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Wednesday, 25 January 2017

HIndie Awards 2017: Best Indian Language Motion Picture

Best Indian Language 

Motion Picture

Here it is, the biggie.

Whether it is at home or around the world, today slowly and steadily Indian cinema is gaining a grand reputation beyond conventions yet within the bounds of what is authentically Indian.

Visaranai went to the Oscars, though it did not crack the final rounds; it gained nice traction and mileage

Chauthi Koot has become a celebrated film at festivals around the world including the Mumbai Film Festival in 2015 [where I managed to catch it]

Equally lauded was Kannada piece Thithi which ended up finally confirming the fact that the winds of change are high on Sandalwood cinema.

Kammatipadam was a bumper hit and a huge showcase was made about it beyond the south, with star actor Dulquer Salman looking like a future prospect of Indian cinema in general.

Cinemawala reminds us that even though the heyday may have passed long ago, there still is rich content and talent in Bengali cinema looking to thrive.

Netflix tapped into the English language Indian market bringing out a fun side to the obscure Q with Brahman Naman

Finally Sairat dominated the box office, where Hollywood constantly trumped big Hindi projects with little substance, Sairat turned out to be a dark horse gem that changed and propelled the face of Marathi cinema.

Each of these films, different languages but one unified thought; they were all great pieces of cinema.

So enough of their praise, and now onto more praise. But before that, some honourable mentions...

Maheshinte Prathikaram [Malyalam]-I missed this one just by a whisker, viewing it just after the nominees were announced. I wont say which of this or Kammatipadam is better, but this was a fun mystery film with Fahad Fasil giving a stellar lead turn.

Iraivi [Tamil]-The also ran, I've said enough on this film so let's just move on.

Ventilator [Marathi]-Family dysfunction isn't reserved for just Hindi cinema, in Priyanka Chopra's maiden venture; a family comes together when their eldest member suffers a stroke and is put on a ventilator. Hilarious without a fault and absolutely wonderfully woven characters.

There is more I'm sure, but this is all for now.

So onto the nominees...

Prem Menon for Kammatipaadam [Malayalam]

Rajeev Ravi's thrilling Kammatipaadam is a multi layered film charting the evolution of Ernakulum from a small rural collective to the concrete jungle it is today.

How did it become so?

Well according to the film, empires are built on the bodies of the subjugated and Ernakulum was created  from the blood of hapless dalits; ironically being threatened by their own naive/blindly obedient kind.

At the center might be the upper caste protagonist Krishnan and his search for his missing friend in this structured maze, but the films real focus and show stealers are the suffering dark skinned dalits and their complete degradation and dissension into the bestial as represented by Ganga.

The torn friendship between the two a point of heady contention, the romantic entanglements and even the slight darkly comic vibe all add up to a slow burning and time hopping film that manages to entertain, educate and enthrall into its intoxicating snare.

Dhanush and Vetrimaaran for Visaranai [Tamil]

At it's most conventional yet experimental, Visaranai is a sign that cinema need not cater to each side of the equation exclusively, especially Indian cinema.

A film that relays the sense of desperation but heroism in underdog protagonists, the leader of the pack in a touching romantic sub plot and more importantly with  multi-layered supporting characters on both sides of their equation.

Yet the film is never conventional, instead with a distinct mirror structure between two halves that are vaguely similar yet account for character progression and a film assemble into a cinematic treat of visuals and action;

Visaranai becomes the best of both worlds.

Kartikeya Narayan Singh for Chauthi Koot [Punjabi]

With Chauthi Koot, there is a proof that there is Punjabi cinema beyond the conventional comedy/romantic movies or the ocassional melodrama.

Instead in the fourth direction [pun intended] we find cinema that addresses the wounds of a broken Punjab of the past, with intimacy and honesty. The take on a post Blue Star Operation Punjab is filled with an atmospheric mood of tension and paranoia.

It seeps itself into the smallest of corners, turning itself into a simplistic play of dilemma as protagonist Joginder must consider the safety of his family amidst a broken fearful mind and against his innocent howling dog, he has to forcefully put down.

Haunting at its finest and poignant when the film stalls and lets the audience immerse into the tense world of fear.

Pratap Reddy and Sunmin Park for Thithi [Kannada]

With its documentary like guerrilla approach, Thithi becomes more of an examination of life ironically during the rituals of post-death than a cinematic piece.

With a dozen or so [not] quirky rather real yet funny set of characters, Thithi explores the idea of a fractured communion and the generation gap within a village in stasis through its three protagonists all of a progressive generation in a family.

The film isn't about the family as it is about the dysfunctionality within them and the way the world of the film is crafted, it envelopes you into an adventure that may seem stagnant but is exposing the viewer to a world view and a way of living.

A way of living, again on the throes of death. Poetry.

Steve Barron, John Herbert and Celine Loop for Brahman Naman [English]

Brahman Naman is the funniest comedy of the year hands down.

Hilarious to a fault with its idiotic genius lead characters, completely sexually charged. However what could have been a coming of age piece that paid back to its characters evolutions from slimy sleazeballs with double the brain into honest good men turns into a meta reflection that neither lets them win nor judges them.

Instead the Brahman, Naman ends up back in his bubble of superiority turning into a hilarious examination of youthful exuberance and sexual drive without putting the protagonists and characters through any kind of exam, apart from the quiz contest.

It's just good harmful fun.

Nittin Keni and Nikhil Sane for Sairat [Marathi]

Revelling in the conventions of Indian Romantic cinema yet purposefully baiting you and then pulling out the rug from underneath, Sairat leaves one with a lump in the throat and a stark message to the horrors of the caste system as well as honour killing.

The film starts light, sucking you into its youthful romance; the kind you've either seen or felt around you, enhanced by stunning music that echoes the glories of Indian cinema as well as flowing the story forward into a river of darkness.

As reality hits, convention goes out the window and Nagraj Manjule creates the very film he is comfortable; raw, grungy, real and with consequences. Yet in the end romance wins out and then it loses again.

The see-saw ride is an example of why Sairat is Wild, it's about the wildness of love, of rebellion and of family and with it of a system that still haunts the innocence of India to this day.

Shrikant Mohta and Mahendra Soni for Cinemawala [Bengali]

It's ironic that it takes a stellar film of a modern make and even cinematic outlook to cry and rue about the loss of the art of cinema; in it's aesthetic and more importantly technology.

Probably the most aptly titled film of the year, Cinemawala becomes an examination of the burdened egos that clash between an inevitable future of cinema [whether good or bad, legal or illegal; it doesn't judge explicitly] and the glorious past of films.

Movie going used to be such a grand moment, a festival of sorts and Cinemawala captures that very same notion with a tinge of a fractured dichotomy and at its centre a father and son; separated by a generation gap, yet more importantly by the realities of life [the son, seeing cinema as an objective tool to success by hook or crook] and the grandeur of movies [a father, lost in time; stuck with the idea of rusting tools of movie making and screening of old].

It's a tale of heart, relationships, morals and the passion for movies that is imbibed by generation after generation no matter in which form and how.

And the Winner is...

Dhanush and Vetrimaaran for Visaranai!!!

As a bonus, this years finest films from an overall standpoint have come from Tamil cinema, so glory glory. 

Visaranai wins its fourth award to secure the best picture win. Not to take anything away from the other films and is the list;

Brahman Naman
Chauthi Koot
Amma Kannaku
Irudhi Suttru

And so there are the Indian Language awards.

Up Next: To the ensemble and the breakthrough's...a mix of nominees and surprise winners. 

'Nuff Said, 

Aneesh Raikundalia

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