When the CIA’s assassin ‘Sierra Six’ finds out that the man he was assigned to kill was a former CIA assassin like him and has evidence of the corruption of the CIA’s lead agent on the assassination mission, Denny Carmichael, Six decides to go rebel and escape. Carmichael hires Lloyd Hansen to track him down and collect the evidence.
The Gray Man can be considered an unofficial tribute to old-school action films and I must admit that it takes courage for the Russo brothers to take such a risk of making an action-thriller with such an ensemble cast.
I noticed in the fighting sequences that there was something about the use of colors during the fights. When Six fights the target in Bangkok, colorful firecrackers enchant the whole scene. Then pink flares are enthralled when Six fights in the plane. It is interesting that there were some particular elements involved to make the fights look interesting.
But there are numerous plotholes and the continuity of the story does not impress. I mean there is nothing much to appeal to the audience. The story is an expired cake, the whole screenplay renders a predictable conclusion. It is not some phenomenal direction even. When you have actors like Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans in the lead with such an impressive supporting lineup of Ana de Armas, Billy Bob Thornton, Alfre Woodard, Jessica Hanwick, and Wagner Moura, the expectations are higher.
Dhanush got some decent minutes in the film and was really impressed with his action sequences. I thought he may get a couple of scenes like any Indian film star in an American film. Perhaps the Russo brothers are considering actors from the Indian film industry to join their films for supporting roles. Randeep Hooda had mesmerizing fighting sequences with Chris Hemsworth in ‘Extraction‘ that the Russo brothers produced.
The one actor that impressed me a lot was little butterfly Julia Butters who displayed a really delicate performance that surely gave all the viewers a feeling of amazement.
The Gray Man is certainly neither bad nor boring. The one action sequence that gave me a thrill was when Six is arrested in Vienna and the mercenaries try to down him. This scene was stretched to around ten minutes. Keeping the whole common sense aside, it was an exciting scene to be entertained. So this is a typical action thriller that can be enjoyed when your friends crash into your room along with popcorn, chips, and soft drinks.
The thing is that I am indulged in presenting the very best of Hindi-language cinema every year and I enjoy investing my precious time for the sensible readers and filmgoers who would like to know what honestly have been the best films under different categories. It is a common understanding that the film awards in India have lost its credibility by handing the awards mostly to the wrong hands from a very list of nominations. It exasperates me when the deserving individual or a film is not recognized on the stage in any given function.
For the past two years, I am making such a specific blog to recognize the contributions from the Indian films released in India in that specific calendar year. You may read my previous selections here in 2014 and 2015.
This blog will focus on the year 2016. Like before, I will segregate the categories in three different sections i.e., musical (5), technical (10), and major section (6). In most of the categories, I will brief a small explanation where I find necessary. In most of the categories, I will also make some honorable mentions which are the individuals or the films deserve to be counted among the best.
The above-mentioned films which miss all the recognitions below are to be believed that those films didn’t live up to my expectations. Also for your reading, let me clear that the films are not ranked in ‘Other Notable Works’.
BEST BACKGROUND SCORE
TAPAS RELIA (DHANAK)
Other Notable Works:
Mikey McCleary (Waiting)
Studio Fuzz(M Cream)
BEST PLAYBACK SINGERS
There wasn’t a decent vocal competition in the year 2016. I have listened to a lot of tracks from the 4-5 successful music albums of the films and I found only a couple of male tracks from the same film and a few good female singing in the other films but still not good enough.
