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Saturday, 9 April 2016

HIndie Awards 2016: Best Director

Best Director

It's been a phenomenal year for film directors in Hindi cinema, specifically the debutantes/breakthroughs who shone so much that like I mentioned before; the five could easily have captured a spot here on the nomination ballot.

Outright the breakthrough direction winner; Neeraj Ghaywan was the best director of the year. That might read counterproductive, but it is the truth. It still doesn't take away from the fact that these five have accomplished a hell of a film with their efforts and in fact the five are so neck to neck, this is the only award I haven't pre-decided before I write [or before I wrote] this post.

Yet, it is not only these five that make the cut, here are some dazzling honorable mentions;

Neeraj Pandey for Baby: Making some neat subversion of film tropes and reeling tension from some terrific espionage moments, acting as a slick addition to the growing genre; Pandey once again proves he is one of the finest today. 

Anand L Rai for Tanu Weds Manu Returns: To blame on a narrative front, a lot of repetition and enhancement of characters to unrecognizable decibels doesn't denounce the fact that Rai really is a master at handling ensembles and providing moments of true genuine emotional heft e.g. Ja Ja Bewafa sequence or the Meeting of Kangana's moment. 

Zoya Akhtar for Dil Dhadakne Do: It might be made for a selective market, but kudos to Zoya Akhtar for once again bringing together a cast of game actors into a very well distributed ensemble piece packaged with some beauty and not resting on the laurels of its locales but rather the drama within as well.

Those three didn't hit the mark, but these five did; the nominees for the HIndie Award for Best Director are...

Shoojit Sircar for Piku

The greatest thing Sircar accomplishes with this film is allowing his narrative and characters to flourish in a simpler form. From his past films, it isn't hard to discern that Sircar is a gifted director with some stylistic flairs when he need dazzle the audiences or add a touch to his stories told. 

In Piku, even for the portions of the road trip; there's nothing as such. This is a sober film that relies on the plot and characters to carry the load. 

This is not to say that Sircar rests on his laurels, instead he supervises his actors to define their characters with a clear conscience and identity. He wrings out moments of genuine hilarity but also emotional depth from their personal vulnerabilities and relationship dynamics. 

It's a selfless act where in Sircar goes from the Captain of the ship to its all important anchor, letting it flow smooth on the seas. 

Sriram Raghavan for Badlapur

Pushing back to a small scale work but now with an understanding of crafting small set pieces, Raghavan returns with his latest. 

A zen like meditation on the ruination brought forth by revenge and those that are mired in its thematic brutality, Badlapur is an action film with minimalist action and more of a psychological dissection on the genre and its brooding hero trope. 

It's masterful film making, Raghavan grasps the very nature of humanity specifically man in all his masculine glory, he doesn't shy away from contradicting his own films by playing with a genre he has so far reveled in. 

With great dexterity he crafts a well entwined narrative and bait and switch between Raghu [Dhawan] and Liak [Siddiqui]. The fact that he is able to allow space to his actors to blossom into the furious unrelenting horrors and even dark humor of the film, is another testament to his skill. 

This is a comeback for a director who never really needed one. This is a well deserved success for a director who should always have one. 

Meghna Gulzar for Talvar

She has an opinion. 
That should not come as a surprise, Meghna Gulzar investment in the real life case that forms the basis of the film means that she has an emotional inclination in the case and one side of the argument. That does slightly take away from the overall flavor of the film, but it shouldn't come as a surprise. 

Objectivity doesn't mean not having an answer, or even an opinion. Yet besides that, Gulzar is able to craft a piece that runs great parallels in dissecting a case truthfully in comparison at least to the truth promoting Media and News Outlets. 

It in it's infamous diatribe against the whole real farce at least balances out the over the top negative impact of the media. This is on the efforts she puts in, in terms of the meta reality implications of her film.

As a film maker, her efforts will stand the test of time. She crafts each sequence with a great eye for detail and understanding of the importance of highlighting all the elements that encompass the notions the film tries to comprehend. 

Two key sequences 'The Day After the Incident' and 'The Grand Meeting' are both deftly executed with rarely a sight for technical errors and a brilliant distinction of Gulzar being an overseer allowing her experienced actors to take control. 

The kind of confidence she shows in her team, is the true mark of a great leader. 

Sanjay Bhansali for Bajirao Mastani

Love him or hate him, you cannot deny that Sanjay Leela Bhansali has his own distinct flavor and style that reigns supreme with his magnum opus; Bajirao Mastani. 

Taking cues from his idols, from Kamal Amrohi to V. Shantaram and to K. Asif and specifically Asif's divine Mughal-E-Azam, Bhansali crafts a tale in similar vain on the triumph of love through its star crossed tragic lovers; Bajirao [Singh] and Mastani [Padukone]. 

The boldest move Bhansali makes this time round is that he doesn't let the purity of this love be completely devoid of the political and moral question of the act of betrayal that Bajirao commits against his first wife Kashi [Chopra]. A lot of complaints directed towards the film, regarded that one's heart weeps more for her plight than that of the titular characters. 

Fair enough, but one intended by Bhansali as can be seen. It adds a nice wrinkle to his film, giving it the spice to be a torrid affair with dazzling spectacle, great performances which only a master of his craft can extract like Bhansali and above all a deep meditated understanding of love and loss specifically from the perspective of three powerfully framed female characters. 

Bhansali understands his women, his art and his own heart and has the ability to echo thus on screen and what a resounding echo it is. 

Imtiaz Ali for Tamasha

From one heart-y director to another, Ali's latest is in a string of three films that clearly cater more to his ruminations on the poetry of art and life rather than focus solely on an external plot like his initial efforts.

Rockstar, Highway and now Tamasha are what the true Imtiaz Ali is all about, especially the latter that sticks to a very free flowing format that it would not be wrong to judge that much of the film come from a biographical perspective. 

There are hefty commercial elements in the film as needed but Tamasha for most parts acts as a distinctive flawed character piece about a man and his muse and the ensuing theatricality of his unraveling mind. The brilliance is in Ali, utilizing his possible real life story to snowball into a meta film that speaks out to its audience, plays mix and match with Ali's own career highlights as well as cinematic history itself. 

It is possibly Ali's most flawed work, but it is also the one that comes straight from the heart and holds those who are captive to his style and submissive to his ideology.

And the Winner is...

Meghna Gulzar for Talvar!

Not to take anything away from her but in fact to elevate her, Meghna Gulzar was a tough choice to make but she convinces with a film that holds both narratively, technically and ideologically strong. It's in essence a much more complete package than her counterparts. 

Now we're kicking into high gear, what does this big win for Talvar mean...

Up Next: The Screenplay winner, The Multiple Winner, The Big Winner, The Dark Horse and The Unrelenting Personal Favorite collide for the big daddy of the night...HIndie Award for Best Motion Picture [Drama]

'Nuff Said

Aneesh Raikundalia

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