2005—The Bong's Selection (Part 1)

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.]

25 thoughts on “2005—The Bong's Selection (Part 1)

  1. About Shabd….look, any movie with Zayed Khan in it, can NOT POSSIBLY GET INTO a ranking of good movies. Please cease and desist from this criminal act, else I shall be forced to remix Tagore poems with a Bhangra beat. Do I make myself clear(with the requisite Balle-Balles and Aha-Ahas)? Shabd’s concept was interesting, but the fact that Sanjay Dutt got to bonk Aishwarya Rai in the movie defiled her. Sanjay Dutt for chrissake! MunnaBhai!

    I haven’ seen any of the others, ‘cept Pg 3. Page 3 rocked. Lovely movie.

  2. Of this list, I have seen just Page 3, Shabd and Black Friday. Page 3 was good, but I will definitely join you and hail Black Friday as the VERY BEST movie of 2005 – heck, its one of the very best movies ever!!! Shabd lost its way I guess somewhere for me – it had a very interesting concept though.

    I was simply stumped by Black Friday – not enough good words can be said about it – everything abt the movie was just done brilliantly.

    Eagerly looking forward to the next one – I am sure there will be some which really cannot be missed types hehe!!

    I think I will compile my list in a day or two myself…



  3. @TTG, Yes that is a frightening threat…Main Dardi “Rabi Rabi” Kardi….but I still stand by Shabd. Okay a Pulitzer-prize winning author with tatoos everywhere may be a bit of a stretch….

    @Suyog: Yes Black Friday is one amazing bit of film making…makes me really wanting to watch “Paanch”–Anurag Kashyap’s movie which was never released.

  4. ‘responsibility’ is not a known virtue when it comes to our film-makers, and this is true and even more so when directors try to flaunt ’causes’ in commercial films.
    And then you put a movie like “Tango Charlie” on your best-of-2005 list, one which is blatantly blind to any iota of truth/fact depiction if the ‘situation’ it deals with.. ‘bodo militants’ in jungles of manipur! we know you have no idea nor interest in the conveniently far-off areas of NE India, but then you choose to flaunt us as you fuck us.
    of course, when it’s the question of the moolah, and the much-sought ‘intellectual’, ‘alternate’ tag, then everything goes..

    And you have shown that you don’t know any better. Then just don’t pretend that your eyes are open.

  5. Nayan,

    It is not mandatory for movies to get “things right” factually….thats the difference with a documentary. However if Bodo militants are shown in the jungles of Manipur (a fault no doubt) that still does not detract from the fact that the sequence is extremely well-directed and raw in its appeal.

    The reviews here touch on the aesthetics and not on factuality.

  6. [GreatBong] My list had Dansh, Sehar and Iqbal as the not to be missed movies.

  7. Hi,
    Lakshya was one of the most realsitic army movies ever shot (coming from an Army background, I and many others can vouch for it).

    That you may not like it is your choice, and that is fine.

    Perhaps the reason why you could not see what Lakshya was about, is the same reason why you talk about armymen in Tango Charlie, when it is actually all about the BSF – world of difference between the two.

    Point being that knowing the background, or taking the trouble to know the background make the world of difference in understand a movie.

  8. @GHE: I havent seen Iqbal unfortunately, Dansh is a copy of “Death and the Maiden” and Sehar narrowly missed my top 5—it would def be 6. And the reason besides Mahima Chowdhury’s silly role was again a slack first half. But its redeeming feature was Arshad Warsi’s underplayed performance and a gripping climactic shoot out in the train

    @Anon: I use the word “armyman” in the broadest sense of the term–as representatives of people who fight our enemies. Unfortunately I discern a strain of “class distinction” in your comment as if the Army is somehow vastly different from the BSF whereas both perform a service to the nation which is very closely similar. In the context of appreciating a movie about the “armed forces” and the men who lay down their lives, they are quite equivalent

    And oh I know Armymen (yes true blue ranked officers since you are very conscious of that) who lament the fact that “good war movies” are not made in Bollywood.