AMIT MISHRA (BULLEYA – AE DIL HAI MUSHKIL)
Other Notable Work: Arijit Singh (Channa Mereya – Ae Dil Hai Mushkil)
NEETI MOHAN (SAU AASMAAN – BAAR BAAR DEKHO)
Other Notable Works:
Qurat-Ul-Balouch (Kaari Kaari – Pink)
Kanika Kapoor(Da Da Dasse – Udta Punjab)
BEST SONG & LYRICS
CHANNA MEREYA (ARIJIT SINGH/AMITABH BHATTACHARYA/PRITAM – AE DIL HAI MUSHKIL)
Other Notable Works:
Tere Bin (Sonu Nigam-Shreya Ghoshal/Vidhu Vinod Chopra/Shantanu Moitra – Wazir)
Pashmina (Amit Trivedi/Swanand Kirkire – Fitoor)
Gehra Ishq (Shekhar Ravjiani/Prasoon Joshi/Vishal Khurana – Neerja)
AMIT TRIVEDI (UDTA PUNJAB)
Other Notable Works:
Tapas Relia (Dhanak)
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
ASHIMA BELAPURKAR (PARCHED)
Other Notable Work: Theia Tekchandaney & Shruti Wadetiwar (Neerja)
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
ANNA IPE & APARNA SUD (NEERJA)
Other Notable Work: Amardeep Behl (Parched)
BEST SOUND DESIGN
SUBHASH SAHU (NEERJA)
Other Notable Works:
Boby John (Dhanak)
Vinit D’Souza (Raman Raghav 2.0)
There have been few scenes in my mind which were quite outstanding. Like Aliya’s expressions of misery to Shahid in Udta Punjab, or Nawazuddin killing a family in Raman Raghav 2.0, or the hijacking scene in Neerja, or the final court scenes in Pink. But I decided to choose the winner between two of the best scenes of the year 2016. Shakun Batra’s marvelous direction bemused me about the selection of the best scene of the film. The plumber scene, Annu aunty in party scene, and the truths-revelation scene before the family photo all carried equal weight of remarkable sketch of a highly intense family drama. So undecided that I prefer to conclude the winning scene with Irrfan’s showstopper and a heart-melting scene from Madaari when he asks for whereabouts of his son in the hospital. Perhaps no one would bring the efforts what Irrfan did here and hence proved again why is he the most inspiring actor holding more demand in the global cinema than any other Indian. This scene really beats the others.
GAIRIK SARKAR (TE3N)
Other Notable Works:
Aarti Bajaj (Raman Raghav 2.0)
Monisha R Baldawa(Neerja)
MINGJUE HU (M CREAM)
Other Notable Work:
Chirantan Das (Dhanak)
Priya Seth (Airlift)
Jay Oza (Raman Raghav 2.0)
Satyajit Pande (Dangal)
Parvez Singh (Raman Raghav 2.0)
The action is not about larger-than-life supernatural fights. My science of understanding here says to me that the action is when the reality is bound to bring intensity in the screenplay. Violence is the key, torture is a form and dismantling the brain and eyes towards the seriousness of the buildup is where the finest of action qualifies. Neerja and Raman Raghav 2.0 were the only films in my mind. Neerja’s technical aspects helped to build the intensity from hijacking till the last attempt of escaping. Whereas Raman Raghav 2.0 was a silent screamer and a gritty writing making the viewers hopeless and disconsolate of any likelihood of survival, the bloodbath is a sine qua non.
Anu Menon, James Ruzicka, and Atika Chohan (Waiting)
Agneya Singh (M Cream)
Gauri Shinde (Dear Zindagi)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
RATNA PATHAK (KAPOOR & SONS)
Parched acting trio of Tannishtha, Radhika and Surveen was highly expected to surpass the expectations but the trio of Pink was a massive surprise to me. Alia Bhatt gave her remarkable presence in Kapoor & Sons.
Well, a pause in the clause is that the Indian theater actresses will eat your skull if they outplayed the emotional character. Shabana Azmi for Neerja and Ratna Pathak for Kapoor & Sons were the most standout performances from this category. It wasn’t easy to pick and ignore the other nor do I want any joint winners. But as per the capacity of acting and appeal on the screentime, Ratna had more space to suffer Mr. Kapoor and Sons than the mother of Neerja waiting for the updates after the hijacking incidence. Ratna had more time to fight and argue with more than an individual at a time than Shabana’s emotional resistance.
Other Notable Works:
Shabana Azmi (Neerja)
Kirti Kulhari (Pink)
Tannishtha Chatterjee (Parched)
Alia Bhatt (Kapoor & Sons)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
RISHI KAPOOR (KAPOOR & SONS)
The mad terrorist in Neerja was phenomenal as well as a highly potential debut of the singer Diljit Dosanjh in Udta Punjab. Rajkummar was decent in assisting Manoj Bajpayee in Aligarh and Vicky Kaushal is rapidly making his name with Masaan and 2.0. But the real focus was on the dadaji of the dysfunctional family in Kapoor & Sons.
