Best of 2015 in Bollywood

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2015 has been a year of “Content-backed” Cinema. This year Bollywood presented an ensemble of unique stories to its viewers. Movies like Roy, Bombay Velvet, Katti Batti, Shaandar & Shamitabh failed to stir the audience despite their original concept & heavyweight Star-cast; on the other hand Films like Baby, Dum Laga Ke Haisha & NH10 were impressive on the grounds of their authentic screenplays. Even the dubbed Epic-Adventure Baahubali:The beginning was a surprise packet with the public eagerly awaiting its sequel next year. The stock of typical Bollywood masala features like Dilwaale, Jazbaa, Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, Hero, Drishyam & ABCD 2 was successful as well, while Tevar, Phantom, Mr. X, Detective Byomkesh Bakshi, Brothers & Gabbar is Back flopped.

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Zoya Akhtar’s Multiple-starrer Dil Dhadakne Do was modernistic with Anil Kapoor & Ranveer Singh’s superior endowments as actors coupled with Priyanka Chopra & Anushka Sharma proving their forte once again. Off-beat Movies like Masaan [a winner at Cannes], Titli, Margarita with a Straw, Manjhi-The Mountain Man, Hunterr were able to draw selected audiences to the theatres & gained acclaim worldwide; Talvar proved to be a minor-miracle because of its sharp narration & received appreciation. The “low-budget” [B-grade] movies like Pyar Ka Punchnama 2, Welcome Back & Hate Story 3 fared well at the Box-Office owing to their content for the target audience.

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2015 can be termed as “The” year of Female-Power show- The beginning of the “She-roine” era, with Kangana Ranaut & Deepika Padukone rising to the epitome of Show-biz. Datto[Kusum]/Tanu became the “ChulBul Pandey” for contemporary women. The standards of Acting as a craft were elevated by this “Natural-Born actor” Kangana Ranaut. Mastaani/Piku/Tara mesmerised the nation whilst matching her natural beauty with sheer talent [also inspiring those who deal with domestic “Gastric issues”]. Priyanka Chopra’s flawless portrayal of “Kashibai” won her accolades as she did not falter in presenting the Pride & Prestige of the historical figure. Anushka Sharma’s elegance & confidence in front of the camera was evident in NH10 & DDD and Kajol gathered more whistles than others for her comeback. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan could never escape one’s memories & her Jazbaa rejuvenated the demands for her return to silver-screen. And last but not the least the year gave us an A-typical debutante Bhumi Pednekar[DLKH] who gave us a glimpse into an ordinary over-weight woman’s life.

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Coming to the show-stealers, Varun Dhawan provided a new definition to the word revenge & vendetta this year with Badlapur. His eagerness/zeal to reach the top was manifested after he played a man “double” his age waiting to avenge his loss. Nawazuddin Siddiqui, with his peculiar body-language & personality provided a niche to the “supporting actor” category; he displayed the dark/hateful side of a cunning man in Badlapur & the innocence of a rural journalist in Bajrangi Bhaijaan, giving us tears in the end. He showed us the heroics of an old man who cut a mountain out of love for his wife in Manjhi. Ayushman Khurana deserves more than a trophy for his role in DLKH for he revised the 90s Kumar Sanu period; playing a young failure of a man who ricochets b/w his overbearing father & his bothersome pals and dreams of a pretty bride for himself. Akshay Kumar gave an incredible performance after a long time in Baby proving yet again that the Khiladi can be a good actor once given a good role minus the monkey tactics. Our nations Pride- Amitabh Bachchan did not leave a stone unturned to prove his Stature in Piku & Shamitabh. He was grumpy & cantankerous as a Bengali father who surrounded his daughter with ample melodrama; he was arrogant & mean as a failed actor who cannot rise from obscurity. Ranveer Singh left us spell bound with his method acting as Bajirao & transported us in a historical era with his stupendous acting skills. He was the only breathing factor in the otherwise over-crowded DDD where he played subdued & idle. Ranbir Kapoor emerged as a winner with Tamaasha. His Astonishing work revived the constant tireless voice which resides in our head, reminding us to rebel against the rules laid by the world. The credits are incomplete without mentioning Salman Khan who delivered an outstanding performance as Bajrangi Bhaijaan, where he maintained his innocent personality throughout the movie. He has not been considered as a great actor but this particular role reminded us of the adorable Samir & Prem from the past. Alas! ShahRukh Khan & his original/individual appeal fell between the cracks created by the buffoonery of everyone around him in Dilwaale.

2015 gave us good & bad-big & small films. Movies that made us fall in love with the art of Cinema all over again. It revised our passion for Bollywood & its Stars. According to me, the “Best 10 Entertaining Movies” of 2015 are:

images   1. Bajirao Mastani

images (3)  2. Tanu Weds Manu Returns

images (6)   3. Bajrangi Bhaijaan

images (1)   4. Tamasha

images (4).jpg   5. Piku

MV5BMTg2Njg1OTg4OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjczNzM2NDE@._V1_SX640_SY720_   6. Dum Lagga Ke Haisha

images (5)   7. Baby

images (2)   8. Badlapur

images (11)   9. Dil Dhadakne Do

images (14)   10. Shamitabh

 

 

The SRK-SLB War recurs after 8 years.

