Tere Ghar Ke Saamne: Love thy neighbour



“Khamoshi ki aawaaz sun sakte ho?” asks the beaming Nutan to the suave Dev Anand inside Qutub Minar and you can actually hear the sound of silence in this gem of a scene from Vijay Anand i.e. Goldie’s ‘Tere Ghar Ke Saamne’. The silences, punctuated by the rhythm of heartbeats, conjure up imageries of a bumbling bee humming the ‘pyaar ka raag’. “Hmm hmm hmm…” as Dev Anand puts it with oodles of boyish charm (at the age of 40), minus the trademark mannerisms. The song, ‘Dil ka bhanwar kare pukaar’ shows up after a lot of teasing and one just can’t resist playing it again and again on the DVD before resuming to watch what transpires next.

The old-world charm of Delhi basking in the radiance of winter sunlight, sprawling lawns, easy paced bazaars, wide and empty roads, and Lambretta scooters provides a fitting locale to the feud of two die-hard business rivals, Lala Jagannath (Om Prakash) and Seth Karamchand (Harendranath Chattopadhyay). Matters get worse when Jagannath’s architect son Rakesh (Dev Anand) and Karamchand’s daughter Sulekha (Nutan) not only fall in love but Rakesh is unknowingly selected by both businessmen to design and build their dream houses on plots situated bang opposite one another! Helped by Sulekha’s brother Ronny (Rajendranath in a surprisingly restrained role), Rakesh constructs two bungalows that looks exactly the same for the old foes and then makes them forget their ill will towards one another, thus sealing the triumph of his romance.

A rom-com in its true sense, ‘Tere Ghar Ke Saamne’ refuses to age. In fact, like a good wine, the more it ages, the better it gets. Well, this reminds me of the song, ‘Ek ghar banaaunga tere ghar ke saamne’, where Dev Anand’s character, Rakesh, an architect, misses his beloved, Sulekha (Nutan) so much that he could see her inside the goblet of his drink. If you notice carefully, Dev Anand holds the goblet in different ways all throughout the song. And when the character, Madan puts an ice cube inside it, Nutan feels cold and asks Dev to scoop the ice cube out of the goblet.

Composed by SD Burman, the title song is an interesting conversation between a dreamer (Dev Anand) and realist (Nutan). Lyricist Hasrat Jaipuri’s words take the centre stage when Mohd Rafi sighs, Ulafat me Taj chhoote, ye bhi tumhein yaad hoga, ulafat me Taj bane, ye bhi tumhein yaad hoga…Mein bhi kuch banaaunga, tere ghar ke saamne, duniya basaunga, tere ghar ke saamne.”

Just when you are reeling under the influence of this gem of a song, the song, ‘Tu kahan yeh bataa’ captures your imagination and the indelible memory of Nutan flashing a thousand watt smile literally lights up the screen. To give the devil (angel) his due, this magic could never have been possible without Mohd. Rafi’s ability to blend his voice with the inimitable style of Dev Anand. Place this song in a different film, different situation or different actor, and it’s most likely to fall flat on the face. Check out this song on YouTube and you will surely agree. The songs, ‘Dekho rootha na karo’ and ‘Sun le tu dil ki sadaa’ are indeed worth replaying.

Having said that, ‘Tere Ghar Ke Saamne’ couldn’t have been what it is without two veterans, Om Prakash and Harendranath Chattopadhyay, who play the warring parents of the leads. The opening scene where they throw ‘expletives’ like ‘Aenak wale akhrot’ and ‘Aaloo Bukhara’ to each other with a gleeful abandon. 

The other artists who deserve mention here are editor Babu Shaikh, who cuts the film to perfection, never letting the melodrama take over and Ratra, the cinematographer, who captures the romantic moments of the leads in a distinct style, especially the title song where Dev Anand sees Nutan inside the goblet. A scene of kind was unheard of in those times when VFX didn’t even exist.

‘Tere Ghar Ke Saamne’ is replete with comic situations rather than slapstick. The restaurant scene where Dev Anand is stuck between both warring families and how he manages to wriggle out of the awkward situation is sure to leave you in splits. Along with entertaining and making you laugh, ‘Tere Ghar Ke Saamne’ also sends across a social message that, “Not all that is new is bad, nor is all that is old good”.  