Yes, the makeup has a prominent role in the building of the character which doubles the charm in the performance like how Amitabh brought the momentum in his Auro character in Paa after an extraordinary change in his stature and looks. But Rishi as a nonagenarian fittingly classified as the best dadaji whose role grew on the viewers with the growing heat in the disturbed family. Chintuji and Amitji are the only boys of the 70s badge who are regularly performing in the selective roles being recognized with the positive responses in today’s cinema. And this role again defines Rishi’s versatility in acting. The film would be incomplete if Rishi would not have been picked for this role.
Other Notable Works:
Jim Sarbh (Neerja)
Vicky Kaushal (Raman Raghav 2.0)
Diljit Dosanjh (Udta Punjab)
Rajkummar Rao (Aligarh)
ALIA BHATT (UDTA PUNJAB)
If there is any category which was the most impressive, that was the performances of the leading actresses in the films released in the year 2016. There is Swara Bhaskar who is rapidly becoming of the noticeable actresses who brought a spectacular performance to her credit in Nil Battey Sannata. The body language and the emotional details of her character-play were striking. Kalki’s strong CV continues to fill more golden pages with Waiting. Ash in Sarbjit was a surprise package. Throughout her acting career, this is easily her first and best acting performance. That is the other thing that Ash doesn’t resemble or remind us Dalbir Kaur but the director has really worked with Ash on her character. People were informing me that Taapsee has done a wonderful job in Pink and I was not coming out of my visual understanding after watching her in Chashme Baddoor. Taapsee Pannu displayed a powerful role and I hope she is not a one-role wonder lady.
As far as Alia is in the wacky race, she is my girl for this category. She is at the peak of her career and easily one of the fastest growing actresses in the Indian cinema. Alia does have a lot of help at home from her mother Soni Razdan who has pulled the strings of acting and playing mentally complicated characters in many of her husband’s films in the 80s and 90s, and papa Mahesh Bhatt who has been critical in making top-notch films in the parallel cinema. But then, it is the baby who has to face the camera and has every potential to make her name with acting greats like Shabana Azmi, Smita Patil, Tabu, or Nandita Das in very near future.
She began performing from Highway and sought attention from the sensible viewers including me. But 2016 is her best year ever with high-class performances in not one but three films (Kapoor & Sons, Dear Zindagi, and this). As far as the mental or physical challenge is the condition, it definitely is her role of Mary Jane in Udta Punjab which beats the other competitors in the wacky race. She has shown the misery of a girl stuck in the series of unfortunate events. You feel sorry for the character but when you feel apologetic, there is Alia’s success to justify the role she plays. Highway’s Veera Tripathi and Udta Punjab’s Mary Jane have suffered but their character-destruction from Alia’s visual presentation is different. Well done Alia.
Other Notable Works:
Swara Bhaskar (Nil Battey Sannata)
Taapsee Pannu (Pink)
Kalki Koechlin (Waiting)
Sonam Kapoor (Neerja)
Aishwarya Rai (Sarbjit)
MANOJ BAJPAYEE (ALIGARH)
If you are mature enough to understand the credibility of the actor and his substance of a performance in a given screentime, you will realize that the award functions in India are commercialized which depends on revenue and care less for the individuals who deserve the award at the right time in their lives. In 2015, Filmfare omitted Sanjay Mishra for Ankhon Dekhi, who was a clear winner in the category of Best Actor. Last year, Filmfare omitted Nawazuddin for Manjhi who actually was the most deserving individual to win the category of Best Actor. And now a hattrick of blunder is completed with Manoj Bajpayee’s turn who lost his place to get into the nominations. And most of the viewers will raise the eyebrows over the quality of decision making by the juries who repeatedly add box-office mahatmas, Salman Khan and Shahrukh Khan, in the category almost every year from nowhere.
This is easily Bajpayee’s best performance ever and is the toughest character of a homosexual teacher he can play. The best part of the role is his complexity towards the sexual orientation for which he is suspended and bringing his ass to the court. He has a portion of love for the lettering and listening to Lata’s songs but overall a disturbed soul. He is a departed loner but expects people to understand him. Bajpayee has given the word ‘Tragedy’ a fresh cinematic meaning. A wonderful and very underrated performance I subject to recognize here.