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After 8 years the most Powerful Actor & Director of Indian Cinema today, ShahRukh Khan & Sanjay Leela Bhansali, battle once again at the Box-office on a Friday. My Back-to-Back rendezvous with Bollywood on 18th Dec 2015 brought back the memories of the week when Om Shanti Om & Saawariya were released in 2007. An ardent fan of Bhansali’s craft, I could never graduate to being a true SRK fan. The only time I ended up praising his work was for Bhansali’s “Devdas” [2002] in the past.

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OSO was Grand and possessed all the elements required for a Blockbuster. SRK displayed his talent to excel outside the Prestigious “Yash Chopra” banner along with his newly acquired Six-pack Abs. It introduced the current “Heart-throb” Deepika Padukone. The “Karz” era was re-visited with Farah Khan taking charge behind the cameras. Saawariya on the other hand was experimental. The Blue theme & the Dreamy narrative in an imaginary city proved to be a rare cinematic experience for me. It remains, till date, the “Moulin Rouge” of my dreams. Its scintillating music was an orchestra redefined for screens. Ranbir Kapoor’s debut was awaited for long & he was presented like a “Dream Lover” straight out of “Operatic” Fairy tales. Sonam Kapoor was nothing but a fresh Lotus in this kaleidoscopic Pond of contemporary Rhapsody. Salman & Rani [in their supporting roles] were like true parents to these two anxious birds fresh out of their cages. But Bhansali failed to capture the attention of the mass audiences who rejected the Movie. OSO went ahead at the ticket counters and grossed all the success that was anticipated.

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This week I proudly seated myself in the Cinema hall for the “First day First show” of Bajirao Mastani with a gleam of pride. I have grown up with the tales of “Mughle Azam” which I have repeatedly seen on the DVD’s and all this while I was awaiting a Fresh Historical Epic which I could view in my own era. A movie I could narrate as my individual/personal perception allowed me to. Bajirao Mastani is the story of a crusader for love; a fearless warrior amidst a society full of hatred & bigotry. It’s a tale of The Passionate Mastani – a princess; a soldier; a lover who equated Ishq with Ibaadat; who bore the humiliation & brutality for being the Maratha legend’s lover. Every single moment in the movie is like an immaculate recitation of a wonderful saga lost in history. Ranveer Singh excels & executes every pivotal scene like no other can. A die-hard Salman Khan fan like me failed to remind myself who the original choice for the role had been. Meticulous Cinematography makes the narration flawless. The costumes & Shringar have elevated the standards of Bollywood & the Art Direction [The Lamps, The Blood-soaked/barren landscapes & the grandeur of the Aina Mahal] is out of this world. The biggest challenge must have laid with Bhansali who has taken upon himself to present a story from a different era which has lacked familiarity. The movie is a tragedy indeed & the romantic theme seems fragile but when you compare it with the second release of the day “Dilwaale”, the terms “for the classes” & “for the masses” are clearly defined. Dilwaale is senseless. It’s a typical Rohit Shetty film which is a mere extension of his “Golmaal” series. His Goa fixation & mid-air blasts of branded cars, cacophonus balderdash of side actors, over-lapping sequences & a stereotype comic script ended up irritating me because I was drawn by the No. 1 onscreen pair of Bollywood- SRK-Kajol to the theatre. Their comeback was bland; perhaps the expectations were too high! They featured together in bits & pieces and there wasn’t a single power-packed scene which could carry their legacy ahead. They seemed lost in the buffoonery created by almost everyone around them [pink jackets & ponytails with branded-humour]. They did lighten up the sparks for the moments they looked at each other & when SRK out-stretched his arms for her but it was short-lived for all that was happening around them stole their branded Romantic chemistry.

The clash b/w these two Powerful Stalwarts is surely going to produce a verdict soon as the Box-Office collection will be calculated within this week but as biased as I may sound, My personal pronouncement favors Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Its “Star Wars” in India. I hope & wish & pray that the classes outdo the masses for once. Keeping the awards and the profits aside, the Indian audience need to appreciate the efforts put together by this “Showman” who has definitely provided growth to the country’s biggest stars- right from Amitabh Bachchan to Ranveer Singh, from Rani Mukherji to Deepika Padukone.

Speaking of yours truly, i promise to repeat my “First-day First-show” tryst with his next release. Sanjay Leela Bhansali  sir, you are indeed the Showman of my times.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smita Patil:Remembering the most accomplished Actor of Indian Cinema.