One sincerely hopes that our filmmakers take a leaf from ‘Tere Ghar Ke Saamne’ and come up with a comedy where the audience needn’t leave their brains at home. Visit this classic if you haven’t and revisit if you already have.

Asli, not naqli…romance in its purest form

There’s something about birthdays that makes me introspect on the life passed by and wonder what the future may have in the offing. Far from indulging in those B’day treats, cherishing irrelevant gifts and replying to the incessant messages (Often abbreviated as HBD), I am often reminded of the song, ‘Koi sone ke dil wala, koi chandi ke dil wala, sheeshe ka hai matwaale tera dil, mehfil yeh nahin teri, deewane kahin chal’, featuring Dev Anand in the film, ‘Maya’.
A film on the same premise and almost beginning with a lavish birthday party, Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s ‘Asli Naqli’ (1962) is about a spoilt rich guy (Dev Anand) who leaves his grandfather’s (Nazir Hussain) home after a heated argument, stays with a brother-sister duo Mohan and Shanti, who despite struggling to make the ends meet, are generous beyond compare (Anwar Hussain and Sandhya Roy), falls in love with Renu, who works at a textile company and doubles up as a teacher in the slums (Sadhana), and learns invaluable lessons of life, which lends him the true perception of illusion and reality i.e. Asli-Naqli. 

Despite a story that is as predictable as an old fable, Asli Naqli entertains you right from its first frame to the end credits, thanks to the beautiful cinematography by Jaywant Pathare, deft editing by Dad Dhaimade, engaging screenplay by Inder Raj Anand, music by Shankar Jaikishan, brilliant direction by Hrishikesh Mukherjee, and of course the wonderful performances by its lead pair, Dev Anand and Sadhana. 

Anand’s character has varied shades, which Hrishida explores at different points of time. The rich spoilt guy often resurfaces in the slums. The sweet and innocent man with oodles of boyish charm takes the centre stage in songs, especially in the dialogues before the songs begin. The devil-may-care attitude often morphs into self-pitying jobless man. 

Well, this explains why he ends up losing his jobs and later desperately looks for new opportunities. Dev Anand approaches his role with utmost restraint and is a delight to watch, especially in the songs, ‘Ek buut banaaunga’, ‘Tujhe jeevan ki dorr se’, and ‘Chheda mere dil ne tarana’. 

Sadhana is grace personified. As a young girl shouldering the responsibilities of her family and hiding a secret in her eyes, Sadhana is spot-on as Renu. The song, ‘Tera mera pyaar amar’ casts a spell on the viewers with her luminous charisma. Sandhya Roy adds an endearing touch to the film with her role of Shanti, the sharp-tongued girl with a heart of gold. 

Despite suffering from a severe arthritis attack in 1961, Hrishida directed Asli Naqli from his wheel chair. Raju Bharatan, a veteran journalist and writer on Indian cricket and Bollywood music, shares in one of his articles, “Hrishikesh Mukherjee had already notably directed two of The Triumvirate in Dilip Kumar (Musafir) and Raj Kapoor (Anari) and was working with the third, Dev Anand (alongside Sadhana), on Asli Naqli (1962), when I ran into Hrishikesh Mukherjee to ask how far he was through with the film. “The Asli part of it is over, only the Naqli portion remains!” came back Hrishikesh Mukherjee.

By this, what the 2000 AD winner of the Dadasaheb Phalke Award meant was that the true directorial part of Asli Naqli shooting was complete, only the songs remained to be picturised! It is not that Hrishi does not love music. It is that he always discerned a touch of artificiality inherent in the way songs had to come across on the mainstream screen. Yet, for all his reservations here, Hrishi usually did a good job on the song picturisation in his films ranging from Anupama to Anand.” 

The chemistry that the lead pair share is indeed worth a mention here, be it the song sequences, the scene where Renu helps Anand with typing, shares her lunchbox and stays hungry for him, or the classroom scenes. The moment you look into Dev Anand’s eyes, you are convinced of the fact that he loves her intensely and the way Sadhana looks at Dev Anand, you can feel the kind of warmth they share. 

In a world of Naqli love stories, it’s worth revisiting this classic laced with Asli romance. They don’t make them anymore. As Dev Anand would like to put it, “Jisne suna kho gaya, poora nasha ho gaya” during his birthday celebration. Well, by the way, you can wish me today. 

