And the OSCAR goes to…

Best Picture Oscar Nominees 2013
Pic: The Academy and Gallery1988

Here are my Oscar predictions made on the eve of the biggest entertainment show in the World along with the winners updated after the ceremony… For most categories, I listed who I thought will win and who was more deserving in my opinion. I did not include documentaries and short films in my original predictions (winners are updated now) as I have not seen them except Paperman – nominee, favourite and eventual winner in the Short Film (animated) category.

Let’s see how many predictions came true, how many favourites won and how many upset wins ruined the leading nominees’ evening…

Best Picture

Will win: Argo, unless the Academy voters do not want to own up to the mistake they made by not nominating Ben Affleck for Best Director

Should win: Zero Dark Thirty, but there is too much negative (and unnecessary) buzz around the film

Upset potential: Lincoln – a good film, but not the best (drags too much). However, it is tailor-made for the Oscars… the Academy loves biopics and add the element of patriotism to it… oh, and there is the Spielberg factor!

What about the others: The Academy seems to love Life of Pi but it’s more like Hugo – too many nominations, too little love in the main categories except the technical ones. Silver Linings Playbook is really a romantic comedy and the Academy rarely rewards rom-coms with the top prize. Django Unchained is a serious contender for Original Screenplay, not for Best Picture. Amour should be happy with an assured win in the Foreign Film category. Beasts of the Southern Wild… other nominees are asking this question – “where did this come from? How many people have seen this film?”

Who actually won: Argo. Hoorah!

Direction

Will win: I do not want to name him but I have no choice, Steven Spielberg for Lincoln

Should win: Ben Affleck for Argo or Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty; but I’m in denial, these

two are not even nominated

Upset potential: Michael Haneke for Amour, though I want Ang Lee to be the one for Life of Pi

Slim chances but Affleck’s votes may go there: David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook

Good intentions but seriously, who? Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild

Who actually wonAng Lee. Not as predicted but as I hoped. Respect.

Actor in a Leading Role

Will win: Daniel Day Lewis for Lincoln – the safest bet and he was very good in the film

Should win: Daniel Day Lewis (since John Hawkes is not even nominated for The Sessions)

Upset potential: Hugh Jackman for Les Misérables – who doesn’t like a singing Wolverine?

Upset delight: Denzel Washington for Flight… his win calls for a round of Tequila shots!

Academy is too snooty to vote for you but if you win, it will be the Sandra Bullock moment once again: Bradley Cooper for Silver Linings Playbook

You killed your own chances: Joaquin Phoenix for The Master. You don’t call the Oscar season bullshit while the voting is on.

Who actually won: Daniel Day Lewis

Actress in a Leading Role

Will win: Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty… for all the negativity around the film, her performance has been unanimously appreciated

Should win: Jessica Chastain or Jennifer Lawrence, though the latter can wait for the next time

Upset potential: Emmanuelle Riva for Amour, if the Academy shows extra love because of her age. Naomi Watts for The Impossible – it was a film designed to make you cry but Watts’ suffering in the film does not match up to Maya’s (Jessica) determination or Tiffany’s (Jennifer) craziness.

Not possible: Quvenzhané Wallis for Beasts of the Southern Wild… she has too difficult a name to be pronounced by any presenter for a live telecast. On a serious note, she is sweet in the film but I was surprised with her nomination.

Who actually won: Jennifer Lawrence. She was in my deserving list but this one belonged to Jessica Chastain really. 

Actor in a Supporting Role

Will win: Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln

Should win: Tommy Lee Jones or Philip Seymour Hoffman for The Master or Robert De Niro for Silver Linings Playbook… all are so good!

Upset potential: Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained

Why was he nominated again? Alan Arkin for Argo

Who actually wonChristoph Waltz. What was I thinking?

Actress in a Supporting Role

Will win: Anne Hathaway for Les Misérables because life killed the dream she dreamed as Fantine

Should win: Anne Hathaway or Helen Hunt for The Sessions (but hers was really a lead role)

Upset potential: Sally Field for Lincoln if the Spielberg love rules the evening

Did we forget she’s in the running? Amy Adams for The Master

Why was she nominated again? Jacki Weaver for Silver Linings Playbook

Who actually won: Anne Hathaway. It came true.

Adapted Screenplay

Will win: Lincoln or Argo

Should win: Life of Pi, this book was once considered un-filmable!

