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Thursday, 26 February 2015

The HIndie Awards 2015: Best Picture Award Part 2

The HIndie Awards 2015

Best Picture Award (Drama)



Drama will always be an integral form of cinema, in fact it's funny that it's even considered a genre since every film has an essence of drama within it. To be honest, my feature isn't about dramas but instead these are films that are genres anti-comedy in some sense. 

For example what you have here are seven films of different thematic values. A road-trip/romance mash-up, a war film, a political revenge thriller, an experimental feature, a sports movie, a crime thriller and a dark comedy mixed with a psychological thriller. 

As this is the last post, it's a guaranteed that the winner of this is the best Hindi film of 2014. It's true that drama goes home big, but the films on this list sadly have a wider disparity than all the comedies together. 

That still doesn't mean that these films are bad, far from it. In fact these are some features I'd back against the regular nominees that horded over shitty Indian film awards. 

So once again let me reiterate (and copy paste due to laziness)

So overall who will win the big one? In my opinion, a film need not win either screenplay or direction to prove their the best film. They don't even need to win all the awards. All the film needs to be is consistent all across the board. 
Still winning awards isn't a bad thing, so here's a look at so far how well each of the Drama nominees have done in terms of individual nominations and wins below.

Miss Lovely
Hawaa Hawaai
Kya Dilli, Kya Lahore

Here you can see big disparity in award winners, but is it a big bullseye or a red herring? Check below to find out...

The HIndie Award for Best Picture (Drama)

And the nominees are...

Sajid Nadiadwala and Imtiaz Ali for Highway 

A thorough character study with true heart and soul. Highway is the story of Veera, living in her own prison of hypocritical high society and finding freedom in captivity and love in the unlikely arms of criminal Mahabir Bhati. 

In Highway we find Imtiaz Ali at his finest, constructing two of his most complex and layered characters who move along a stunningly captured road trip journey to avoid getting caught. In between these moments of awe inducing gorgeousness, we are subjected to the probing and peeling of layers of these wounded spirits. 

What comes out is (can be debated) Ali's finest film too date. He takes a hold of a sensitive subject like Stockholm syndrome and balances it between thrusting it right into the audiences face and making it an all out fantasy for Veera. 

It justifies Veera's changing demeanor despite Bhati's violence towards her and his eventual sinking despair. The film produces also a great allegory on class divide, with constant shots of subtext exemplifying the highway as the road between the two lost individuals and how its construct can help them find each other on that road. 

As he is known to do, Ali is an actors director and the performances in this feature are mind blowing. The duo of Alia Bhatt and Randeep Hooda give breakout star making turns that will define their careers going forward. 

Whenever A.R. Rahman steps to the fore, the music is bound to be sensational and this is no exception. 

As I've said, Imtiaz Ali's finest. It's worth pondering on, but there's no denying that this Highway is a journey you have to take. 


Shumona Goel, Sanjay Shah and Pinaki Chatterjee and Miss Lovely

What Miss Lovely is, is a never before seen experience in modern day Hindi Independent cinema. A genre bending film that constantly shifts its tone and keeps the viewer mesmerized by its kitsch visual sensibilities and twisting dark story at the center.

Wildly thrown into this murky world, the audience will squirm with either displeasure or pressure for the film to move on. If you are a patient viewer the payoff will be perfect, if not emotionally fulfilling.

There's no real construct of a narrative to the feature. Even the characters are laid particularly bare and simple, without hints of back story. It's what allows this film to keep a cold distance and wonderfully juxtapose the warm colors and lighting of the film. The jarring tonal values producing a splendor that is its own.

Off the performances one will be surprised. Siddiqui is a chameleon no doubt, and this being one of his first leading man performances; it provides us to see a raw edge of the actor we've never experienced. The surprises though are his supporting characters in tow especially Pinky and Vicky.

The despicable duo as played by Niharika Singh and Anil George are fascinating revelations. Actors who his their caliber right on and never slip for an inch.

