Tag Archives: Indian Film Industry

Zaira Wasim And The Collision Of Understanding

Is it a drop of blood from a disgrace or did I confuse a phrase? In no time, an alarming wave of emotion twists the fate and admittance or riddance of false feelings dictates the change in remedies. Was I wrong before, am I right now or vice versa? Anyway, I hereby announce that I quit from my piece of Neverland and discover a new America of hope. Yikes, the worlds of pious and Godless Freeville collide over my early retirement. Run Zaira Run…

I don’t realize why I wrote the above paragraph. Maybe it is making any sense or maybe not. But the news spiced all over breaking the guitars and sitars across India over the young secret superstar, Zaira Wasim, waving her final goodbyes to the social media spectators before she sailed into the religious cruise ship. We are not aware of the coordinates of this voyage but the eyebrows of the observers have been raised as if she has eloped with her boyfriend for good.

Many questions have been raised over her professional departure, numerous people have shared their opinion, and many have criticized her explanation about quitting on her Instagram account. So I thought, why shan’t I jump into this crazy center of the jury and advertise my blog. Perhaps, the readers may find my opinion interesting.

Ok, so here is the peanut butter on your toasted bread. Zaira Wasim posted an announcement on Instagram that she is quitting the showbiz with a lengthy explanation which, after reading and observing, I have understood that she has considered the profession as a path of ignorance ‘for her’ which she feels is misleading and distancing herself from her faith. Zaira perhaps feels that this line of profession is taking her somewhere else from where she cannot return and maybe the Lord will be extremely unhappy of her supposed-to-be wrongdoings. Therefore, Zaira decides to leave this line of work so that she can focus on her religion/faith. Maybe in the future, she does something different than showbiz which won’t distract her from practicing her faith.

WHAT MADE THIS NEWS SENSATIONAL?!?!

Hmm… Most of the popular leading Indian actresses have taken early retirement or temporarily disappeared due to their marriage. I am not remembering if any ‘well-known’ Muslim woman in the Indian film industry quit for her religion. So many well-known actresses from the Muslim background made their name in the industry but neither their work nor their faith was a hindrance.

Zaira’s popularity in the mainstream Bollywood was broadly speaking especially after her fabulous performance in Secret Superstar. She worked in two films and on both the occasions, she shared the silver screen with none other than Aamir Khan. Aamir even went on to state about her that she is the best female actor in the film industry which was an extremely bold statement. With such a reputation, Zaira’s breaking ties from her work for her faith came as a shock.

NATURE OF ACCEPTANCE IN DIFFERENT CULTURES

In my opinion, the news is also shocking because of the culture an Indian film industry brings to this secular country. People belonging to different faiths (either they practice their faith or not) work together and contribute. So it is hard to digest/accept the fact that a Muslim personality in this showbiz can quit at her career peak for the religion. Now take an example of their neighbors. Pakistan’s showbiz is mostly populated with Muslims so if someone quits for a religious purpose, most of the people accept. Famous Pakistani actress, Sarah Chaudhry, left showbiz at her peak to practice her faith. No one had an issue with it.

SHOWBIZ AND PRACTISING FAITH

Most of the observers have taken Zaira’s Instagram explanation very severely. She opened up pretty much like her working in an environment that interferes her faith on a consistent level, or her relationship with her faith being threatened, or leading towards a path of ignorance, etc. which all sounds like if showbiz is a hellfire where the people of Islamic faith should not step in.

Generally, it is not easy to practice their faith in the showbiz especially Muslims. We have a few Muslim cases where they have practiced their faith to some extent and stayed in showbiz. But it is not easy for most of the Muslims. And this is a girl in her late teens.

Let’s assume, Zaira comes from a background where the family performs their religious and professional duties on a daily basis as for example if she prays 5 times a day or let’s assume say 3-4 times, how is she going to pray that much on daily basis being in showbiz? Then her line “working in an environment that interferes her faith on a consistent level” perfectly fits. We have to go deep and understand about a Muslim woman in showbiz instead of passing judgment over her statement.

DID SHE APPEAL TO DISSUADE SHOWBIZ?

The most important part for the reader/observer is to understand before reacting over her Instagram message. Many are arguing because they think this is a silly reason. But what the readers are forgetting or not understanding is that this is her part of the story, she is addressing her problems on the platform. She is resting her case in front of the viewers and giving the reason for her announcement of quitting.

Did Zaira suggest anywhere that the people of her faith should not step in this line of work? NO.

Did Zaira discourage the readers/observers that the people of her faith will meet the same fate as hers if they enter this industry? A big NO.

Is Zaira rallying/protesting/voicing for the Muslim community to boycott the film industry because of above-mentioned reasons? NO, NO, NO.

Then why are people making it an issue or digging controversy in it? Did she advice/request the Muslim community to stop watching films or listening to the songs? No, right?

Yes, it is a piece of big news because no one at her height of showbiz career leaves for her faith in India so the media can run this story but why is the news triggering many people? Why is her reason unfortunate or regressive for some readers? Whatever she has decided, it is a personal matter.

WHERE IS RELIGIOUS FREEDOM OR WOMAN’S FREEDOM OF DECISION NOW?

In this point, I will try to raise some questions similar to her case to give a better understanding instead of surrendering in state of confusion.

Now, in the wake of this feminism wave for some years, most of the people have advocated individual freedom and liberty. People even voice that the woman or generally us humans should make decisions about their personal lives and faith. We have the right to decide what and how should we practice in our faith. It is about religious freedom. No?

So here my observation complains because I just don’t understand why people make objection when the decision about liberty or freedom is made. If a woman wishes to wear a veil or hijab why do most of the observers start to believe that she has been forced to cover her head? Maybe she has made her choice to wear a veil or hijab or maybe she feels more protective. Same case with Zaira. If she has made the choice that she will leave this line of work and focus on her religion because of whatever reasons then why many observers think that she has been forced or brainwashed? Why don’t they accept that she has made her choice? Where is the freedom of making your own choice now?