Upset potential: Silver Linings Playbook

Who actually won: Chris Terrio for Argo

Original Screenplay

Will win: Django Unchained

Should win: Zero Dark Thirty or Moonrise Kingdom

Upset potential: Amour

Who actually won: Quentin Tarantino for Django Unchained

Animated Film

Will win: Wreck It Ralph

Should win: Wreck It Ralph

May have a chance: Frankenweenie

Major upset: Brave

Who actually wonBrave. The most undeserving winner. It is not about the animation only but how the whole film was! Brave is one of the dullest films from the Disney stable. I have a theory here… Disney really pushed for Brave and got what they wanted. It makes business sense as they are trying to establish Merida among the other much loved Disney princesses – Snow White, Cinderella, Ariel, etc. Just go to any Disney store or Disney Land and you’ll see how much they are pushing Brave and most merchandise is on sale. After the Oscar win, I think Merida has a second chance. Sorry Ralph, she stole your Oscar.

Foreign Film

Will win: Amour (Austria)

Should win: Amour

Upset potential: I have not yet seen Kon-Tiki (Norway), War Witch (Canada) and No (Chile) but Amour seems to be the favourite. A Royal Affair (Denmark) is good but not better than Amour

Who actually won: Amour

Film Editing

Will win: Argo

Should win: Argo

Upset potential: any other film will be an upset if Argo doesn’t win

Who actually wonArgo

Cinematography

Will win: Life of Pi

Should win: Life of Pi or Moonrise Kingdom, which is sadly not nominated

Upset potential: Lincoln

Who actually wonClaudio Miranda for Life of Pi

Original Score

Will win: Mychael Danna for Life of Pi

Should win: Mychael Danna for Life of Pi

Upset potential: Lincoln

Who actually wonMychael Danna for Life of Pi

Original Song

Will win: “Skyfall” from Skyfall (Music and Lyric by Adele and Paul Epworth)

Should win: “Skyfall” from Skyfall

Upset potential: “Suddenly” from Les Misérables as a consolation prize (Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg; Lyric by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil)

Who actually won: “Skyfall” from Skyfall (Music and Lyric by Adele and Paul Epworth)

Visual Effects

Will win: Life of Pi

Should win: Life of Pi

Major upset:  any other film

Who actually won: Life of Pi

Costume Design

Will win: Anna Karenina

Who actually wonAnna Karenina

Makeup/Hairstyling

Will winLes Misérables

Who actually wonLes Misérables

Production Design

Will win: Anna Karenina or Life of Pi

Who actually wonLincoln. Did the voters even watch Anna Karenina?

Sound Mixing

Will win: Les Misérables

Who actually wonLes Misérables

Sound Editing

Will winZero Dark Thirty

 

Who actually won: Zero Dark Thirty and Skyfall (a tie)

Other winners (not predicted in this post earlier):

Animated Short Film: Paperman

Live Action Short Film: Curfew

Documentary Short Subject: Innocente

Documentary Feature: Searching for Sugar Man

Out of 20 predictions, I got 15 right. Happy about getting the Best Director prediction wrong and pleased with the Best Actress too (Lawrence was in my “should win” bracket along with Chastain). I under-estimated Christoph Waltz’s potential win (his nomination was in my upset category); I should have seen the signs! Regarding Brave’s win over Wreck It Ralph and Lincoln over Anna Karenina for Production Design, I stick with my picks and think the Academy voters failed the deserving winners. 

Post updated: February 25, 2013

 

Best of Bollywood in 2012

I know I am late but there is never a wrong time to discuss films… here is my list of the best of Hindi cinema in 2012. It was an average year for Bollywood with most big films ending up as major disappointments but there were some innovative films that put script, great acting and technical talent in focus. From Sneha Khanwalkar to Juhi Chaturvedi to Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Bollywood had a lot to cheer in 2012 along with some embarrassing films churned out by major stars and filmmakers. So, here it is… My Bollywood Top 10 from 2012, in this order:

Parma and Zoya’s violent love story

10. Ishaqzaade: When are we ever tired of the Romeo-Juliet saga? This one is set in a trigger-happy small town in Northern India and director, Habib Faisal gets the small-town details right. Parineeti Chopra and Arjun Kapoor are confident new-comers who make the same old doomed lovers’ story refreshing and entertaining. Yes, there is too much violence and sexist remarks in the film but a lot of it is reality. Shalmali Kholgade sings “Main Pareshaan” beautifully and Amit Trivedi’s album has some more good tracks. Gauhar Khan is another highlight of the film (she needs a bigger, meatier role now). Read my full review here.

