By: Subhash K. Jha, IndiaFM
Thursday, December 28, 2006
This year I felt I was a child in a toy store. The goodies from never-never land rolled out in heartening splendour. To pick out my favourites during a year dotted with dynamic delights isn't an easy task. But here goes.
Rang De Basanti
From Sholay's Basanti to Rang De Basanti... Mainstream Hindi cinema took a U-turn this year. In the tradition of Guru Dutt's Pyasa and Mahesh Bhatt's Saraansh, RDB went way beyond a movie experience. It questioned the quality of contemporary life.
Corruption ceased to be cool. What qualified as full-on cool was the editing, music and performing profile. Every actor seemed to forget the camera. A year after its release the colours of RDB refuse to grown dim.
Deepa Mehta's elegiac look at a widow's ashram on the banks of a quietly non-judgemental river, just swept me away in its bridled wave of emotions. Here's a filmmaker that feels deeply and expresses tightly. And to make John Abraham and Lisa Ray look convincing in white muslin was no joke. Wonder how Deepa managed what Ravi Chopra couldn't in Baabul...make widow rehabilitation look like a matter of the conscience.
Nagesh Kukunoor's story of two young women's search for one destination, had a devastating echoic effect underlining its acutely sensitive canvas. The locations were so real you could stand on that mound of boulders where the Rajasthani child-girl Ayesha Takia stood to mobile-connect with her long-distance husband, and get a view into the very heart of the universe. A film that lingers long after its playing time.
Lage Raho... Rajubhai. Raj Kumar Hirani pulled out all stops to give us a film that made us feel-good about life. Gandhigiri has become a catch phrase all over the country. Though at the end of the year I did feel Gandhiji himself would have had a good laugh over this magnificent merchandising of the Mahatma.
The dark horse of the year, with a sublime performance by debutante Kangana Ranaut. Sodden, scarred and scared she ripped the screen apart with her searing presence. Anurag Basu's original screenplay hinted at fears and insecurities of the human heart that his mentor Mahesh Bhatt used to specialize in.
Khosla Ka Ghosla
The biggest surprises come in the smallest packages. This was the sunshine film of the year about a Delhi denizen and his family getting together to fight a land shark. Superbly plotted with lines that flowed with the inevitability of a tube of toothpaste, this comedy was like Raj Khosla's Do Raaste gone zany. This was one Ghosla Raj Khosla would've happily inhabited.
Saif Ali Khan as the newest avatar of Shakespeare's Iago was the epitome of evil... so mean, so wicked and conniving he brought boorishness into vogue. If Shakespeare were alive to see the new interpretation of his tragedy he'd have probably smiled at the liberties with his text. God knows, Vishal's characters didn't give us much to smile about.
Simple elegant soft and supple Vivah brought back a feeling we had long abandoned in our quest for the Machiavellian world of Omkara. To be simple is very difficult. Quite simply, Sooraj Barjatya pulled off that difficult job.
Jagmohan Mundhra's well-crafted film on domestic violence gave Aishwarya Rai a chance get into the skin of a real-life abused wife in London who finally has the guts to get up and say, 'I don't.'
Pyar Ke Side Effects
Who would've thought there would be chemistry between Mallika Sherawat and Rahul Bose? But the two whooped it up in this sex comedy as though they were made for each other. Urban couples identified completely with the angst of a commitment-phobic man and his anxious girlfriend. And talking to a certain intimate part of the male anatomy became an acceptable part of human behaviour.
Kabhi Alvidaa Na Kehna
Karan Johar explored the anatomy of urban marriages, with an aplomb that insouciantly belied his candy-floss image. As a filmmaker Karan crept coolly out of his nut-shell into a knot-shell. The wedding planner in Karan went in and out of a quartet of lives. Two couples criss-crossed into one another's lives with terrible consequences. Eye-catching cast in dark often ugly confrontations...handled with dignity.
Madhur Bhandarkar's sharp exploration of the corporate world was done with well-researched confidence. The ensemble cast from Bipasha Basu to Sammir Dattani lent a feverish flavour to the proceedings. Though not as engaging or path-breaking as Bhandarkar's Chandni Bar or Page 3, Corporate had a sustained breathlessness in its narration.
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