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21 December 2011

My Favourites: Ten New Films

With a few exceptions, I have restricted myself on this blog to the films of the fifties and sixties. They are amongst my favourites. It's not that I do not watch new films - there was a time my mother despaired of my sister and me because every Friday evening saw us at the 'first day, first show' at our neighbouring theatre. 'Good' girls from 'good families' didn't go to theatres on their own! Besides, what would people say? Neither my sister and I really cared - besides, the lure of the movies was too strong. And when my sister married (and became staid and respectable), my younger cousin took her place as we merrily watched every new release. :)

Then, I got married. And found out that my new husband was a film-snob - he would watch English movies, he would watch the best of international cinema, and he would watch old black and white Hindi films! But he turned up his nose at the total masala films. Pest! The first few months after my marriage, I spent twiddling my thumbs because I had just come to Bombay, and I didn't have a job. Cooking and cleaning took hardly any time (think of a 500sq ft flat), and so I watched a lot of movies. A lot! The neighbourhood videowala once hailed my husband and said, "Your wife watches a lot of chavvani films, doesn't she?" Considering that he was sourcing The Seventh Seal and The Bicycle Thief  for my husband, I suppose having someone from the same house asking for Andaz Apna Apna and Main Khiladi Tu Anadi was too big a shock to bear! Pest!

In recent years, though, going to a theatre has diminished considerably. I still see the odd movie, but the eagerness to catch every film released is no longer there. The fount of my patience has run dry, as technique and gloss triumphed over content. However, here and there, there has been a glimmer of hope. I now watch films based on directors' names (Vishal Bharadwaj, Raju Hirani, Shimit Amin) rather than stars (with the possible exception of Aamir Khan); or I wait for someone I trust to recommend a film. 

Despite all these self-imposed limitations, I have seen and enjoyed the following films. What I find interesting is that almost all of them are small(er)-budget films. Most of them did not have 'stars'. Almost all of them were above-average boxoffice successes. What they all had in common were good stories, strong scripts, and deft direction. So here, in no particular order, are a dozen of my favourite films from the last few years.

1. Pyar ke Side Effects (2006)
The most unlikely pairing in Hindi films - Mallika Sherawat (yes, she of the itsy-bitsy costume fame) and Rahul Bose (the 'intellectual' actor). It has every possible cliché that one can have in a love story. The hero meets the heroine at her wedding (to another man); soon, he is talking her out of running away from her own wedding. Six months later, he runs into her again. They meet again and again, fall in love, fight, patch up, fight again, and soon, she is on her knees asking him to marry her. 

By the time they are shopping for rings, household appliances, curtains, Siddharth (Rahul) is getting cold feet. Another fight, and Trisha (Mallika) flounces off to Delhi. By the time he realises he really wants to marry her, she is back with her ex-fiance (her father's choice) and all he has is her friend (who despises him) to help him! 
A funny, urban-centric film that pokes fun at Delhi girls, Bombay boys (and vice versa), takes a more adult look at relationships, has hilarious dialogues and a complete irreverence for everything including its own self.

So much fun that you forgive the few flaws.

2. Tere Bin Laden (2010)
Finally, a new comedy that does not mock the intelligence of its audience. It's a hilarious spoof on everything - the media, the US, Pakistan, Osama bin Laden, Pakistan... Mixing satire with a total irreverence, the zany plot careens all over the place as Ali Hassan (Ali Zafar, aspiring journalist, tries to reach his Mecca - the US of A. Unfortunately, passengers on his flight are fast to over-react to his rehearsing how his newscast would sound. Faster than you can say 'Bin Laden' Ali is deported. 

Nothing ventured, nothing gained, and Ali is on a bid to earn mucho money so he can go to the US as a Lashkar-e-Amrika operative. On one of his many jaunts around the Pakistani countryside covering rural rooster fights, Ali comes across Noora (Pradhuman Singh), an Osama lookalike, and his rooster. Ding-dong. Ali coaxes him into dressing up as Osama Bin Laden and coaches him on memorising a prepared script (the poor man has no clue what he is saying); the bright idea is to make a fake videotape and broadcast it to the world. Only, things do not work as well in real life as they do on paper (or in your head).
 
Watch what happens as the fake videotape gets into Amrikan hands. 

This is one film that deserved *every* bit of the critical acclaim and box-office success that it received. I haven't laughed so much in ages. Pradhuman Singh was excellent; so were Ali Zafar and Sugandha Garg (of Jaane Tu ya jaane na fame). Supported by a host of excellent character artistes, and a plot that gives you no time to think, Tere Bin Laden came as a whiff of fresh air.