People speak about woman’s freedom and the woman herself advertises her liberty especially when she leaves Iran, Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia. But what if she likes or prefers to stay/live there. That is also her freedom of choice. We are no one to dictate her then. Why do most have to apply or assume if she has been forced to live there or wear a veil or hijab by her father, brother or husband? Now, how quick was Anupam Kher to believe that something assisted Zaira to take that decision when she gave her explanation?

TWO MUSLIMS AND THEIR PERSPECTIVES

New Delhi: Actress and Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Nusrat Jahan at Parliament House during the Budget Session, in New Delhi, Tuesday, June 25, 2019. (PTI Photo/Manvender Vashist) (PTI6_25_2019_000100A)

Many people in their defense are comparing Zaira and bringing the example of local MP Nusrat Jahan who being a Muslim sports sindoor (red dot on the forehead of Hindu married woman) and mangalsutra (a sacred necklace to be worn by a Hindu married woman). She is married to a Hindu and the Muslim clerics have issued a fatwa (legal opinion by a jurist on a point of Islamic law) against her.

Now the defenders against Zaira’s will states that being a Muslim, Nusrat Jahan can adopt the culture or tradition of other faith but Zaira feels discomfort to continue her work due to her faith being threatened. In my opinion, Nusrat is free to sport sindoor/mangalsutra or adopt any Islamic/non-Islamic culture or tradition if she wishes to. The same case with Zaira too, if she wishes to quit showbiz for religion then she is free to do. Both are Muslims, both are from the same film industry, both are from the same country but both have different perspectives in their lives. Not all are equal and have the same choices, right?  


I don’t have many words to type upon this case any further. All I can say is that we are no one to dictate or instruct what a person should do. Zaira surely had thought to somehow work this career out for long and perform religious responsibilities. Just like most of the people in sports have to give up their education to focus on their game, Zaira also gives up one between the two. If Zaira has made the decision, I wish her all the best wherever her decision takes her to.

My Bollywood’s Best of 2018

My yearly review season has arrived to inform the readers what Hindi-language Indian films do I find the best in different categories. This is my 5th annual review work on the Indian cinema and to read my previous works, kindly follow the links:

2014 2015 2016 2017

So how do I do all this? I select some three dozen potential films of the calendar year after watching the trailers and reading the minor narrations at the year-end. Then I spent a few months watching the films I selected. It takes me roughly 5-6 months to watch three dozen films because I have some other things to do in life. For the music department, I consider the selected films and explore further on the internet because the discovery of good music is vast and unlimited.

I am glad to see that watching and observing culture in India is changing. Year by year, some good stories are making rounds and getting recognition. Moving towards the new decade, this change may become a blessing. With so many production companies and heavy money involved, some very good talent is polished from any platform. Then the streaming service has developed and improved the viewing quality.

Following films grabbed my attention and I watched these in the past few months:

Andhadhun, Padman, Hichki, Sanju, Karwaan, Raid, Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz, Halkaa, Bioscopewala, Manmarziyaan, Mulk, Batti Gul Meter Chalu, Union Leader, Gold, Sui Dhaaga, Badhaai Ho, Beyond The Clouds, Raazi, Tikli And Laxmi Bomb, Angrezi Mein Kehte Hain, Manto, Mukkabaaz, October, Veere Di Wedding, Pari, Bhavesh Joshi Superhero, Blackmail, Pihu, Helicopter Eela, Pataakha, Hope Aur Hum, Tumbbad, Lust Stories, Love Sonia, and Gali Guleiyan.

Besides the abovementioned 35 Hindi films, I was not able to watch the other selected films, Omerta and 3 Storeys due to lack of availability or availability in extremely low video/audio quality.

Now before I present my winners, let me tell you how this works. After watching the above mentioned 35 Hindi films, 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 unranked honorable mentions under “Other Notable Works” which are the individuals or the films deserve to be counted among the best.

Now I present you my picks from Bollywood’s Best of 2018. The readers can share their opinions below the blog.


MUSICAL SECTION

BEST BACKGROUND SCORE

ANDREA GUERRA (SUI DHAAGA)

Andrea Guerra’s music matches nowhere to Sui Dhaaga’s screenplay but the best thing about it is that the applied score helps us build a fresh perception towards the film. The same thing happened with Darren Fung’s score on Union Leader but Guerra’s score was better. Let us assume if a stereotype Indian music was played in the background on these screenplays, these films may not have built in our observation.

Other Notable Works:

Shashwat Srivastava (Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz)

Sandesh Shandilya (Bioscopewala)

Amit Trivedi (Manmarziyaan)

A. R. Rahman (Beyond The Clouds)

Darren Fung (Union Leader)

BEST MALE PLAYBACK SINGER

ARIJIT SINGH (BINTE DIL – PADMAAVAT)

There is no way anyone can sing better than Arijit Singh nowadays and Binte Dil is an example. The score of this track is middle-eastern and Arijit has worked on his vocal cords as per the style of the track demanded. This was not the same ‘Tum Hi Ho’ voice we listened to. Listen to him when he sings Aatish Kada Adaoon Se until the drop at deeda-e-tar ka hijaab, brilliant. Because the lyrics are not easy, the singer has sung pretty vibrant and unfamiliar Urdu and on a few occasions sang in one breath.

Other Notable Work:

Shahid Mallya (Daryaa – Manmarziyaan)

BEST FEMALE PLAYBACK SINGER

DEVESHI SEHGAL (DARYAA UNPLUGGED – MANMARZIYAAN)

Daryaa is a heart-wrenching track speaking about one’s love being distanced from the others with beautiful Punjabi lyrics and Deveshi’s voice offers a blend of urbanized rural melancholy and agony especially when she shouts Beh Gaya Hanjuaan Da Dariya. What we listen here is a raw voice and is used in the film at some critical junctures. A wonderful vocal rendition here.