Meant to be a Shubh Aarambh, but it isn’t really one

 A big fat NRI wedding. A good-looking hero. A ‘sorted’ heroine. A poet dad. An entrepreneur mom. A jugaadu brother. A street-smart sidekick. A perfect family with dark secret. Sounds like an interesting film, isn’t it? Well, so did the trailer, if only the film Shubh Aarambh could do justice to these ingredients that could have made for one of the finest Gujarati films we have seen. 

Bharat Chawda plays Shubh (Hence the title), the hero. Deeksha Joshi plays the ‘sorted heroine’. Harsh Chhaya plays the poet dad. Prachee Shah Pandya plays the entrepreneur mom. The ‘Dhula’ from ‘Chello Divas’ i.e. Aarjav Trivedi plays the jugaadu brother. And Sanjay Galsar plays Imran, the street-smart sidekick, who is quite a revelation here. 

Having introduced to these key characters, apart from the typical worrying-sobbing-wondering-blabbering parents of the heroine, let’s proceed with director Amit Barot’s film, Shubharambh, which is perhaps Gujarat’s first NRI wedding film. The film begins on an upbeat note and the first half promises you the moon. 

By the time when you are back with your popcorn and colas, wondering what the director would have in the offing, you are in for some ill-placed melodrama, tackily shot sequences. At the risk of sounding too finicky about the technical aspects of the film, I would assert that the entire camera work of Shubh Aarambh seems like a rushed job.  For instance, the night sequences are an eyesore despite those amateur attempts at bokeh shots. The grainy shots are hard to ignore. It might have worked for a realistic docu-film, but surely not in a wedding-based film which ought to have aesthetic appeal. Some colour-correction wouldn’t have hurt. 

The only sincere artists in Shubh Aarambh seem to be Harsh Chhaya and dialogue writer Abhinay Banker. The film’s dialogues, though a tad philosophical for a film of this genre, still make an impact on the audience, especially the ‘communication’ line. One wishes the writer wouldn’t have sprinkled so much poetry in the narrative and practiced some restraint. 

Amit Barot’s Shubh Aarambh is way too verbose for a feature film. It seems as if the director doesn’t believe in the power of visuals. Everything is clearly spelt out in each frame, as to what the character is thinking. Wish the makers could respect the audience’s intelligence and left things subtler.

Speaking of performances, Harsh Chhaya is first-rate. He essays his role of Anupam to perfection and understands the importance of cinematic pauses and uses his eyes (despite the trademark glasses) to his advantage. This gem of an actor surely deserves much more of such meaty characters to portray. The character of Hardik aka ‘Laalo’, too remains unexplored. 

With the bars (No pun intended) for Gujarati films already raised by films like ‘Kevi Rite Jaish’ and the recent ‘Wrong Side Raju’, Shubh Aaram doesn’t take the mantle any further, in spite of a potent germ of an idea. Shubh Aarambh isn’t a good aarambh for Gujarati films this year. 

Andaz Apna Apna is a Prem that will always remain Amar

“Kuud kuud ke chalega!”
Any nineties kid worth his VCR salt will swear by this cult of a film which had to be booked in advance at the video cassette library for renting. It was the time when VCRs were rented over a weekend and families gathered in front of their television sets till the wee hours, just to make the most of the VCR rent and catch up with films that each family member loved. So, if ‘Mother India’ was for the grandpa, ‘Yaadon Ki Baarat’ for parents, then ‘Andaz Apna Apna’ was surely the must-rent movie for the youngsters. 

“Aila!!” “Ooi maa!!”

“Do mastane chale zindagi banaane” croon two good-for-nothing dreamers in ‘Bombay to Goa’ style. One exclaims “Aila!” while the other sighs “Ooi maa!” Both have looted their fathers (Deven Varma and Jagdeep) to ‘invest’ in their ‘careers’ in the tinsel town and both have decided to chart the same ‘Raveena route’ to reach there, hoping for some ‘Karishma’. 

“Do dost ek hi pyale mein chai peeyenge, isse dosti badhti hai.”