3. Do Dooni Char (2010)
'Neetu Singh was making a grand comeback', screamed the headlines. "She's starring opposite Rishi Kapoor." Well, so? As the hype increased I began to be curious - what was so great about the film? I had not heard of Habib Faisal before (*sniff!*). All I knew (courtesy the Internet) was that he had written the heavily-acclaimed Band Baaja Baarat (which I hadn't seen). So I took a deep breath and waited.

Was it worth the wait! Oh, what a sweet gem of a movie! Finally, there was a story about the teeming middle-class of India, with their own dreams and aspirations; there was the local dialect, the (unwittingly) funny family members (the sister was a hoot!), the dreary flat with the paint peeling off the walls, the helpful neighbours - not since the old Hrishikesh Mukherjee / Basu Chatterjee (or even Sai Paranjpaye) days had I seen such a (affectionately) realistic portrayal of people's foibles and flaws.

Santosh Duggal (Rishi Kapoor) is a mathematics teacher, who ekes out his meagre salary by taking tuitions. His faithful steed is his old Bajaj scooter, and he will brook no diatribes against it. His wife Kusum (an absolutely adorable Neetu Singh) gave up her job as librarian when she got married, a fact that she is always rubbing in. Their two children, Payal (Aditi Vasudev)  and Dipu (Archit Krishna) have all the demands that teenagers have - only, their demands crash and burn against the red file that contains their father's income-tax returns.

When Kusum promises her sister-in-law that they will definitely attend a family wedding in a car, Santosh Duggal is flummoxed. An accident to a borrowed car, and a very natural wish to 'show them' causes Santosh to run helter-skelter to buy a car of his own! 

En route to owning a car, the children learn to have a new pride in their father whom they had derided for being 'too honest'; they also learn that behind his irascibility lies a loving heart. The film is heartwarming without descending into the lachrymose over-sentimentality that is the bane of many. The characters are real, and I guarantee that you will identify with their lives and predicaments.

The supporting cast (Mr Farooqui, take a bow!), from the tuition class owner to the sister to the Inspector whom the Duggals meet at the wedding are all people you and I have met at some point in our lives.

4. Bheja Fry  (2007)
The Rajat Kapoor- Vinay Pathak combine usually come out with something different from the usual, and Bheja Fry is no different. Of course, I came to know later that it was a ripoff of a French movie Le Diner de Cons (The Dinner Game), and I promptly put that on my Netflix queue, but since I was ignorant of its antecedents while watching the movie, I thoroughly enjoyed it. (The French film, while still a comedy, is darker.)

Ranjeet Thadani, the owner of a music company, and his friends, have an unusual habit - they have a weekly dinner, at which they take turns to bring a guest who is a simpleton, and who has an unusual hobby, or habit, from which they derive great amusement. Having run into Bharat Bhushan (Vinay Pathak) before, Ranjeet invites him as his guest - the bakra for that week's dinner. Bharat's ambition is to be a singer. 
That night, everything goes awry. Ranjeet's sprains his back and has to cancel the dinner. His wife (Sarika in a cameo) has just found out about his ongoing affair and may leave him at any time. In the ensuing chaos, he forgets to call Bharat and cancel - so who should turn up at the appointed time? Bharat is almost too eager to please, but every effort of his, to help, turns R's life even more topsy-turvey. The climax comes when Ranjeet finds out who Bharat really is. 

Watch this one for Vinay Pathak, who is slowly becoming one of my favourite actors.

5. Phas Gaya Re Obama (2010)
What happens when the recession in US makes its presence felt in India? While the bubble didn't quite burst in apna desh, the effects were surely felt across the land. The underworld surely felt it more than the salaried worker. Om Shastri (Rajat Kapoor) has woken up to find that overnight, his millions have vanished, and he is facing foreclosure. He has 30 days in which to find the money he owes the bank for the mortgage. The situation calls for desperate measures and Om comes to India to sell his ancestral land. 

