Where are the good films?

Somehow I have not been able to pull myself and watch a Hindi movie for couple of months now. No matter how much I convince myself, I cannot imagine watching a hero telling a heroine, “Hola! I have done enough ‘achhi baat’ with you, but gear up babe because now I will do ‘gandi baat’ to you.” Or sitting there in the theater waiting for change of ‘mastii’ camera angles that just don’t come out of the woman’s cleavage. Or a hero that manages to clip his fingers into his belt and shake his booty, pout to the camera with his sunglasses intact and sing songs of his own ‘dabangg’ bravado – all when the villain is looking for him right there like a blind fool.

How movies that I would only term as crass and regressive make 100, 200 and 500 crores is something I just cannot fathom. At one level it is deeply saddening for me and at another deeply interesting. Saddening of course because it tells me that superpower or no superpower, inside we are still feudal, backward and downright dumb. Interesting because what makes people enjoy such mindless, demeaning and shoddy spectacles after paying so much money – is anybody’s guess. The success of these films is based on the collection at the domestic box office and overseas market, and that in turn glorifies their mass appeal. Most films which were panned by the film reviewers went on to become the biggest hits at the box office. I am no critics’ lover because some of them are on their own ego trips, but almost all the movies that made 100 crores were downright disgusting for me.

In the last few years, inane, mindless and masala movies have repeatedly hit the 100-crore club which only strengthens the fact that the average movie-goer enjoys the regular entertainment that expects you to leave your brain at home and just swallow the colorful cheap thrills that the director is serving on screen. I do, at some level, buy the theory that movies are meant to take you away from your regular routine and make you forget your worries for 3 hours, but using that an excuse to create content that is insulting to any section of people or that is promoting wrong messages, is totally bewildering for me. Moreover, movie goers are using these 100-crore statistics to decide the quality of the films, which makes me suspicious that a lot of these numbers are fudged.

This is why I have taken to watching more and more English movies of late. I am not a Hollywood lover who says all their movies are classy gems, but most of them focus on content and not senseless bravado and formula. Again this does not say that there are not good movies being made in India. In Bollywood itself, there have been some stunning movies that have raised the bar for quality and content in Hindi filmmaking. These movies have helped the audience disconnect from day-to-day worries, entertained them wholesomely and at the same time offered fares that have been of a great enriching quality. Critics or media seem to call them ‘off-beat’ or ‘real’ cinema. They want to bracket them away from the so-called ‘mainstream’ cinema perhaps because they don’t tend to the similar formula-driven storylines and are not as expensively marketed like the others. But at the end of the day what matters is that these movies have the courage to think-outside-the-box and not take the audience for granted. Here are some of my top picks among movies that may be classified as ‘off-beat’ but which connected with me and left me thinking (in my order of preference):

The lunchbox (2013)

"The Lunchbox" stuns you and eaves you speechless. It is a simple and delightful story of love between two most unlikely characters. Their loves matures slowly, one letter at a time. For a few days after watching the film, I was amazed at the talented filmmakers that actually existed in India waiting to be discovered! The fact that such a sensitive and brilliant film had come out of India also made me very proud.

Debutant Director, Ritesh Batra, who has also penned the script writing, is so talented that I am eagerly waiting for his next film. He is extremely subtle with emotions and weaves the movie with so many meanings and layers that at some times you smile unknowingly and at other times you tear up.

The performances by the 3 leading actors, Irrfan Khan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Nimrat Kaur are undoubtedly the biggest highlight of this film. All three of them are marvelous at their craft and surely memorable. Newcomer Nimrat Kaur stands out for her intelligent performance and holds fabulously against the other two gifted actors really well.

Paan Singh Tomar (2010)

Next to idols of Amitabh Bacchhan and Ranikanth, there should tiny idols of Tigmanshu Dhulia and Irrfan Khan. One after the other, both of them have given the Indian film industry such sparkling and intelligent films. “Paan Singh Tomar” is their collaboration that is touching, poignant and simply wonderful. I cried a lot after watching this film because I felt so helpless about the corruption and nepotism in our country.

The movie is based on a true story, as most of you perhaps already know. The protagonist is a die-hard patriot and an erstwhile international level athlete who is forced to become a dacoit because of the treatment meted out to him by the society. It is such a heart-breaking saga of somebody who could have potentially taken our country to sparkling heights that you cannot but help feel sorry and angry at the same time.

As is the case with most good films, the performances are great across the board. Whether the sensationally handsome protagonist, Irrfan Khan, or the jittering journalist, Bijendra Kala, the pretty Mahie Gill, all of them do nothing but impress. The script is flawless, the dialogues are apt, the humor is dry and the locations are mesmerizing. I feel this is a movie that should be seen by everyone across the world.

Stanley Ka Dabba (2011)

Another brilliant film that did not get enough dues that it deserved, “Stanley Ka Dabba” is a rare pearl from Bollywood. Writer-Producer-Director-Actor-Cinematographer, Amole Gupte, makes a film that leaves you wanting for more. A feel good film in every respect, this movie is a must watch for any lover of intelligent cinema.

The story revolves around a child, who comes to school without a tiffin box or lunchbox or as is called in many Indian languages, a ‘Dabba’. And guess what, just because of this, his gluttonous greedy school teacher kicks him out of the school! And then Stanley syarts his journey back, this time with a Dabba!

