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. 

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