A refreshing rom-com

9. Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu: I have often complained about Bollywood not getting it right with romantic comedies but I was pleasantly surprised with Shakun Batra’s Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu. It is a refreshingly different rom-com from Bollywood standards and I quite enjoyed it. Boy meets girl, boy marries girl, boy falls in love but… that’s where the writer wins by redefining what happens in a Bolly romance. Kareena Kapoor is a good actor when she wants to be and in this one she did well but I was surprised by Imran Khan who was not his usual lost self here by playing a lost guy. Read my full review here.

A better study of grief than a suspense thriller

8. Talaash: With all its flaws, Talaash is an interesting film for Indian cinema. There is an interesting plot and an unexpected ending from Bollywood standards. While the whole thriller bit did not work for me, the film tackles the emotions of grief and guilt very well. Aamir Khan and Rani Mukerji are brilliant as grieving parents and director, Reema Kagti presents their story sensitively. Kareena Kapoor and Nawazuddin Siddiqui make the film even more interesting despite a different yet disappointing climax. Read my full review here.

A taut political thriller with great performances

7. Shanghai: Since Prakash Jha stopped making good political films, I had given up hope on the genre but Dibakar Banerjee brought us Shanghai. It is a brave film that exposes the murky politics, scams and crimes that take place in the name of development. We can be proud of all the progress we have made as a country but at what cost? Emraan Hashmi and Abhay Deol have winning roles, with an excellent supporting cast. Read my full review here.

Cheeky, bold and fun

6. Vicky Donor: This one clearly belongs to the writer, Juhi Chaturvedi. Who would have thought that Bollywood will deliver a crowd-pleasing entertainer about a sperm donor? Director, Shoojit Sircar gave us a light-hearted comedy with two promising new actors – Ayushmann Khurana and Yami Gautam. The best scene in the film: Vicky’s mother, Dolly (Dolly Ahluwalia) and grand-mother, Biji (Kamlesh Gill) enjoying whiskey and discussing the disappointments in their lives, including each other. Despite a dull ending, it is one of the most enjoyable films Bollywood has produced in the recent times. Read my full review here.

Smile, you’re designed to do so

5. Barfi!: Leave all the plagiarism debates and enjoy the sweetness in this film. Yes, there are scenes that remind you of Charlie Chaplin films or the more recent The Notebook, but it is a different film that will bring out the child in you. Director, Anurag Basu creates a special mood with the film that takes you back in time when life was simpler, childhood meant chasing fireflies and playing with soap bubbles. Ranbir Kapoor once again proves why he is the ultimate combination of an actor and a star; Priyanka Chopra and Ileana D’Cruz also do not disappoint and what lovely music by Pritam… Read my full review here.

Sridevi’s on-screen triumph after 16-years

4. English Vinglish: What a beautiful film and what a wonderful come back for 80s and 90s reigning diva, Sridevi. Gauri Shinde made a brilliant directorial debut with this sensitive film that hits the bulls-eye on most parameters. A regular Indian housewife whose kids make fun of her broken English decides to learn the language in Manhattan of all the places! A refreshing new concept and the simple narration make the film enjoyable and make you aware of all the times you have not valued your parents. Sridevi makes it look so easy on screen after a long hiatus and you want to see more of her. It is definitely the heart-warming film of the year from Bollywood.

This is Irrfan Khan, not the one in The Amazing Spiderman

3. Paan Singh Tomar: An army man, an athlete, a father, a husband, a dacoit… Director, Tigmanshu Dhulia tells us everything about Paan Singh Tomar’s life and his relationships in this brilliantly made biographical film. Irrfan Khan is first rate in this compelling real life drama. It is a tragic film that does not glorify the lead character but portrays him as a regular man with needs, desires and hopes like everyone else.

And that’s how you make a thriller

2. Kahaani: You don’t need to blow up cars and have complicated stunts to make a good thriller. You can make it with a heavily pregnant woman as the lead character. Director, Sujoy Ghosh hit gold with this Vidya Balan starrer that presents Kolkata as one of the lead characters. Nawazuddin Siddiqui delivers a powerful performance and Saswata Chatterjee’s Bob Biswas, an LIC agent who is also a contract killer, is probably one of the best written characters in recent times. Read my full review here.