A couple of days after he lands, he is kidnapped. By a gang who, hit by the recession themselves, want to hold him for ransom. Bhai Saheb (Sanjay Mishra), the leader of the gang cannot even afford to make ransom calls from his own cell phone. Om crushes his dreams when he reveals that he is broke. Soon, Bhai Saheb is faced with a dilemma - a senior gangster, who is also hit by the recession has heard of this pigeon, plump for the plucking (or so he thinks). He demands that Om be handed over to him. Om has a brilliant idea - he comes up with a plan that will make both kidnapper and kidnapped richer by several lakhs.
Soon, however, Om is shuffled off again - this time to the dreaded woman bandit, Munni (Neha Dhupia), who heads an all-woman gang. Om pulls the same stunt, pocketing a few more lakhs in the process. The journey has not ended for Om. There is another person in line who wants him...

A sparkling satire that masquerades as a screwbal comedy, Phas Gaya Obama gives me renewed hope about the future of Hindi comedies. Plot, characters, dialogues, direction, editing - all come together in a movie so outrageously (and originally) funny that it would be a shame if you haven't seen it yet!

6. Khosla ka Ghosla (2006)
A fantastic directorial debut. A small film with heart, a strong sense of plot and character, a humorous look at a serious issue, - Khosla ka Ghosla has all this and more. This is another film that portrays the middle-class with authenticity. 

Kishore Khosla (Anumpam Kher) has sunk all his earnings into buying a plot of land, upon which he hopes to build a house of his own. His sons are a disappointment to him - the elder one Balwant / Bunty (Ranvir Shorey) has grandiose plans that are never put into action; his younger son Chiraunjilal / Cherry (Parvin Dabas) is only intent on getting a job in an MNC and emigrating as soon as he can. When he takes them along to show them the plot, he is aghast to find that a builder, Khurana (Boman Irani) has unlawfully occupied the land. Khosla knocks on every door he can think of for legal help to evict Khurana, only to find that money talks.
With the help of his hitherto useless sons and their friends, Khosla tries to get his land back on his own. Does he succeed? 

With the Delhi lingo down pat, and deft direction, Khosla ka Ghosla  is a masterpiece of sly humour. Its success owes much to the two leads, Anupam Kher and Boman Irani, as much as it owes it to Jaideep Sahni, the unsung script writer. 

7. Jab We Met (2007)
Okay, I will confess. I'm not a Kareena Kapoor fan. I have never seen her on screen but that I wanted to smack her. No, that's not true - I actually liked her in Refugee. But then, I saw her in her now-famous 'Pooh' incarnation. Gark! Since then, I have wavered back and forth -  I liked her in Dev and Chameli; I hated her in Mujhse Dosti Karoge. So, when Jab We Met rolled along, and I saw it starred her, I almost dismissed it. But it also had Shahid Kapoor (whom I liked), and it was directed by Imitiaz Ali. So, reluctantly, I decided to give it a chance. 

Am I glad I did? Boy, yes! It's a madcap ride with Kareena firmly in charge, and exactly like her chatter, the ride shows any sign of stopping either. It's a simple love story, sort of 'old wine in a new bottle' but Imitiaz treats it differently and is ably abetted by his heroine and supported by a very understated hero.

Kareena's Geet is totally bindaas; she runs into Aditya (Shahid Kapoor) on the train. She is going to meet her family; he is going away from it all. His father has committed suicide, his business is on the verge of collapsing, his girlfriend has ditched him - life is too bitter to endure. She cannot keep silent. At all. He does not want to talk. At all. Geet is a sikhni from Bhatinda, and her non-stop chatter annoys Aditya. When he steps off the train, she stops him, under the impression that she is helping. When she misses the train, she blames him for it, and informs him that he better drop her safely to her home. 
Thus ensues a mad ride where Aditya manages to get Geet to the next station; only, she is too busy talking that she misses the train again! Aditya is stuck with her. By this time, however, he is thawing under her influence. He cannot help but smile at her simple naivete, and occasional street smartness. 

Stray bits of conversation are used beautifully by Geet in a bid to escape censure from her loving family (akeli ladki khuli hui tijori hoti hai intones the station master, and Geet reproduces it verbatim to her annoyed grandfather). Geet also has a solution for Aditya - she is planning to run away to marry her boyfriend; she suggests that Aditya elope with her cousin; they could make a run for it together. Aditya has no idea about the coils that this child-woman can cook up. Ten months later, her brother and uncle are at his doorstep, demanding to know where Geet is!

It's an amazing journey, with a surprisingly mature performance from the young Shahid. The characters are lovingly etched out, and the plot winds down to the climax without overt manipulation.

