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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.

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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

Film Review: Hindi Medium (2017)

Hindi Medium is the story of a Chandni-Chowk-based couple, Raj & Mita, who are concerned to send their daughter, Pia, to the city’s top school so that the family can reach the levels of the high-society and raise their living standards.

Although the direction of Saket Chaudhary (Side Effects duology) is weak. But the heart of the film is his story which presents and sketches a remarkable exaggeration of the high society, and highly underrated moral principles and emotional values of the low society. It was a stupefying scene wherein the high society, the mothers do not allow their kids to play with a Hindi-speaking Pia just because the school doesn’t allow their kids to speak in Hindi with the other kids. What a jaw-opener!

The screenplay of Zeenat Lakhani is unrealistic but the focus point is the series of survival attempts made by the couples while living in both the societies. The timing and use of humor are excellent, dialogues are very lively, the background score is average. Film editing is sublime. The most impressive factor to make this film worth watching is a terrific character-chemistry of Irrfan KhanSaba Qamar as the couple. Their performances aid the audience to understand the raised topic. Deepak Dobriyal in a supporting role of Shyamprakash was also outstanding.

There are minuses like for example; the role of the daughter, Pia, for which the couple made sacrifices and efforts throughout the film, was extremely short. She wasn’t that involved and looked like if the stage was set only for the couple. Also, Shyamprakash never returned to the screen after he was about to complain. It looked silly because he was badly needed somewhere after Irrfan’s speech. The ending was predictable.

What I liked the most about the film was how the language plays a significant role in dividing the society into societies. An ugly truth.

RATINGS: 7.8/10

My Bollywood’s Best of 2016

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.

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 2016: Chauranga, Wazir, Chalk N Duster, Airlift, Saala Khadoos, Neerja, The Blueberry Hunt, Fan, Nil Battey Sannata, Traffic, Buddha in a Traffic Jam, Sarbjit, Veerappan, Waiting, Dhanak, Te3n, Raman Raghav 2.0, Madaari, M Cream, Pink, Parched, Dear Zindagi, Dangal, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, Baar Baar Dekho, Udta Punjab, Kapoor & Sons, Fitoor, Mirzya, and Aligarh.

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’.


MUSICAL SECTION

BEST BACKGROUND SCORE

TAPAS RELIA (DHANAK)

Other Notable Works:

  1. Mikey McCleary (Waiting)
  2. 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:

  1. Qurat-Ul-Balouch (Kaari Kaari – Pink)
  2. Kanika Kapoor (Da Da Dasse – Udta Punjab)

BEST SONG & LYRICS

CHANNA MEREYA (ARIJIT SINGH/AMITABH BHATTACHARYA/PRITAM – AE DIL HAI MUSHKIL)

Other Notable Works:

  1. Tere Bin (Sonu Nigam-Shreya Ghoshal/Vidhu Vinod Chopra/Shantanu Moitra – Wazir)
  2. Pashmina (Amit Trivedi/Swanand Kirkire – Fitoor)
  3. Gehra Ishq (Shekhar Ravjiani/Prasoon Joshi/Vishal Khurana – Neerja)

BEST MUSIC

AMIT TRIVEDI (UDTA PUNJAB)

Other Notable Works:

  1. Tapas Relia (Dhanak)
  2. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy (Mirzya)

TECHNICAL SECTION

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:

  1. Boby John (Dhanak)
  2. Vinit D’Souza (Raman Raghav 2.0)

BEST SCENE

MADAARI

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.

BEST EDITING

GAIRIK SARKAR (TE3N)

Other Notable Works:

  1. Aarti Bajaj (Raman Raghav 2.0)
  2. Monisha R Baldawa (Neerja)

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

MINGJUE HU (M CREAM)

Other Notable Work:

  1. Chirantan Das (Dhanak)
  2. Priya Seth (Airlift)
  3. Jay Oza (Raman Raghav 2.0)
  4. Satyajit Pande (Dangal)

BEST ACTION

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.  

