An indigenous couple in Tamil Nadu, Bellie and Boman, are mahouts and raise two orphaned elephants, Raghu and Ammu. With time and climate change, the other elephants roam in search of food and water and often get lost. But the couple does not give up and despite all the difficulties, they work hard to give Raghu and Ammu better lives.
Debutant director Kartiki Gonsalves spent five years for extensive research on the couple to document this film. As raising animals in the wildlife is common, what makes their case worthy of the documentary is that they were the first South Indian couple to successfully raise two orphaned elephants.
It is shocking but maybe that is because the forest officers take the animals from the villagers for perhaps safety reasons, or to move them to the zoo. But whatever reason there is, it is generally painful for the pet-keepers to give away their pets. And I totally understand that feeling because my family gave away dozens of cats when it became impossible to keep them.
The beauty of this documentary lies in capturing the growth of the elephants and detailing their upbringing. The detailing of their mannerism is exciting. It is so loving to see how these animals show affection to their keepers, sit and lie with them, and become moody about their choice of eating. The villagers love and respect the elephants as equivalent to a God due to their Lord Ganesha. Decorate and take them into ceremonies to seek blessings.
Also, the documentary explores the attractive natural beauty of the region. As expected, the cinematography is compelling. If wildlife forestry does not get quality camera work, especially if the film is shot in South India, I believe 90% of the hard work for that project is a waste. The camera zooming out at a mountain from where the villagers extract honey is a spectacular shot.
The purpose of the documentary (both long and short) is to gather information from the exhausting research on the project and present it with the best of productional technicalities. In forty minutes, Kartiki Gonsalves gives us the best possible insights about raising elephants in different seasons and difficult conditions.
I have done blogging my own version of Filmfare for seven straight years. Since the late 1990s, I have observed and got annoyed on many occasions when I witnessed the prestigious awards show of Filmfare losing its credibility. Therefore, I have been managing to scrutinize and make my own list of honors who, I believe, deserved the most and need to be recognized.
Since 2014, I have been passing my annual report of Bollywood’s best every year. My Bollywood’s best had 21 categories that are segregated into three different sections which are musical (5), technical (10), and major (6) sections. This time, I have added one more category in technical that is ‘Best Makeup & Hairstyling’. I felt that is the need of the hour as things have changed and improved in the Hindi-film industry.
And yes, the industry is changing, in a sense that the new generation of writers and directors, a collective group of veteran actors and new artists, are trying to do new and attract the audience in the industry. Just, for example, Kajol picked a pretty different film last year, Tribhanga. Akshay Kumar, out of the equation, played a supporting role in Atrangi Re which is quite not his thing. Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi, with all the highly talented ensemble cast, got the critical acclaim it deserved. A few years ago, this wasn’t possible due to a large inclination towards mainstream cinema. But now we observe flexibility and the audience is willing to try innovative.
MY BOLLYWOOD’S BEST OF THE PAST YEARS
Those who want to read my previous annual reports of Bollywood’s best, click on any of the following links:
For music, I keep my options open and there is no limit to the number of films because quality work in music can happen in any film. But besides music, I chose the following Hindi films released last year under my scrutiny to judge for all the categories:
So how do I work myself as a film critic honoring in the blogs every year?
I judge and pass my reviews of the selected films.
After watching each and every selected film, I make notes about the plusses and minuses, and further note down in what categories these films qualify.
From this year, each of the 22 categories will have a maximum of 5 nominations and for the first time in eight years, I will now rank my nominations. No more ‘Other Notable Works’ or ‘Special Mention’. If I feel I need to write a few lines in any category, I will.
After I am done with honors, I will write down the total number of nominations and wins submitted in my report as stat fun.
MY BOLLYWOOD’S BEST OF 2021
The wait is over…
Allow me to honor Bollywood’s artistic and technical excellence in 2021 according to Sami Naik.
There can be no better scene than dramatizing this horrifying part of pre-independence history. This scene was kept on wait after two hours well spent on developing the story and Udham’s character in entirety. The intensity and provocation of that bloodshed were extremely detailed. This scene was deliberately shot violent. The graphic detailing of this three-minute scene full of gunshots and painful cries was more savage than what Lord Attenborough showed in Gandhi. It was a scene that boiled the emotions and broke the hearts. Udham’s commentary about his fury for this incident all this time made his case.
2nd. Sardar Revisiting her Lahore House (Sardar Ka Grandson)
3rd. Sandy Loses Her Child (Sandeep aur Pinky Faraar)
4th. Arjun Thakur Recovering from Vomitting (Dhamaka)
5th. The revelation of Maanvi (Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui)
Vicky as Sardar will be remembered as one of the best performances in Hindi cinema for this new decade. You feel pain when his portrayal agonizes. There is much discomfort to watch his rage and hatred for British Imperialism and he has perfected that genuity you want to watch in the films about Indian freedom against the British. His tense courtroom scene of justification and in a lengthy struggle of saving many lives after the massacre are the best examples of Vicky’s notable performance.
Parineeti has to be the most improved actress of the last year who gave not one but two brilliant performances. But this role, she had the grip. When a role for a woman in desperate help or seeking freedom from her misery requires a solid actress to perfect it, talented actresses like Aliya Bhatt, Taapsee, and Bhumi are coming to your mind. So Dibakar chose Parineeti and gave her the platform. You observe her when she loses her child, when she gets scared on a lot of occasions, or when she tries to escape the rape attempt. A marvelous display of mental and emotional acting.
Sardar Udham is one of the best directed Hindi films I have watched in recent years. Shoojit’s presentation makes me wonder if Sardar Udham actually is an Indian film. It is some accomplishment. The courtroom scenes, Sardar speaking about freedom alone in the park, Sardar’s quest for O’ Dwyer, and most significantly, the horrifying Jallianwala Bagh Massacre and its extremely lengthy aftermath are the bullet reasons why I feel that Shoojit has set the standards and raised the bar of directional artistry too high.
2nd. Manjari Makijany (Skater Girl)
3rd. Seema Pahwa (Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi)
4th. Bugs Bhargava (Nail Polish)
5th. Gitanjali Rao (Bombay Rose)
Believe me! Honoring the best film of the year is the most challenging judgment. And being a film critic, it is my responsibility to make a decision that supports the purpose of being the best. Milestone focused on the struggle of a broken man in the wake of tragedy; while Nail Polish highlighted a complicated criminal case. Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi was a family drama but with a real-feel dramatization. Sardar Udham shows the darker side of the freedom fighter. All these films had elements that have been watched before but were extraordinary films.
Skater Girl is a totally different rhythm and beat that sparks attraction to its audience with a fresh direction, and a catchy screenplay. A story about a village girl who finds her heart in skating after two foreigners introduce skateboarding is a genuine love story to filmmaking.
The writers spent one year getting the feel of the village and creating the characters that stamp some quality portrayals. And this is exactly why Skater Girl looks so real and close to life.
2nd. Sardar Udham
3rd. Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi
4th. Nail Polish
TABLE OF MULTIPLE WINS & NOMINATIONS
MULTIPLE WINS & NOMINATIONS
Silence… Can You Hear It?
Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi
Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar
The Girl on the Train
Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui
Sardar Ka Grandson
Bhuj: The Pride of India
Thank you for reading my annual Bollywood honors report. I will return with a new report next year. Share your opinion below. Stay safe.