8. Chillar Party (2011)
Endorsed by the hunk (Salman Khan) himself, I watched this film with reservations. I had had my fill of children in films - saccharine sweet, made to mouth dialogues older than their years, over-smart, over-everything. From the time the credits rolled, I was laughing. As much at the kids, as with them. They are normal children, talk like kids talk, and have nicknames for everyone. Their parents are not caricatures - loving or abusive - they are just - parents. They can be as irrational, annoying, loving, supportive, horrible, wonderful, as any other normal parent. Luckily, it is the kids who take centrestage.
We are introduced to a motley bunch of kids living in Chandan Nagar - a building society - by their nicknames: Shaolin, Akram, Jhangiya, Silencer, Panvati, Aflatoon, Encyclopedia, Second-hand and so on. They are busy with school, and cricket. Until a new kid comes into the society. He is 'Fatka', the boy who comes to take the place of the odd-jobs man; he has an equally disreputable dog, Bhidu, as his sole companion. The children dislike Fatka on sight; Fatka couldn't care less. As long as he can buy biscuits for Bhidu, he is happy. Over time (and cricket) though, a bond is forged between them.
Now that he is one of their own, the children band together when danger threatens. A simple film with a great big heart, it connects with the audience and gets its message across without any preaching. I can only be glad that Salman Khan threw his entire might into supporting the making of this film.

10. Little Zizou (2008)
Another film that deals with children and their interactions with the adults in their lives. Set in the Parsi community in Bombay, Sooni Taraporewala goes back to her roots to take an affectionate, yet realistic look at the way community and society shape our live. Cyrus Khodaiji is a rigid religious scholar who believes that the community should be kept 'pure'. His nemesis is Boman Presswala (Boman Irani), the editor of a Parsi newspaper, who delights in poking fun at Khodaiji's hypocrisies.

Khodaiji's sons Xerxes (Jahan Bativala) and Artaxerexes (Imaad Shah) have no love for their father. Both prefer to spend their time in Boman's home; the younger one for the mothering that Boman's wife Roxanne (Zenobia Shroff) gives him; the latter, because he has a crush on Boman's daughter Liana (Iyana Bativala). When Khodaiji begins to get more strident about the purity of Parsi blood, things begin to go downhill fast.
It's a funny, touching look at a small, but very important community that has woven itself into the fabric of India. Peopled with many interesting characters, speaking the very specific Parsi dialect, Taraporewala manages to give us a glimpse into their very different world. Beautiful.

11. Jaane Tu ya jaane na (2008)
This is another movie that I went to watch with a lot of trepidation. It was a teen romance, had a cast, none of whom were familiar, except the actors who were enacting the roles of the parents, it was by a new director. Moreover, I 'knew' Abbas Tyrewala from his writings on Sulekha.com.  I have seldom enjoyed a film more.  Once again, it is old wine in a new bottle, but oh, the difference in treatment was immense. 

Jai (Imran Khan) and Aditi (Genelia D'Souza) are friends; everyone else around them knows that they are the perfect match, but they are bent on proving 'everyone' wrong. So they decided to find the perfect match for each other. When they do, they are not quite as happy as they thought they should be. 
Once again, the leads are supported by a fantastic group of players - from the newcomers who play their friends, to the veterans (Ratna Pathak Shah, Anooradha Patel (who looks like time stopped for her), Jayant Kripalani, Paresh Rawal) who play parents and enemy. Throw in an absolutely wonderful cameo by Naseeruddin Shah, a foot-tapping music score by AR Rehman, add dollops of humour even to the clichéd climax, and you have a film that leaves you with a smile long after you exit the theatre. Oh, and bonus points for referencing Mera tujhse ka pehle tha naata koi sung so beautifully and so off-key by Imran.

For a detailed review, see here.

12. Loins of Punjab Presents (2007)
A quirky look at the world of reality singing shows. Seven discrete individuals - an arrogant socialite, a wannabe actress, an American with a yen for Bollywood, an Indian American rapper, a teenager who has the talent and wants to make singing her profession much to the dismay of her Gujarati parents who have already plotted her life for her, a businessman lost in love, a yogi who wants to sell his Yoga DVD - and the Loin King. (Seriously!)

It really is much harder than it looks to weave all their disparate stories together in a way that makes us care for them, and even for the outcome of the contest, but debutante Manish Acharya, who was also the film's writer manages to pull it all off with style. From the reason for the name of the film, to the event manager in his shiny synthetic suit, to the manipulations of the upper crust, nothing is safe from his satirical pen.
Set in the US, amongst the Indian diaspora, one of the most effective scenes in the movie is when the crowd chants 'Foreigner, go home' to the sole American contestant.