After Jai-Veeru, the pair of ‘Amar-Prem’ will always remain etched in our memories, which can be best summed up in the words of Hardik Mehta, a National Award winning filmmaker from Vadodara, who states, “Amar-Prem are as timeless as Tom & Jerry. Recently, I had been to a screening of Andaz Apna Apna in Andheri, Mumbai and was surprised to find that the audience, who must have seen the film multiple times, were still in splits in the auditorium.”

“Galti se mistake ho gaya.”

Despite having a ‘dream cast’ of Aamir Khan and Salman Khan, director Raj Kumar Santoshi had a tough time making the film. The production of this movie was discussed in a conversation between Aamir Khan and Rishi Kapoor in the movie Damini which was released in the year 1993. It took 3 years to make this film, which explains why the haircut of the lead actors keep changing in every scene. There was no bound script, while shooting and most of the scenes were improvised right on the sets, which lent the film an air of spontaneity. 

“Teja main hoon, mark idhar hai!”

Director Raj Kumar Santoshi, with his screenplay doffs his hat to the old school of filmmaking. He even goes a step further by roping in OP Nayyar fan Tushar Bhatia to compose the music. A mainstream Sitarist, Tushar Bhatia came up with gems like ‘Ae lo ji sanam’, ‘Dil kehta hai’ and ‘Yeh raat aur yeh doori’, which blended with the film so well that they can never be placed in any other film. If you listen the song, ‘Yeh raat aur yeh doori’, it would be impossible not to imagine Aamir Khan straining his ears to hear the ‘dholak carrying’ Salman Khan. The dialogues went on to become part of our daily lingo, thanks to the dialogue writer Dilip Shukla. 

“Aaya hoon to kuch leke jaaunga!”

Andaz Apna Apna is replete with inside industry references like “Sholay iske baap ne likhi thi” hinted at Salim Khan being one of the writers of Sholay along with Javed Akhtar, “Wah wah productions” was the production house that Mehmood talked about in the film, ‘Pyar kiye ja’, “Papa kehte hain bada naam karega” song from Aamir Khan’s Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, “Dekha hai pehli baar” from Salman Khan’s ‘Saajan’, “Mogambo ka bhatijaa Gogo” referring to the iconic villain Mogambo from ‘Mr. India’, to the Ajit dialogues done to perfection by his son Shehzad Khan playing the role of the confident and relaxed Bhalla. 

Paresh Rawal, in a double role here, played Teja, who was a typical filmy villain dependent on his henchmen to get things done. The character of Crime Master Gogo played by Shakti Kapoor was also a tribute to the superheroes and villains of Bollywood. Furthermore, even the film’s plot was akin to the ones we used to watch in the comedies of sixties. 

“Haath toh aaya, muhn na laga.”

Released on 11th April 1994, ‘Andaz Apna Apna’, despite being hailed as a cult film today, never made money when it was released, which is reminiscent of the film, ‘Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron’. The distributors weren’t sure whether they were going to get the delivery of the film. Aamir Khan, in his interview reasoned, “I don’t think it got a fair chance back then. It’s only later that people discovered it on TV and realised that it’s very good. It became a cult film on home entertainment.”
 

 

“Writer hamesha writer hota hai…” – Om Puri

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Whenever a celebrity passes away, new fans emerge from nowhere in the cyber sphere, crying a river of status posts and wailing on the ‘vacuum’ they left behind. Agreed, celebrities touch our lives in many ways, so one is bound feel sad, but one can’t go on doing that for every other celebrity. After all, they aren’t going to read the post anyway, unless they have a wifi up there. Having said that, I would like to share an important lesson I learned from the veteran actor, Om Puri.

Almost a decade ago, I had won a national level essay writing contest held by The Indian Express Group and a Mumbai-based NGO. The essay was published in an anthology and I was invited to a function held at Metro Cinema, Mumbai.

Not much used to sitting at the front row in a function, I was constantly looking at the last rows that I was accustomed to. To my utter surprise, I found Om Puri seated right next to me. He smiled courteously and there was an awkward silence between us, as I was too tongue-tied to break the ice.

I noticed his wife (ex-wife now) and son walked in and I got up to let them sit next to him. He stopped me and spoke in his deep baritone, “Koi jarrrurrat nahi hai…” The impact of his voice was such that I didn’t dare to insist and meekly sat next to him. The host handed over the essay anthology to him and he started reading.

