“Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time”
-H. W. Longfellow
There is a way with art which, like the humans that create it, become immortal carriers of life, of greatness and of splendour quite unknown to common minds- minds that can only stare in awe and wonder at the utter radiance of the subtle beauty this creation carries. Over the ages of human evolution, a leap has been taken in the cultural climb, with the coming of motion pictures and its rapid spread with the passing of time. Growth has been achieved and we have come far in telling small stories that make a big impression. In India, the land of intriguing tales, a certain emotion, an attachment and an unfathomable charm is attached to the movies our film industry makes. Some of them fail to articulate the inarticulate, while the ones that do, leave a sense of “feel-good” warmth and a certain dazzling enlightenment that only a piece of genius can deliver. The year that has gone by has been witness to a wave of some of the most heart-rending and beautiful films created in Indian Cinema. Enthralling performances and brilliant scripts have stood apart and made a mark in commercial celluloid.
Some words hold true, true almost as the gospel for every human heart, be that of a sorry pauper or a wealthy princess. Or of a middle-aged widow, working and slogging her way through life, doing petty jobs but nursing and nurturing a dream quite far-fetched and yet the closest to her heart. For all of us that have watched and liked this movie, it is a dream, an aspiration and a wrenching desire for what is not, that influences this admiration and sheer respect. Gangoo bai soars from being the utensil-washing-aamchi-mumbai maid to the one moving in the high circles of fashion dazzled Bombay. In pursuit of her sole ambition of purchasing an expensive Gara saree she moves from suburban Matheran to the main city. But through the entire fairy-tale of utopia runs one firm reality, a reality of a small hearts large hopes and the determination- the sheer want and drive to achieve it. Sarita Joshi’s stunning performance and the movies make-believe enigma, sustains the story rather sincerely.
A biopic on the life of the greatest Indian athlete of all times, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag is a very close and yet a very interestingly knitted retelling of a life and a person that has made this nation extremely proud. A rather fitted portrayal and tribute to a stalwart, makes the film a heartfelt performance by the man who took it upon himself to master the character and give it the brilliant touch it required. Justice was truly done to a very fine achieving life that could have gone unsung had it not been for the makers of this piece that will certainly make its way down in history.
While the year has seen many love stories, not to mention the “I shall die because I am your drug, even though we’ve just met and that’s very normal, you know”-Aashiqui 2, Lunch box takes the cake with its delicate, subtle story-telling. That “the prince charming” can be found by a neglected house-wife in an unhappy marriage and fairy godmother may as well be the dabbawala service, makes this tale a rather fantastic and yet a very grounding and realistic relation. The viewer’s heart is won by the very humble and endearing performances, the fine characterization and the warmth that one man can possibly emanate for a woman who deserves it. Prince charming could always be a widower nearing the age of retirement, and living a lonely life, waiting for the right one to come around, what do you know?
Another biopic of the year, Shahid is Hansal Mehta’s adaptation of the controversial life of lawyer Shahid Azmi who had been shot in 2010. Highlighted in this story is a sense and an idea of integrity, a message of fairness and an importance of strength in justice. Tracing a brave story of a wronged man who grows up to fight for the right, to defend the honest and protect those who are victimized, Rajkumar Yadav’s Shahid Azmi spreads a tragic and yet a very upright thought- a thought that must be welcomed in times and the India that we live in.
Kai po che
Silhouetted against a troubled and doom-stricken Gujarat, Kai po che is a brilliant adaptation of what is not one of the best written books of our times, shaping (and in places modifying) the storyline to form a tightly packed saga of agony, anguish and pain born out of the piteous history of divide and hatred. Heartrending as it was, the Abhishek Bhattacharya creation stole hearts with its simplicity and sheer honesty. Events were depicted and emotions projected on the screen with a vividness and conspicuous clarity that never once failed to touch the soul. The movie is on this year’s favourite list for much more than the situation it addresses, for the friendship it depicts and the relationship it cherishes.
Enough can never be written, said or shown about the Sri Lankan civil war… the ripple effects of which India felt in heavy blows as well. Madras Café comes rather close to capturing the gripping and absorbing turn of events in the times that define one of the darkest internal and external terrorist activities of all time. What is increasingly fresh about the movie is its tightness, its ability to fill each moment with action and show ground realities that, however obvious (now that corruption is something we have started coming to terms with, unfortunate as it may be). All in all it is a movie worth a mention in this year’s releases, given the sheer genius that underlies the historical narrative.
Every once in a while a movie is made which is as fluid as poetry, which flows through the nerves and veins and reaches its magic to every breathing particle of our being. Lootera is one such phenomenon, a beauty to the eye, an experience of a kind, one that leaves the sensitive viewer awestruck and grappling for words to describe it. As a period movie, Lootera captures the sepia tinted post-independence Bengal with an ease and intelligence that only an artist can achieve. Also, a very particularly striking aspect of the movie is the true message of passionate love and undying devotion that two people, in forbidden love, can hold in their hearts for each other. The story truly teaches one what redemption could ever mean to a mortal being and a repenting heart.
Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani
Movies come and movies go, but love stories stay on forever. Or that is what Bollywood buffs would tell you, anyhow. But some love stories tell us much more. Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani is one such, where the narrative talks of a dream, an understanding and a divine connection between two people who earnestly understand each other and the thoughts they hold deep in their hearts. The movie, though light and “fun”, has a deeper message to deliver- one of a tremendous and all engaging passion that drives an ambitious boy and takes him places, satisfying every wish his heart withholds, one of fervour and travel, one of climbing the stairs of a dream that takes the protagonist away from home but nearer to the fire that burns within him. The message is clearly delivered by the protagonist himself- “Mujhe udna hai, daudna hai, girna bhi hai. Magar rukna nahi hai.” And true it is, for even when in love both the characters know that it is their dreams and the differences in their priorities that could separate them as well as bind them together with a chord of unique similarity.
Well, we never run out of love stories, do we now? From time to time, we have had various adaptations of the epic Romeo and Juliet by various Indian directors, who have had their own little take on the story. Bansali brings together a sensitively captured, terror-stricken town of Gujarat and the immortal “leela” of two young people fighting for their love in the land of blood lust and civil war. The divide, the hatred, the power struggle and the loss, the futility more than anything else, sets the movie apart and coldly points out to all those willing to observe that it is we who kill the love that lives amongst us, even though we can help it, even if it is in our hands, we let compassion slip away.
My final pick is an amusing con film, one which touches humour, while it brings our very own Robin Hood alive. The story, entertaining and suspense laden, brings together a brilliant cast that masterminds fake raids and takes from those who steal from the honest. An entire operation conducted with precision and planning, so much that the viewer is left hanging to the end of the seat till the very end, takes us across the country, travelling its way through Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai, filling each sequence with a certain “special” spark. What sets the movie apart is how taut and precise the entire screening successfully sums up to be.