Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Five Movies

In 2008 I watched a large number of movies – mostly Bollywood and very few foreign ones. From those I saw, I thought I want to make a list of the ones I liked most and ones that would be at the tip of my tongue if I were to recommend. Here I present my list which is in no particular order of priority. I am not describing the storylines because I don’t intend to present a review – I only want to record what it was in each of the movies that touched me. Some of the films may not have been released in 2008 but I had the opportunity of watching them in 2008 – this is my basis of including them in my list. Also, my list is irrespective of how each fared at the box office or how it appealed to the larger mass of movie goers.

This movie made me cry. No, not because the main protagonist dies in the end. Sometimes when you see too much of beauty and aesthetics around you – you cry. The movie is based on a very simple story told in an extraordinarily simple manner – that’s where its beauty lies, I think. The character of Amar, the main protagonist is marked by goodness – such people are rare. I felt like holding death’s hand to prevent Amar from getting consumed by it so that I can get the chance to see more of him in action! I watched this movie in a theatre and remember feeling the involvement of the rest of the people gathered there. The feeling was quite palpable. In fact it was interesting to note that after the film got over and as the credits came along, for a few minutes people were still seated – were they mentally chalking their “to do” list before they die? Likely, coz I was doing the same.

A Wednesday
This is a terrific thriller with a social message. When I had seen it in October last, a part of me had wanted to shower the “common man” with accolades knowing too well that in real life such drama is far from possible. Now after ten heavily armed men walked into the country through the sea route wrecking havoc for nearly three days thereafter, the same part of me wants to believe that the common man can do it! Strange na, there is still a part of me that screams – “kill ‘em all!!!!”, knowing very well that violence is not the solution neither becoming of the human race. Anyway, coming back to the movie, it is one hell of a must watch. I felt that Naseeruddin Shah or the common man’s dialogues towards the end of the movie binds and seals the plot like a fevicol ka jode. The movie left me spell bound.

Khuda key Liyae
This is a Pakistani production directed by Shoaib Mansoor – his debut film. Once again, Naseeruddin Shah as Moulana Wali dazzles with this speech in the court of law. The story weaves and presents some stark realities in Pakistani society – of gender-based biases, of gender-based violence, of youngsters becoming Kasab-like, of the post 9/11 western biases against practitioners of Islam, etc. How these factors affect the lives of the protagonists is poignantly told. Despite the melancholy, I could not stop watching the film. You just want to “get to the bottom of it!” Moulana Wali’s speech makes you wish that you knew more than the basic Urdu [:-)]. Yet, you get the crux and you wish he’d not stop talking. This film also makes you want to reach out to the people of Pakistan – so torn by destructive influences in their society – some influences from outside and most from within – in the form of regressive fundamentalists, customs, and politicians. At the end of the movie, you too join everybody else in saying a silent prayer for Shaan played by Mansoor and earnestly hope that he gets well soon.

Welcome to Sajjanpur
This is one movie that left me with a smile. Well, it’s categorized as a comedy film; it ought to make you smile. Well, I am talking of the lingering smile – when you think about something long after it’s over and it still makes you feel amused. But this is not a comedy film, strictly speaking. It is not mindless comedy, how can it be with Shyam Benegal having directed it. With great storytelling, various social issues from widow remarriage to forceful land acquisition are woven into the narrative with wonderful humor. Some turns in the movie are poignant – something that I believe strums a chord in your heart and makes the experience of watching this movie wholesome. Here, the main protagonist, Mahadev played by Shreyas Talpade is an immensely talented guy who has a way with both the spoken and written word. Mahadev comes across as such a darling.

Rock On
I simply loved the maturity with which this film has been presented. And I simply loved Farhan Akhtar crooning. If the film is about relationships, their portrayal and depth is commendable. Each performance I felt is brilliant. All the characters seem to have got into the skin of their roles. Newcomer Prachi Desai who played the role of Sakshi Shroff is so very fine – she has lived up to the depth demanded by her character. If the film is about a rock band, then they look like a real time rock band! I wish that Luke Kenny's character did not have to die in the end. Is it because he did not have a partner? Bollywood still has to answer that.

Slum Dog Millionaire
“What a plot!!” this was my first reaction to the movie. After seeing this masterpiece of a movie, I couldn’t help feeling proud that I watched it. But wait, I was not involved in its making in any manner, so why was I feeling so overwhelmed and proud!?! It is the same “Dasvidanya effect”!! What is so beautiful about the movie is its compelling storytelling. I saw the movie with a friend brought up in Germany and found myself explaining the meaning and implication of “riots” and of the significance of “Ram” in this land! We were so involved, we wanted Jamal (the main protagonist) to get all the answers right! At the same time I was thinking, you don’t need formal education to win contests, you need intelligence – the intelligence to assimilate the inputs from the environment around you. Most of the life events of little Jamal that helped him answer the questions were unfortunate – so I also wonder about the many people in this country for whom daily life is a struggle against so many odds. This is the last movie of 2008 that I saw. With this level of storytelling, I earnestly look forward to the releases of 2009.


Vandya said...

For a person like me who doesn't watch movies very regularly, this post is very informative. I already have plans to watch Dasvidanya and Slumdog Millionaire this weekend. Will let you know my reactions.

ambrosia said...

Hey Vandya, if you are watching them at home, do make sure you see without any disturbance. The movies deserve that! :-)

Priya M said...

Hey incidentally last year I too watched quite a few movies except 'Slumdog'and loved all the movies you've mentioned. I happened to watch 'Dasvidanya' and 'Bucket List' back to back without knowing their stories before hand and was struck by their similarity...had the same feeling when I watched 'A wednesday' followed by 'Aamir'. I watched 'Welcome to Sajjanpur' at Forum the same week I saw Mamma Mia' there, two heartwarming movies of the year :) For a supposedly 'non-movie person' I saw a quite a handful!
Do you plan to post the best of 2009? :)I have some catching up to do when I return to bangalore:)