The music lurid like the film, becoming a dreary fantasy and nightmare. Keeping intact the sensations the feature exudes.

All in all, Miss Lovely is the embodiment of experimentation. Yet you feel it's too compacting a word to define such a masterfully crafted sensation that this piece of cinema is.


Siddharth Roy Kapur and Vishal Bhardwaj for Haider

The trilogy ender, Haider like its predecessors is more than just and more so than them an adaptation of Shakespeare's Hamlet. It's a platform that allows Bhardwaj to dissect sensitive political matters and hopefully educate the audience.

Should he have raised an eye on the plight of Kashmiri Pandits? Maybe. Is he the only one obligated to? No.

After all if he were to raise questions about every possible injustice in Kashmir in detail, then you'd still be seated in the cinema. He chose a topic that allowed him to vent his frustrations while moving his narrative along. On a larger scale and platform, he was able to raise an eye on harsh political issues that have made Kashmir what it is.

His film takes possibly the Bard's greatest work (or at least protagonist) and throws him into the violent and violated world that is Kashmir. He moves slowly through the treacherous roots of the land and then goes ballistic till the finale in giving a message of hope and peace.

Front and center are his fine actors. The supporting cast is littered with great performances from Aamir Bashir to Irrfan Khan. Both KK Menon and Shraddha Kapoor do well with their roles and convey the two ends of the spectrum of good and evil with terrific shades in between themselves.

Cutting off his fee for the film, Shahid Kapur gives his finest role ever that will be hard to top. He embodies the rage, sincerity, innocence and madness that is Haider. Hamlet is probably the hardest character to play and he passes with flying colors.

It is Tabu however, whom remains the pillar of this film. She is luminous and on another level altogether, her turn is another reason to understand why this woman is one of India's finest female actors.

The music as with any Vishal Bhardwaj film is a splendor, constantly shifting and flowing with its narrative.

Haider is Vishal Bhardwaj's masterpiece, it's rare to come by such films these days and people will bring it down like they are want to do but Haider will remain as another milestone for modern day Hindi cinema.

(PS: Check out it's companion piece that raises questions on Kashmir on a smaller scale; Harud, directed by Haider's Aamir Bashir)


Amole Gupte for Hawwa Hawaai

In its essence, Hawaa Hawaai is the ultimate underdog story. It's a message of hope and and gratitude, as Arjun a boy left on the streets to fend for his family dreams to skate like the rich children he always sees. His dreams are given wings by the skating coach Lucky Sir and his friends whom move him to fulfill his greatest desire.

It's a simple and heartfelt story that Gupte turns out like his previous feature Stanley Ka Dabba and makes into a stirringly realistic fairytale on those children whom the world forgets in their daily lives. Amole Gupte's grasp on terrifically constructed tales formed around children is something no other filmmaker is able to accomplish in Hindi cinema.

He is a one of a kind maestro whose films will appeal to a wide range of groups, yet have a heart and spirit at its core.

He also gives a good name to the oft used Hindi cinema card of nepotism. His son Partho Gupte is one of the finest actors of his generation and he is barely a teenager. The youngster along with the other children in the film are a fascinating troupe of performer. Backed by the ever reliable Saqib Saleem.

In the truest sense the film is a rights of passage as the great music puts it; 'Angaaro pe chalna hai sahi' (Walking on the bed of fire is truth) exemplifying the idea of hard work pays off. It shows in another great work of art that Gupte has produced. 


Arun Rangachari, Vivek Rangachari, Madhu Mantena, Vikramaditya Motwane and Vikas Bahl for Ugly

If Ugly is anything, it is proof that despite his rising popularity and his next film being a 100cr magnum opus, Anurag Kashyap still has the wits to make a small scaled engaging and thought provoking thriller.

Ugly possibly his finest film since Gulaal, is a depressing, morbid and fearsome take on the idea of parenting. It will leave your stomach churning. The harrowing tale of a kidnapped girl, who becomes nothing more than a plot device for the writer to dissect his despicably gray characters is hard hitting and not for the faint of heart.