Hunter, Womaniya, Perpendicular and Tangent… superb writing wins

1. Gangs of Wasseypur 1 & 2: Over five hours of violent revenge drama with a lot of style and humour… Director, Anurag Kashyap’s Tarantino style pair of films not only entertained but brought to light a number of talented actors and technicians. From Richa Chaddha to Huma Qureshi and of course the brilliant, Nawazzudin Siddiqui, GoW made stars of these actors. Sneha Khanwalkar’s music combined folk, Bollywood and even Chutney music from the Caribbean to deliver a fantastic album. We re-discovered the talent powerhouse called, Manoj Bajpai and the acting prowess of filmmaker, Tigmanshu Dhulia. The real winners however are the writers, Zeishan Quadri, Akhilesh, Sachin Ladia and Kashyap himself, who wrote the films without any inhibitions. Read my full reviews here and here.

Disappointments of the Year

While these are my favourite films of 2012, I was disappointed by biggies like Jab Tak Hai Jaan, Agent Vinod, Agneepath, Cocktail and Dabangg 2. I never expected much from films like Rowdy Rathore, Student of the Year, Housefull 2 and Heroine but they managed to go further below my expectations. Thankfully, I did not watch films like Players, Raaz 3D, Jism 2, Bhoot Returns, Khiladi 786, Tezz and Chakravyuh among others… I understand and relate to your pain if you have watched any of these films and so do the folks at the third annual Ghanta Awards. Vote for the worst film and other categories for the Ghantas here and watch the show live/online on February 15, 2013.

Nolan made me a Batman fan

The Dark Knight Rises on July 20th

Pic source: Wikipedia

I enjoyed watching the 1960s’ American TV series, ‘Batman’ but was never really a fan of the character. The earlier film versions, directed by Tim Burton  (Batman, Batman Returns) and Joel Schumacher (Batman Forever, Batman & Robin) also did not really impress as they seemed to be stuck somewhere between the comic books and live action film making. Nothing seemed real in those films and most of them were laughable… in my opinion, they were neither suitable for kids nor for adults. Batman for me was Hollywood at its worst.

However, ace director, Christopher Nolan changed that with his version of Batman films. His 2005 film, Batman Begins revisited the character and told his story again but the tone was different – it was darker, serious and grown up. Christian Bale became Bruce Wayne and made us empathise with the character; he became Batman and we were in awe. Nolan’s reboot infused life in the franchise and I found myself interested in the series again. Then came The Dark Knight in 2008, which was not only the finest Batman film till date but also amongst the finest thrillers / superhero films made by Hollywood. While Bale was impressive as Batman again, the film’s real star was Heath Ledger who played the villain – Joker. Ledger who died months before the film’s release showed how menacing a character can get and how good an actor can be. With a stellar screenplay (Christopher & Jonathan Nolan), superb background score by Hans Zimmer and fantastic action sequences, The Dark Knight was gripping from start to finish. This was a film that did not allow you to look away from the screen for a minute or talk to the person next to you. It was Nolan’s magic that brought Batman to life again and made me a fan!

And now, we are only a few days away from the final installment of Nolan’s Batman trilogy. The Dark Knight Rises is possibly the most anticipated film of this year and pre-booking in theatres started months before the release date. Everyone I know is excited about the film and fan-boys are counting each hour before they get to see Batman take on Bane, a terrorist who wants to destroy the Gotham city. Here are the top reasons I am excited about the final chapter in the trilogy (in no particular order):

Tom Hardy as Bane: There could not have been a better actor to play the villain who breaks Batman’s back. Why? Have you seen Tom in his earlier film, Warrior? He is not only physically suited to play the character but also can act well. He may not make us forget Heath Ledger’s Joker but am sure will make us remember his Bane.

Anne Hathaway as Catwoman: I hope she makes us forget Halle Berry and Michelle Pfeiffer’s outings as Catwoman. Hathaway of Princess Diaries and Bride Wars is an interesting choice and I am curious to see how she handles the character, especially when she is supposed to be Bane’s associate. She has got extensive focus in the film’s promos and even an exclusive trailer for the Catwoman character; I am sure we’d be surprised by Ms. Hathaway in this film.

Joseph Gordon Levitt and Marion Cotillard: I simply love these two actors and it seems Nolan loves them too; they were there in his Inception and they are there in The Dark Knight Rises now. They are both new characters and I am really looking forward to what Nolan has done with these two great performers.

Hans Zimmer’s music: This man is a magician and his pairing with Nolan is simply brilliant. In India, it’s like A R Rahman and Mani Ratnam together.

Christopher Nolan: Do I need to say anything else?