You may remember Amole Gupte from 'TZP'. In this film he wears more than multiple hats and doesn’t disappoint. As the greedy teacher himself, he annoys you, irritates you, but touches your heart nonetheless. Partho, who plays Stanley, is very sincere and lovely. The other caste is also first-rate. The film starts slow but grows on you effortlessly. Everything about it is, well, first rate, as well. Not to be missed, this one!

I Am Kalam (2010)

Given my sense of disappointment with the Indian bureaucracy and governance, this movie had to impress me. But it’s also a treat for any lover of good cinema. As IMDB says aptly, the film celebrates the survival of the human spirit against overwhelming odds and highlights the need for underprivileged children's education.

The film is based on former Indian president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and seeks to inspire the poor to educate their children. “I Am Kalam” is one of the best movies I have seen, ever. It avoids falling into the category of a documentary film and maintains the balance between entertainment and beautiful messaging. The story, cinematography and acting, are all perfect. Harsh Mayar amazes as the little Kalam, and seeing him you wish that all children in this country somehow miraculously achieve their dreams.

The movie touched me in more ways than one. I was inspired after the movie to find out what I could do to help the countless children get access to means of development in their lives. I hoped that it does the same to many other people. I was again smitten by our former president, Mr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and his story of fighting against odds. And at the end of it, I was left with hope about the state of movie making in this country.

Gangs of Wasseypur (2012)

Set in Dhanbaad's (Jharkhand) Village, called Wasseypur, "Gangs of Wasseypur" is another stellar movie by Anurag Kashyap. The movie, very interestingly, starts with our very own "Kyunki Saas bhi bahu thi" and defies all your expectation as it unfolds. It was unlike any other movie I had seen before. Filed with dark cynical humor, abuses, bold characters, adultery, bullets, vengeance and sexual innuendos, the movie shocks, impresses and numbs you alternatingly.

The director doesn’t need any introduction as he has already made a bang in the Hindi film industry with his other gems like “Dev D” and “The girl in yellow boots”. The movie was screened at Cannes too, fetching it much accolades and praise.

Manoj Bajpai stands out as a power-house who is constantly underrated in Bollywood. He gives a perfect performance as a violent and lecherous man. Nawazuddin Siddiqui is amazing as always. As the black sheep of the family who pulled the second part of this movie on his shoulders brilliantly, in this first instalement Nawaz is quiet and brooding. Richa Chadda, Huma Qureshi and Reema Sen amazed and awed me with their brilliant performances too, in their short but meaningful roles.

So, these were my five. What are yours? If your list is the same as mine, then is your order of preference different? Looking to hear your views.

By the way, another interesting off-beat film is soon going to hit the theaters. Titled “Miss Lovely”, the movie is directed by Ashim Ahluwalia and is set in the lower depths of Bombay’s “C” grade film industry. It stars Anil George, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Niharika Singh. Asheem has written the story too, along with Uttam Sirur. 

You can catch “Miss Lovely” in theaters on January 17, 2014. Here's its trailer that's rather promising:

This post is a part of the Miss Lovely Activity in association with BlogAdda.


Arvind Passey said…
Now that was one massive lecture on why you love watching English movies... and seeing the state of commercial cinema in India, no one would outright disagree.

Arvind Passey
Canary said…
@Arvind Passey: I'm not quite sure if I agree with your usage of the word 'lecture'.

These are my thoughts regarding my preferences on movie viewing.
Nicely written Canary! :) Good luck with the contest! :)
Canary said…
Hey Preeti! good to see you back here :)
Glad you liked it and thanks for your wishes :)
That's a very engaging post Canary
And i totally agree with you that Bollywood's standard is going down day by day and that'a matter of concern.

Canary said…
Glad I could engage you Priyanka :)
Thanks again for your encouraging words!
Afshan Shaik said…
Heard a lot about Stanley ka dabba and I am kalam but never got a chance to watch. Must find time to watch them some day
Great collection of movies :)
Good to see GOW in ur list too
Binod Khetan said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Binod Khetan said…
I loved all the films incl I Am Kalam..it is a beautiful list! ATB

i NumeroUnity said…
Beautiful choice of films Canary..crispy and cool..I loved all these films and could not agree less with you on choice of either of it!

Great compilation!

Canary said…
Thanks so much Afhsan, Binod and Ekta: Very glad that so many people agreed with my list! Yes, whoever hasn't watched any of these films must watch them soon :)
TTS said…
This is a good list of films! Well chosen!
Thanks for this list. I want to see some good Hindi movies and this has come at the right time. And congrats for winning the BA contest :)
Surbhi Bafna said…
Congrats Canary!!!!
Well chosen list of movies.
Silly Smiles... Take you Miles :)
Canary said…
@TTS: Thanks a lot for dropping by! Very happy that you liked my movie list! :)

@DI: Very happy if you decided to watch this movies based on my recommendation!! Thanks a lot! I'm very happy at the win too :)

@Surbhi: Hey fellow winner!! Congrats to you too dear!! :)
a Rat said…
stanley ke dabba is one of my favorites.. interesting list btw. Congrats Canary :)
Canary said…
Thanks so much AR :)

Popular Posts