Other Notable Works:

Neeti Mohan (Nainowale Ne – Padmaavat)

Sunidhi Chauhan (Manwaa – October)

BEST SONG & LYRICS

KADAM (PRATEEK KUHAD – KARWAAN)

Thumbs up to Prateek for both the lyrics and the music, very deep words and honest translation of human path of miseries and agitation.

Other Notable Works:

Daryaa (Ammy Virk, Shahid Mallya, Shellee, Amit Trivedi)

Qasam Kha Li (Papon, Amitabh Bhattacharya, Amit Trivedi)

Binte Dil (Arijit Singh, A. M. Turaz, Sanjay Leela Bhansali)

Tune Kaha (Prateek Kuhad – Lust Stories)

BEST MUSIC

AMIT TRIVEDI (MANMARZIYAAN)

It is hard to believe that Amit is yet to win the Best Music award from Filmfare. This could be his year but I have to admit that the competition with Bhansali for Padmaavat was really strong despite average reviews. For me, Manmarziyaan will be remembered one of Amit’s finest works to date. The compositions of all his soundtracks were magnificent. Daryaa was indeed the best track.

Other Notable Works:

Prateek Kuhad, Anurag Saikia, SlowCheetah and Shwetang Shankar & Imaad Shah (Karwaan)

Sanjay Leela Bhansali (Padmaavat)


TECHNICAL SECTION

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

SHEETAL IQBAL SHARMA (MANTO)

Other Notable Works:

Eka Lakhani (Sanju)

Aparna Shah (Bioscopewala)

Payal Saluja (Gold)

Karishma Sharma (Pataakha)

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

NITIN ZIHANI CHOUDHARY & RAKESH YADAV (TUMBBAD)

Other Notable Works:

Priya Suhass (Bioscopewala)

Satish Chauhan (Union Leader)

Mansi Dhruv Mehta (Beyond The Clouds)

Rita Ghosh (Manto)

 

BEST SOUND DESIGN

RESUL POOKUTTY & AMRIT PRITAM (BIOSCOPEWALA)

Other Notable Works:

Madhu Apsara (Andhadhun)

Arun Nambiar (Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz)

 

BEST EDITING

HASSAN HASSANDOOST (BEYOND THE CLOUDS)

Other Notable Works:

A. Sreekar Prasad (Manto)

Dipika Kalra (Bioscopewala)

Ajay Sharma (Karwaan)

Pooja Ladha Surti (Andhadhun)

 

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

KARTIK VIJAY (MANTO)

Other Notable Works:

Avinash Arun (Karwaan)

Rafey Mahmood (Bioscopewala)

Sylvester Fonseca (Manmarziyaan)

Ewan Mulligan (Mulk)

Anil Mehta (Beyond The Clouds)

Pankaj Kumar (Tumbbad) 

 

BEST ACTION

VYRIL RAFFAELLI, SEBASTIEN SEVEAU & VIKRAM DAHIYA (BHAVESH JOSHI SUPERHERO)

I think this is pretty agreeable to everyone that Bhavesh Joshi Superhero offers excellent action sequences to seek our attention. There are no silly nonsense out-of-the-world fights and ridiculous visual effects to give up between the film. Because the plot is built in the honesty of depicting the birth of a superhero and the reasons behind wearing the mask. Even in the most possible exaggeration of any sequence, the scenes are acceptable and enough to pass a compliment like Siku’s lengthy attempt of escaping on the bike towards the railway station.  

Other Notable Work:

Vikram Dahiya & Sunil Rodrigues (Mukkabaaz)

 

BEST STORY

SRIRAM RAGHAVAN, ARIJIT BISWAS, POOJA LADHA SURTI, YOGESH CHANDEKAR & HEMANTH RAO (ANDHADHUN)

Andhadhun offers the freshness in presenting a crime thriller in dark humor. Two different stories connect to each other when the man pretending to be blind witnesses the dead body at an apartment and trying to give justice to the dead becomes a huge regret. The continuity is crazy and unpredictable. A story like Andhadhun is some kind of accomplishment and hope that some great stories can be told in the Hindi-language cinema.

Other Notable Works:

Bejoy Nambiar (Karwaan)

Nitin Dixit & Nila Madhab Panda (Halkaa)

Anubhav Sinha (Mulk)

Sanjay Patel (Union Leader)

 

BEST SCREENPLAY

MAJID MAJIDI & MEHRAN KASHANI (BEYOND THE CLOUDS)

I believe Beyond The Clouds had the most powerful screenwriting than any other films of 2018. The biggest reason lies in the happening of the plot. The intros of the leading characters and that cat-and-mouse run of Amir from the police. Then his emotional attachment with Tara and the given agonized circumstances between them in the plot is all splendid writing. Plus the development of mental growth of both Amir and Tara after her imprisonment carries the film. Amir’s changes in attitude with the relatives of Akshi (Tara’s husband) and Tara’s fondness towards the child are some impressive aspects of the writing. Due to the fact that this screenplay was written by the foreigners, they set the new standards of screenwriting in the Indian cinema.

Other Notable Works:

Nandita Das (Manto)

Anubhav Sinha (Mulk)

R. Balki & Swanand Kirkire (Padman)

Sriram Raghavan, Arijit Biswas, Pooja Ladha Surti, Yogesh Chandekar, Hemanth Rao (Andhadhun)

 

BEST DIALOGUES

ABHISHEK CHATTERJEE (KUCHH BHEEGE ALFAAZ)

What is important about dialogues-writing for me? It must fit the screenplay and the entire plotline. A light-heart musical like Onir’s Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz is a feel-good romantic whistler and the main reason is dialogues. So natural that it grows on you. There is decency, there is literature, the conversation between Alfaaz and Archana has a polite affection. Another factor doubling the significance of dialogues is Zain Khan Durrani‘s voice. When he speaks, you just close your eyes and listen to what he speaks. Summing in short, Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz has the most real and natural piece of dialogues-writing in the film.