Oh, and I haven’t forgotten Christan Bale but have got used to him as Batman. He is an actor par excellence and that is the bare minimum one expects from him now. I am sure he will deliver once again…

July 20 is when The Dark Knight Rises.

Viewing recommendation:

Watch it on IMAX screen if there’s one in your city. Folks in the UK can enjoy the film at Odeon which has more IMAX screens in the country than any other cinema chain. For more information on ticket and viewing options check the The Dark Knight Rises at Odeon web page. In India, Nolan fans in Mumbai should only go for BIG Cinemas’ IMAX in Wadala as the rest is a waste. Cine-goers in Delhi will have to do without IMAX but look for a theatre with good sound (I am told that the best Dolby sound system is in place at PVR and DT cinemas in Ambience Mall, Gurgaon & Vasant Kunj; Promenade in Vasant Kunj; Select Citywalk and DLF Place in Saket).

BollyBad 2011

Celebrating the worst of Bollywood

Mausam; Source: Wikipedia

Like every year, this year too I went into the theatre, weekend after weekend hoping to watch a good, enjoyable, Hindi film… Sadly, 2011 turned out to be amongst the worst years for Bollywood in the recent times. Not that the films didn’t make money, they did and in fact there were a record number of 100-crore earning blockbusters; but quality wise we got mediocrity at best. The high points of my movie watching experience were more to do with the food at the concession stand rather than spectacular cinema! Since I paid a lot to watch crappy cinema, let me get my money’s worth and celebrate the worst of Bollywood in 2011. Please note that I have not considered many films that no one cared to watch (except Anna Vetticad as part of her New Year resolution to watch all Hindi films in 2011) and may have missed out some delightful performances and gems there.

Zayed & Fardeen Honorary Award for Worst Performance (Male)

The nominees are:

  • Bobby Deol for his elementary school student like act in Yamla Pagla Deewana
  • John Abraham for his negligible acting in a blue negligee in 7 Khoon Maaf
  • Hrithik Roshan for his overacting in the otherwise wonderful, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (check out the scene where he does a video conference with his Japanese client)
  • Prateik in Aarakshan… he forgot that he was in a film and not in a road side nautanki; such indifference!

And the winners are Sanjay Dutt and Ajay Devgn for RascalsKaancha Cheena and Bajirao Singham are better roles for them… I don’t understand, why they keep insisting on inflicting comic-pain on us? Tell Me O Kkhuda why?

Rascals; Source: Wikipedia

Mallika & Celina Honorary Award for Worst Performance (Female)

The nominees are:

  • Kangana Ranaut for going beyond her ‘You Beshterd’ signature line and giving us ‘Kwahterr Baawttle Vhodkha’ in Tanu Weds Manu
  • Asin for Ready… she’s still looking for her comic timing
  • Minissha Lamba for Bheja Fry 2; not her fault entirely as each character in this film was super irritating
  • Deepika Padukone for Aarakshan; so much Hindi and the role of a girl next door… this was too much to ask for

And the winner is Nargis Fakhri for Rockstar. Her spectacularly poor performance ensured that no one cared for her character in the film. She has the talent to give competition to Kangana, Katrina and Deepika all together in the poor dialogue delivery department.

Nargis Fakhri; Source: nargisfakhri.net

Kunderji’s Tees Maar Khan Award for the Worst Film-maker

The nominees are:

  • Samir Karnik for Yamla Pagla Deewana because the audience is not Tinku Jiya
  • Madhur Bhandarkar for Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji because even the child hearted did not like the film
  • Nikhil Advani for Patiala House and we are still surprised how he gets his films financed
  • Sagar Ballary for his insufferable Bheja Fry 2 because you don’t get lucky twice
  • Abhinay Deo for Game because film making is not children’s game
  • Anees Bazmee for Ready, a film so bad that the audience gave up and laughed along; he also made something called Thank You but no one watched it, so it’s ok
  • Pankaj Kapoor for Mausam, the epic bore story
  • Anubhav Sinha for ruining the big budget spectacle, Ra.One

And the award goes to Prakash Jha for Aarakshan, a film with a very interesting ensemble cast but very poor writing and performances. Jha is a film maker who once made hard hitting films that made us think; but Aarakshan was a lazy attempt to make big bucks at the box office by using the Raajneeti template.

