will segregate the categories in three different sections i.e., musical (5), technical (10), and major section (6). In most of the categories, I will brief a small explanation where I find necessary. In most of the categories, I will also make some honorable mentions which are the individuals or the films deserve to be counted among the best.
The above-mentioned films which miss all the recognitions below are to be believed that those films didn’t live up to my expectations. Also for your reading, let me clear that the films are not ranked in ‘Other Notable Works’.
BEST BACKGROUND SCORE
TAPAS RELIA (DHANAK)
Other Notable Works:
Mikey McCleary (Waiting)
Studio Fuzz(M Cream)
BEST PLAYBACK SINGERS
There wasn’t a decent vocal competition in the year 2016. I have listened to a lot of tracks from the 4-5 successful music albums of the films and I found only a couple of male tracks from the same film and a few good female singing in the other films but still not good enough.
AMIT MISHRA (BULLEYA – AE DIL HAI MUSHKIL)
Other Notable Work: Arijit Singh (Channa Mereya – Ae Dil Hai Mushkil)
NEETI MOHAN (SAU AASMAAN – BAAR BAAR DEKHO)
Other Notable Works:
Qurat-Ul-Balouch (Kaari Kaari – Pink)
Kanika Kapoor(Da Da Dasse – Udta Punjab)
BEST SONG & LYRICS
CHANNA MEREYA (ARIJIT SINGH/AMITABH BHATTACHARYA/PRITAM – AE DIL HAI MUSHKIL)
Other Notable Works:
Tere Bin (Sonu Nigam-Shreya Ghoshal/Vidhu Vinod Chopra/Shantanu Moitra – Wazir)
Pashmina (Amit Trivedi/Swanand Kirkire – Fitoor)
Gehra Ishq (Shekhar Ravjiani/Prasoon Joshi/Vishal Khurana – Neerja)
AMIT TRIVEDI (UDTA PUNJAB)
Other Notable Works:
Tapas Relia (Dhanak)
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
ASHIMA BELAPURKAR (PARCHED)
Other Notable Work: Theia Tekchandaney & Shruti Wadetiwar (Neerja)
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
ANNA IPE & APARNA SUD (NEERJA)
Other Notable Work: Amardeep Behl (Parched)
BEST SOUND DESIGN
SUBHASH SAHU (NEERJA)
Other Notable Works:
Boby John (Dhanak)
Vinit D’Souza (Raman Raghav 2.0)
There have been few scenes in my mind which were quite outstanding. Like Aliya’s expressions of misery to Shahid in Udta Punjab, or Nawazuddin killing a family in Raman Raghav 2.0, or the hijacking scene in Neerja, or the final court scenes in Pink. But I decided to choose the winner between two of the best scenes of the year 2016. Shakun Batra’s marvelous direction bemused me about the selection of the best scene of the film. The plumber scene, Annu aunty in party scene, and the truths-revelation scene before the family photo all carried equal weight of remarkable sketch of a highly intense family drama. So undecided that I prefer to conclude the winning scene with Irrfan’s showstopper and a heart-melting scene from Madaari when he asks for whereabouts of his son in the hospital. Perhaps no one would bring the efforts what Irrfan did here and hence proved again why is he the most inspiring actor holding more demand in the global cinema than any other Indian. This scene really beats the others.
GAIRIK SARKAR (TE3N)
Other Notable Works:
Aarti Bajaj (Raman Raghav 2.0)
Monisha R Baldawa(Neerja)
MINGJUE HU (M CREAM)
Other Notable Work:
Chirantan Das (Dhanak)
Priya Seth (Airlift)
Jay Oza (Raman Raghav 2.0)
Satyajit Pande (Dangal)
Parvez Singh (Raman Raghav 2.0)
The action is not about larger-than-life supernatural fights. My science of understanding here says to me that the action is when the reality is bound to bring intensity in the screenplay. Violence is the key, torture is a form and dismantling the brain and eyes towards the seriousness of the buildup is where the finest of action qualifies. Neerja and Raman Raghav 2.0 were the only films in my mind. Neerja’s technical aspects helped to build the intensity from hijacking till the last attempt of escaping. Whereas Raman Raghav 2.0 was a silent screamer and a gritty writing making the viewers hopeless and disconsolate of any likelihood of survival, the bloodbath is a sine qua non.