Other Notable Works:

Hussain Dalal (Karwaan)

Kanika Dhillon (Manmarziyaan)

Anubhav Sinha (Mulk)

Sharat Katariya (Sui Dhaaga)

Nandita Das (Manto)

 

BEST SCENE

CRIME SCENE (ANDHADHUN)

Sold. Diabolical and sold. I was losing my interest in the film and wasn’t believing how Sriram Raghavan can disappoint me after waiting for his next project for years until those blind eyes spotted a dead body in an apartment. His fingers were bought by that dead man to play his wife the piano on their wedding ceremony, the woman who killed her husband with the help of her boyfriend,  masterpiece!

This was just the beginning. The best part was the continuity when both the deceased’s wife and her boyfriend silently try to clean the crime scene on the blind’s piano notes in one take. It was like I was watching good old silent-comedy stunt of the golden age. This is the beauty of the director’s artistic mind dropping the significance of presenting simple scenes in extraordinary ways.

I wish this particular scene is not a copy of any. I am not able to share the video because unfortunately, this is not available on YouTube.

Other Notable Scenes:

Murad Ali’s response to prove if he is a Muslim or not (Mulk)

Shravan lecturing his father about his boxing passion (Mukkabaaz)

Amir escaping from police-chase (Beyond The Clouds)


MAJOR SECTION

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

IRRFAN KHAN (KARWAAN)

The best aspect of Irrfan’s acting is his absorbing the given role. He executes so well that he is no more Irrfan in the film, he is the character watched by millions of viewers. In Karwaan, we didn’t see Irrfan acting, we saw Shaukat helping his friend find his father’s dead body. Irrfan brings a tremendous balance between the two new faces in the film, Dulquer and Mithila, and beautifully completes the trinity of three extremely different characters. His supporting role was well supported by the dialogues and Shaukat’s innocence throughout the journey.

Other Notable Works:

Manav Vij (Andhadhun)

Vicky Kaushal (Manmarziyaan)

Manoj Pahwa (Mulk)

Arunoday Singh (Blackmail)

Raghubir Yadav (Sui Dhaaga)

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

SUREKHA SIKRI (BADHAAI HO)

Thank God, Filmfare didn’t make the mistake of handing Best Supporting Actress to any other actress than Surekha Sikri. Because if not this, then I wonder what further would take her to get the recognition. At her age, she justified her presence and the significance of her being the matriarch. Her series of scolding to his son and later in her daughter-in-law’s defense is magnificently hilarious.

Other Notable Works:

Tabu (Andhadhun)

Shikha Talsania (Veere Di Wedding)

Swara Bhaskar (Veere Di Wedding)

Freida Pinto (Love Sonia)

 

BEST ACTOR

ISHAAN KHATTER (BEYOND THE CLOUDS)

This is one stunning performance I am lost at and cannot believe that a 23yo can bring such maturity and versatility in his given role. A fresh start as an actor, Ishaan is Amir, a drug dealer whose sister is imprisoned in an attempt of killing her husband. Desperate brother is stuck of ill-fate with her husband to care in the hospital but the responsibility doubles when the husband’s relatives arrive and there is no other way than refuge them at home until the admitted patient is fit to stand on his feet.

Amir’s attitude changes from rudeness to friendliness when he is more involved with his relatives. And during all this period, Amir grows Ishaan grows, in his acting on our nerves. The director plays a significant part in growing his character but Ishaan’s mental timing and body language are pretty flawless everywhere. His bursting out of anger and voice pitch control is excellent. That rage in the pigeon room was the summary of Ishaan’s hard work of Amir’s ridiculous tolerance giving up on seeing his sister mad. Between this sequence, it was so natural to make an unnatural response towards the relatives and speak in English in agony. This Ishaan Khatter is pure promise if he moves his acting career in the future in the right direction.

Other Notable Works:

Ayushmann Khurana (Andhadhun)

Danny Denzongpa (Bioscopewala)

Rishi Kapoor (Mulk)

Rahul Bhat (Union Leader)

Varun Dhawan (Sui Dhaaga)

Nawazuddin Siddiqui (Manto)

Vineet Kumar Singh (Mukkabaaz)

 

BEST ACTRESS

TAAPSEE PANNU (MANMARZIYAAN)

I thought a lot about this. Even while deciding to pick this, I reconsidered. But I have made my mind to say that this was Taapsee’s year. And it is utter shame to see her not even getting nominated for Manmarziyaan, forget about winning a Filmfare. Many may not agree with me on Taapsee as far as the choice of film is concerned, why Manmarziyaan? Why not Mulk?

See, despite a spectacular performance in Mulk, her body language is limited to the screenplay. Half of the film is a courtroom drama and her role, her facial and mental performance is one dimensional. Manmarziyaan? She is a complete woman. Emotion-wise, Taapsee has pulled all the strings. There is so much emotional fluctuation in her given character.

Then her chemistry with Vicky plays a significant part because her scenes with Vicky are where she stands to her episodic collapses from pride, emotion, and respect throughout the film repeatedly giving a gem of performances.

Other Notable Works:

Rani Mukherji (Hichki)

Malavika Mohanan (Beyond The Clouds)

Anushka Sharma (Pari)

Mrunal Thakur (Love Sonia)

Sanya Malhotra (Pataakha)

Radhika Madan (Pataakha)

 

BEST DIRECTOR

NANDITA DAS (MANTO)

I must not be taken aback to a slingshot theory that the professional actors cannot become the directors of the quality they were enriched with. The brains behind the camera, a cinematic vision thought on the director’s chair needs the required artistry to craft a story and the camera techniques for shooting which waits for the approval of the applause and compliments. Nandita Das is one exceptional name making me stop thinking about the Bollywood stereotypes for once and watch her Manto work with scrutiny.