Aarakshan; Source: Wikipedia

While these were the big winners, I have chosen some more deserving stars and films that made 2011 a forgettable cinematic year…

Wren & Martin’s Bad Punctuation Award to Gul Panag starrer, Turning 30!!! They thought that each punctuation mark represents a decade! We’d also like to felicitate Shahid Kapoor in this category for abusing exclamation marks, question marks and ellipses on Twitter. He also wins the Bad Spelling Award for misspelling ‘girl gang’ (for those not aware, Mr. Kapoor replaced the second ‘g’ in gang with ‘d’ in one of his tweets).

Mrs. Marino Hair Softener presents Bad Hair Day Award: The award goes to Shah Rukh Khan for his curly hair wig in Ra.One. He also wins the Itch Guard award for touching his (and Arjun Rampal’s) crotch in the film.

Realism in Cinema Award goes to Ragini MMS for showing a Maharashtrian ghost with subtitles on screen.

Khan Ke Aage Jeet Nahi Hai Bravery Award is jointly shared by Hema Malini and Himesh Reshammiya for releasing their films Tell Me O Kkhuda and Damadamm with Shah Rukh Khan’s Ra.One.

Tell Me O kkhuda; Source: Wikipedia

Uday Chopra Award for Never Give Up Spirit goes to Mimoh aka Mahakshay Chakraborty for making a comeback with Haunted 3D after the debacle of Jimmy. I am sure he will have a few more come backs and so will Jackky Bhagnani

Brain Tonic Song of the Year Award: we have a tie here also but the award goes to the same film… Damadamm’s ‘no toucheeing, no keesing’ and ‘I love you like mango’

Damadamm; Source: Wikipedia

Spielberg & Cameron Award for Best (Worst) Use of Technology in Indian Cinema: This year has been excellent in terms of technology for Hindi films… movies released in 3D and millions were spent on sophisticated special effects; but the most innovative and WTF use of technology award goes to the remote controlled killer helicopter in Bodyguard.

Dunno Y… Na Jaane Kyon Honourary Mention for Most Innovative Film Titles:

  • Impatient Vivek
  • Love U… Mr. Kalakaar!
  • Bbuddhah… Hoga Terra Baap
  • Mummy Punjabi

Love U Mr Kalakaar; Source: Wikipedia

Kaayam Churan & Hindware Bath Fittings honour Dum Maaro Dum for thoughtful lyrics about bowel movement and an equal society… ‘Oonche se ooncha banda, potty pe baithe nanga’ (even the richest guys sit naked on the potty)

Kiye Karaaye Pe Paani Award for undoing all the good work, goes to the team of Ladies vs Ricky Bahl for ruining the memories of the fantastic, Band Baaja Baaraat. Another recipient of this award is Chitrangada Singh for her performance in Desi Boyz, making us forget Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi.

Naam Bade Aur Darshan Chhote Award for the most hyped yet disappointing film of the year: Shah Rukh Khan for Ra.One

Lifestyle Achievement Award, urging the recipient to spare the viewers… Govinda for Naughty @ 40

This was my list of the worst of 2011 in Bollywood and hope we have a better 2012…

– Shrey Khetarpal

PS: This article is the author’s expression of the suffering inflicted by poorly made films and filmmakers on paying audience. Should you disagree, please ignore it as a random rant; if you agree, do share your views and spread the word by clicking any of the share buttons below…

Aao Award Award Khelein

Cinematic Excellence vs. Popularity – The Big Debate

Dabangg - 2010's biggest entertainer

Filmfare Awards, Star Screen Awards, Zee Cine Awards, IIFA, Stardust Awards, Apsara Awards, National Awards and many more awards are there to celebrate excellence in Hindi cinema today. However, the big question here is whether these awards actually salute excellence or reflect the popularity of the year’s blockbusters in competition. The credibility of these awards is a different matter altogether; actors and filmmakers have often accused organizers of playing favourites, selling trophies and pleasing the powerful. These days, new categories are introduced to please some stars and sponsors, all in the name of encouraging talent and public voting! Leaving aside the credibility issue, the biggest question any awards ceremony needs to address is what they stand for; are they going to felicitate the biggest hit or a technically superior film that may not have set the box office on fire.