It's not a great film by any means, but it is truly hilarious, and for those of us who live abroad, it is a very realistic depiction of the Indian community. Excellent casting, superb performances, and deft direction make this a must-watch.

Aside: Manish Acharya died a year ago, in a freak accident.

There are quite a few other movies in recent years that I have really, really liked, but I have deliberately kept this list down to films that did not boast of big stars or overstuffed budgets.

What films have you seen in recent years that you liked?

54 comments:

  1. Anu, too many to recommend, let's see how many I can suggest now:

    1. Manorama Six Feet Under
    2. The President is Coming
    3. Dhobi Ghat
    4. Shor in the City
    5. Ishqiya
    6. Udaan
    7. Peepli Live
    8. Dev D
    9. Firaaq
    10. Sankat City
    11. Chintuji
    12. Rocket Singh
    13. Aamir
    14. Dasvidaniya
    13. Khuda Ke Liye (Pakistani)
    14. Johnny Gaddar

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  2. Pradeep, that's  why I restricted myself to a dozen. Of your list, I didn't like Khuda Ke Liye (it didnt quite live up to its hype) or Peepliu Live (It didn't know whether it should stick to farmers' suicides or spoof the media). The rest are all very very nice.

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  3. Out of this my favourite is Tere Bin Laden. One of the best films I've ever seen (because it was a genre I love - spoof).

    Another really great 'spoof' film is Chintuji.
    I've never felt so sad for a film that suffered such and undeserved flop.

    Phas gaye Obama was good too.

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  4. Agreed with the Peepli Live point but I think the creators were themselves more interested in the media spoof rather than highlighting the suicides but it was largely projected as a farmer suicide story and so the expectations were quite skewed.

    Khuda Ke Liye was quite a landmark for a Pakistani movie, I suppose (may also be due to our ignorance of Pak media). Thought the court room scene with Naseeruddin Shah was riveting in its debate but disappointed with the ending esp., the protagonist willing to let go of the case despite being kidnapped and raped by the man.

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  5. Borrowing from your list & E Pradeep's mine would be :-
    1) Johnny Gaddar
    2) Being Cyrus
    3) Little Zizou
    4) Dev D
    5 & 6) 2 Munnabhai films
    7) Ishqiya
    8) Khosla Ka Ghosla
    9) MSFU
    10) Delhi Belly

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  6. I forgot to add for blockbusters --- Lagaan & Chak De India

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  7. I didn't actually mind the ending so much; it's realistic. All she wants to do is be able to go back. She's already witnessed the Pakistani legal system, and she doesn't want to get embroiled in it again. It was okay.

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  8. You are the second person who has recommended 'Chintuji'. I really should watch it.

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  9. I deliberately kept away from the big-budget star vehicles, though I enjoyed both the movies you mentioned.

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  10. What is MSFU? I loved the Munnabhai movies. Didn't make the list because I was keeping off big actors. Sriram Raghavan (Johnny Gaddar, Ek Haseena Thi) is one director whose films I will watch on the strength of his name.

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  11. Thank you for this, Anu - I don't generally watch new films unless someone I trust recommends it to me, so this post of yours is very helpful! From your list, I've seen only a handful of films - Phans Gaye Re Obama, Bheja Fry, Jab We Met and Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na - so you've given lots of good movies to get started on. :-)

    Most of the movies I've enjoyed in recent years have already been mentioned by someone or the other in the comments, but here are a few more that I liked:

    1. A Wednesday
    2. Maalamaal Weekly
    3. Lafangey Parindey
    4. Wake up, Sid!

    (Incidentally, I'd been meaning to respond to your comment on your Nandanam post, but since it has a bearing on this list, why not put in my comment here itself? ... I would've thought that Nandanam's small-town-human-people (shades of grey, not black/white) would stand a chance for a national release because a lot of the films that have done well in recent times have been films like that. A lot of the films you've listed are like that: about normal people. The only concern I have is about whether the deeply religious angle of Nandanam will appeal to a lot of people.)

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  12. MSFU is Manorama Six Feet Under.
    I just saw Dustedoff's list, and I forgot to add "A Wednesday" & "Black Friday", liked both these movies as well.
    Yesterday I commented in a hurry, so let me add today ---
    Really liked your initial descriptions, about your film viewing & experiences in Bombay (500 sqft, that is so Bombay). I have seen a lot of movies, although never on the first day. And I can see a Bombay videowallah calling your films "chavvani", even they have their standards :)

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  13. Madhu, there certainly were some very good movies that came out in this decade. What is interesting is that most of them were small films. I do tend to watch anything from Aamir Khan Productions - he usually has a good sense of cinema, and there are some unusual picks there.

