The Year In Review – Hindi Cinema (2012)

2012 was (by its usual standards) a very good year for Hindi cinema. Yes, we saw the usual masala films hitting the 100 cr mark, but we did see other cinema receive recognition too, and not just from critics, but audiences as well. Here we try to lay down our 5 favourite Hindi movies of 2012, scenes, songs and what you should be looking forward to in 2013.

Favourite films (in reverse order)

5. Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu

Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu

Finally, an Indian rom-com that did not make me cringe. Bonus points for the end.

4. Paan Singh Tomar

Paan Singh Tomar

An extraordinary (real-life) story told very well. And Irrfan, one of our best actors.

3. Barfi!

Barfi!

May have lifted scenes but its sum was greater than its parts.

2. Supermen of Malegaon

Supermen of Malegaon

Okay, I cheated. This is a documentary. But you’ll laugh, and laugh, and ponder, and laugh again while watching the people from Malegaon creating their famous parodies. The whole film is available online here.

1. Talaash

Talaash

The film got a lot of stick for the twist, and it was promoted wrongly too – as a thriller. But watch the film knowing it’s about grief, and perhaps even knowing the twist, and this film turns out to be something else. My Hindi film for this year.

Before we move on to my favourite songs of the year, the composer of the year goes to Amit Trivedi (Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu, Ishaqzaade, English Vinglish, Aiyya, Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana as well as Trishna and the best episode in Coke Studio India Season 2). Runner up: Sneha Khanwalkar for Gangs of Wasseypur.

Might I add the best background score in a movie this year was by Abhishek Ray and Sandeep Chowta for Paan Singh Tomar.

Favourite Hindi songs (in reverse order)

6. Auntyji (Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu)

Composer: Amit Trivedi; Lyricist: Amitabh Bhattacharya; Singer: Ash King

5. Ala Barfi! (Barfi!)

Composer: Pritam; Lyricist: Swanand Kirkire; Singer: Mohit Chauhan

4. Laakh Duniya Kahe (Talaash)

Composer: Ram Sampath; Lyricist: Javed Akhtar; Singer: Ram Sampath

3. Jiya Ho Bihar Ke Lala (Gangs of Wasseypur)

Composer: Sneha Khanwalkar; Lyricist: Varun Grover; Singer: Manoj Tiwari

2. Motorwada (Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana)

Composer: Amit Trivedi; Lyricist: Shelley; Singers: Tochi Raina, Amit Trivedi

1. Aafaton Ke Parinde (Ishaqzaade)

Composer: Amit Trivedi; Lyricist: Kausar Munir; Singers: Suraj Jagan, Divya Kumar

Favourite scenes of 2012 (in reverse order)

Have tried to provide clips as much as possible.

6. The Dinner Table sequence (Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu)

One of the best written scenes of the film (and the year).

5. “I love gandagi.” (Supermen of Malegaon)

One of the writers of the film Malegaon ka Superman comes up with a classy entry with a fitting monologue for the Lex Luthor-esque villain of the film – Ding Dong Ding – who is the owner of a tobacco company and loves filth.

4. The Bengali and Punjabi parents visit each others’ homes. (Vicky Donor)

Our cultural biases can be a lot of fun, especially when shown in such a hilarious manner. What Chetan Bhagat tried to show in one entire book called Two States was shown here in two smartly-written, short scenes. Here’s a (very) short clipping.

3. “Parmissan” (Gangs of Wasseypur)

Hands down, the most hilarious scene this year!

2. The Underwater Sequence (Talaash)

Beautiful cinematography aside, (and avoiding spoilers), this scene was just surreal.

1. Raabta (Agent Vinod)

Not a good film, not a bad film. But was it technically sound! For instance, this one take shot for the song Raabta.

Films to look ahead to in 2013 – In no particular order.

1. Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola

Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola

Director: Vishal Bhardwaj; Actors: Imran Khan, Pankaj Kapur, Anushka Sharma

2. Lootera

Lootera

Director: Vikramaditya Motwane; Actors: Ranveer Singh, Sonakshi Sinha

3. David

David

Director: Bejoy Nambiar; Actors: Vikram, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Vinay Virmani, Tabu, Lara Dutta, Isha Sharvani

4. Kai Po Che!

Kai Po Che!