Thanks to Das, Manto disconnects you. You are in a different timeline and parallel. You are in an undivided India sitting with your friends in a tea shop describing your work, speaking poetries, narrating a woman’s beauty and criticizing the government and the workers involved in it. You are a rebel to this world which is collapsing near you. You are drinking, you are smoking, you are watching some lights turned on in some flats at midnight. It is time to sleep but some streets aren’t and the lights are on for the women to work and sell their body. It is red, dark and hammer on your head.

The point is that the direction of the film is such a force that you become Manto and your world falls apart. The excellence of Nandita’s direction also lies in balancing so many things about Manto within two hours. Even the Lahore days of Manto were shot well and broke the stereotypical Pakistani portrayal in Hindi cinema.

I never felt I was watching a 2018 film. It was like the excellent golden age of the 50s back or if Guru Dutt’s directional artistry was temporarily inherited by Nandita.

Other Notable Works:

Sriram Raghavan (Andhadhun)

R. Balki (Padman)

Akarsh Khurana (Karwaan)

Onir (Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz)

Anubhav Sinha (Mulk)

Sanjay Patel (Union Leader)

Majid Majidi (Beyond The Clouds)

 

BEST FILM

MULK

The most important category to conclude this blog needs very careful judgment. What needs a film to be the best of the year? A lot of things count. First the story and the message, the brains behind the continuity of the screenplay. The screen time if it justifies the story. The whole body of the film most importantly the final few minutes which need some technical conclusion to convince the viewers. The selection of actors is not an issue because I always believe it is a performance which sells the plot. And that is why I believe that Mulk is 2018’s best film of the year.

Because Mulk opens a very sensitive subject which compels the audience to think about the future of the country. The social portrayal and acceptance towards the minorities in India have not been focused in the Indian cinema because this doesn’t profit the cinemas and the film producers, and there is every certainty that the majority of viewers may not like the idea.

Because most of the films focus on how the terrorism was committed or what role did the police or anti-terror squad play in defending the country or stopping/fighting against the event. But I don’t remember right now if any director tried to focus on the families whose member goes on to become a terrorist and made them regret.

Anubhav Sinha’s Mulk offers such a story about a diverse Muslim family who has been living in the same mohalla for decades. Advocate Murad Ali (Rishi Kapoor) says this is his home and he keeps no grudge with the people of any faith. Hindus and Muslims come together and sit with him, share happiness with him and his family until he nephew Shahid (Prateik Babbar) commits a terror attack.

Anubhav Sinha gives the viewers an intense feeling about such family being surrendered/surrounded by the religious insecurity and social tightness in the society. The behavioral attitude and breaking some ties further makes the family seek an antidote.

Mulk is a very sensitive drama touching a very sensitive subject of the protection and importance of the communities. Half of the film is the intense courtroom drama where Murad’s Hindu daughter-in-law Aarti tries to defend the case against the public prosecutor Santosh Anand (Ashutosh Rana) who tries to convince the court that the Muslim community orchestrates the terrorism.

Anubhav’s powerful writing and direction heavily focuses on the fact that people can be either good or bad whether they are of any faith. There is every chance that the follower of God and evil may be living in the same house under the same roof. The insecurity of being a Muslim is also highlighted well.

Technical aspects have done the talking. Dialogues, screenplay, story, cinematography, and direction are magnificent. These aspects are well supported by the splendid performances of Rishi Kapoor, Taapsee Pannu, Manoj Pahwa and Ashutosh Rana.

Mulk is an agonized cry for love and peace in the cynical times of crossing guns over other shoulders among the communities and even the neighboring countries. It is one of the most important films produced in India with a cinematic masterpiece.

Other Notable Films:

Andhadhun

Padman

Bioscopewala

Union Leader

Beyond The Clouds

Manto

Pihu


Thank you for reading my annual picks and will write next year about Hindi films which are produced in 2019. Share your opinion below.

MY BOLLYWOOD’S BEST OF 2017

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:

Phillauri, Haraamkhor, Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, Hindi Medium, Anaarkali Of Aarah, Mantostaan, OK Jaanu, Lipstick Under My Burkha, Poorna, A Death In The Gunj, Indu Sarkar, Daddy, Simran, Mom, Mukti Bhawan, Sarkar 3, Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, Trapped, Fukrey Returns, Newton, Jolly LLB 2, Tumhari Sulu, Chef, Ittefaq, Rukh, Ajji, Secret Superstar, and Gurgaon.

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:

Kadvi Hawa, Dear Maya, Dobaara, G Kutta Se, Babumoshai Bandookbaaz, and Ribbon 


MUSICAL SECTION

BEST BACKGROUND SCORE

TAJDAR JUNAID (MUKTI BHAWAN)

Other Notable Works:

  1. Raghu Dixit(Chef)
  2. Hitesh Modak(Simran)
  3. SajidWajid(Daddy)
  4. Mangesh Dhakde(Lipstick Under My Burkha)
  5. Sameer Uddin(Phillauri)
  6. A.R.Rahman(OK Jaanu)

BEST FEMALE PLAYBACK SINGER

MEGHNA MISHRA (NACHDI PHIRA – SECRET SUPERSTAR)

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.

Other Notable Works:

  1. Rekha Bhardwaj (Saat Rangon Se – Dear Maya)
  2. Ronkini Gupta (Rafu – Tumhari Sulu)
  3. Jasleen Royal (Din Shagna Da – Phillauri)

BEST MALE PLAYBACK SINGER

ARKO (NAZM NAZM – BAREILLY KI BARFI)

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. 

Other Notable Works:

  1. Arijit Singh (Phir Bhi Tumko ChahungaHalf Girlfriend)
  2. Atif Aslam (Main AgarTubelight)
  3. Jubin Nautiyal (Bawara Mann – Jolly LLB 2)

BEST SONG & LYRICS

DIN SHAGNA DA (JASLEEN ROYAL/NEERAJ RAJAWAT – PHILLAURI)

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.