Anu Menon, James Ruzicka, and Atika Chohan (Waiting)
Agneya Singh (M Cream)
Gauri Shinde (Dear Zindagi)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
RATNA PATHAK (KAPOOR & SONS)
Parched acting trio of Tannishtha, Radhika and Surveen was highly expected to surpass the expectations but the trio of Pink was a massive surprise to me. Alia Bhatt gave her remarkable presence in Kapoor & Sons.
Well, a pause in the clause is that the Indian theater actresses will eat your skull if they outplayed the emotional character. Shabana Azmi for Neerja and Ratna Pathak for Kapoor & Sons were the most standout performances from this category. It wasn’t easy to pick and ignore the other nor do I want any joint winners. But as per the capacity of acting and appeal on the screentime, Ratna had more space to suffer Mr. Kapoor and Sons than the mother of Neerja waiting for the updates after the hijacking incidence. Ratna had more time to fight and argue with more than an individual at a time than Shabana’s emotional resistance.
Other Notable Works:
Shabana Azmi (Neerja)
Kirti Kulhari (Pink)
Tannishtha Chatterjee (Parched)
Alia Bhatt (Kapoor & Sons)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
RISHI KAPOOR (KAPOOR & SONS)
The mad terrorist in Neerja was phenomenal as well as a highly potential debut of the singer Diljit Dosanjh in Udta Punjab. Rajkummar was decent in assisting Manoj Bajpayee in Aligarh and Vicky Kaushal is rapidly making his name with Masaan and 2.0. But the real focus was on the dadaji of the dysfunctional family in Kapoor & Sons.
Yes, the makeup has a prominent role in the building of the character which doubles the charm in the performance like how Amitabh brought the momentum in his Auro character in Paa after an extraordinary change in his stature and looks. But Rishi as a nonagenarian fittingly classified as the best dadaji whose role grew on the viewers with the growing heat in the disturbed family. Chintuji and Amitji are the only boys of the 70s badge who are regularly performing in the selective roles being recognized with the positive responses in today’s cinema. And this role again defines Rishi’s versatility in acting. The film would be incomplete if Rishi would not have been picked for this role.
Other Notable Works:
Jim Sarbh (Neerja)
Vicky Kaushal (Raman Raghav 2.0)
Diljit Dosanjh (Udta Punjab)
Rajkummar Rao (Aligarh)
ALIA BHATT (UDTA PUNJAB)
If there is any category which was the most impressive, that was the performances of the leading actresses in the films released in the year 2016. There is Swara Bhaskar who is rapidly becoming of the noticeable actresses who brought a spectacular performance to her credit in Nil Battey Sannata. The body language and the emotional details of her character-play were striking. Kalki’s strong CV continues to fill more golden pages with Waiting. Ash in Sarbjit was a surprise package. Throughout her acting career, this is easily her first and best acting performance. That is the other thing that Ash doesn’t resemble or remind us Dalbir Kaur but the director has really worked with Ash on her character. People were informing me that Taapsee has done a wonderful job in Pink and I was not coming out of my visual understanding after watching her in Chashme Baddoor. Taapsee Pannu displayed a powerful role and I hope she is not a one-role wonder lady.
As far as Alia is in the wacky race, she is my girl for this category. She is at the peak of her career and easily one of the fastest growing actresses in the Indian cinema. Alia does have a lot of help at home from her mother Soni Razdan who has pulled the strings of acting and playing mentally complicated characters in many of her husband’s films in the 80s and 90s, and papa Mahesh Bhatt who has been critical in making top-notch films in the parallel cinema. But then, it is the baby who has to face the camera and has every potential to make her name with acting greats like Shabana Azmi, Smita Patil, Tabu, or Nandita Das in very near future.
She began performing from Highway and sought attention from the sensible viewers including me. But 2016 is her best year ever with high-class performances in not one but three films (Kapoor & Sons, Dear Zindagi, and this). As far as the mental or physical challenge is the condition, it definitely is her role of Mary Jane in Udta Punjab which beats the other competitors in the wacky race. She has shown the misery of a girl stuck in the series of unfortunate events. You feel sorry for the character but when you feel apologetic, there is Alia’s success to justify the role she plays. Highway’s Veera Tripathi and Udta Punjab’s Mary Jane have suffered but their character-destruction from Alia’s visual presentation is different. Well done Alia.