The moment he finished reading my ‘prize-winning’ essay, I broke into a cold sweat in the air-conditioned hall and mustered up the courage to tell him that I was the one who wrote it. He raised his eyebrows and shook my hands, saying, “Bahut badhiya likhte ho. Aapne Qur’an padhi hai?”

I almost stammered and said, “Je je Qur’an, Bible, Bhagwad Gita…sab padhi hai…”He seemed impressed and said, “At such young age? Tumhara research aur mehnat dikhaayi deti hai isey padhne se…waise karte kya ho?” I replied, “Sir, I am a copywriter and a small-time writer…aspiring to become author someday…”

He smiled and said, “Bete, ek baat samajh lo, writer kabhi small-time nahi hota, writer hamesha writer hi hota hai. Aur jitna acha tum likhte ho, I am sure tum ek din tum kaafi naam kamaaoge, lekin us waqt agar koi tumhe pooche ke tum kaun ho, to yeh mat kehna ke tum big-time writer ho. Writer hamesha writer hota hai, na chota-mota writer, na bada writer.”

His words are still etched in my memory and shall always remain so. I hope this incident inspires others too.

May his soul rest in peace.

2016: Reeling Back: The Paisa Fizools

A year of sports, a year of feminism. A year of drugs, a year of kisses. A year of low-budget films, a year of 100-crore club. 2016 has been a hell of a ride. TALK gives you a sneak peek into the good and bad side of this year through a 2-part series, ‘The Paisa Wasools’ and ‘The Paisa Fizools’: 

THE PAISA FIZOOLS

1

It’s mushkil to appreciate Ae Dil Hai Mushkil

In this make-believe world of Karan Johar, nobody talks ‘normally’, but only in dialogues, be it Bollywood-themed lines in the first half or the Urdu-strewn lines in the second half. The Rahul-Anjali of Karan Johar refuse to grow up here and the basketball has been replaced with Bollywood. *Fawad Khan flashes and vanishes*  The only person you end up feeling sorry for is Ranbeer Kapoor. Ranbeer is perhaps the only reason you might survive ‘Ae dil hai mushkil’. Else, trust me, Ae dil hai mushkil jhelna yahaan, zara Katti, zara Batti, yeh hai copy meri jaan.

2

Akira suffers from amnesia

A corrupt cop. A hostel thief. A college student. And all these three strands connected to a highway accident thread. Result: An entangled coil of a film with multiple loopholes, which prevent ‘Akira’, directed by AR Murugadoss to be one of the finest films this year. But it’s Anurag Kashyap who steals the show, so much so that the film could have well been christened as ‘Rane’. Think it of as the weed that Anurag Kashyap’s character Rane smokes in his ‘entry wala’ scene, which you could only enjoy while it lasts. Like ‘Rane’ would love to put: Acha hai, lagta hai South ka maal hai…

3

Baaghi is a rebel without pause

He can balance his entire body on two fingers. He can do flying kicks even in his sleep. He can dance like he’s auditioning for ABCD-3 (Hopefully not). But this Pappu can’t act saala. Sabbir Khan’s ‘Baaghi’ showcases every imaginable action that Tiger Shroff can pull off with Bruce Lee’s ease. Shraddha Kapoor is consistently irritating as damsel-in-distress. The antagonist, Sudhir Babu seems promising in this debut and we wish he doesn’t end up being typecast as Prakash Raj. After ‘Heropanti’, this film is Tiger Shroff’s second show-reel, and one just can’t wait to watch his ‘first film’.

4

Mirzyaaawn

Imagine watching a love story in slow motion all through the film, making you wonder why these guys don’t utter a single word. Artistic expression, did you say? So what explains a film on Mirza Sahiban which tells you nothing about Mirza Sahiban? The only good thing about Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s ‘Mirzya’ is the songs, especially Mirzya, Hichki, Ek Nadi thi and of course the visual treat by Polish cinematographer Paweł Dyllus. But then they could have made a music video. Why Mirzyaaawwn?

5

Raman Raghav 2.0 is all sizzle and no steak

What goes into the mind of a criminal when he is about to commit a crime? What does he tell his family while having breakfast before going for the kill? Ram Gopal Varma pondered over such questions and came up with the brilliant Satya. The film’s writer, Anurag Kashyap attempts to explore similar insight with ‘Raman Raghav 2.0’. The only plaint here is there’s no story in farthest sight. For a change, it was the audience who were abusing in an Anurag Kashyap film instead of his characters. 

