Hindi Films of 2011: A Short Guide: Part II
Love, Breakup, Zindagi: Two minor stars who aren’t shinning anymore, Zayed Khan and Diya Mirza, come together to rescue each other’s careers, set up a production company and make a movie, casting themselves in the leads, of course. What was missing from the beginning was the spark. The stars are still dim. Zindagi (life) isn’t always fair.
Mausam: The name still reminds you of Bhupinder Singh’s haunting ‘dil dhoonta hai’, and Sharmila Tagore’s brazen prostitute act in Gulzar’s classic. This current “season” of acclaimed actor Pankaj Kapur’s directorial debut wasn’t all that pleasant. I cannot say it was a bad film. It was beautifully photographed, and son Shahid worked hard, and the tale tried to tell about the country’s recent history than just an inane love story. But, the cocktail wasn't potent enough. Perhaps, the problem was with our expectations. We wanted greater things from this seasoned talent.
Memories in March: Another film which polarised audiences. A friend of mine adored the soundtrack. I hated it, not the music per se, but how the music was used to exploit emotions. It’s a "gay" melodrama we are not ready for, yet. Rituporno Ghosh’s lover act doesn’t help the case either. A brave attempt. I am sure scholars will write papers on this in years to come, and discuss representation of homosexuality on silver screen.
Mere Brother Ki Dulhan: If 2011 was the year of female stars, Katrina Kaif proved that she is a real thing, and she’s here to stay, her accent, and poor acting skills notwithstanding. A formula film from the Yash Raj factory becomes a showcase for Kaif’s star charisma. That itself is commendable.
Mod: From 'Dor' to 'Mod', Nagesh Kukunoor returns after his debacle in Bangkok with this love story. You’d especially appreciate it if you are a fan of Ayesha Takia.
Murder 2: Murder (1) was 'Unfaithful'. With Murder 2, the Bhatts come closer home, and decides to rip the Korean thriller ‘The Chaser.’ Full marks for the choice of inspiration. It's a well-made film and one of my favourites. The execution? Now, that’s a million dollar question. However, you got to give it to Emraan Hashmi, this guy can survive anything. Look at him. He survives this second murder, and, with ‘The Dirty Picture’ finally proves himself to be a reliable actor.
No One Killed Jessica: Not just Hollywood, now, even we can make movies on current affairs and make them entertaining too (and not preachy, childish like a lot of other films, e.g. ‘Khap’). Rani Mukherji’s bad girl persona helped.
Patiala House: After a series of flops, Akshay Kumar is back in business. Fine. But, it was Anushka Sharma who took another step to stardom with this film.
Pyar Ka Panchnama: The film was like an sms joke, nobody talks about it, but everyone likes reading one, and then perhaps forwarding it. Boys will be boys, political correctness be damned.
Ra.One: Another ‘Ravan’, another debacle. But King Khan cannot sink. You only wish our heroes would find their stories. They seem to forget that they cannot survive and flourish without the story. But, the film gave the middle class Indian family a chance to enjoy a blockbuster in 3D, if you consider this an achievement.
Ready: Salman Khan. Dhiga chika, dhiga chika...
Rockstar: Ranbir Kapoor arrives. From a star in making, he’s finally a star. What you care more about, however, is the return of A R Rahman to his former glory, and the virtuosity of Mohit Chauhan. It’s a long journey from Silk Route to Rockstar, but a glorious one.
Saheb, Biwi Aur Gangster: In India, we don’t have the concept of indie (independent) cinema. If it were, this would be the best indie film produced in India in 2011. It's surprising why Tigmanshu Dhulia (‘Haasil’, ‘Charas’) hasn’t entered the big league yet. Though the title alludes to the Guru Dutt classic, the film is a study of power and corruption, accentuated by the performance of all the three leads, Jimmy Shergill, Mahie Gill, and Randeep Hooda, who, for a change, plays a criminal than a policeman.
