Sukanya Verma picks Bollywood's 10 BEST films, 2013
With the year kick starting on a promising note of impressive releases, I knew 2013 would turn out to be special at the movies.
And it has.
The craze for box office supremacy is getting more ridiculous by the day and formula-driven folk will not stop remaking South Indian potboilers at any rate yet there’s also a growing audience for out-of-the-box, unorthodox and uncompromised cinema.
On that note, it’s time to honour the ones that struck a chord and made a difference with my pick of this year’s 10 Best Films. Again, in no particular order.
P:S: Don’t forget to post your list on the message board below.
There’s an obvious radiance and detailing in the manner director Vikramaditya Motwane creates an ambiance of a bygone era, lingering melancholy and poetic quietude -- most effectively through Sonakshi Sinha’s pensive eyes, perceptive lips and wispy voice.
Equally attractive is the throbbing complexity of a star-crossed relationship that serves as a fine build-up till Lootera decides to resemble O Henry’s short story (The Last Leaf) and stir the viewer with its final grand gesture.
Image: Ranveer Singh and Sonakshi Sinha in Lootera
Few films feel as intimate as The Lunchbox. That middle-class space, its inhabitants, the crowds, the day-to-day sights are reassuringly recognisable but what this instant classic and its glorious institutions achieve is priceless.
Director Ritesh Batra delivers a slice of life while celebrating the fast pace and friendly spirit of Mumbai with unmistakable ardour. Its sweet charm is those familiar seeming faces hiding two lonely souls (Irrfan Khan and Nimrat Kaur) who forge an easy, beautiful bond over hand-written notes and flavoursome food.
Image: Irrfan Khan in The Lunchbox
Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola
Gulabo, gaalis, Mao, Meena Kumari -- Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola is as cheeky as they come.
Vishal Bhardwaj’s whimsical satire strives to make an anti-capitalistic statement concealed in a madcap set-up of exaggerated reactions and mercurial bonhomie.
The zany joyride is most memorable for its surreal imagery, quirky wit, capricious temperament and an unfailing Pankaj Kapur in yet another career-best avatar.
Image: Imran Khan and Pankaj Kapur in Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola
Kai Po Che!
Abhishek Kapoor picks Chetan Bhagat’s average book and turns it into a rousing tale of friendship against the backdrop of three real-life events directly impacting three friends.
The effortless chemistry between the boys (Sushant Singh Rajput, Amit Sadh and Rajkummar Rao), Kapoor’s taut script and deft treatment ensures Kai Po Che! is a soaring experience from start to finish.
Neeraj Pandey transports us back to the late 1980s in his refreshing take on the traditional crooks and cops story.
Its snappy pace, crisp screenplay and spontaneous humour along with some rollicking face-offs between Akshay Kumar and Manoj Bajpayee, at equal footing is what underscores the ‘Special’ in the movie’s title.
Now if only AK would do more of these instead of Rowdy Rathore, Boss and ilk.
Image: Akshay Kumar in Special 26
Ship of Theseus
Like I stated in my appraisal of Anand Gandhi’s breathtaking, Ship of Theseus it “explores the profound stretch between philosophy and science, temporary and infinite, part and whole to address the irony and duplexity of identity, ideology and ethics through the famous Theseus’s paradox” with the help of three individuals and their unique journey.
Films like SOT are not an every Friday occurrence. But then, neither are its breathtaking vision or lyrical findings.
Image: A scene from Ship of Theseus
Bombay Talkies, a creative collaboration between four directors with distinct personal style and thought process made to commemorate Hindi cinema on its 100th birthday, has its rewarding moments.
There’s varying degree of joy to be found in the short films executed by Zoya Akhtar, Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee and Karan Johar addressing the presence and influence of movies in Mumbai’s intrinsic character.
Karan Johar scores for getting out of his comfort zone, Zoya gets points for sensitivity while Kashyap could have gone easy on the reverence. But it’s Dibakar Banerjee’s segment that feels like a true ‘tribute’ with his masterful retelling of Satyajit Ray’s short story -- Patol Babu, Film Star featuring an enchanting emu, splendid Sadashiv Amrapurkar and an inspiring Nawazuddin Siddiqui.
Image: Nawazuddin Siddique in Bombay Talkies
Films about justice or real-life characters tend to go overboard in garnering sympathetic reaction resulting in synthetic idealism.
That’s where Hansal Mehta’s Shahid stands apart. His meticulously penned script makes its point without needless glamorisation of courtroom proceedings and arguments.
Shahid says it like it is -- without fear or bias to present a gritty picture of a lawyer and human rights activist (played by a persuasive Rajkummar Rao) through his intense experiences and ceaseless dedication.
Image: Rajkummar Rao in Shahid
Shuddh Desi Romance
Underneath the gloss and effervescence, Shuddh Desi Romance is a rom-com with a lot on its mind.
Maneesh Sharma explores modern-day relationships and their changing priorities through a bunch of radical individuals using humour, innovation and audacity. Not only is Shuddh Desi Romance set in your usual urban space but it portrays a nonconformist outlook, by Bollywood standards, in a tone so matter-of-fact, the upshot is more than welcome.
Image: Sushant Singh Rajput and Parineeti Chopra in Shuddh Desi Romance
Madras Cafe turned out to be quite a pleasant surprise.
Though lacking on some fronts, Shoojit Sircar keeps things fast-paced and interesting to fashion a neatly spread out, gorgeously shot political thriller that cleverly marries fact with fiction.
John Abraham is no Irrfan Khan, but aided by a solid ensemble cast, fiery script and some genuine moments of anxiety and action, makes sure Madras Cafe is a step in the right direction.
Image: John Abraham in Madras Cafe