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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...

Anu Menon, James Ruzicka and Atika Chauhan for Waiting

A fine yet surprisingly easy reflection on grief and hope, Waiting could have not comes at a more pertinent time for me personally.

Building of an intriguing plotline of a young woman grieving her husbands accident in another city [an unknown one to boot]; Tara, unable to handle these pressures meets Shiv, a man who has been taking care of his comatose wife for a long time.

What is essentially an examination about the ways of dealing with grief in a realistic manner while also making a commentary on hospital administration, mostly turns to being a breezy character study and the differences of the two protagonists generation gap as well as their personality clashes and touches.

Inherently not as depressing as it could have been, the film renews an easy subdued sense of hope and that is the scripts most beautiful aspect.

Apurva Asrani and Ishani Banerjee for Aligarh

Aptly titled Aligarh rather than the subject of the film; Siras, the film's screenplay is tied by its organically build world of a constricting small town and the mentality that compresses individuals in its all seeing milieu.

It's a start towards building then, two distinct arcs revolving around dual protagonists of a different nature. Both characters are wonderfully sketched out, where Deepu is written with such a unique blank slate, he becomes the perfect representation for the audience discovering the myriad of dynamics in the sensitive Prof. Ramchandra Siras and his plight.

The way the film examines homosexuality but more importantly the idea of love itself is poetic and the script makes it into a detailed examination of all sides of the equation but at the end it is love that triumphs beyond barriers, borders and status. This makes Aligarh more than a winning biopic, but a humanitarian endeavor.

Pavan Kirpalani, Pooja Ladha Surti and Arun Sukumar for Phobia

On the surface Phobia is a taut and tightly scripted horror movie situated around one location [practically one scene] and the examination of fear based on a unique premise of a woman suffering from Agoraphobia.

Yet there's more than meets the eye.

A film that begins with the anonymous and ambiguos rape of its central character, we're not sure if it even happened turns into a maddening psychological horror that seeks to dissect the ideas of consent as well as the very fears perpetrated by rape culture and the eventual examination of external elements regarding these fears.

So here you have a film with Mehek's sister who can no longer sustain her sisters madness because she fears for her own son as well with Mehek around, woman is the enemy of womankind in many ways especially woman with a higher status [one who is a mother, the "most important" role of a woman].

Then there is the fact that any issue of a woman is categorized as madness, examples of the quirky women around Mehek's new dreary society. From the octogenarian just roaming the halls to the young hyper girl that befriends Mehek and plays detective with her. But the truth is far more intriguing.

Other smaller things work well to add rich detail to the narrative, with Mehek's best male friend playing the quintessential "nice guy" with all the crazy nuances including the vital fact that there are no nice guys and making a statement on desperate creeps all round.

The film makes a point on sexual dynamics and a lot more but doesn't feel forced rather formulating an exciting genre piece from the script. Deep and desirable both.

Soumendra Padhi for Budhia Singh Born To Run

A fierce sports film that pulls no punches.

Budhia Singh Born to Run is about the athletic titular gem of a five year old found in Odissa by an orphanage operator Biranchi Das, who discovers in him the talent as an athlete and wishes to get him to the Olympics. Being a child however Das does face difficulties in this task, as does Budhia who is moulded in the same beliefs.

The beauty of the script is in how it works wonders by balancing Das's relentless ambition into a success driving motive and also judging whether what he does is right or wrong for the betterment of the young boy. It's a hard hitting narrative sold on this no holds barred examination of success and the moral quandary involved around it, especially when intense athletics and a child is considered.

A lot was said about India's not so succesful Olympics campaign this time around and why India is ineffective in building champions. Yet Budhia Singh could have been one and the only man that saw that was Biranchi Das. Was he right or wrong in his pursuit? His methods?

Maybe, maybe not.

But even then this complex celebration is a screenplay not just worth the see, but worth the read.
[Had it only been just as cinematic-ally succinct]   

Leena Yadav and Supratik Sen for Parched

The title doesn't only refer to the dry lands of Rajasthan or the barren Lajjo, but also the dusty and colorless and of course dry lives of the protagonists no matter how much color there may be on the surface. It's about the constant dreariness and staleness brought forth by the shackles of a patriarchal society.

A society that demands everything of you, chews you up and spits you right back out. In fact the literal barren lands, the ones deserted like the old fort; provide more freedom and freshness for these protagonists.

Dividing the story between three arcs eventually might seem like a stretch but instead Yadav turns it into an experiential examination and celebration more so than anything of women kind in all their beauty and more.

It's in their conversation then that the fruit of the film is felt, the juiciness of dialogue as presented by Supratik Sen is a mastery on how to engage as well as remain authentic to milieu and character. Speaking of which, each character has a distinctive voice and style specifically the trio of women.

Each arc of the character is rich in detail, not only examining an aspect of women even through the lens of men; from sexuality, to motherhood, to loneliness but also finding itself space in the script to make a commentary on deteriorating masculinity as well as an upheaval of a community between tradition and modernity.

Finally the fact that this tragic social commentary is mixed with a real dose of humor of all kinds, especially taboo normally for these women with a smooth tone, makes for an enjoyable ride.

Eventually what's Parched script becomes is an excuse to learn and imbibe an India, a world that is just a few miles away but is barely felt by most. 

And the Winner is...

Leena Yadav and Supratik Sen for Parched!!!

And Parched wins a biggie, putting it in poll position for Best Picture with the others nipping at the heels especially a strong Phobia. 

Up Next: Five walk in, one walks out...who will be the true captain, Best Director!

'Nuff Said,

Aneesh Raikundalia

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