Din Shagna Da has to be the best wedding track after Mehndi Hay Rachne Wali from Zubeidaa.

Other Notable Works:

  1. Bawara Mann (Jubin Nautiyal/Neeti Mohan/Junaid Wasi/Chirantan Bhatt – Jolly LLB 2)
  2. Main Agar (Atif Aslam/Amitabh Bhattacharya/Pritam – Tubelight)
  3. Nachdi Phira (Meghna Mishra/Kausar Munir/Amit Trivedi – Secret Superstar)
  4. Nazm Nazm (Arko – Bareilly Ki Barfi)
  5. Jee Lein (Arjun Chandy/Neeti Mohan/Savithri R Prithvi/Gulzar/A.R.Rahman – OK Jaanu)

BEST MUSIC

RAGHU DIXIT (CHEF)

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:

  1. A.R.Rahman (OK Jaanu)
  2. Tanishk-Vayu (Shubh Mangal Saavdhan)
  3. Sashwat Sachdev & Jasleen Royal (Phillauri)
  4. Amit Trivedi (Secret Superstar)

TECHNICAL SECTION

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

RUPA CHOURASIA (ANAARKALI OF AARAH)

Other Notable Works:

  1. Veera Kapur (Phillauri)
  2. Rohit Chaturvedi (Lipstick Under My Burkha)
  3. Nidhi Gambhir & Divya Gambhir (Daddy)
  4. Shruti Wadetiwar (Mukti Bhawan)
  5. Sachin Lovalekar (Ajji)

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

SHAMIM KHAN, SIKANDAR AHMAD & TIYA TEJPAL (AJJI)

Other Notable Works:

  1. Meenal Agarwal (Phillauri)
  2. Vikram Singh (Lipstick Under My Burkha)
  3. Parul Sondh (Daddy)
  4. Avyakta Kapur (Mukti Bhawan)

BEST SOUND DESIGN

UDIT DUSEJA (DADDY)

Other Notable Work: Anish John (Trapped)

BEST EDITING

A. SREEKAR PRASAD (HINDI MEDIUM)

Other Notable Works:

  1. Charu Shree Roy (Lipstick Under My Burkha)
  2. Manas Mittal (Mukti Bhawan)

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

MICHAEL MCSWEENEY & DAVID HUWILER (MUKTI BHAWAN)

Other Notable Works:

  1. Jishnu Bhattacharjee (Ajji)
  2. Sirsha Ray (A Death In The Gunj)

BEST ACTION

SHAM KAUSHAL (DADDY)

BEST STORY

ALANKRITA SHRIVASTAVA (LIPSTICK UNDER MY BURKHA)

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. 

BEST SCREENPLAY

ZEENAT LAKHANI (HINDI MEDIUM)

Other Notable Works:

  1. Shlok Sharma (Haraamkhor)
  2. Alankrita Shrivastava (Lipstick Under My Burkha)
  3. Arjun Rampal & Ashim Ahluwalia (Daddy)
  4. Akash Mohimen & Atanu Mukherjee (Rukh)
  5. Mani Ratnam (OK Jaanu)

BEST DIALOGUES

GAZAL DHALIWAL (LIPSTICK UNDER MY BURKHA)

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. 

Other Notable Works:

  1. Shlok Sharma (Haraamkhor)
  2. Anvita Dutt (Phillauri)
  3. Asad Hussain (Mukti Bhawan)
  4. Gulzar (OK Jaanu)

BEST SCENE

BUAJI EXPOSED!! (LIPSTICK UNDER MY BURKHA)

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:

  1. Breaking Toilet on Pandit’s Command (Toilet: Ek Prem Katha)
  2. Sridevi’s Breakdown in Hospital (Mom)
  3. Spirits’ Reunion (Phillauri)
  4. Shutu’s Suicide (A Death In The Gunj)
  5. Father-Son Crying and Apologizing (Mukti Bhawan)
  6. Sulu’s Heated Argument with Entire Family (Tumhari Sulu)
  7. Police Interrogating Manda’s Family (Ajji)

MAJOR SECTION

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

PANKAJ TRIPATHI (NEWTON)

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. 

Other Notable Works:

  1. Sudhir Pandey (Toilet: Ek Prem Katha)
  2. Mohd Samad (Haraamkhor)
  3. Deepak Dobriyal (Hindi Medium)
  4. Adil Hussain (Mukti Bhawan)
  5. Manav Kaul (Tumhari Sulu)
  6. Anu Kapoor (Jolly LLB 2)
  7. Raj Arjun (Secret Superstar)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

RATNA PATHAK (LIPSTICK UNDER MY BURKHA)

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.

Other Notable Works:

  1. Anushka Sharma (Phillauri)
  2. Sajal Ali (Mom)
  3. Neha Dhupia (Tumhari Sulu)
  4. Meher Vij (Secret Superstar)

BEST ACTOR

RAJKUMMAR RAO (TRAPPED)

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.

Other Notable Works:

  1. Irrfan Khan (Hindi Medium)
  2. Vikrant Massey (A Death In The Gunj)
  3. Lalit Behl (Mukti Bhawan)
  4. Adarsh Gourav (Rukh)
  5. Arjun Rampal (Daddy)

BEST ACTRESS

ZAIRA WASIM (SECRET SUPERSTAR)

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. 

Other Notable Works:

  1. Shweta Tripathi (Haraamkhor)
  2. Swara Bhaskar (Anaarkali Of Aarah)
  3. Kirti Kulhari (Indu Sarkar)
  4. Saba Qamar (Hindi Medium)
  5. Kangana Ranaut (Simran)
  6. Sridevi (Mom)
  7. Vidya Balan (Tumhari Sulu)
  8. Sushama Deshpande (Ajji)

BEST DIRECTOR

DEVASHISH MAKHIJA (AJJI)

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.