Besides, Shahid enjoys another successful year with another role of a maniac, this time in Udta Punjab. Shahid is like Saif Ali Khan who is reintroduced to the viewers as a promising actor not to ignore. After a series of repeated failures, Shahid is finally off the mark from Haider. Irrfan’s Madaari is another brutal omission from the same category in Filmfare and you will be surprised to know that besides Paan Singh Tomar, he has never been nominated in this category in Filmfare.
Naseer sir in Waiting is magnificent as always in almost every film which he is part of. Amitabh had three different roles in Wazir, Pink, and Te3n, and I must say that Amitji at this age has become more choosy in his roles than ever. Since 2015, he has played some very good roles in Shamitabh, Piku, and the above-mentioned films. If I have to pick between the three, it would be Te3n.
By watching his superior performances in first Badlapur and now Raman Raghav 2.0, I am fully convinced that if in any timeline the Batman franchise happens to drop in Indian cinema, the only actor who can play the role of the Joker is Nawazuddin Siddiqui. His latest role of a psychotic killer will disturb you, by watching this performance you will never wish to meet him. What Randeep did in Sarbjit was the most dedicating among all the best performances of 2016. He lost 18 kgs in 28 days to justify his role in the prison life. Randeep presents you the pain of being an unfortunate and displays an impressive emotional drop and terrific body language. He makes the viewers feel when he groans and express his pain to Aishwarya in the prison.
Other Notable Works:
Shahid Kapoor (Udta Punjab)
Irrfan Khan (Madaari)
Naseeruddin Shah (Waiting)
Randeep Hooda (Sarbjit)
Nawazuddin Siddiqui (Raman Raghav 2.0)
Amitabh Bachchan (Te3n)
GAURI SHINDE (DEAR ZINDAGI)
Besides the names mentioned below, the competition for this category, in my opinion, was between Shakun Batra and Gauri Shinde. Both were the masterclass in utilizing the scripts. But I picked Gauri the winner from this category. Shakun’s impressive direction has a blend of major other aspects involved like very realistic dialogues, a lot of impressive performances within a scene etc but Gauri’s direction heavily depends on Alia’s character growth in the film especially a very important first half before Shahrukh is introduced.
Other Notable Works:
Shakun Batra (Kapoor & Sons)
Ram Madhvani (Neerja)
Anurag Kashyap (Raman Raghav 2.0)
Abhishek Chaubey (Udta Punjab)
Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury (Pink)
KAPOOR & SONS
I mean what else? what really else can be a better film than Kapoor & Sons? A decent family drama which portrays/sketches a dysfunctional family with mix elements of humor and suspense. The film has no nonsense of silly masala, item numbers or unnecessary cameo appearances despite the fact that the film was produced under the banner of Dharma Productions. Then the film is very honest to its script and describes a shattered bond in a very distinctive way.
There are numerous amazing scenes which catch our attention swiftly because we are accustomed to our domestic life especially the plumber scene. Then the revelation of secrets and a tragic accident. The film touches your heart. The remaining plusses are left with superb performances from all the major cast. Everyone has his share and their roles carry the same depth. And that is the beauty of the film that there is no leading character. Every major character is supporting to the other.
Other Notable Works:
Nil Battey Sannata
(Please share your views about my selections. Write your opinions in the comments below. Let me know if you don’t agree and explain your reasons.)
Sarbjit is prominent for few reasons. One is that it presents you a very tragic story between the bitter threads of the two countries. Second is making Aishwarya Rai an actress and third is gifting us a treat to watch Randeep Hooda‘s another, in fact, his most unforgettable performance.
I am not interested in knowing the film’s fate on the box office but I have always been of the opinion that the making of great films based on true stories heavily rely on the direction. Sarbjit despite all the weapons and armour on the ground is where it falls from the peak to the truffles.
Director Omung Kumar is the man more familiar to the art direction or say, the production designing where he is very good at. In the past, he was involved in the production designing of Bhansali’s Black and Saawariya, Mishra’s Chameli and Ghai’s Yuvvraaj. And that is the same impression in his Sarbjit too but the technical aspects of narration are full of flaws.
First thing first, it is a boring film. By boring I mean the story of Sarabjit deserves a 90-minute screen time, not 130 minutes. When the film reaches the half, you begin thinking what is left in the remaining half. The narration is uselessly stretched in the second half and feels if the director is borrowing some time to connect the dots and reach the conclusion.