Udaan - 2010's finest Hindi film

One school of thought is purely merit based, where big and small films compete on the same platform and the same judgment parameters apply to all. Public voting system may not work well here as whenever you try to go mass, the stars’ emotional connect and popular appeal may take over. The only possible solution is having a qualified jury based judging process like our National Awards and the Star Screen Awards; though there are always questions on the jury’s decisions. Internationally also the most prestigious awards are jury based, like the Oscars, which have a much more complicated judging process and a much larger jury. These merit based awards help smaller, well-made films gain recognition and some more business. In fact, success at Oscars have helped some small films reach blockbuster status; case in point, Slumdog Millionaire. The flipside to this process is that many popular films are overlooked and the fans are left disappointed. At last year’s Oscars, James Cameron’s magnum opus, Avatar was beaten by a much smaller film, The Hurt Locker for the Best Picture trophy. The masses who had loved Avatar had not even heard of The Hurt Locker and many had complained of it being boring. This year the same thing happened at the Star Screen Awards where the year’s biggest hit, Dabangg did not find a nomination in the Best Film shortlist and a lesser seen but much superior film, Udaan won the big prize.

Click here to read full post that appeared on http://www.nowrunning.com

Declaration: The author of this article has grown up watching film awards and has almost always enjoyed them. He wakes up at odd hours to catch the Oscars and stays up late to watch the star-studded Bolly film awards that come with never ending commercial breaks. In the last few years, he has been disappointed with the state of Hindi film awards but has not lost faith. He is also part of the TwiFi Awards’ Film Buff Jury.

To know more about the TwiFi Awards, follow them on www.twitter.com/Twi_Fi_Awards or www.facebook.com/TwiFiAwards

To know more about the Ghantas, log on to www.theghantas.com or follow them on www.twitter.com/theghantas


The Genius of Vishal Bhardwaj

He is a composer, a playback singer, a writer, a producer and a director; he excels in all these fields and is amongst the finest filmmakers in the country today.

He has directed five brilliant films and his sixth one, 7 Khoon Maaf is already creating a lot of excitement in the filmy circles. He is Vishal Bhardwaj who has made delightful children’s films like Makdee and The Blue Umbrella and films that delve into the dark human emotions such as Maqbool, Omkara and Kaminey.

His adaptations of Shakespeare and Ruskin Bond have opened doors for more literary adaptations in the Hindi film industry. His musical compositions mean different sounds, unusual playback combinations and haunting melodies. The genius of Vishal Bhardwaj has not yet been fully discovered by the Indian film industry and something tells me that soon the whole world will sit and take notice of this brilliant filmmaker.

Here’s a look at his directorial ventures that have helped redefine Bollywood in the last decade…

Click here to read my full post that appeared on nowrunning.com on January 23.

Bollywood Wishlist

 

Expectations from the Hindi Film Industry in the next decade

Tabu in The Namesake

A lot has changed in Bollywood in the last decade and most of it for good. While bad films continued to pour in like a plague, there were many innovations and experiments that took the ‘industry’ to the next level…

Good writing finally gained the importance it deserves; casting started happening according to the characters and not based on the star power, and of course the technical improvements; Bollywood flicks covered a lot of ground in the last ten years. Specifically in 2010, the industry woke up to the power of small films that shadowed the biggies and hope this trend continues where content is the king. However, with so many improvements, there are still some irritants that we can do without.

Here’s my wish-list for Bollywood in the next decade:

Better roles for better actors: There are many good actors but a lot of times they do not get the right roles to play due to silly factors like star camps, favoritism and the actors’ own choices. Case in point Rani Mukherji, a supremely talented actress who did not get any powerful roles post 2005 when she was seen in Black, Bunty aur Babli and Paheli. Hopefully No One Killed Jessica works for her and she gets better films than the Hadippas andChunari Ka Daags of the world.

Similarly for Amitabh Bachchan, it is time that he only takes up quality work and avoids films like Teen Patti, Aladinand God Tussi Great Ho. Another fine actress, Tabu deserves better roles; her performances in Maqbool, Cheeni Kum and Chandni Bar were outstanding and with The Namesake, she garnered international acclaim. She has been signed on by none other than Ang Lee for his ambitious 3D project, Life of Pi; let’s hope that Bollywood also wakes up again to her talent.

Click here to read full post that appeared on nowrunning.com on January 3.

 

Celebrating the Duds

 

The worst of Bollywood in 2010

Pic: Tees Maar Khan

Every year Bollywood churns out hundreds of movies and hundreds of them flop; only a handful of them get acceptance and are lauded by the viewers, and even fewer by the critics. Sometimes even the bad ones work at the box-office and nobody has any explanation for that, except maybe Sajid Khan as he manages to do that every time with his films (Heyy Babyy, Housefull). While the good ones will get felicitated at the multiple award ceremonies (the eternal optimist in me still believes in them a little bit); the bad ones are forgotten except by the financier or the distributor. This article is dedicated to the worst of Bollywood in 2010. Nobody really wants to make bad films or do bad work but maybe the filmmakers and actors learn something from these disasters.