Other Notable Works:

  1. Konkona Sen Sharma (A Death In The Gunj)
  2. Ashim Ahluwalia (Daddy)
  3. Shubhashish Bhutiani (Mukti Bhawan)
  4. Alankrita Shrivastava (Lipstick Under My Burkha)

BEST FILM

MUKTI BHAWAN

 

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:

  1. Hindi Medium
  2. Daddy
  3. Rukh
  4. Ajji
  5. Phillauri
  6. 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. 

FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER @saminaik_asn

Book Review: The Substance and the Shadow (2014)

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 “I have consciously never oversold or overexposed myself to the audience. When I look back I feel it was quite risky to be starring in one film when other actors were busy with two or three films on the floors simultaneously. I determinedly decided to work in only one film at a time. It was simply my confidence in the subjects I chose and the hard work I was ready to put into them.”


I have always suspected and reckoned that the first half of the twentieth century has fetched more gripping and compulsive stories than the second half due to the time being disturbing and chaos in its nature. Many wars were fought and casualties were witnessed and suffered. The outcome was painful for ages. The pride of Hindustan collapsed with the partition and communal riots in the result with many tragic stories to bargain some piece of time in the future. One of the same stories met golden fortune of the Hindi film industry which was still in the development process from leapfrog. In this millennium, we are extremely fortunate and blessed that the story has finally been inked from his own hands and met a huge success after its publication.

Dilip Kumar sahab is the epitome and the real shamma-e-Bollywood. His presence is the magnitude and the real red carpet, whose footsteps to the industry brought a new attention in the golden era and produced many memorable films. In my reading experience, it is convincingly confessable that before browsing this book, I knew the legend merely by 20% through his films; but after reading his twenty-five chapters, I must declare that I know the man by 75% and with the reading section of ‘Reminiscence’ where forty-three individuals have paid respect and shared incidents attached to him, I have to avow that the percentage of knowledge I have gained has stretched to 80%. The rest stays with his personal life with his best half, Saira Banu.

Being the greatest actor of India for all ages and generations, it was highly in demand and everyone’s desire to know him in his own speech. Although it took an age to decide him to speak up, the blessed part is that the biggest promise in reading the book actually fruit our patience.

The book is easily parted into three sections. The first section is being the formality of book introduction and forward. Saira Banu, Dilip sahab‘s superlative blessing has done the honors of introduction by touching some memorable moments of her life with him and confessed that she should write a book about her life with him. Film journalist Udaya Tara Nayar has forwarded the book. She has the credit to compile and shape the book and narrate his autobiography. Ms. Nayar has explained in her pages how Dilip sahab finally made his mind write this book.

The second section is the reader’s borrowed time to enrich his understanding with the chronicles and memoirs of the legend consisting of 25 chapters. The third and last section is the tribute to Dilip sahab inked by many personalities which stretch to more than a hundred pages.

The first four chapters cover his childhood. His first years of life in the area of Qissa Khawani Bazaar, the Piccadilly of Central Asia located in Peshawar, the-then part of British India and current city of Pakistan. We must praise the author that such an individual has the sharpest memory at such an old age to describe us the toughest circumstances when he came out from the mother’s womb. Whatever the details his family explained is still stored with him and is now read to us.

The childhood chapters discuss his family specifically his dadi and his parents to whom he call amma and aghaji. By the fourth chapter, he mentions aghaji‘s Hindu friends in the same area; one of them was Basheswarnathji who used to bring his handsome son at their home stunning the ladies whose name was Prithviraj. Yes, Prithviraj! Father of Raj Kapoor and from here begins a childhood friendship between the upcoming iconic superstars of the golden era. Also in this chapter, Dilip sahab moves with his siblings and amma to reunite with father in Bombay where aghaji meets business opportunities in fruit-selling.

When we learn his teens, we go aggressive like him. We read his lovely bonding with his brothers, his affection and keenness with the English literature, his school and college life especially the latter life inking more pages on his restoring of friendship with Raj Kapoor as both studied in the same college. We experience his struggles and his attempt of settling alone in Poona (Pune) while running away from home after a mild disagreement with his father. His days in Poona are an interesting read with many troubling and funny incidents there.


“I had never ever seen a film studio in my life, not even in photographs. I had heard of Bombay Talkies from Raj Kapoor who spoke about it as the studio where films starring his father Prithvirajji were shot.”


The making of legacy begins in the eighth chapter when the first lady of the Indian cinema, Devika Rani, a Bombay Talkies panjandrum, proffers him to join Bombay Talkies in their first meeting and learn acting under the guidance of the company. As we have read enough of Dilip sahab till his twenties till this moment, we emotionally begin sensing a change in fate, a blow of breeze in the alfresco. Here comes the learning process in Dilip sahab‘s acting life as the amateur encounters many significant and notable film personalities.

Those filmgoers who have watched his earliest works of the 40s will observe that he was pretty a bungle ‘layman’ in acting profession in films like Jwar Bhata and Jugnu but his skills developed rapidly from Shaheed, Mela, and Andaz. The same exercise is developed in these initial pages of the career beginning chapters from a keen learner who realized his fate was written to become a film star and aid his ever-growing family financially and raise his siblings with proper life standard and reputed education after the parents’ demise.

No great celebrity in any part of the world can cross the phases of life without tragic moments. From the eleventh chapter, we read and grow commiserations for him as he begins meeting tragedies in life. Some forlorn moments, inefficacious love affairs and devastating episodes of quietus led by playing repeated sorrowful and gloomy characters produce upsets, sickness, and exhaustion in mental state enough to consult a psychiatrist in London who suggests bringing a change in the mood of character roles he plays in his career. During all this phase, there is a separate chapter on the beautiful but complicated Madhubala for obvious reasons. In this book, Dilip sahab responds the questions revolving around decades about the involvement of Madhubala in his personal/professional life.

dileep-saira

 

 


“I…became aware that an actor needed to strengthen his instincts because the duality between the real and unreal cannot be sorted out by the mind, which is more concerned with truth and logic in any normal situation. The mind will always tell you this is nonsense… It is only instinct that will help you to absorb what you have to absorb from the script and drive you to render a performance coated with realism and conviction despite the knowledge of it all being fiction and drama.”