6

This Fan is beyond repair

Maneesh Sharma’s ‘Fan’, despite all its hype and hoopla, fails to make the audience invest in its superstar’s character. The yawn-inducing screenplay pays no heed to an iota of logic. For instance, why would a superstar not approach the cops when someone has trespassed in his home and damaged his property? Why is the superstar never mobbed by his ‘fans’ while loitering around and chasing his lookalike fan? Nobody realizes that the fan looks like the superstar until the director wants them to. Having said so, one must admit that Shahrukh Khan’s interpretation of Gaurav’s character is spot-on, but it’s the script that fails him. 

7

Wazzzzzir: Khel khel mein…film ban gayi

Beejoy Nambiar’s ‘Wazir’ begins on a high note, promising you the moon and ends up eclipsing your logic and power of reasoning, which are precisely what you need in a game of chess. This one’s a film that thrives completely on the performance of its leading men Amitabh Bachchan and Farhan Akhtar, who pull of a half-baked story and deep-fried plot towards the underwhelming climax – which finally reveals that the joke is on us – the audience.

The other films in this category include Fitoor, Sanam Teri Kasam, Sanam re, Direct Ishq, Jai Gangajal, Laal Rang, Azhar, Buddha in a traffic jam, Te3n, Junooniyat, Madaari, Dishoom, A Flying Jatt, Shivay, Tum Bin 2, and Wajah Ho Tum. Wait, there are far worse films we endured like: Kya Kool Hain Hum 2, Grand Masti, Tera Surroor, Rocky Handsome, Mohen Jo Daro, Fever, Banjo, MSG-2, and Tutak Tutak Tutiya. Phew!! 

Well, let’s hope that our films in 2017 will make more sense. Happy New Year!

2016: Reeling back: The Paisawasools

A year of sports, a year of feminism. A year of drugs, a year of kisses. A year of low-budget films, a year of 100-crore club. 2016 has been a hell of a ride. TALK gives you a sneak peek into the good and bad side of this year through a 2-part series, ‘The Paisa Wasools’ and ‘The Paisa Fizools’: 
THE ‘PAISA WASOOLS’

Dangal is dhaakad!

The Santa of our films is back with a dhobi pachaad to the sports films like Azhar and Freaky Ali we braved through this year. Aamir Khan makes a dhaakad entry by the year-end, with Nitesh Tiwari’s ‘Dangal’. A film generously peppered with Haryanvi, Dangal, like equally brilliant films, ‘MS Dhoni’ and ‘Saala Khadoos’, sets Bollywood’s benchmark of sports film genre notches higher. The sheer hard work of its leads, Aamir Khan as Mahavir Singh Phogat and Fatima Sana Shaikh as Geeta Phogat leaves the audience awestruck and is sure to become a blockbuster. 

2

Enjoy Befikre hokar befikre  

“Mohabbaton ke zamaane guzar gaye janaab, ab chhote mote pyar se hi kaam chalaa leejiye aap,” quoted Shah Rukh Khan in Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna, which sums up the kind of love stories we have been witnessing in our films, of late. While Ae Dil Hai Mushkil revisited its ‘pyaar dosti hai’ cliché and ended up lulling its audience to sleep, Aditya Chopra’s Befikre treads the path of shock value, much to the chagrin of the viewers, who rolled their eyes and wondered – Is this couple for real? Blame it on the ‘mohabbaton ke zamaane guzar gaye janaab’ catastrophe that SRK warned us about. 

3

Kahaani 2 is edgy yet misses the mark by a whisker

Imagine a film’s director doing ‘The butler did it’ kind of spoiler act in his own suspense film. Sujoy Ghosh is the last person you’d ever expect to undo everything he’d been building up in the fantastic first half of Kahaani 2. Kahaani 2, despite its edgy treatment, misses the mark by a whisker, yet keeps you engaged enough with some brilliant performances from its lead as well as character artists and a nuanced screenplay. Well, better luck next time!