Sahi Dhandhe Galat Bande: Do you remember a 1980s movie called ‘Kala Dhanda Gorey Log’? Anyway, this one is a failed actor’s last shot at glory, produced by his out-of-work actress wife. You really don’t expect great things from this film and this is the reason it works. Directed by Pravin Dabas (‘Monsoon Wedding’, ‘Khosla Ka Ghosla’), and also starring him, this one is low-fi ‘Delhi Belly’ and any other crime-gone-wrong comedies. Not bad.
Shabri: In a year of strong woman-orientated films, this one was perhaps less talked about, and mind you, it’s not the fault of the film. Isha Koppikar belts out a de-glam and convincing performance of a Mumbai slum woman who turns to crime as a means of survival. The film, which had been in making for several years, suffered from bad marketing, and the lack of a salable star.
Shagird: The second Tigmanshu Dhulia film of the year, starring Nana Patekar as a north Indian cop. This is should be the reason enough. Hangover of ‘Ab Tak Chappan’?
Shaitan: A young film, if that’s a category. Lots of visual flourishes, and a script which bites more than it can chew. The end result is not without merit. Debutant director Bejoy Nambiar arrives.
Shor in the City: An anthology film, which isn't quite. A slice-of-life film which isn't quite. A Mumbai film, which isn't quite. Yet, it is this ubiquitous presence of Mumbai that lifts this tale of several odd-ball characters trying to find their destiny — a foreign-return businessman, an aspiring cricketer, and a pirate of pirated books, and a bag ful of smuggled weapons to boot.
Singham: Ajay Devgn does a Salman Khan; it’s a tough act to follow, and Devgn succeeds to varying degrees. It’s another matter if anyone would remember this Rohit Shetty blockbuster in the years to come!
Soundtrack: Do you really want to “see” a film called ‘Soundtrack’? Or would you rather listen to it. The soundtrack of ‘Soundtrack’ isn’t great, but the film benefits from Rajeev Khandelwal’s mature performance of a musician who gets everything and loses everything, and learns his lesson.
Stanley Ka Dabba: After his fallout with Aamir Khan during the making of ‘Taare Zaameen Par’, and after donning the villain’s hat in ‘Kaminey’, Amol Gupte finally directs his own children’s film, with his son Partho in the lead. It’s not as serious as the Aamir Khan venture, but the performances of Partho and his friends make it an interesting watch.
Tanu Weds Manu: A South Indian hero and a North Indian heroine. If this isn't a recipe for success, then nothing is. However, it’s the supporting cast, led by very talented Deepak Dobriyal that makes this troublesome wedding a success.
Tell Me O Khuda: Hema Malini returns to direct a film with the express wish to resurrect the dying career of her daughter, and effectively kills it, this time beyond hope. Tragic really. More tragic than her choice to remake her first film, ‘Dil Achchna Hai’, this time with three fathers.
That Girl in Yellow Boots: A Bollywood art film from Anurag Kashyap, shows the director’s command over the medium, and his talent for telling off the beaten track narrative, greatly helped by the virtuoso performance of Kalki as the girl from England looking for her father in the seedy underbelly of Mumbai, ably supported by Naseeruddin Shah. (There something to Shah’s cinematic output in the recent years, especially in 2011, where he appeared in several movies with strong female leads, and gave marvellous performances.
The Dirty Picture: Just two words. Vidya Balan. The most talked about picture of the year, and deservedly so, despite the director chickening out at the last moment to make it a really subversive feminist text. Balan is phenomenal. A star is re-born.
Turning 30!!!: Gul Panag gives a terrific performance in a pseudo-feminist tale peppered with ageism. 'Sex and the City' in Bollywood? Not quite.
Yamla Pagla Deewana: The Deol home video following the success of ‘Apne’. Not without charm if you are a fan of Dharmendra or one of his two sons.
Yeh Saali Zindagi: Sudhir Mishra, and Mumbai together, gritty, if unfocussed. What actually went wrong? Go figure!
Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara: Joya Akhtar lives up to expectations and gives us a Bollywood version of a road movie, which looks wonderful, so wonderful that you forget that movies also need to tell a story. A star-studded vacation. If you always wanted to travel to Spain and could not afford it, this film will give you a chance to live your dreams.
End of Part II