Director: Abhishek Kapoor; Actors: Sushant Singh Rajput, Rajkumar Yadav, Amit Sadh

5. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag

Director: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra; Actors: Farhan Akhtar, Sonam Kapoor

6. Ghanchakkar

Director: Rajkumar Gupta; Actors: Emraan Hashmi, Vidya Balan

7. Dhoom 3 (in IMAX)

Director: Vijay Krishna Acharya; Actors: Aamir Khan, Abhishek Bachchan, Uday Chopra, Jackie Shroff, Katrina Kaif

8. Gunday

Gunday

Director: Ali Abbas Zafar; Actors: Priyanka Chopra, Ranveer Singh, Arjun Kapoor, Irrfan Khan

9. Chennai Express

Chennai Express

Director: Rohit Shetty; Actors: Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone

10. Peekay

Director: Rajkumar Hirani; Actors: Aamir Khan, Anushka Sharma

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Talk The Night Away

‎Stories are meant to be simple no matter what bells and whistles they come with.

The film is in black & white, it uses a split screen technique and is a talkie. But even with all these “bells and whistles”, director Sudhish Kamath‘s Good Night | Good Morning has a simple story behind it.

This indie offering in English revolves around Turiya (Manu Narayan) and Moira (Seema Rehmani) who spend an entire New Year’s night talking to each other on the phone. What’s so unique about that? They’re strangers who met each other just for a minute or two at a pub. In that span of a few hours, both of them relive their life, especially their relationships, going through the motions of one themselves, turning over a new leaf at the end.

For a talkie film to work, it is imperative that the writing has to be strong, which is what Shilpa Rathnam and Kamath’s writing does achieve. The dialogues involve quite a bit of innuendo, but also a lot of heart-talk. And the best part is it seems natural; it does not seem acted, and that’s a huge plus. The language is simple youth-speak laced with a lot of pop cultural references. There’s Cameron Crowe (whom Kamath describes as “the single-most significant cinematic influence” in his life), Before Sunrise (which this film shares the template with) and Kuch Kuch Hota Hain, which is given a 21st century twist. The two protagonists are well-sketched, with Moira’s character being the stronger one and one of the better female characters I’ve seen in recent times.

Manu Narayan as Turiya charms you with his innocence. He acts out his naive character well. But it is Seema Rehmani as Moira who steals the show. Someone give this woman some more roles please! She makes you laugh, she makes you cry, she seduces you, and more. Turiya’s friends have a minimal role, but Vasanth Santosham as Hussain and renowned film critic Raja Sen as the druggie J.C. punctuate the conversation with their friendly banter.

This is director Kamath’s second indie film (after That Four-Letter Word) and he sure has a penchant for making scenes memorable. The scene where a younger and much geeky Turiya tries to hook up with a girl online will leave you in splits. The flashback which reveals Moira’s past is also moving, helped by the fact that it is set to a wonderful instrumental rendition of Silent Night.

With regards to the adornments, the split screen works fine; it doesn’t distract as the writing truly works. The few scenes in colour were unnecessary, the black & white works its old-world magic well enough. The jazz music utilised throughout the film adds to the charm.

And yet, all is not hunky-dory. The editing could have been smoother, especially when Kamath intersperses Moira’s scenes with that of the sea. The sound editing and mixing could have been better too. In the second half of the film, one could heard slight feedback when the characters would speak.

And yet, it is a well-made film. Because of the good writing and smart performances, it should be lauded. Rarely does cinema of such kind (and quality) come out of India.

Towards the end, there is a scene wherein Turiya plays and sings along to Presley’s Pocketful Of Rainbows on his car stereo with his friends Hussain and J.C. joining in. During this moment of boisterousness, the camera lingers on Moira, the Moira who has rediscovered how to be happy, how to have fun, as she jumps on her bed, moving to the song and eventually pitching in at the chorus.

The conversation has been had | new memories have been made | Let them weather this storm with a pocketful of rainbows | before, into the darkness, they fade.

P.S.: I happened to see an alternate end to the film too. More than an alternate end, I’d say it is an extension of where the film actually ended and would have been the icing on the cake had it been added as a post-credits scene.

Written by Runcil Rebello.

My Musical Discoveries of 2011

Personally, 2011 has been a disappointing year for me with respect to the music. I have reached the end listening to a lot of new stuff, but my ‘favourites’ list is mostly still the same as that from the end of 2010. Of course, there are a few additions, but they are not necessarily from the year 2011. May of the songs which I can now add to my ‘favourites’ list are old ones. But there were a few great musical pieces from this year too, (key word: few) which I will outline here.