    From Pradeep's list, do watch Udaan. Bee-yoo-ti-ful! (Bonus - some excellent poetry!) Also, Sankat City and The President is Coming!

    'Wake up, Sid' was good, but it required some amount of suspension of disbelief. I was a journalist in Bombay. I would have liked to have Konkana's flat - even before she got a job! (Sorry, pet peeve!) I haven't seen 'Lafangey Parindey' - you liked it; I should put it on my to-watch list. And both pacifist and Pradeep have recommended Chintuji.

    If you liked 'A Wednesday' (I did too) then you should watch 'Mumbai Meri Jaan'. I was sticking to movies that were on the lighter side, but there were some really good serious ones too. Apart from the recommendations in the comments, here are some more that I liked:

    1. Karthik Calling Karthik
    2. Dev
    3. Ab Tak Chhappan
    4. I Am
    5. Main Meri Patni aur Woh (I can't recommend this enough!)
    6. Tahaan
    7. The Blue Umbrella
    8. Kaminey (I liked it; some people didn't)
    9. M Brother Nikhil
    10. Maine Gandhi ko Nahin Maara

    And I'll stop, lest you hit me on the head for adding to your to-watch list! :)

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  14. Thanks for the compliment.

    Black Friday was really good. In fact, that would make up the Bombay terror trilogy, no? A Wednesday, Mumbai Meri Jaan and Black Friday?

    And I can see a Bombay videowallah calling your films "chavvani", even they have their standards :)

    Meh! He was making his money from people like me. How many people do you think watch 'The Bicycle Thieves' or 'The Seventh Seal'? (Both of which I have seen and liked, by the way!) Besides, I was totally undiscriminating in those days - I watched everything I got my hands on. :) And I must confess that I thoroughly enjoyed Main Khiladi Tu Anadi. :))

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  15. @Madhu , I forgot to respond to your comment on Nandanam - I too wish it had a national release. After all, it is a story that could easily be transferred to any little town - especially one that has a famous temple close by. (Or Church. Probably not a mosque because Islam does not put a face to the name of God.)

    I do agree with you that it may not be accepted though it would be very strange if the religious overtones turned people off. Considering most Hindi movies beat us on the head with 'praying in a temple = whatever they wish for will happen'. :)

    There is a note at the end of the film which says  this was a young girl's belief at work; it could have happened that way. Or not. As I said in the review, I do not have that sort of belief, but I can appreciate how someone who does, may believe such things.

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  16. Maybe we can draw parallels to role of the Church in 'Pranchiyettan & The Saint' in a very minor way. Pranchi needs St Francis to bless him and convince him of the path that he wished to take. 

    In the end, when St Francis shows him the three visions, I wonder whether St Francis actually showed him the truth or decided to guide Pranchi by showing what he thought would help Pranchi in taking the right path. None of the visuals may have happened but the Lord did his part in convincing Pranchi that his failures were just a mirage. Of course, the character of St Francis was also a matter of faith for Pranchi just as it was for Balamani. Also, both the movies share the same director, so just a thought..

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  17. new films!
    I hardly watch them.The only films, which I have seen from your list was
    Jaane Tu ya jaane na (2008) and Loins of Punjab Presents (2007). Some of the newer films, which I liked were
    Wake Up, Sid!
    Peepli Live
    and
    Johnny Gaddar

    I might see Dhobi Ghat on Tuesday. In theatre!!!

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  18. Pradeep, there is not as much religious overtones in  Pranchiyettan as there is in Nandanam. Even though both were a question of faith and belief.  But yes, there is a commonality running deep under the themes of both films.

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  19. Lucky you! I missed Dhobhi Ghat when it played in a theatre near us; I have it on my Netflix queue and am waiting eagerly to see it. Sadu watched it on his flight to India. He liked it. In fact, in a view contrary to most, he preferred Aamir and the other girl to Prateik and Monica Dogra. Do tell me how you liked it after you watch it.

    I do not watch as many new films as before, but yes, I seem to have seen most of the films listed in the comments, so maybe I have seen more than I thought I did!

    I'm pleasantly surprised to see how many nice movies have come out in the past decade. Until I began to list them, I kept thinking they were an aberration.