BEST SCREENPLAY

RITESH SHAH (PINK)

Other Notable Works:

  1. Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari, Neeraj Singh, Pranjal Choudary, and Nitesh Tiwari (Nil Battey Sannata)
  2. Gauri Shinde (Dear Zindagi)

BEST DIALOGUES

SHAKUN BATRA & AYESHA DEVITRE DHILLON (KAPOOR & SONS)

Other Notable Works:

  1. Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari, Neeraj Singh, Pranjal Choudary, and Nitesh Tiwari (Nil Battey Sannata)
  2. Atika Chohan (Waiting)
  3. Agneya Singh (M Cream)
  4. Ritesh Shah (Pink)

BEST STORY

NITESH TIWARI (NIL BATTEY SANNATA)

Other Notable Works:

  1. Bikas Ranjan Mishra (Chauranga)
  2. Anu Menon, James Ruzicka, and Atika Chohan (Waiting)
  3. Agneya Singh (M Cream)
  4. Gauri Shinde (Dear Zindagi)

MAJOR SECTION

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:

  1. Shabana Azmi (Neerja)
  2. Kirti Kulhari (Pink)
  3. Tannishtha Chatterjee (Parched)
  4. 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:

  1. Jim Sarbh (Neerja)
  2. Vicky Kaushal (Raman Raghav 2.0)
  3. Diljit Dosanjh (Udta Punjab)
  4. Rajkummar Rao (Aligarh)

BEST ACTRESS

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:

  1. Swara Bhaskar (Nil Battey Sannata)
  2. Taapsee Pannu (Pink)
  3. Kalki Koechlin (Waiting)
  4. Sonam Kapoor (Neerja)
  5. Aishwarya Rai (Sarbjit)

BEST ACTOR

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:

  1. Shahid Kapoor (Udta Punjab)
  2. Irrfan Khan (Madaari)
  3. Naseeruddin Shah (Waiting)
  4. Randeep Hooda (Sarbjit)
  5. Nawazuddin Siddiqui (Raman Raghav 2.0)
  6. Amitabh Bachchan (Te3n)

BEST DIRECTOR

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:

  1. Shakun Batra (Kapoor & Sons)
  2. Ram Madhvani (Neerja)
  3. Anurag Kashyap (Raman Raghav 2.0)
  4. Abhishek Chaubey (Udta Punjab)
  5. Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury (Pink)

BEST FILM

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:

  1. Dhanak
  2. Nil Battey Sannata
  3. Waiting
  4. Neerja
  5. Dear Zindagi
  6. Udta Punjab
  7. M Cream
  8. Pink

(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.)

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My Bollywood’s Best of 2015

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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;

MUSICAL SECTION

BEST BACKGROUND SCORE

SANDESH SHANDILYA (MANJHI: THE MOUNTAIN MAN)

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Other notable works: Amit Trivedi (Bombay Velvet) & Hitesh Sonik (Hunterrr)

 BEST PLAYBACK SINGERS

PAPON – MOH MOH KE DHAAGE (DUM LAGA KE HAISHA)

NEETI MOHAN – DHADAAM DHADAAM (BOMBAY VELVET)

BEST SONG & LYRICS

AGAR TUM SAATH HO (ALKA YAGNIK/ARIJIT SINGH/IRSHAD KAMIL/A.R.RAHMANTAMASHA)

BEST MUSIC

ANUPAM ROY (PIKU)

Other notable works: Amit Trivedi (Bombay Velvet) & Indian Ocean (Masaan)

TECHNICAL SECTION

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

ANJU MODI & MAXIMA BASU (BAJIRAO MASTANI)

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Other notable works: Niharika Khan (Bombay Velvet) & Wafisha Rahman (Manjhi)

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

ERROL KELLY, SONAL SAWANT & SHAIRA KAPOOR (BOMBAY VELVET)

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Other notable works: Sriram Iyengar, Saloni Dhatrak & Sujeet Sawant (Bajirao Mastani)

BEST SOUND DESIGN

BISHWADEEP CHATTERJEE (PIKU)

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BEST SCENE

MASAAN

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.