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The original actor of the new-wave movement in Indian Cinema; the “Parallel Cinema”, would have been 60 yrs old today had it not been for her untimely sudden death at the age of 31 in 1986. She was one of the finest & the most graceful artist our country has ever produced. An actor with supreme “Matchless” talent in Theatre & Cinema- Smita was the recipient of 2 National Awards, a Filmfare award & a Padmashri. When I think of the female protagonists represented in Indian cinema, her name spells a woman who was triumphant; who never succumbed to society & its norms; a fighter who shook the yolk of male patronage; an intelligent matron not restricted by illiteracy. She did not emblematize a “Mother-India” under the hypothetical disguise of a typical traditional “Indian woman” but presented the psyche of those under siege of male dominance. Smita Patil was a true “Active” feminist who illustrated the cause of Social Up-liftment of Indian women. Her phenomenal contribution in her field can never be replicated.

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She was not a trained actor as many would believe. Bestowed with an inborn natural instinct for the craft Smita was an ace photographer before being discovered by Shyam Benegal. In reality her friends remember her as an astute urban person [it was mentioned that while working as a news reader for Doordarshan she would hurriedly drape her sari over her jeans]. Being born to parents of acute social awareness, she was an Idealist. Her dusky complexion added “Panache” to her unique personality which was equally gifted with a strong command over her voice. She appeared utterly disciplined in her work & it was hard to imagine that she had a slightly bohemian personal side.

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Bhumika[1977] established her in the film-industry as the Queen of parallel cinema. Its story was inspired by 1940s Marathi actress “Hansa Wadkar”- a woman who is out to discover herself, often falling off the rails, yet back on her tracks- fighting loneliness, creative dis-satisfaction, her intimate fears & complexes; struggling in her middle age for self-fulfillment. At the age of 22, to portray such a complex character was a remarkable achievement indeed. How encouraging it must have been for the directors/writers who dreamt of creating a podium for meaningful cinema which gathered appreciation internationally as well? To have an artist who wasn’t conventionally bound! Someone who did not consider it obligatory to run around trees & shed tears of helplessness on screen! For 5 years Smita Patil refused to do commercial cinema. In Chakra[1981] she proved her forte once again where she essayed the role of an un-glorified, rural “migrant” laborer who fights for her survival in Mumbai. Her ability to accept the roles which had the shades of grey was clear when she worked in Arth[1982]. Her finesse as an actor stood out in front of the other stalwart of parallel cinema- Shabana Azmi. It is impossible to imagine any other artist who could have portrayed Praveen Babi’s insecurities, possessiveness, delusions, guilt & obsession for her man – as impeccably shown by Smita Patil. Her high-octane acting in the final confrontation scene between Pooja & Kavita can-not be shaken off from the minds of those who value the Stature of “Arth” in Indian cinema.

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She proved her versatility once and for all when she ventured into commercial cinema with none other than Amitabh Bachchan in Namak Halaal[1982] & Shakti[1982]. She carried the roles forward with her own intelligence as she could not be seen as a woman of no substance- she efficiently played her roles opposite AB, never once seeming out of place -even providing her own signatory “class” to the rain songs with grace. I refuse to dismiss Aakhir Kyon[1985] simply for the reason that she attempted to bring forward the cause of an urban woman. It was not the village or the slum but the modern society this time – The “Plight” of a simple housewife who is left at the mercy of her husband who crumbles upon adultery. She tamed herself; carried make-up while excercising her original control over her capabilities as an actor. It is believed that she was disillusioned after a while with her progress in parallel cinema because of monetary factors; we did see her attempting “inconsequential” roles in DanceDance , Kasam Paida Karne Waale Ki (etc) and the only one which I can name as a solid one was that of Anil Kapoor’s Lawyer sister in Thikaana[1987]. She forayed back into her initial passion in 1985 with Mirch Masala – A cult performance where we witnessed on screen the querulous relationship between women in the labor groups. We had the feisty, fiery Sonbai who stood up against lechery while uniting her co-workers with “Mirch” powder in their bare hands to throw in the lewd eyes of the lecherous tinpot. She acted in over 80 Hindi & Marathi Movies including Bazaar[1983], Mandi[1983], Ardh-Satya[1983] Aaj Ki Aawaz[1984] Manthan[1976].

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Smita  remained true to heart when it came to relationships as well. She fell in love with Raj Babbar & they both got married . Overnight she turned into a home-breaker; the critics labelled & targeted her as the latest vamp. And it didn’t take her long to succumb to an ill-fated post natal complication. She passed away on 13th Dec 1986. The actor who motivated film-makers to explore the role of women in Indian society; who endorsed their cause & issues through her impeccable work; who stood for the true empowerment of women in India left us with a legacy which can never be cloned. She left the country [ I would not attempt to state the film industry as the sole mourner] with a void which can never be filled. Smita Patil [ Oct 17, 1955 – Dec 13 1986] will remain the “pioneer” of world class acting in India. An actor who never makes me feel inferior as a cinema-lover when I witness the work of international Stars. She left us after “WAARIS”– without one from her own fraternity.

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