Other Notable Works:
Swara Bhaskar (Nil Battey Sannata)
Taapsee Pannu (Pink)
Kalki Koechlin (Waiting)
Sonam Kapoor (Neerja)
Aishwarya Rai (Sarbjit)
MANOJ BAJPAYEE (ALIGARH)
If you are mature enough to understand the credibility of the actor and his substance of a performance in a given screentime, you will realize that the award functions in India are commercialized which depends on revenue and care less for the individuals who deserve the award at the right time in their lives. In 2015, Filmfare omitted Sanjay Mishra for Ankhon Dekhi, who was a clear winner in the category of Best Actor. Last year, Filmfare omitted Nawazuddin for Manjhi who actually was the most deserving individual to win the category of Best Actor. And now a hattrick of blunder is completed with Manoj Bajpayee’s turn who lost his place to get into the nominations. And most of the viewers will raise the eyebrows over the quality of decision making by the juries who repeatedly add box-office mahatmas, Salman Khan and Shahrukh Khan, in the category almost every year from nowhere.
This is easily Bajpayee’s best performance ever and is the toughest character of a homosexual teacher he can play. The best part of the role is his complexity towards the sexual orientation for which he is suspended and bringing his ass to the court. He has a portion of love for the lettering and listening to Lata’s songs but overall a disturbed soul. He is a departed loner but expects people to understand him. Bajpayee has given the word ‘Tragedy’ a fresh cinematic meaning. A wonderful and very underrated performance I subject to recognize here.
Besides, Shahid enjoys another successful year with another role of a maniac, this time in Udta Punjab. Shahid is like Saif Ali Khan who is reintroduced to the viewers as a promising actor not to ignore. After a series of repeated failures, Shahid is finally off the mark from Haider. Irrfan’s Madaari is another brutal omission from the same category in Filmfare and you will be surprised to know that besides Paan Singh Tomar, he has never been nominated in this category in Filmfare.
Naseer sir in Waiting is magnificent as always in almost every film which he is part of. Amitabh had three different roles in Wazir, Pink, and Te3n, and I must say that Amitji at this age has become more choosy in his roles than ever. Since 2015, he has played some very good roles in Shamitabh, Piku, and the above-mentioned films. If I have to pick between the three, it would be Te3n.
By watching his superior performances in first Badlapur and now Raman Raghav 2.0, I am fully convinced that if in any timeline the Batman franchise happens to drop in Indian cinema, the only actor who can play the role of the Joker is Nawazuddin Siddiqui. His latest role of a psychotic killer will disturb you, by watching this performance you will never wish to meet him. What Randeep did in Sarbjit was the most dedicating among all the best performances of 2016. He lost 18 kgs in 28 days to justify his role in the prison life. Randeep presents you the pain of being an unfortunate and displays an impressive emotional drop and terrific body language. He makes the viewers feel when he groans and express his pain to Aishwarya in the prison.
Other Notable Works:
Shahid Kapoor (Udta Punjab)
Irrfan Khan (Madaari)
Naseeruddin Shah (Waiting)
Randeep Hooda (Sarbjit)
Nawazuddin Siddiqui (Raman Raghav 2.0)
Amitabh Bachchan (Te3n)
GAURI SHINDE (DEAR ZINDAGI)
Besides the names mentioned below, the competition for this category, in my opinion, was between Shakun Batra and Gauri Shinde. Both were the masterclass in utilizing the scripts. But I picked Gauri the winner from this category. Shakun’s impressive direction has a blend of major other aspects involved like very realistic dialogues, a lot of impressive performances within a scene etc but Gauri’s direction heavily depends on Alia’s character growth in the film especially a very important first half before Shahrukh is introduced.
Other Notable Works:
Shakun Batra (Kapoor & Sons)
Ram Madhvani (Neerja)
Anurag Kashyap (Raman Raghav 2.0)
Abhishek Chaubey (Udta Punjab)
Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury (Pink)
KAPOOR & SONS
I mean what else? what really else can be a better film than Kapoor & Sons? A decent family drama which portrays/sketches a dysfunctional family with mix elements of humor and suspense. The film has no nonsense of silly masala, item numbers or unnecessary cameo appearances despite the fact that the film was produced under the banner of Dharma Productions. Then the film is very honest to its script and describes a shattered bond in a very distinctive way.
