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Thursday, 25 January 2018

A Super Late End of the Year Retrospective

On HIndie Awards, Hindi Cinema, The Whole F*ing Show

And Yes, My first film!

It's that time of the year again where I dust up my old blog and begin the long weathered accounting of what happened through the whole year in cinematic term to documenting my personal and professional life. 

It has been a weird 12 months friends, my first full year as a graduate and part of the Indian film industry. Things have gone in a flash and I've discovered a lot about myself, with a lot else left to discover. 

More importantly the ever changing landscape of Indian cinema has provided me a new found perspective on how to handle my challenging dreams as well as my expectations from the connoisseurs of cinema I respect so very much. 

Welcome to this yearly round up, where there is tons to detail, lots to talk about on personal, professional and fandom front. Things will be divided into appropriate sections and with nothing more to say, let's dive right in. 

Friday, 10 February 2017

HIndie Awards 2017: Best Motion Picture [Drama]

Best Motion Picture 


Here it is, the big award of the year and hands down the best Hindi film of the year.

Before we head to the nominees, let us take a look back at each films journey so far.

Phobia has 8 nominations [excluding Best Picture] with 5 wins so far, with the biggest wins being for Best Film Editing as well as Best Lead Actor [Female] in Drama, putting it in prime position. There is tough competition though.

Parched apart from Best Picture has 10 nominations with 4 wins so far, and it has won the huge Screenplay award as well as Cinematography.

For Aligarh [apart from Best Picture] it is about 8 nominations but 3 massive wins with Best Director and Both Male Best Lead and Supporting Actors. That is another huge competitor.

Finally come the two weak links but still tough competitors; Udta Punjab has 8 nominations sans Best Picture and has 1 win as well as another win for Breakthrough Actor [Male]. It's singular win is massive as Udta Punjab scores for Best Ensemble, remember the Ensemble's love for the massive voters of the Acting Board from the Academy, was one of the major reasons why Spotlight took home the Best Picture win.

While Waiting has only 3 nominations with no wins, it's not an indictment on the film but rather considerable that it still secured the big Picture nomination despite other Drama films winning huge. This is because Waiting is absolutely worth it and as I've always maintained whether these awards or the Oscars; it is eventually the nominations that matter most.

Yet those also matter, that just didn't cut it. And here they are; [PS: I wont detail them rather just rank the films in terms of how each missed out the Best Picture nom]

6. Neerja
7. Budhia Singh Born to Run
8. Raman Raghav 2.0
9. Dangal
10. Pink

That's for that, now drumroll cause it is finally time...

HIndie Awards 2017: Best Motion Picture [Comedy/Romantic/Musical]

Best Motion Picture 


As I've mentioned before, the non-drama section [I'm calling it such, because it's harder to constantly type comedy/romantic/musical, of course realizing the futility of explaining the whole thing in a lengthy bracket] hasn't been the top dog this year and we will have to see what this entails for our Best Pic nominees.

Anywho TM.

After a Screenplay win, Kapoor and Sons is at the top of its game with 3 wins and 9 nominations barring Best Picture. It's other two wins being from Leading Male Actor and Supporting Female Actor.

As for the other two acting awards, they go to Nil Battey Sanata thus giving it 2 wins from 6 nominations.

3 nominations yet 0 wins marks the run of Dear Zindagi. Dhanak is also haunted with 0 wins from 3 nominations and Jugni scores one higher with 4 nominations but again 0 wins. This trio might not have big wins but remember it is always the nomination that counts.

A collectively good film always trumps a film with just one or two great aspects. Filmmaking at the end is about a wonderful but unified piece of art.

As for films that failed to leave their mark altogether, there weren't many but the few that did do get a mention without of course mentioning details, let's just see what lost out in rankings [PS They are not many]

6. Tere Bin Laden: Dead or Alive
7. Happy Bhag Jayegi

Well then, now onto the nominees...

HIndie Awards 2017: Best Director

Best Director

Motion Picture

Once again what this year excessively and exclusively proved is that new filmmakers around India are gathering a storm in providing exciting ideas and content.

[This bears well for someone like me looking towards the future]

Even directors on this top five list are barely breakthroughs themselves where as others are or have reinvented themselves within this decade after huge lull periods, crawling out the woodwork.

It's a showcase that despite of pitfalls, content is slowly conquering the Hindi film industry and that filmmakers are truly becoming the masters of their own ship.

Let us discuss our nominees for a moment;

Nagesh Kukunoor for Dhanak-After toiling with years of uneven films since his relatively stronger earlier success, Kukunoor is back in the game with Dhanak, his first nomination of hopefully many.

Abhishek Chaubey-Nominated in 2015 for his sublime work in Dedh Ishqiya, Chaubey is once again at the helm with the controversial Udta Punjab

Had there been a breakthrough director nominee ballot in 2015; Nitesh Tiwari would have been up there for his work in Bhoothnath Returns, so he's here now.

