Tag Archives: Manoj Pahwa

MY BOLLYWOOD’S BEST OF 2019

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

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

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

2014  2015  2016  2017  2018

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

For 2019, the following 35 films were selected:

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

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

So how this all works?

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

The wait is over…

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


MUSICAL SECTION

BEST BACKGROUND SCORE

PETER RAEBURN (PHOTOGRAPH)

Other Notable Works:

Benedict Taylor & Naren Chandavarkar (Sonchiriya)

Andrew T. Mackay (Hamid)

Benedict Taylor & Naren Chandavarkar (Laal Kaptaan)

Karan Kulkarni (Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota)

Mangesh Dhakde (Article 15)

 

BEST MALE PLAYBACK SINGER

B PRAAK (TERE MITTI – KESARI)

BEST FEMALE PLAYBACK SINGER

SHREYA GHOSHAL (GHAR MORE PARDESIYA – KALANK)

 

BEST SONG & LYRICS

AZADI (DIVINE & DUB SHARMA – GULLY BOY)

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

Other Notable Works:

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

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

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

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

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

 

BEST MUSIC

ANKUR TEWARI & VARIOUS ARTISTS (GULLY BOY)

Other Notable Works:

Amaal MallikMithoonVishal MishraSachetParamparaAkhil Sachdeva (Kabir Singh)

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

Pritam (Kalank)


 

TECHNICAL SECTION

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

DIVYA GAMBHIR & NIDHI GAMBHIR (SONCHIRIYA)

Other Notable Works:

Manish Tiwari (Hamid)

Arjun Bhasin & Poornamrita Singh (Gully Boy)

Niharika Bhasin (Photograph)

Maxima Basu (Laal Kaptaan)

 

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

SUZANNE CAPLAN MERWANJI (GULLY BOY)

Other Notable Works:

Subrata Chakraborty & Amit Ray (Kesari)

Nikhil Kovale (Article 15)

Rita Ghosh (Sonchiriya)

 

BEST SOUND DESIGN

ANTHONY RUBAN (MARD KO DARD NAHIN HOTA)

Other Notable Works:

Anish John (Laal Kaptaan)

Kunal Sharma (Sonchiriya)

Anirban Sengupta (Badla)

 

BEST EDITING

MANAS MITTAL (THE SKY IS PINK)

Other Notable Works:

Charu Shree Roy (Chhichhore)

Monisha R. Baldawa (Badla)

Nitin Baid (Gully Boy)

 

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

SHANKER RAMAN (LAAL KAPTAAN)

Other Notable Works:

Tim Gillis & Ben Kutchins (Photograph)

Ewan Mulligan (Article 15)

John Wilmor (Hamid)

Ravi Kiran Ayyagari (Posham Pa)

Jay Oza (Gully Boy)

 

BEST ACTION

ANTON MOON & SUNIL RODRIQUES (SONCHIRIYA)

Other Notable Works:

Parvez Sheikh & Lawrence Woodward (Kesari)

Amin Khatib (Batla House)

Abdul Salaam Ansari (Laal Kaptaan)

Eric Jacobus (Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota)

 

BEST STORY

AIJAZ KHAN & RAVINDER RANDHAWA (HAMID)

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

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

Other Notable Works:

Zoya Akhtar & Reema Kagti (Gully Boy)

Anubhav Sinha & Gaurav Solanki (Article 15)

Ritesh Batra (Photograph)

Udai Singh Pawar (Upstarts)

Manish Gupta (Section 375)

 

BEST SCREENPLAY

KETAN BHAGAT & UDAI SINGH PAWAR (UPSTARTS)

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

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

Other Notable Works:

Manish Gupta & Ajay Bahl (Section 375)

Ritesh Batra (Photograph)

Anubhav Sinha & Gaurav Solanki (Article 15)

Zoya Akhtar & Reema Kagti (Gully Boy)

 

BEST DIALOGUES

VIVEK AGNIHOTRI (THE TASHKENT FILES)

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

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

Other Notable Works:

Manish Gupta & Ajay Bahl (Section 375)

Sumit Saxena & Ravinder Randhawa (Hamid)

Piyush Gupta (Chhichhore)

Anubhav Sinha & Gaurav Solanki (Article 15)

Aadish Keluskar (Jaoon Kahan Bata Ae Dil)

 

BEST SCENE

BASANTI DON’T DANCE (SUPER 30)

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

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

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


 

MAJOR SECTION

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

VISHAL JETHWA (MARDAANI 2)

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

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

Other Notable Works:

Vijay Varma (Gully Boy)

Ranvir Shorey (Sonchiriya)

Manoj Pahwa (Article 15)

Deepak Dobriyal (Laal Kaptaan)

Varun Sharma (Chhichhore)

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

AMRUTA SUBHASH (GULLY BOY)

Other Notable Works:

Rasika Dugal (Hamid)

Farrukh Jaffar (Photograph)

Pallavi Joshi (The Tashkent Files)

Anjali Patil (Mere Pyare Prime Minister)

Mahie Gill (Posham Pa)

 

BEST ACTOR

RANVEER SINGH (GULLY BOY)

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

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

Other Notable Works:

Ayushmann Khurrana (Article 15)

Talha Arshad Reshi (Hamid)

Anupam Kher (The Accidental Prime Minister)

Hrithik Roshan (Super 30)