4

What the critics didn’t tell you about Rock On 2…

Rock On 2, directed by Shujaat Saudagar is a film which is firmly rooted and is set on an unexplored territory or rather the invisible India of our incredible India – the northeast. Rising above the shadows of Rock On, this film is indeed a brave attempt at narrating a whole new story. Alas, all our ‘intellectual’ critics could notice was Purab Kohli playing drum like a Daffli (Wasn’t it supposed to be a light moment in a wedding song?), Farhan Akhtar’s voice (Doesn’t it lend his character more credibility?), and comparison with Rock On (Both have completely different story approaches). The critics mercilessly wrote off this film or maybe the demonetization is the one to be blamed. 

5

Dear Zindagi is an inner journey you must embark upon

Gauri Shinde’s latest film starring Alia Bhatt and Shahrukh Khan can be best summed up as: Relevant and refreshing. Come to think of it, wouldn’t it be better if we led a simpler life sans high aspirations? The real ‘hero’ of Dear Zindagi is Gauri Shinde, the film’s director. After the brilliant English Vinglish, Dear Zindagi is a befitting reprise of role-reversal. Though not as deep as ‘Goodwill Hunting’, is a film you should watch and recommend to your loved ones.  

6

Pink packs a punch 

Shoojit Sircar’s ‘Pink’, in the words of Amitabh Bachchan, isn’t a film, but a movement. The movement that Big B hints at, isn’t about feminism alone, but questioning the norms. For instance, when one asks a boy whether he is a virgin, there’s always an exclamation mark and when asked to a girl, it’s always a question mark. The day we blur that exclamation mark and stop perceiving losing one’s virginity as a conquest for men and shame for women, films like ‘Pink’ would succeed in its true sense. Films like ‘Pink’ don’t need reviews, but deserve recommendation.

7

Baar Baar Dekho is an engaging hypothesis

It isn’t every day that you get to relive a day. It isn’t every day that you feel like revisiting a film, gleefully bashed by every critic worth his salt, just to figure out what went so wrong that these Fellini worshipers wrote it off. Nitya Mehra’s ‘Baar Baar Dekho’ is a ‘beautiful looking’ film with a ‘beautiful message’ about striking balance in one’s work and personal life. Like the senior professor in the film would like to put it: Balance ke bina koi bhi equation adhoora hota hai. Baar Baar Dekho is a postulate (Assumption a mathematician makes to derive a conclusion) that makes this hypothesis engaging, Baar Baar!.

8

Wrong Side Raju has its heart in the right place

A Gujarati film backed by production houses like Cineman (Abhishek Jain, the director of Kevi Rite Jaish and Bey Yaar) and Phantom Films (Anurag Kashyap, Vikas Behl and Vikramaditya Motwane) was easily one of the reasons people flocked to watch ‘Wrong Side Raju’, right on its first day of release. The real hero of this film is director Mikhil Musale, who makes you forget you are carrying a mobile phone with you. So, fasten your seat-belts folks, ‘Wrong Side Raju’ has just crossed the divider of language and is on his way to win your hearts.

9

Sultan is all set to reign supreme this Eid

In India, the crescent moon of Eid is synonymous with deedar of Salman Khan. Right from Wanted to Sultan, the superstar collects his Eidi at the box office with veteran’s ease. Ali Abbas Zafar’s ‘Sultan’ deserves to be watched only on big screen. After all, it takes a Salman Khan film to blur the lines between multiplex and single screen theatre. The auditorium was abuzz with the audience cheering ‘Sultan’ and ‘Salman’ all through the wrestling scenes (which are too many). Time to offer Salman Khan his Eidi of movie tickets.

10

Udta Punjab is real, raw and rustic experience

There are films and there are experiences. While one is about story, camerawork, editing, screenplay, the other is about smiles, gasps, sighs, awe, tears, and hope. Directed by Abhishek Chaubey, Udta Punjab, right from its first frame to the end credits, is all about experience, which lingers on your mind days after you’ve experienced it. In hindsight, one feels that the filmmakers could have done away with those expletives. The film would have been as real, raw and rustic experience anyway. 

11

Sairat throws caution to the Bollywood winds

Directed by Nagraj Manjule, Sairat, a Marathi film, is indeed a masterpiece of our times. The reason isn’t because of its break-the-stereotypes approach even in a typical done-to-death love story, but because of its sheer brilliance in the way it is narrated. It mirrors our society and its ugly truth that hatred is equally as powerful as love. Despite being popular for its music, it’s the deafening silence at the end of Sairat which will leave you numb even hours after watching it. Director Nagraj Manjule, your film’s blood-stained footprints have left their imprints on our hearts. Love stories will no longer remain the same.