Hansal Mehta is a former nominee for the 1st Official HIndie Awards for Shahid, is his second time round lucky?

Finally Shakun Batra would have broken through in 2013 for his efforts with the genuine Ek Mai aur Ekk Tu.

As for the past winners, let's see what got them to the ball...

Vikramaditya Motwane for Lootera, 2014
Vishal Bhardwaj for Haider, 2015
 Meghna Gulzar for Talvar, 2016

The first was an adaptation of an O Henry short into a soothing romantic ballad mixed with a heady sense of history. The second win was for another cinematic gem based upon Shakespeare's works with a moving political commentary on the Kashmir situation. The last inspired by true event turns out to be a sharp and smart examination on the CBI and the judicial system as well as the advent of media trials packaged in an interesting story straddled by an intriguing protagonist.

So whose year is it this round, we already know whose it isn't...

Gauri Shinde for Dear Zindagi-She just barely misses the cut with another smartly directed film that is possibly relayed from experience allowing for a breezy yet intimate portrayal.

Anurag Kashyap for Raman Raghav 2.0-Kashyap could at this point direct a low budget grungy and disturbing film in his sleep, possibly making it easier to take him for granted despite what he makes is a terrifying picture with some interesting dynamics between the protagonists and a cocktail of subtext to boot.

And now onto the nominees...

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

HIndie Awards 2017: Best Screenplay [Drama]

Best Drama 


The above picture has been seen quite a few times during this awards show, why?

Because great drama has been the dominating factor in this years filmography, in fact the genre divide here just doesn't seem to be working in breaking notions of great films being lesser than drama not only that but the idea that Hindi cinema's greatest works entail romance and comedy was sadly broken.

It's not to say we haven't had great films of the lighter variety, but drama especially the kind that caters to a specific genre of drama has excelled.

At the end of the day, every film is dramatic of any nature.

To celebrate that drama, let us first see what previous winner look like;

HIndie Award for Best Screenplay: Hansal Mehta and Apurva Asrani for Shahid, 2014
HIndie Award for Best Screenplay [Drama]: Anurag Kashyap for Ugly, 2015
HIndie Award for Best Screenplay [Drama]: Sharat Katariya and Kanu Behl for Titli, 2016

This is an intriguing list, the first screenplay winner which also shared Best Picture with Lunchbox is one of those first honest biopics that opened the floodgates for the genre. Sadly biopics haven't gained the same form of traction to win one in the next two years which saw films win because of their fascinating examination of milieu's and the characters that make them up; to simplify the last two are dreary but dry crime films.  Anyways the one thing to note is that Apurva Asrani is already a former winner for a Hansal Mehta film, can he score number 2?

This year is an interesting mix of the above and more.

But there are also those that failed to crack the top five, here they are;

Neerja-A tight and taut screenplay that suffers from slight flab, but the inner heroism of the films protagonists is played up well in helping tethering the narrative well towards some inspiring direction.

Bollywood Diaries-Examining the absolute damning obsessions of cinema lovers and the passions of performance, Diaries works well around three stories that sadly feel halved rather than those that could be complete and a better dissection on the love of film.

Raman Raghav 2.0-Deconstructing the very devil itself in one of the most slickly constructed plots with some expected Kashyap grime and black humour. The allegory to Ram and Ravaan and the haunting dichotomy as well as similarity between them is an exciting theme that adds flavour to the script. Sadly the characters don't seem cut out for this.

Pink-Despite the fact that Pink fails to address some deeper rooted questions of consent and simplifies the concept with a convenient ending. Yet the film definitely has highs most importantly its plot working to open up the conversation on patriarchy and more importantly consent.

Udta Punjab-Though the film seems tame in comparison and has both a rushed third act yet drabs on for long in it's second act, not to mention some sketchily written characters [among them sadly Kareena Kapoors], the film has the perfect dose of black humour and dark drama that picks up thanks to a thrilling hyperlink narrative and some powerful dialogues.

As for the others, here are the nominees...

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

HIndie Awards 2017: Best Screenplay [Comedy/Romantic/Musical]

Best Comedy/Romantical/Musical 


As I mentioned, Deadpool put it best; the screenwriters are the real heroes and that films star Ryan Reynolds can attest to that as he fought for the comic book character [conceptualized by and taken forward by writers] to make it to the silver screen because he witnessed how wonderful the script is that it deserved a chance when no one else would give it.

Now Deadpool is a big box office success, looking towards a slew of sequels. The films champion still remains its screenplay.

The same can be said for a lot of films this year; after all if the complete Studio System breakdown in the Hindi film industry taught us anything, it is this;

That films of a middling or a heavy budget dependent on mid-level stars have failed because these studios see stars and are struck unwilling to rely on strong screenplays instead.

Wherever even the Hindi mainstream goes, cinema will always turn back to the one thing that eventually it is the screenplay that is King and these ones nearly took the throne;

Happy Bhag Jayegi-Despite some hiccups, the screwball comedy of Happy harkens back to Anand L. Rai's own films [he is producer here] giving way to moments of both great levity and drama when need be and creating the quirkiest bunch of characters this side of cinema.