Akshaye Khanna (Section 375)

 

BEST ACTRESS

BHUMI PEDNEKAR (SAAND KI AANKH)

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

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

Other Notable Works:

Rani Mukherjee (Mardaani 2)

Vidya Balan (Mission Mangal)

Sayani Gupta (Posham Pa)

Priyanka Chopra (The Sky Is Pink)

Taapsee Pannu (Badla)

 

BEST DIRECTOR

SHONALI BOSE (THE SKY IS PINK)

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

Other Notable Works:

Ajay Bahl (Section 375)

Ritesh Batra (Photograph)

Anubhav Sinha (Article 15)

Abhishek Chaubey (Sonchiriya)

Zoya Akhtar (Gully Boy)

 

BEST FILM

GULLY BOY

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

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

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

Other Notable Films:

Sonchiriya

Hamid

Article 15

Upstarts

Section 375


 

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

 

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

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

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.

Movie Review: Dil Dhadakne Do (2015)

Dil-Dhadakne-Do-Posters1

Dil Dhadakne Do​ is aquatic soap-opera comedy movie and compressed version of the high-society based tv serials hugely focusing on doubts, gossips, raising eyebrows, open-mouths, bedroom phenomenons, legalities of relationships…

Plot? Unmarried husband/wife Kamal Mehra (Anil Kapoor) and Neelam Mehra (Shefali Shetty) plan their 30th wedding anniversary on cruise trip. Host Kamal Mehra is a businessman of a bankruptcy-knocking company and is planning to bond their son Kabir Mehra (Ranveer Singh) with daughter of his fellow business colleague to boost business and personal relationships but the next generation family friends have their say as few among them have complicated relations. Very interesting plot innit? *standing ovation*

PLUSSES:

 

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1) Performances are first-rate. Mehra quadrangular family is amazing. All the four members of Mehras; Anil, Shifali, Priyanka and Ranvir have produced scintillating performances. It is hard to pick one or two of the best among them.

2) 30-year dry marital veterans, Mr. and Mrs. Mehra are the best on-screen chemistry to watch. Amazing timing of conversations between them.

3) Ranvir-Priyanka bro-sis dual is very natural and ideal bond to watch. Both offer very fantastic emotional support to each other, and the strength of their bond during complicated situations is the best thing to watch.

4) Dialogues are naturally flexible and approves that Farhan Akhtar is inherited with powerful writing from his father. Let me prove my point with two entirely different situations. One is the funniest vomiting scene which will LYFAO and the other is highly intense family ice-breaking conversation in medical center. Both are dramatically insane in mode of situations and timing of emotions but the dialogues in both the scenes will make you feel.

5) Dog as narrator is a very catchy innovation. Aamir Khan as Pluto the dog is a wonderful narrator and thought-provoking dialogues are written by Javed AKhtar.

MINUSSES:

1) Running time of this movie is 2 hours and 50 minutes. I repeat, 170 minutes. Exactly!!

2) Unnatural choreographed and very uninspiring songs.

3) Over-exaggeration of family relationships. Too lengthy Priyanka/Rahul Bose moments. So many parivar conferences.

4) Unusually one of the most ridiculous Final-Ten-Minute conclusion of any BIG movie.

5) Too many family sagas and none of them well-defined. Alright Mehra family is the central figure but the supporting connections all sank with absolute collapse e.g., the characters Noorie, Rana, Amrish uncle (Farhan’s dad) and even a promising character of Manoj Pahwa‘s Vinod was cut too short.

6) Farhan Akhtar’s potential role turn out to be a special-appearance jukebox. A richly deserving plot-pacing device enters the screen extremely late and instead of bring close to conclusion, expands the melodrama with his affair with Priyanka and exaggerates.

There are two highly speaking points from the fictionally existing plot which indirectly focuses on very serious issues:

pluto

1) Dog’s autobiography: Pluto the dog is loyal pet of Mehra family. The dog is the narrator of movie where it watches the events happening in its surroundings and delivers/confesses the moral, emotional and social differences between a mute animal and a social animal.

One of the best writers in Bollywood, Javed Akhtar has penned dialogues for Pluto the dog and from Amir Khan’s voice, not only his remarkable dialogues are social satire but multi-dimensional in all walks. Pluto is a philosopher who separates his identity and differ with opinions he revolves around. That is the most impressive element of the movie.

2) Clash of Ideologies among the Generations: A tussle is hustled among the ranks not only in Mehras, but all the invitees of cruise trips where the chemistry of two generation ages to an extent. Oldies are backbiters and gossipers, high-society conservatives and admins of relationship conundrums. Contrary, their children i.e., the new generation or the new breed of friends and cousins have a different taste of humor and better understanding of complicated relationships among them.

The parental control among the Mehra pair is limited to the extend where financial benefits of business is involved. A folked up 30-year married life has a huge but bad impact on both brother and sister which mentally blocks their wish list towards the reality. Like I mentioned above, the highly intense scene in medical center between the Mehras is an ice-breaking emotional breakdown of the whole movie where all four desperately fall on heated argument.

Zoya Akhtar is a highly talented director from a richly talented family of acting and literature. But this movie is below par as compared to her previous two movies. DDD is no match with Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. The Mehras, dialogues and pluto’s narration makes the movie attractive but the plot do not justifies or appeals the movie length of almost three hours. Could have done better.

Ratings: 7/10

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