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Saturday, 9 April 2016

HIndie Awards 2016: Best Screenplay [Comedy/Romantic]

Best Screenplay [Comedy/Romantic]

Heading into the other half of the screenplay section, one can't help but see how effectively Comedy/Romantic films are all created in true essence on paper. There's no like resting on the laurels of simplistic gags, cliche tropes or even the improvisation of stellar actors. 

The films listed here are indeed a writers triumph and that's what makes the evolution of Hindi cinema so appealing. 

There's a plethora of writers here who are both making big head ways in Hindi cinema as well as newbies making a big crack. 

The difference of course however is that not all these five made a statement in the whole big picture ballot, that doesn't take away from how great this screenplays are or the fact that they aren't winners. 

Before that, here are a few that just didn't make the cut;

K.V. Vijayendra Prasad, Kabir Khan and Parveez Shaikh for Bajrangi Bhaijaan: Baradwaj Rangan puts it best, Southern filmmakers understand and respect Masala cinema much better and it shows in the story elements of Vijayendra Prasad's Bajrangi, however with some hiccups in its presentation level; it still maintains a good enough essence to be here. 

Imtiaz Ali for Tamasha: It has huge flaws no doubt on the scripting level, but Tamasha comes straight from the heart and how Ali bleeds the pen on paper is what makes this film a very innovative experience allowing the space for his visual flair to flow. 

And then there's these five, the HIndie Award for Best Screenplay [Comedy/Romantic] nominees...

Juhi Chaturvedi for Piku

She's by far the best writer working today, Chaturvedi simply understands character and in essence people. 

In Piku she captures the experience of a Bengali family specifically a father-daughter duo with great moments of hilarity and dramatics basically functioning the screenplay into what she calls a 'peep hole' into a real families moments. 

She crafts her characters with great care and lets them play out between each other as well as doesn't shy away from their growth be marred by the fact that the characters within film are a flawed bunch. Her understanding of relationship in this really helps. 

Certain flaws cinematically might slip through, but the imperfectness of the plot points churning into non-traditional endings helps enhance that realism to the characters journeys and the film. 

Also she makes a story about Shit [after Sperm] sweet and engaging without being crass, that has to be massive. 

Reema Kagti and Zoya Akhtar for Dil Dhadakne Do

Kagti and Akhtar highlight that they understand a certain strata, to put it best. However one wants to put this as RICH PEOPLE PROBLEMS, and it's true but the film still holds a great scope in the understanding of the dysfunctional family genre. 

One of Akhtar's highlights is her ability as a director to create a well balanced film on the basis of a multi star cast, it helps that in the writing process her characters get their own fascinating space to grow and evolve in well defined arcs that intertwine beautifully. 

This holds true for Dil Dhadakne Do as well that makes points on patriarchy, freedom, love and loss as the four leading characters go through a roller coaster ride of emotions and conflicts with one another. Other characters also get distinct personalities. 

There's a very "from her own reality" experience that Akhtar seems to hint to in the film, it's like we're seeing it through her eyes and that is a fascinating way to write. 

Harshavardhan Kulkarni for Hunterrr
With Hunterr, Harshavardhan Kulkarni takes the genre of sex-comedy to the stratosphere with dry sardonic and black humor while also realizing that the genre doesn't rely on cheap gags but rather a deep understanding of character especially a character that is mired into a situation that is complex and dramatic for him but produces hilarious results for us. 
Comedy is after all, another man's tragedy.
A character study that goes deep into probing the somewhat sociopath that is Mandar [Devaiah], Kulkarni realizes that his film is about character and lets the man play to his own tunes in order to highlight the 'Vasugiri' nature that makes the film a riot. 
It's also not a boy's wet dream, which adds to the brilliance of his writing. Surrounded by different women, three characters in specific stand out. 
Jyotsna [Tamhankar] is a sexually unsatisfied housewife that takes the initiative to seduce and build a relationship with Mandar also questioning his loyalty to her, Parul [Saxena] is the young doe eyed girl who falls in love and finds her heart stomped to pieces but comes out better when she willingly matures where Mandar doesn't. While Tripti [Apte] is a strong hearted character with her own past and history while also never letting Mandar question its integrity but also conflicted with his.

Even smaller characters shine from the brother Shitij [Tatwadi] who matures from where Mandar is to the Aunt who rejects Mandar with panache. 

It's a character film through and through and Kulkarni's writing does justice to them. 

Deepak Venkateshan for Kaun Kitne Panee Mein
The one thing to understand about Deepak Venkateshan's script is that, this isn't a satirical comedy [it has elements of it] but more of a sweet romantic fable-esque story.

Taking part in fictional villages known as Upri [Upper] and Bairi [Lower] distinctive by the people with their caste difference [Upper and Lower Caste]. The history of the villages and their rivalry is well established, it then segues into the hilarity of the quirks that one can catch with such caricatures. 

We have a man from the drought stricken Upri digging a tunnel all the way from his home to the Bairi village to steal water. We have the ruler of Upri, a man who to uphold his families manly tradition sticks a fake mustache into his own face and pretends to understand English. His rival from the other village, hell bent on revenge. 

Between them are the Romeo and Juliet of the story, the son and daughter of the two leaders of the village who try to bring the whole collective of people's back together. There's a fantasy together that begins with a story of a Princess and a Pauper and leads into a very genuine narrative. 

The great thing is that there is also that so called satirical edge to Venkateshan's script with highlighted issues on water shortage as well as the still relevant problem on Caste difference that India faces even in a modern society where opportunity has moved towards being equal. 

It's an effort that nearly bursts at the seams and does remain tame in terms of execution but on a paper level it is as it should be. 

Sharat Katariya for Dum Laga Ke Haisha
Moving forward with another female oriented film that spouts equality especially using a unique premise of a relationship between an intelligent overweight woman marrying a handsome loser man-child is interesting. 
Though criticism was levied towards its finale set piece; where the man carries the woman [in this case overweight woman] in a competition to show the male toughness with which men carry women in the relationship, there's more than meets the eye. 
Katariya is brilliant at crafting the details of his film, in that last piece; Sharat presents the essence of a healthy marriage as Sandhya [Pednekar] isn't just lifted by Prem [Khurrana] but during the competition when push comes to shove for them; she helps him and they take control together carrying each others loads and baggage like what they should have much of the film to victory. 
It's a sweet natured narrative that works because Katariya allows his characters to remain committed and never forces them to stray from their natural instincts. In that case the intelligent yet good natured Sandhya tries her best but she never takes anything lying down eventually fighting for her own self respect. On the other hand Prem's each move doesn't stem from just a shallow hatred for his hefty wife but rather his own insecurities as a person and a man. 

The greatest thing is that all this is mixed into a film that captures a nice milieu in a stark era; 90's Haridwar, hence adding dimensions to a narrative that is already strong and fortifying it as a hell of a screenplay. 

And the Winner is...

Juhi Chaturvedi for Piku!
There it is, she's a talent unparalleled and I have to say; being able to have a workshop class with her was a highlight of my  time in film school. Juhi Chaturvedi is a damn talented individual and one worth the accolades she gets.

Up Next: Five men take control and steer their teams into great pieces of not just the year but the decade...HIndie Award for Best Director

'Nuff Said

Aneesh Raikundalia

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