 

Also, he has detailed in pages about his working relation and camaraderie with few prominent celebrities like Vyjayanthimala, Sashadhar Mukherjee, Ashok Kumar, Bimal Roy and many more. His acting pages will also annex to our knowledge the offered films he refused for some reasons but to my huge surprise, in fact, a shock, he didn’t shed light on David Lean‘s offer for the role in Lawrence of Arabia which went to Omar Sharif later. Remind me if I happen to miss but there is no precise detail of the famous offer-refusing moment. Hilariously, Dilip sahab has mentioned Lean’s Doctor Zhivago as the story inspiring his writing Kashmir Valley on his wife, a project he wanted to produce after Bairaag. Indeed it is the biggest omission in the book.

It is more than half of the book-reading when his best half, his dream girl Saira Banu shows up; a girl who madly fell in love with him when she was only twelve. From the seventeenth chapter, the reader’s most romantic portion comes to existence after all the troubles and struggles, and there is a sweet fascination of reading this golden love affair. The whole nineteenth chapter covers their high-profile wedding and the coming chapters tell you more about their marital life and the films they co-starred together.


“I do not know if it is in my genes or if it is something I have assimilated from the environment I was brought up in. It gives me great contentment and joy to espouse a good cause.”


In the last reading phase, I lose an edge when the timeline crosses like a rocket. Dilip sahab travels from birth till finishing Bairaag in 1976 after reading 238 pages and 22 chapters; but in final three chapters and 45 pages, Dilip sahab travel 38 years and reach 2014!! The biggest ‘?’ is why not fetch more details between 1976 and 2014. In the final three chapters, he did speak about his role as Sheriff of Bombay and lawsuit slapped by A.R.Kardar, he did speak about his comeback in the 80s and working in major films like Shakti, Vidhaata, Mashaal and later on Saudagar but my argument is that heavy detailing was badly missed just like he wrote few of the chronicles in first 22 chapters at length. In fact, he spoke more about Raaj Kumar than Saudagar.

Same case with his two tours of Pakistan (1988 & 1998); on both occasions, he didn’t go for lengthy details. Both tours were emotionally monumental, the first was his grand return to Peshawar after his childhood days; and the second time he visited, he was awarded Nishan-e-Imtiaz.

Due to short details in final three chapters, he didn’t speak about his friendship with filmmaker and mobster Haji Mastan. More than this, the major surprise was not mentioning about Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993. Although he has mentioned most of his films he has worked in but wrote not a single word of his final film Qila. Perhaps he realized it was a regret to retire after finishing Qila rather than Saudagar. But remarkably he did speak about his biggest regret of getting involved in the lady from Hyderabad, Asma Rehman.

The newest incident from the book was Lataji‘s visit to Dilip sahab few months before the book released in the mid of 2014 which indicates that he was active in completing the memoir in his nineties. The Substance and The Shadow easily is one of the most important books in Bollywood’s richest library and showcase. Someday in late future, I may read the book again with the same enthusiasm as I discovered a lot of treasure from his box. Many great legends and prominent celebrities of his time have left the world but he is still there and we hope he stays further long and may we witness him completing his century.

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Chapters:

Childhood (Ch#1 – Ch#4)

Younghood till Devika Rani’s Offer (Ch#5 – Ch#8)

Film Career till Marriage (Ch#9 – Ch#19)

Post Marriage Career till Present (Ch#20 – End)

 

About Personalities:

Ch#05 – Raj Kapoor

Ch#08 – Devika Rani

Ch#09 – Ashok Kumar, Sashadhar Mukherjee

Ch#10 – Ashok Kumar, Raj Kapoor

Ch#11 – Kamini Kaushal, Naushad, Mehboob Khan, Nitin Bose

Ch#12 – Madhubala, S. M. Sriramulu Naidu

Ch#13 – Madhubala

Ch#14 – Bimal Roy, Vyjayanthimala, S. S. Vasan, B.R.Chopra, Yash Chopra

Ch#17 – Saira Banu (till the end)

Ch#20 – Pran, Mukri, S.U. Sunny

Ch#24 – Subhash Ghai

Ch#25 – Lata Mangeshkar, Yash Chopra

(There are few personalities I have missed adding here who are mentioned in the book.)

 

About Films:

Ch#09 – Jwar Bhata

Ch#11 – Shaheed, Milan

Ch#12 – Azaad

Ch#14 – Devdas, Madhumati, Gunga Jumna, Paigham

Ch#16 – Gunga Jumna

Ch#22 – Gopi, Sagina

Ch#24 – Kranti, Shakti, Saudagar

Ch#25 – Mashaal

(There are few films I have missed adding here which are mentioned in the book.)

 

Important Deaths:

Ch#11 – Ayub (brother) & Amma (mother)

Ch#15 – Aghaji (father)

Ch#25 – Nasir (brother)

 

Best Reminiscences:

(I have picked 23 best tributes out of 43 chosen individuals.)

Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan, Moin Beg, Yash Chopra, Farida Dadi, Dharmendra, Sitara Devi, Subhash Ghai, Rishi Kapoor, Anil Kapoor, Aamir Khan, Salim Khan, Manoj Kumar, Mumtaz, Lata Mangeshkar, Nanda, Nimmi, Waheeda Rehman, Harish Salve, Salim Sharifee, Ramesh Sippy, Sharmila Tagore, and Vyjayanthimala.

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