There are numerous amazing scenes which catch our attention swiftly because we are accustomed to our domestic life especially the plumber scene. Then the revelation of secrets and a tragic accident. The film touches your heart. The remaining plusses are left with superb performances from all the major cast. Everyone has his share and their roles carry the same depth. And that is the beauty of the film that there is no leading character. Every major character is supporting to the other.
Other Notable Works:
Nil Battey Sannata
(Please share your views about my selections. Write your opinions in the comments below. Let me know if you don’t agree and explain your reasons.)
Half a year is done and I forget to write a blog on my picks from different categories of Bollywood films. I did this last year for 2014 edition. I hope I am not that late as time pass swiftly nowadays.
Like every passing year, Bollywood’s growth increases worldwide but the quality and standard of the film decreases. Recognition nowadays among the actors is star-power and among the leading actresses is the one with useful skin-shows. Above all you insured to be more successful in this industry if you have a strong background and belong to rich people who are industrialists, politicians, businessmen, military or in same cinematic profession. The unlucky ones have to join parallel cinema with more brain and wisdom among the cast and filmmakers.
In recent years, there has been change in atmosphere as the artists of parallel and entertaining cinema are involved in same projects and work together. Some sensible writers and talented directors work with involvement of more production companies. Some of the films from last year have been highly impressive and these were those which were not eye-catching in box-office collections.
What disgust me was pathetic inclusions in nominations for different categories in their recognized FILMFARE awards. Tragedy is that the functions are not worth and are more focused on high-level tcp ratings. If you notice, many many big names of the industry are absent and are disappearing in years. People have lost interest in FILMFARE because the functions are bias and predictable. Awards nowadays are won not by right and deserving candidates. Forget about winning, when the nominations are announced the viewers go insane because of plenty of blunders.
From below the categories, I will try to speak some lines where I see FILMFARE at huge fault. Like last year’s blog, I will divide the categories in three sections i.e., Music, Technical and Major. My selections are purely my honest selections to what I believe was deserving. Some of the categories do not need details because it is unnecessary. With the name of winners from each category, I will mention other names who deserve to be the other bests. So here I go;
Imagine a boy from extremely poor background, whose ancestors have history of working in profession of burning corpse and a girl from upper caste begin loving each other. And one day, after exchange of a lovely relationship for weeks, he happen to see her dead body in his working site brought to burn the corpse! We don’t see such tragic moments in young love stories like this. It was an intimate scene and full of intensity. There come this scene and the obvious case is more grieving. Vicky Kaushal‘s presentation of agony is unexplainable here. I could not find a HQ video of the scene. I have no doubt this is the best scene shot in any film of the year.
Konkona don’t need any introduction. Open her filmography and you will find dozens of impressive roles she has played in her acting career. Talvar is another addition in her CV. She along with Neeraj Kabi displayed one of the best supporting performances in recent years and guess what, she wasn’t even nominated in Filmfare for this category.
The year 2015 was remarkably a year for best male performances in supporting roles. Title was a trinity of performances between three brothers. Anil Kapoor developed his skills playing role of angry father in Dil Dhadakne Do. Neeraj Kabi brought all his theater experience in Detective Byomkesh Bakshy and Talvar. Vicky Kaushal turned out to be one of the most promising newcomers in Masaan. Karan Johar was the surprise package in Bombay Velvet and Ashraful Haque did superb job as Manjhi’s father in his final film.
But above all it is the actor in his heydays who is building a very strong career making his name in almost every film. Nawazuddin Siddiqui in Badlapur is someone you would like to hit and slap as much as hard you want. He gives a lot of energy to his villainous role and don’t even feel bad for the guy who lost his family. His character has shades and changes color like chameleon. He and Varun, the two leading actors of the film are two sides of the coin begging for mercy.
It wasn’t a year of extraordinary performance by the leading actresses. Then Richa Chadda happened. She is Devi Pathak in Masaan who was caught with him by the police in the hotel for obvious reason. Then her struggles begin to make a life of herself by switching jobs but cannot afford a payment of hefty bribe the policemen ask her and her father for the video they made in hotel. It was tough to decide the winner but then I decided that Deepika for Piku was the closest and second-best to her.