Jugni-It has its issues especially a drab second act but the maturity the writing presents in understanding romance is as well crafted as the films reverence for classical folk tunes. Its a musical piece well versed in milieu and character grounded to it.

Dear Dad-Though the comedy seems a tad bit overdone, the slice of life film places its characters in interesting situations building one of the nicest father-son dynamics in modern Hindi cinema. Despite some overwritten moments, the easy way the narrative unfolds makes for an enjoyable ride.

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil-This one isn't a nomination as much as it is a need to discuss this conflicting film. It's execution lacks, there's absurd moments of characterization yet the thematic heart of the film is something that can move anyone. The idea of unrequited love is strong and while poorly mishandled, there are scenes and moments that work most importantly when this is taken into consideration. It's a poignant and personal point of the film, especially for me, hence why Ae Dil was an anticipated experience that sadly disappointed due to its superfluous and confused elements. I wish to find some time later to extensively discuss this film in all its glory and less so.

Let us end this discussion with a look at the past best screenplay winners and what they brought to the table;

HIndie Award for Best Dialogue: Vipul Vig for Fukrey, 2014
HIndie Award for Best Screenplay [Comedy/Musical]: Rajat Kapoor for Aankhon Dekhi, 2015
HIndie Award for Best Screenplay [Comedy/Romantic]: Juhi Chaturvedi for Piku, 2016

Of the three winners of the comedy/romantic/musical screenplay award two of them are slice of life films with a light dramatic but also humorous bent.  Four of the five nominees are practically such kind of comedies, where as the last one matches up a lot with the zany Fukrey.

So let's see who the winner shall be...

Monday, 6 February 2017

HIndie Awards 2017: Best Actor [Male] in a Leading Role [Drama]

Best Actor [Male] in a Leading Role 

Motion Picture Drama

If anything has been proven this year, it is this;

Stars might effectively be insecure about their positions, but Hindi cinemas leading man are looking to use this so called fear for the good and prove with their acting capabilities why they are at the top despite of what else people may say of their abilities or capabilities.

This year alone we have two big leading men of the past two decades on the nomination list, not to mention one of them is a double nominee this year [in different categories of course].

The five nominees this year also are a mix bag of the proof of where Hindi cinema is headed barring box office successes and failures.

So where is it headed?

At least for the leading men, it is headed in a position where actors experiment with genre roles, the biopic becomes a place to deliver fine performances and thespians are still very much in demand for in demand roles.

All in all, nobody is eating into anybody's work and more importantly everyone shines. Though of course some don't get to shine bright enough and so here they are as Honourable mentions;

Amitabh Bachchan in Te3n-Of the three Angry Old Man roles Bachchan sir has done this year in order to reinvent his former Angry Young Man persona, this was the best. While he was a bit gravely in Wazir and could be caught in the act in Pinkl, it was in Te3n he proved what a masterclass performer he is with a turn that carries the weight of time with him.

Sushant Singh Rajput in MS. Dhoni-Though stifled by an absolutely horrendous film and some moments of ill advised VFX work; Rajput does his best to prove why he is one of the most versatile talents working today with a measured performance that sells us on the MS. Dhoni which the film tries to project

Salman Khan in Sultan-The one role where Salman Khan puts in effort to at least show if he cannot handle the strength of heavy drama he can at least prove to try and do so.

Randeep Hooda in Sarabjit-Completely destroyed by an atrocious film, a film that overhypes Aishwarya Rai's screechy performance as Sarabjit's sister; it is Hooda who tries to save the film with a calculated melodramatic turn.

Akshay Kumar in Airlift-In what is probably his finest performance [maybe], Akshay Kumar proves once more that he is consistently able to reinvent himself and prove a resilient performer in whatever genre is given.

Vicky Kaushal in Raman Raghav 2.0-He might fail to match up to his co-star but he comes oh so close with a performance that proves Kaushal is a performer with unbelievable talent and determination to prove versatility with a role. Providing the perfect mirror foil to Siddiqui. 

Shahid Kapoor in Udta Punjab-Though as mentioned in the ensemble section, Kapoor goes a bit too bug eyed and he is acting like a druggie more than embodying one. In the smaller moments, the quieter of reflection, Kapoor is a revelation and showcases why he is a former Best Actor Drama winner. 

And now for our nominees, these five are top class performer and undoubtedly stars of their genres and generations.

Of five of them;

Nawazuddin Siddiqui has 5 nominations with 0 wins

Aamir Khan has 1 nomination with 0 wins

Naseeruddin Shah has 2 nominations with 0 wins

And the other two [Shahrukh Khan and Manoj Bajpayee] have not been nominated ever in the past three official  Hindie Awards.

What that means that one of these nominees will win their first best actor award in any category but in this case in drama...