Like every other Indian film, the portrayals of the media and Pakistani civilians are hyper-hilarious. Why on earth a Pakistani is sketched with a topi on his head, shalwar-kameez on the body, over-disciplined Urdu like “Aap, Janab” in the dialogues, beards like pubic hairs or the one like General Aladeen, mufflers hanging on shoulders, kohl in eyes? Even filmmakers from the west are more skilful in portraying Pakistanis than the neighbours.
Urdu texts are laughable. There is a scene when sister Dalbir (Aish) handover the Pakistani newspaper to father darji and the viewers have a chance to view mere 4 seconds of the newspaper. The one with the knowledge or Urdu will find hilarious mistakes and put a question mark on the technicalities of the film.
Few of the scenes were out of logic like Dalbir being thrown and hit on her head while attempting to speak the minister. Another one is Pakistani policewomen checking Sarabjit’s family before they meet that is way too much. A policewoman takes out the glasses of Dalbir and checks it like what? Another one wipes the lipstick and removes the red dot God knows why?
The delight is the sibling chemistry between Randeep and Aishwarya. Randeep has defined ‘pain’ to a new dimension. He lost 18 kg in 28 days. And Aishwarya has displayed a strong command of emotional and vocal artistry after an acting career of totalled performances.
Sadly Richa Chadda doesn’t have enough dialogues or equal weight of performance on the screen as Aish’s despite being the wife of Sarabjit. The film is a genuine one-timer thanks to the directional disaster but the major plus of the multiple performances will keep you alive.
Once upon a time there was a painter from Travancore and a very attractive woman. They were destined to meet in their lifetime. One day it happened to be the moment when the painter’s eyes caught the attention of that lady worshiping in the temple. Her beauty inspired the painter to paint God and Goddesses as human beings. He began sketching her in different shade of moods and gifted her a major surprise by meeting her outside the temple. After she saw the sketches, she got attracted to him.
This was the time when Hindustan or British India was stuck with the infinite political crisis of seeking independence from British Raj and leaving the colonial prestige. Painting was seen as a token of appreciation towards the painter for his enormous talent of depicting his skills in art of drawing a particular substance. In the painter’s case, he was too broad to be accepted among the conservatives, orthodox and traditional people who believe in more social and moral code over their culture and religion.
Where the printed images of his collections made the common man worship the Gods in their houses, shops and community gatherings, few of them didn’t accept. His paintings of human beings as Hindu Gods or Goddesses enraged a particular community of fundamentalists and the case went to the local court. Till that time, his popularity had reached America and Europe. The painter was India’s finest revolutionary painter, Raja Ravi Verma and the inspirational lady was Sugandha Bai.
This story is from a biographical novel ‘Raja Ravi Verma’ written by Ranjit Desai. The movie on which this novel is based is ‘Rang Rasiya‘. It is a Hindi-Sanskrit language movie with some doses of English dialogues directed by National Award winning director Ketan Mehta (Mirch Masala, Sardar, Mangal Panday). Randeep Hooda is Raja and Nandana Sen is Sugandha. This movie took 6 years to release due to the certain objection of the Censor Board’s objection with certain bold scenes that involved paint and nudity. The movie shows how the freedom of art conflicts with man-made laws, how religious bigotry disturbs the social momentum.
Selection of Nandana Sen for Sugandha was very fitting as she incidentally was Raja’s fan. When Ketan approached her for the role, he found two of Raja’s paintings at her residence which made this deal more convincing and easy. Nandana will seduce the viewer to a level. Randeep’s selection was a tough one considering the fact that Randeep had to play a 20-year-old and then a sexagenarian.
Despite the fact the direction and dialogues were pretty weak and outdated, what worked for the movie’s complements was above-average performances and terrific background score. Raja-Sugandha chemistry was worth watching, it melt your emotions with paintbrush. Randeep-Nandana have done marvelous job. Costume and art designing was superb and will give you breathing in periodic environment.
Overall, Rang Rasiya is a Randeep Hooda show who portrays an exceptional character from the original and gives a feeling of nearness with him when he is riding his journey from highs and lows towards the legendary art. A journey which starts from marrying a princess and ends with why-should-I-tell-you, will make you leave the enthrallment of cruelty and boundary, motivate you to live with your passion and fulfill your burning desire. Being one of the best movie of the year is very debatable but calling Rang Rasiya one of the best art-centric biopic in recent years won’t be bad.