12

Nil Battey Sannata perfects the arithmetic of filmmaking

Ashwini Iyer Tiwari’s Nil Battey Sannata is far from a sob story and inspires you to believe in your dreams. The core message of the film is ingrained within the film and one needs to figure it out – just the way its character, a mathematics geek student would like to put it – mathematics ke sawaal mein hi jawaab chupaa hota hai. Swara Bhaskar morphs herself into Chanda, a house help who also works at dhobi ghaat and sweatshop to raise her teenaged daughter Apeksha. 

13 

Ki & Ka is Kool

Decades ago, Rakesh Roshan, in the movie, Kaamchor did what Arjun Kapoor does in Ki & Ka, the latest offering of R. Balki. The only difference here is Arjun Kapoor isn’t a Kaamchor and strongly believes that homemaker is an artist. One feels richly rewarded by some sincere performances and a wonderful scene of Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bachchan playing themselves, which is indeed the best cameo we’ve ever seen of lately.

14

Kapoor & Sons is a family worth your time

Welcome to the world of Shakun Batra, where plumbers often forgo their charges to ‘cooperate’ with the family fighting tooth and nail for money, where brothers bay for each other’s blood in one scene and taking a drag of a common ciggie in the next. Rajat Kapoor makes his character believable through restrained histrionics that make one root for him, despite knowing he’s perhaps at fault. The perfect family portrait of K3G has finally shattered and the Kapoor & Sons home is as messed up as any other home. The fountains at the porch have thankfully been replaced with bursting pipes. The plumber will surely agree.

15

Aligarh is a poetry in reels

So, do we finally we have a sensible film on homosexuality? Well, hold on your horses, folks! Dubbing Aligarh as a mature film on gay-coming-out-of-closet would be a misnomer. Heck, doing so might mean doing a disservice to the ardent endeavours of director, Hansal Mehta, who has painstakingly driven home his point in his latest 2-hr. offering: You have no right to invade someone’s privacy and deprive them of the basic right to live with dignity. It is the warmth of humanity which is the reason why you must watch Aligarh, a poetry in reels.

16

Neerja is a flight worth your ticket

A film like ‘Neerja’ is a film that can never fail to connect anyone with open eyes and a beating heart. Sonam Kapoor owns every frame she is featured in, right from those badly done Rajesh Khanna mannerisms, to the heart-wrenching climax, Sonam Kapoor nails it to the hilt. If the helpless silences of Yogendra Tiku (Who plays Neerja’s father) move you, Shabana Azmi (Who plays Neerja’s mother) leaves a lasting impact with her compelling speech towards the film’s end. ‘Pushpa, I hate tears’ never made so much sense before. Director Ram Madhvani, take a bow! 

17

Saala Khadoos delivers a knockout performance

‘Saala Khadoos’, directed by Sudha Kongara, does tick the must-haves of a guru-shishya or sports film, but with maturity that knows where the film is ought to head forth – the final round. Madhavan plays the titular role, a failed boxing coach who wears arrogance as a badge. It’s a character with multiple layers and R. Madhavan makes it believable to the hilt. Ritika Singh is undoubtedly set to be reckoned as one of the finest discoveries this year. She exudes raw charm, zeal, anger, frustration, love and determination with the ease of a veteran, despite being her first film. 

18

Natsamrat is a journey to an actor’s soul

Mahesh Manjrekar’s ‘Natsamrat’ cruises through an actor’s mind and enlightens about varied aspects of acting, where an actor need not be ashamed to portray any aspect of human being, be it expletives, sex, nautch girl’s dance, tears or any emotion. It is a film that will compel you to stay till the last name in end credits fades out and while you’re at it, you’d even want to give a standing ovation and bow to the actor, director and the world of performing arts. Now, when was the last time you felt this way in a movie?

The other films in this category include ‘Jugni’, Traffic, Veerappan, Waiting, Tere Bin Laden 2, Airlift, Dhanak, Rustom, Island City, Raaz Reboot, 1920 London, Force 2, Parched, and MS Dhoni.