Okay that time of the year. The end of it actually. And all of you must be dying to know the Greatbong’s Hindi movie picks of the year—the best, the worst and the so-bad-its-good-and-so-you-have-to-watch-it. Well even if you aren’t, here they are. Packaged into small capsules for your pleasure.
Good Movies. Seriously I mean it.
5. Page 3: Madhur Bhandarkar exposes the seamy underbelly of the Mumbai glitterati—sex tourism, the casting couch, bitchiness, drug-use, media manipulation and bad acting. Okay not the last one. But you get the picture.
Paisa Wasool: Good low-key acting, a grounded-in-reality plot and an electric ending.
Bheja Fry: Slow to gain momentum in the initial reels.
Not to be missed: David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance“, remixed desi-style with Punjabi punched-in, being danced away to by a girl in a drug joint.
4. Tango Charlie: It may be a sad commentary on Indian “war movies” but Tango Charlie is, in my opinion, a far better war movie than “LOC Kargil” (an iterative loop of songs and tearful farewells) and “Lakshya” (Farhan Akthar should just stay with rich yuppie kids).
Paisa Wasool: The scene in the jungles of the Northeast where the master insurgent (played with undiluted avarice by Kelly Dorji) leaves a soldier dying with his entrails hanging out in the hope that his death throes will attract his fellow armymen to come out of their hidden battle positions. And the camera focusing on one of the armymen– his face drawn into an agonized grimace as his friend lies dying a horrible death a few yards in front of him and he is unable to come out of his hidden position in order to aid him, possibly brings out the horror and dehumanizing effects of war more than the flag-waving jingoism of “LOC Kargil”. A power moment.
Bheja Fry: Tanisha. Enough said.
Not to be missed: Nandana Sen in the cave. Again enough said.
3. Shabd: Falsely marketed as a skin-flick, Shabd is an extremely sensitive, artistic, multi-hued movie about love, control and obsession which was far beyond the maturity level of the average Indian movie-goer. Please see my detailed review here.
Paisa Wasool: Treads territory mainstream Hindi movies dare not go —with the unfortunate effect that most people just don’t get the movie.
Bheja Fry: Zayed Khan and his attempts to copy the Khan. Stop him. Please.
Not to be missed: Aishwarya in a black sari dancing to a Santana-inspired “Sholon Si”. No acting needed. The universe is perfect.
2. Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Mara: Jahnu Barua, the rising star of the “Bollywood alternative” firmament makes his first foray into the mainstream with “Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Mara”– a poetic, often surreal journey into the twilight zone of senescence and loss.
Paisa Wasool: Anupam Kher, one of the greatest (but grossly misused) actors of his generation, gives an Oscar-worthy performance as an aging idealist who is losing touch with reality—-the great actor we lost after “Sharangsh” is back.
Bheja Fry: None.
Not to be missed: A long shot of Anupam Kher sitting crumpled at the foot of Gandhiji’s statue,- a realization of the full power of the celluloid medium to convey emotions without verbiage and explicit drama—a fact Hindi moviemakers fail to realize without exception.
1. Black Friday: Anurag Kashyap’s explosive documentary-like, stark look at the conspiracy behind the Bombay Blasts of 1993 pulls no punches, takes no sides, glorifies nobody and villifies none. Losing neither the larger historic context of the incident nor the personal tragedies of the different protagonists, “Black Friday” is by far 2005’s best Hindi movie.
Paisa Wasool: No love story. No songs. No dreams. Just realism. And mind numbing terror. Because it really happened.
Bheja Fry: None.
Not to be missed: Tiger Memon (Pavan Malhotra)’s rage when he sees that his godown has been burnt to ashes by Hindu rioters while everything around him is untouched—a moment where despite his villainy you realize that he is, like everyone else, a victim of the maelstrom of hatred set into motion by forces far more powerful than he can fathom.
[The worst movies and the so-bad-it-is-good follow in a subsequent post.]