  9. Did you see ‘Hazaaron Khwaahishein Aisee”? That, in my opinion, was the best movie of the year. However, I haven’t seen Black Friday.

  10. good list ! tho I think Black and Iqbal are missing there ..


  11. i agree…iqbal and hazaron khahishein aisi would definitely in your first 10 had u seen the films

  12. I guess I am too late to comment on this one. Normally I refrain to voice my opinion where it is unlikely to be heard, but movie fan in me got better off me. This is only about Lakshya.
    I think Lakshya was one of the better movies. And Farhan Akhtar is got the potential. First of all, I don’t think it was a war movie. Like “Skammen”, war was a backdrop (I don’t intend to compare movies or directors). Second, I think it did not what most of hindi movies do, tell a lot. The scene where our guy meets our lady, says a lot without acutally saying a lot.
    Third, I am a product of Sainik School. Trust me IMA shots were as real as they can get. happy blogging

  13. @Sadaf, Silbil, Sahu: Yes I have not seen those two films. And “Black” made my other list.

    @Dinesh: Your opinion is respected. Again a “good war movie” is not marked by whether it showed IMA properly or not or whether it was suitably laudatory to the armed forces but by whether it worked as a movie. I felt “Lakshya” did not work as a movie. I also didnt like “Dil Chahta Hain” (and my wife berates me for that) —so Farhan Akhtar has yet to impress me.

  14. The best Hindi movie of 2005 by far is Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi. Never expect such an intelligent Hindi movie! Hats off to Sudhir Mishra. The characterization is something to be seen.

  15. Must add exhortations to watch Hazaaron. Most finely nuanced film to come out of Bollywood in, oh, centuries. I’m kicking myself for missing Maine Gandhi Ko…

  16. I know, arguement is futile. But once again, IT WAS NOT A WAR MOVIE (pardon my shouting), and it did work as a movie. Since this is a protest not an arguement, don’t bother to respond.

  17. Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi – Watch it. And i am sure you will include it in your top 5. Its depressing that the heroine has decided not to do movies any more.

  18. This post has been removed by the author.

  19. I wonder if you have seen “Hazaron Khwaeishein Aise”. After watching it I could not fathom how Paheli managed to be India’s entry to the Oscars. Its amongst the best Hindi movies I’ve seen so far.

  20. Well me too think that Hazaroon Khwaishein Aisi was one of the best movies to come out of Hindi Film Industry in 2005..For a generation which knows Emergency as just another word, the film is an eyeopener..The performances are excellenet..I was just amazed by the totally effortless performances of Shiney Ahuja and the girl, Chitrangadha(hope i got the name right )..Do watch this movie..

    PS: How did u ppl watch Black Friday..I am yet to see that movie..it is not officially released in India..Love the Soundtrack though

  21. May I ask where did you get a chance to watch Black Friday? I know it has been screened at some film festivals in US. Do you know if a DVD copy is available in US for rental or buying?
    BTW, the producer Arindam Mitra happens to be my husband’s brother-in-law. My husband was lucky enough to attned one of the post-processing sessions of Black Friday. He also watched the pre-release version of the movie in 2004.

    I’m happy to see a fellow Marylander (we live in Greenbelt) at the helms of a fantastic blogspot. Keep it up!


  22. You missed Hazaron Khwaishei Aisi…much much much better then Sabd!

  23. dude.. Iqbal…Hazaron and Sehar def deserve to be in this list.
    Tango Charlie and Shabd SUCKED big time…
    ya ya i may be the “common” movie goer..
    but thats the kinda reviews u do.. n the image u portray rite?!
    so y this suddeen hypocrisy abt liking shabd n tango man..
    they were two blatantly pathetic movies!!

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  25. Kavita Bhabhi May 3, 2009 — 9:53 pm

    Great Bong I cannot understand how could you miss out on Hazaaron Khwashein Aisi?

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