Declaration: This column is the author’s expression of the pains he suffered by watching poorly made films, badly enacted scenes and other forms of torture deployed by the Bollywood-wallahs this year. The author payed through his nose to watch these films at expensive multiplexes and thinks that it is his right to give back. Should you disagree, please read no further; if you agree, do share your views on the worst of Bollywood in 2010.

RGV Ki Aag Memorial Award for the Worst Film: and the nominees based on the author’s personal views and a quick and dirty survey, are:

  • Anees Bazmee’s No Problem – Because the audience cannot be ‘Welcomed’ in ‘No Entry’ again and again
  • Farah Khan’s Tees Maar Khan – Because Khan Khan hota hai aur Kumar Kumar
  • Mani Ratnam’s Raavan – Because we had great expectations, Sir
  • Anurag Basu’s Kites – Because the controversy around the lead pair was more interesting than the film itself
  • Leena Yadav’s Teen Patti – Because you shouldn’t try to make desi ‘21’
  • Ken Ghosh’s Chance Pe Dance – Because the dancing was so bad
  • Sajid Khan’s Housefull – Because in reality Mr. Khan it is NOT your Titanic and you can NEVER make Avatar (Sajid Khan had compared Housefull to Titanic and promised Avatar on Komal Nahta’s show on ETC Channel)
  • Priyadarshan’s Aakrosh – Because if you can’t get it right then should leave Prakash Jha to make such cinema

And the award goes to Farah Khan for Tees Maar Khan. Recognition for ‘borrowing’ the story-line of an old, Italian flick (After the Fox, 1966) and ruining it with jokes that are not funny and scenes that are just randomly put together. However, I must mention the only good thing in the film – Katrina’s item song, ‘Sheila Ki Jawani’.

Click here to read full post that originally appeared on nowrunning.com

 

Bollywood’s Animal Heroes

 

And their outstanding contribution to Indian Cinema

Pic: Rajshri Productions

Bollywood’s Animal Heroes… No, I am not talking about Sanjeev Kumar from Jaani Dushman or Rahul Roy in Junoon or a shirtless Anil Kapoor; I am talking about real animals who outshone their films’ leading actors in their award-winning performances. Sadly, no award categories exist for these actors par excellence and their contribution to their films’ success went largely un-rewarded. This article is a tribute to some of the best performances by animals in leading roles.

This actor is probably the only one on this list who got the recognition he deserved. His likes became the most popular pets in the middle class and upper middle class Punjabi households. Naming one’s pet after him was like a status symbol and he literally started the trend of pet-styling in India. He is none other than India’s most popular dog actor, Tuffy the Pomeranian from Sooraj Barjatya’s 1994 blockbuster, Hum Aapke Hain Koun, also starring Madhuri Dixit and Salman Khan in supporting roles. Tuffy was not only a pet in the film but the lead character; he dressed well in fancy Nermés scarves and Golce & Dabbana sunglasses and had elaborate dance sequences picturised around him. His emotional scene where he refuses food after his mother figure, Pooja (Renuka Shahane) dies was restrained and showcased mastery over his craft. His big moment in the film is the climax where Lord Krishna himself blesses him to resolve the big crisis. Tuffy saves the day by getting two lovers together and making the film one of the biggest blockbusters in the history of Indian cinema.

Click here to read full post that originally appeared on nowrunning.com

 

Small Films, Big Impact

 

Low budget films worked where star studded mega-budget ventures failed in 2010

Tere Bin Laden; Source: Wikipedia

Every year there are mega-budget Bollywood films that shatter existing box office records but unfortunately there are only a handful of them; for every blockbuster like Dabangg, there is a mega-dud like Kites also.

Then there are big commercial hits that are so bad that their success can only be termed as embarrassing. As usual, this year also had a mix of such films, more debacles than successes in terms of the content or the box office performance. However, this year, we saw a number of small budget films where the content was the ultimate winner and they performed decently well commercially also; keeping in mind their low production costs and revenues through theatrical run and satellite rights.

It would be right to say that 2010 belongs to these well made gems that delivered on the promise of good cinema.

Topping my list is director, Vikramaditya Motwane’’s debut film Udaan. Click here to read full post on nowrunning.com where the article originally appeared on December 5, 2010.