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  20.  Oh, I don't mind getting as many recommendations as can come my way - especially when they're from people who taste usually matches mine! By the way, another film which was recommended to me (though I've not seen it yet) as Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge - I heard it was lots of fun.

    You're very right about Konkona Sen Sharma's character living in such a swish flat, even before she'd got herself a job (and a journalist's, too!) - that was so unreal. And when they were going about happily splashing paint all over the place, I was thinking, "Does paint grow on trees? Does whoever made this film realise how much paint costs?!"

    Still, barring that, I thought it wasn't a bad film.

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  21.  Okay, I must admit I have a lot of faith in God, but conversely, I refuse to believe in all this "God will drop a flower and make everything all right" trash that Hindi films propogate (do they still do, by the way?) Despite that, I thought the concept of faith paying off was handled sweetly and well in Nandanam - partly perhaps because the deity was shown as a friend, not as some sort of awe-inspiring gold-bedecked personage with a chakra whirling around an index finger.

    When I said that the religious overtones may put people off, I was wondering whether Hindi films to tend to do that 'religious stuff' still. As I've mentioned, I don't watch too many new Hindi films - and I haven't seen much of that happening in the films I have seen.

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  22. dustedoff, Atithi tum kab jaoge was great fun. Not a 'great' film by any means, and went on a little more than was necessary, but definitely a good one. Ajaya Devgan, Konkana and Paresh Rawal made it definitely worth spending two odd hours watching it.

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  23. partly perhaps because the deity was shown as a friend, not as some sort
    of awe-inspiring gold-bedecked personage with a chakra whirling around
    an index finger.


    This! That is exactly what Sadu was saying when we discussed the religious undertones - he was of the opinion that it was not religious at all. We both liked the way Krishna was represented to - he was more often than not playful, no? He didn't seem to spend much time being all godly.

    And you are right - I haven't seen much of the '"God will drop a flower and make everything all right" (laughing at that description, by the way)in recent films, at least not the ones that I have seen. Even Lagaan, which had a bhajan didn't have such divine intervention, even though they did win the cricket match the next day! :)

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  24. Of your list, I haven't seen Chillar Party (Salman's name being attached to the venture scared me off), Pyar ke Side Effects (Mallika. Do I need to say any more?) and Little Zizou (hadn't even heard of this film!). Now, I have to go and source these films.

    My favourites, apart from the ones you listed and the ones in the comments (I haven't seen Chintuji either):

    Pinjar
    Astitva (I can't believe you didn't list that)
    Makdee
    Iqbal
    Dil Chahta Hai
    Saathiya
    Lakshya
    Antar Mahal
    Hey Ram
    Well done, Abba

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  25. I too preferred the episode of the girl and Amir. Didn't care much for the dhobi and NRI girl attraction.

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  26. Y'know, it's interesting that you should say that - I was talking to another friend of mine, and he said the same thing. And it made me wonder, because the newspapers were full of how good Prateik was, and how wonderful Monica was... I hope Netflix sends it soon. I want to see it.

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  27. Madhu, my jaw dropped at that scene too, and I was thinking that the privileged people who made the movie had really no idea about the reality of middle-class mumbai!

    You know the other sore spot? That all Ranbir had to do was to take a few shots, and pouf! just like that, he gets a job as a photographer in the same magazine! I'd like to work for that magazine. Really.

    Still, it was a decent movie.

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  28. Laughing at your reasons for not watching those movies, Sridhar! However, I think you may like them. If you don't feel free to come back here and give me gaalis for recommending them. :))

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  29. A few more - 
    Amu
    Hazaron Khwaishein Aisi
    My Brother Nikhil
    Sehar
    Raincoat
    Khamosh Pani

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  30. Johnny Gaddar is out of the world

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  31. Yes, Johnny Gaddar was a really good film. I like Sriram Raghavan's films. His earlier one, Ek Hasina Thi was also very good.

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  32. All good ones. :) You do realise, no, that almost 95% of the films listed (in the post and comments) are 'small' films? I think that itself is a good trend.

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  33. Hah! I like recommendations! Of your list,  I haven't seen Chillar Party or heard of Little Zizou. Must go off and source them right now if you have recommended them! And I must be the only person who didn't like Jab We Met much. :(

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  34. You keep making these recommendations, and I keep on adding them to my to-watch list. I'll probably need a couple of decades to finish what is on there right now! :( Like many of your readers, I haven't seen Chillar Party either (for the same reason as Sridhar, I think) and haven't heard of Little Zizou. After I read your mini-review, I went and took a look at it on IMDB - how do you find these little known movies beats me.