From the year 2011:

1. Alex Turner’s soundtrack for the film Submarine – I don’t like Arctic Monkey‘s music. It just never hit me at the start, neither did it grow on me. It was, hence, a surprise when I watched Submarine and liked the music so much. He uses minimal instrumentation in creating a 6-track soundtrack which I know should get recognition, but which I know will not. Standout tracks include Stuck On A Puzzle (featured below), Glass In The Park. Actually, everything. (P.S.: Watch the film too.)

2. Red Hot Chili PeppersI’m With You – Come on! Knowing that I am a RHCP fan, did you guess this album wouldn’t be on this list? I know it wasn’t as strong as By The Way or Stadium Arcadium; I know Frusciante’s riffs were sorely missed. But the Chilis, with this album, finally grew into a unit where I could see an equal contribution from all. Chad Smith never sounded better on the drums, Flea was in immaculate form with his bass, Kiedis’ vocals took a turn for the better (and his songwriting too, for that matter), and new guitarist Klinghoffer isn’t as bad as everyone makes him out to be. Listen to the songs clearly, that guy has great potential. Standout tracks: Brendan’s Death Song (featured below), Did I Let You Know, Factory Of Faith, Police Station & Even You, Brutus?

3. Rihanna – Now I’m not much into Rihanna’s music. I liked Umbrella and Russian Roulette, and I can listen to the others, but that’s about it. This year, she appeared in two songs I liked. The first is her own We Found Love in which she had some help from Calvin Harris in creating a lovely dance number. The second song is one in which she’s featured: Coldplay’s Princess Of China (featured below). Most Coldplay fans hated the song; they hated their new album too. But I think Princess Of China was a nice little experimentation by Coldplay that went right; Rihanna’s vocals were the cherry on the cake.
P.S.: Coldplay’s Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall is a nice song too.

4. The Dewarists – When Indian music is finally on the world map majorly in a few years (and it isn’t far away), 2011 will be seen as a turning point for us. MTV put the music back in their channel name with Indian versions of famous shows like Unplugged, Coke Studio and Roots. But it was The Dewarists that took everyone by storm. From featuring famous international artists to well-known Indian ones and lesser known ones too, The Dewarists managed to cover so many genres. Rock, hip-hop, dance, electro, Bollywood; you name it, they had it. Standout tracks included Papon and Rabbi’s Khule Da Rabb (featured below), Zeb & Haniya, Swanand Kirkire & Shantanu Moitra’s Kya Khayaal Hain, Midival Punditz & Humble The Poet featuring Monica Dogra’s No I.D. Required.

5. Adele – Frankly Rolling In The Deep is a 2010 song, and I really think her earlier song Chasing Pavements is better than Someone Like You.

6. Hindi Film music – Amit Trivedi really is the reliable Hindi film composer. His work for No One Killed Jessica and in I AM (featured below: Baangur from I Am) stood out. Shaitan and Delhi Belly ran through genres and gave us some eclectic music. Rahman in Rockstar showed us why he’s the best in town. But other than these, there was hardly anything to rejoice about.

7. Others – A few other brilliant tracks that I heard. The DecemberistsDown By The Water, I4U & U4Me and This Is Why We Fight, Fleet FoxesHelplessness Blues, Bombay Bicycle Club‘s Shuffle and Lights Out, Words Gone, Pentagram‘s Lovedrug Climbdown (lovely video too), PJ Harvey’s The Words That Maketh Murder, Middle Brother‘s Someday, Typhoon‘s The Honest Truth.

Three songs that make it to my favourites playlist from years before 2011 are:

1. OasisLive Forever – If I had to make a list called ‘Songs I Wish I’d Written’, this song would top. Such a happy, hopeful, carefree song.

“We’ll see things they’ll never see. You and I are gonna live forever.”

2. Porcupine Tree‘s Lazarus – The piano, the piano…

3. The RomanticsWhat I Like About You – Suggested to me by good friend (and fellow blogger) Shubhra Rishi, this short 3 minute jive number is something I couldn’t stop listening to for days. This song deserves to be on Goan weddings’ list for the Jive Session. Bonus: The drummer is the lead singer.

4. The DecemberistsOceanside – There are certain songs that come along once in a while that just transport you to another place. A place from where you do not want to come back. I found that solace in this song. Thank you Vismitha Katyayani.

So this was my list. Tell us what did you enjoy and discover this year. And here’s to a wonderful 2012 in music.

Written by Runcil Rebello.