He pulls out everything from his books, the red herrings, questionable characters, the distraction, the profoundly punctuating humor and the dark twist in producing the most edge of your seat narrative. The last shots of his film will haunt you.

It is possibly his finest direction yet, not for one second does a frame feel wasted and not for one moment will he give the audience a release. His idea of an ensemble is what it should be, each performer getting a moment to shine.

Every technical point top notch. The cinematography dark and fearsome, threatening to swallow the viewer whole. The score ominous and the editing crisp and clear.

Ugly is a product of three Anurag Kashyap's; the one who's hailed as the innovator he is today because of his past works, the one who has learned to mature and accept the wonders of Indian cinema and the one who is a scared father in his heart. This indeed produces a stunning product.

Mukesh Bhatt for CityLights

First of all I'd like to commend Vishesh Films, for backing this great product and going all out to even buy the rights of the original film; Metro Manilla.  

It's definitely not a Shahid, but CityLights is another terrific collaboration between Hansal Mehta and his muse Rajkumar Rao. The duo along with the terrific Patralekha and Manav Kaul, bring a film that stirs questions on how a city like Mumbai can become a concrete prison of its own and swallow those whole who aspire to succeed despite their means.

It's a harsh and stark look at the naivety of small town people trapped in a big world and the wonders that Mehta hides behind his dialogue are special. Even the frustrations of a villain like Kaul's Vishnu reveal a depth and parallel to the sad fate that awaits Deepak.

Hansal Mehta once again works with an assured hand and with his cinematographer is able to capture the mesmerizing and seductive city lights of Mumbai. There's an impressive feat of visuals the duo pull off while never lingering away from the characters turmoils.

Once again Rajkumar Rao is a sensation to embrace, his accent pitch perfect and his motions simplistic. He will really make you sympathize for the plight of Deepak, despite the characters too loyal and trusting nature. Patralekha matches him step for step and Manav Kaul is a gem as the darker mirror held up to Rao.

The music is ear catching of course but once again it's those moments of silence like in Shahid, that allow Mehta to make an impact. Thanks to Vishesh films, Hansal Mehta continues his comeback streak of terrific films.

Karan Arora for Kya Dilli, Kya Lahore

Through the support of the legendary Gulzar, Karan Arora's film on partition swapped soldiers in the Indo-Pak war is a triumph of its own; that it got made. The other is the brilliance in vision that the well intuited Vijay Raaz brings with his direction. 

Like with anything Raaz does; its hilarious, but it also proved that the oft underutilized actor has quite the knowledge of cinema and how to play with the audience's expectations and emotions. The warring friendship that builds between Indian born Pakistani soldier Rehmat Ali and Pakistani born Indian soldier Samarth Shastri is really engaging to follow, from start to finish. 

Manu Rishi (another underrated class act), writes a script that really dwells on the heartbreaking tale of displaced refugees due to the partition and their identity crisis that follows. It's a powerful piece tucked away into the heart of the conversation between these two unlikely allies and soldiers. Both Samarth and Rehmat are given ample time to build, such that you leave your heart with them. 

Raaz in his delightful directorial debut, has an innate sense of how cinema works. He directs the feature with applaud worthy dexterity, he and Arora craft an authentic film from a small budget and work wonders. 

Both Rishi and Raaz are in top form as actors, carrying the weight of their feature with their dialogue heavy performances. Their supporting actors are great in limited roles. 

The natural sounds of the score elevate the realism. 

As aforementioned, Karan Arora's film is a triumph in itself that it got made but its also one hell of a film worth watching and engaging with. 

And the Winner is...


That's it for the HIndie Awards 2015, join me next year for the HIndie Awards of 2016. 

Also don't miss the final post, listing winners as well as giving an insight into what Hindi films were my favorite and a simple ranking of the top ten. 

'Nuff Said

Aneesh Raikundalia

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