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  35. Hi Anu

    Regarding your comment on the end scene of Khuda Ke Liye " she just wants to go back" , are you sure you saw the whole ending scene? I personally feel that the ending was a big compromise on the part of the film maker. I was in a state of disbelief at the end and my immediate thought (like Pradeep) was after all that ill treatment by her family husband included and her trying to escape all the time, she suddenly decides to stay back in Pakistan and continue with her social cause. A more realistic ending would have been her returnin to the UK and continuing her social efforts via a NGO.

    Two good movies (small ones) missing from your list of good recent movies are "Gafla" and "Meera Bai not out". Gafla is a very interesting movie based on the stock exchange scandal in India a few yrs ago (Harshad Mehta). Meera Bai not out is a pritish nandy film which unfortunately seems to have gone unheard - perhaps Pritish films should do better marketing. After a long time there is a movie centered around a middle class family. It is a love story set against a cricket background but is not a cricket or sports movie per se. I look forward to your reviews if you happen to view/review these on your blog

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  36. "Bol" - pakistani movie on a powerful social theme is also very interesting.  

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  37. Filmbuff,  now I'm beginning to wonder whether I did! I could have *sworn* that she went back to the UK! It's not a film that I liked very much.

    I have not seen either of the films you mentioned - in fact, I have never heard of Gafla, but I have heard of Meerabai Not Out - isn't that the one with Mandira Bedi? I remember thinking it sounded interesting, but I haven't seen it yet.

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  38. Anu, she stays back in Pakistan to set up a school there; not exactly the kind of response that you'd expect from someone who intends to escape from the place, eh?

    Haven't heard of Gafla either..Saw Meerabai Not Out on a bus journey to Bangalore- don't recollect finding it interesting enough...

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  39. Hi Pradeep

    Do see Gafla if you get a chance. I liked Meerabai not out for a simple well told story

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  40. Yes it is the one with Mandira Bedi. Do give it a chance if you happen to get it. Gafla is a very interesting movie. Bol was good when compared to KKL.

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  41. @ Pradeep, then my attention must have wandered by the time the last scene came around. :) I remember Naseer declaiming in the court room and I remember her being escorted out, free (I thought) at last - since the movie didn't really live up to the hype for me, I really seem to have blanked out the rest. Anyway, I'm not going to go back and see it again. :))

    @ Filmbuff - I will put Meerabai Not Out on my to-watch list. Thanks for the recco.

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  42. Am not recommending Meerabai Not out but have heard good reviews on Bol; directed by the same director of KKL - Shoaib Mansur.

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  43. Pls do and let me know your frank views whether u liked it or not. I can give my reasons for liking it but that would mean spoilers. So I rather discuss it later

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  44. I will. :) Hopefully, I will get to watching it soon.

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  45. Funny, I heard Bol petered out mid-way. :)

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  46. No it didn't. In attemptingto address one serious issue it also addresses another when the main lead makes choices and decisions. I found some parts archiac and contrived but overall it maintains one's interest. Having said that i don't think this would be every one's cup of tea in the sense a serious movie attempting to highlight serious issues

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  47. I'll keep an open mind then, and put this also on my to-watch list. When I'm going to get around to watching all this!

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  48. I wud suggest see all other recos and skip this actually

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  49. One more reccomendation which I saw at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival today: 'Bubblegum' - another coming of age story. Never heard of the movie when it released in July last year; had to choose between 'Teesri Manzil' and 'Bubblegum' today at the festival...The list keeps piling:)

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  50. For piling on the recommendations regularly or choosing 'Bubblegum' over 'Teesri Manzil'? :)

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  51. For a) Piling on recommendations (When am I going to watch everything?
    b) For watching Bubblegum when you could have seen Teesri Manzil...

    Above all, for being lucky enough to go to the Kala Ghoda Film Festival. :( I want to be im Bombay now! :(

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  52. Anu, when I reached the venue, thought I'd watch Teesri Manzil and tell you later about it, after all your nostalgic outpourings but opted out at the last minute, after entering the hall! Would have been unlike me if I'd actually have watched Teesri Manzil, eh?

    Have also enrolled for a 2 day workshop on Film Appreciation being conducted by Jabberwock during the next weekend at the same venue. One more reason to hate:)

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  53. I would have been shocked indeed, if you had watched Teesri Manzil but I would have patted myself on the back for making you at least think about watching it!

    Film appreciation course?! Go away! I don't like you at all...

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