How rude and disgusting that such performance wasn’t appreciated enough to be nominated in Filmfare for the same category. More to a mockery, Kajol and Sonam Kapoor were gifted places in the category for Dilwale and Dolly Ki Doli whose performances were no where in comparison to this.
Other Notable Performances: Besides Deepika Padukone for Piku, Anushka Sharma did a terrific job in Bombay Velvet as Rosie the Jazz singer. She performed impressive facial expressions in numbers like Fifi and Dhadaam Dhadaam. Then there is Bhumi Pednekar (Dum Laga Ke Haisha) who gained 30kg for the role of an overweight wife and made a stunning debut, was also ignored by Filmfare in the category. And why should I not count lil’ Harshaali Malhotra! 8-year-old child actress made promising debut as Munni in Bajrangi Bhaijaan and was the only shining moment in the whole ridiculously garbage film. At this tiny age, she showed a character and discipline of emotions on a dolly face.
It will be a sin to overlook such astonishing performance. It will be a mockery to consider it only one of the best performances. His star is shining brightly in recent years but this performance need an author to release a book full of praise. I hardly have seen actors reaching closest to the perfection like J.K.Simmons in Whiplash or DiCaprio in The Revenant worldwide but in India, it is hard to bring that so much in the artistry to present a character what Nawaz did in portraying Dashrath Manjhi.
Nawazuddin’s title role of Manjhi is full of life. You want a father or a husband, you want a man of his principles or determination, you want an example of sacrifice and hardship and last but not the least you want to see a man who broke the mountain to honor his wife he loved the most in entire life – there you have all superbly defined.
When it comes to emotions, this actor has no boundaries to express. A facial performance is very vital in acting and keen learners of theater always win the performances. He easily is the best actor for last year.
In three words – Shandaar! Zabardast! Zindabad!
Some readers may get confused of not picking Manoj Bajpayee for Aligarh. Let me clear, the reason I omitted is because the film is released in India this year in February. The closest to this competitor was hugely/heavily ignored Shashank Arora for Titli.
Omission of Nawaz for Manjhi from the last Filmfare Awards easily is one of the most shocking blunders in their history. How disgusting and utter disappointing is to see the genuine winner not included in the nominations but Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan for Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Dilwale respectively! This shows the standard of Filmfare nowadays and ridiculous selections by the judges of these panels.
Yes he is and I am not surprised. A silent and dark tale of two characters hanging on different corners eagerly waiting to leave a mark on each other. It is about making an extraordinary film from an ordinary script. We have watched films when the leading actor loses the one he loves and plans to take revenge. Same goes here but with same story, it easily distinguishes from other films of the past thanks to Sriram’s directional artistry.
What propels you is the building of intensity on Raghu (Varun Dhawan) when he loses his wife and child in very first scene. The rage factor of Raghu is where he work out, the way he beat or hit few characters by hammer is violent and loud to your ears. With time much to offer, Sriram builds the leading character very well. He is excellent on bringing the best of the leading performer as he did with Urmila in ‘Ek Haseena Thi‘ and Neil Nitin Mukesh in ‘Johnny Gaddaar‘.
Other Notable Performances: The closest competitor to Sriram is Shoojit Sircar for Piku. Meghna Gulzar for Talvar was surprise package. I found Anurag Kashyup‘s direction for Bombay Velvet very very impressive as the film was hugely rejected by the viewers. Neeraj Ghaywan was also fantastic keeping a balance between two different stories in Masaan.
Piku (Deepika) plans a trip to Kolkata with her dad (Amitabh) but none of Rana’s (Irrfan) cab drivers are available. So Rana decides to serve them and the real fun begins. This is a freshly-baked comedy-drama film with mehfil-loot performances by main actors. Father-daughter chemistry is terrific and the characters development is right on spot.
Piku is a beautiful slice of life or your favorite cup of coffee, a mind freshener giving your energy an extra-boost because the flow of the film builds on you. A combination of brilliant story, screenplay and dialogues make this very-original film exciting for the viewers and can be repeatedly watched.
Other Notable Films: Masaan, Talvar, Titli, Manjhi, Bombay Velvet, Hunterrr, Drishyam and Badlapur.