BEST EDITING

A.SREEKAR PRASAD (TALVAR)

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BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

NIKOS ANDRITSAKIS (DETECTIVE BYOMKESH BAKSHY)

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Other notable works: Avinash Arun (Masaan) & Rajiv Jain (Manjhi)

BEST ACTION

BADLAPUR

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Other notable works: Titli & Detective Byomkesh Bakshy

BEST SCREENPLAY

JUHI CHATURVEDI (PIKU)

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BEST DIALOGUES

JUHI CHATURVEDI (PIKU)

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BEST STORY

KANU BEHL (TITLI)

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Other notable works: Jeethu Joseph (Drishyam) & Harshavardhan Kulkarni (Hunterrr)

MAJOR SECTION

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

KONKONA SEN SHARMA (TALVAR)

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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.

Other Notable Performances: Shefali Shah (Dil Dhadakne Do), Tabu (Drishyam), Shivani Raghuvanshi (Titli) & Huma Qureshi (Badlapur)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

NAWAZUDDIN SIDDIQUI (BADLAPUR)

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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.

Other Notable Performances: Karan Johar (Bombay Velvet), Amit Sial/Ranvir Shorey (Titli), Vicky Kaushal (Masaan), Anil Kapoor (Dil Dhadakne Do), Ashraful Haque (Manjhi), Neeraj Kabi (Talvar)

BEST ACTRESS

RICHA CHADDA (MASAAN)

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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.

BEST ACTOR

NAWAZUDDIN SIDDIQUI (MANJHI)

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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.

Other Notable Performances: Shashank Arora (Titli), Sanjay Mishra (Masaan), Amitabh Bachchan (Piku) & Varun Dhawan (Badlapur)

BEST DIRECTOR

SRIRAM RAGHAVAN (BADLAPUR)

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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.

BEST FILM

PIKU

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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.

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Movie Review: Paan Singh Tomar (2012)

The movie is biography over an unsung Indian hero-cum-villain, a story moving from Usain Bolt to Veerappan and the movie changing its flavor in 3 phases (soldier, athlete & bandit). In 1949, he joins army and stuns his seniors in his athletics skills. He wins gold medal in Indian National Games 7 years in a row. Participates in 1958 Asian Games in Tokyo but fails.

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To his misery, a journey of a soldier who willed to fight war but the law (athlete soldiers don’t participate in war) made him low. His commitment towards athletics knew no bound and at age 32, breaks his own national steeplechase record. Soon he retires, village feud heats and leave the village and grows his own gang to avoid a drop of blood on his family. 

Here begins Bandit King, and Tigmanshu Dhulia successfully reminds this bandit phase of movie towards Shekar Kapoor’s famous ‘Bandit Queen’. At that time, Tigmanshu was casting director of the movie and now brings more charm in directing this phase. Paan tries to resolve the issue of land acquisition with his relative Bhanwar Singh but fails. He even calls District collector but to no avail. Infact Bhanwar singh and his goons attack on Paan family in his absence but family escapes leaving his mother killed. In 1979, Paan becomes bandit and raises his army to bring terror in Chambal valley.

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Revenge, gunshots, crews of gangs & dialogues are touchy and realistic. Rarely have I seen the leading cast dying not in front of camera. Mahie’s simplicity in Paan’s role twinkles but the limelight is Irrfan Khan with a loud-voiced bravo performance. He surpassed Paan Singh’s legacy from his acting towards a height. The movie I believe is one of best biographic movies ever made in Bollywood and such an excellent direction was expected as Tigmanshu is a modern history-graduate + researcher, and it took him 14 years since shooting of Bandit Queen to collect/research Paan Singh.

One of best movies of 2012 indeed….

Movie Status: Govt should grow up and respect the sportsman before they disrespect you

Rating: 7.7

Originally written on 5th of November, 2012