Monday, January 12, 2015

Bollywood 2014 : The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

At the end of each year, every single tom, dick and harry does an end of the year list for Bollywood, Hollywood, and every other industry. We all get tired and benumbed reading but the lists dont seem to end. So here we go, I will do another one. Although, I am putting up my year end summary quite late into this month and hoping that everyone's mind would be refreshed by now, only to be spammed again. At the onset, let me outline the criteria for this one. I have only included mainstream Hindi films that found a release this year, and not the ones that you saw at some festival or a private screening. So read on and enjoy!

WORST FILMS OF 2014

We make a barrage of very bad films, like terrible films. If you do not believe me, please go to Wikipedia's list of all Hindi films in 2014, the list I used to work this out, and you will see that you will not even have heard of more than 60% films. No kidding. Thus, it is the hardest task to choose the worst films for a year. But here, I have chosen five films that completely disappointed the audience in me, and were also quite in the limelight when they came out. So I am not going to dwell on the scores of them who no one heard of, but rather on the ones that were talked about and were despicable.

5. The Xpose (Dir : Ananth Narayan Mahadevan)
4. Bang Bang (Dir : Siddharth Raj Anand)
3. Mary Kom (Dir : Omung Kumar)
2. Entertainment (Dir : Sajid-Farhad)
1. Ragini MMS 2 (Dir : Bhushan Patel) 

Yes, I found Humshakals and Action Jackson more bearable than these. 

Other dishonorable mentions - Jai Ho, Heartless, Creature 3D, Kaanchi, Samrat and Co, Ungli, Raja Natwarlal and a million more. 

BEST LEAD PERFORMANCES

ACTRESS

3. Parineeti Chopra (Hasee Toh Phasee)
2. Alia Bhatt (Highway) and Tabu (Haider)
1. Kangana Ranaut (Queen)

ACTOR

3. Sanjay Mishra (Ankhon Dekhi)
2. Aamir Khan (PK)
1. Shahid Kapoor (Haider)

Special mentions - Tahir Raj Bhasin (Mardaani), Riteish Deshmukh (Ek Villain), Kay Kay Menon (Haider), Lisa Haydon (Queen), Rani Mukerji (Mardaani), Rajkumar Rao (Citylights)

BEST STORY

A good story or concept may not translate into the best film on screen, as film is a collective enterprise, where a lot of talents and lack of talents have to come together and the final output may not be the one imagined initially. Here are five films that had the best freshest story, irrespective of how they turned out to be.

5. Ugly (Anurag Kashyap)
4. Miss Lovely (Ashim Ahluwalia)
3. PK (Abhijat Joshi, Rajkumar Hirani)
2. Ankhon Dekhi (Rajat Kapoor)
1. Filmistaan (Nitin Kakkar)

BEST SCREENPLAY

We often confuse a good screenplay with a good story, and also with a good film or vice versa. However, the truth is that the same story can be told in a screenplay in 10 different ways at least. Thus, although a film like Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania and the classic Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge had the same story, they had very different screenplays. Sometimes, very good screenplays come out of very average storylines as you will see a few surprises here as I have tried to judge which writers made the best use of their story in scripts. 

5. Highway (Imtiaz Ali)
4. Ankhon Dekhi (Rajat Kapoor)
3. Ugly (Anurag Kashyap)
2. Haider (Vishal Bharadwaj, Basharat Peer)
1. Queen (Vikas Bahl, Chaitally Parmar, Perveez Sheikh, Anvita Dutt, Kangana Ranaut) 

TOP 12 FILMS OF 2014

A good story and a good screenplay, or atleast either of those, most probably translates into a good film, unless the director is a dimwit who messes it all up. However, and more commonly in the Hindi Film Industry, directors make decent films out of bad screenplays. And that is where the surprise comes in this list. Every selection has been made keeping in mind the film's overall entertainment value to general audience as well the craft employed to tell it on screen, in the end giving us the best wholesome film experience possible. 

12. Ek Villain 
      Producer - Balaji Motion Pictures
      Director - Mohit Suri
      Starring - Siddharth Malhotra, Riteish Deshmukh, Shraddha Kapoor
        
11. Sulemani Keeda
       Producer - Tulsea Pictures, Mantra/Runaway Entertainment
       Director - Amit V Masurkar
       Starring - Naveen Kasturia, Mayank Tewari

10. Mardaani
        Producer - Yash Raj Films
       Director - Pradeep Sarkar
       Starring - Rani Mukerji

9. Dedh Ishqiya
      Producer - Shemaroo Entertainment, Vishal Bharadwaj Pictures
      Director - Abhishek Chaubey
      Starring - Naseeruddin Shah, Arshad Warsi, Madhuri Dixit, Huma Qureshi
      
8. Filmistaan
      Producer - Shringar Films, UTV Spotboy Films
      Director - Nitin Kakkar
      Starring - Sharib Hashmi, Inaamul Haq

7. Miss Lovely
      Producer - Sanjay Shah
      Director - Ashim Ahluwalia
      Starring - Nawaazuddin Siddiqui, Anil George

6. PK
      Producer - UTV Motion Pictures, Vinod Chopra Films
      Director - Rajkumar Hirani
      Starring - Aamir Khan, Anushka Sharma

5. Ankhon Dekhi
      Producer - Manish Mundra
      Director - Rajat Kapoor
      Starring - Sanjay Mishra, Seema Pahwa, Rajat Kapoor

4. Ugly
      Producer - DAR Motion Pictures, Phantom Films
      Director - Anurag Kashyap
      Starring - Rahul Bhat, Ronit Roy, Tejaswini Kolhapure, Girish Kulkarni

3. Queen
      Producer - Viacom 18 Motion Pictures, Phantom Films
      Director - Vikas Bahl
      Starring - Kangana Ranaut, Lisa Haydon, Rajkumar Rao

2. Highway
      Producer - UTV Motion Pictures, Nadiadwala Grandson Entertainment
      Director - Imtiaz Ali
      Starring - Alia Bhatt, Randeep Hooda

1. Haider
      Producer - UTV Motion Pictures, Vishal Bharadwaj Pictures
      Director - Vishal Bharadwaj
      Starring - Shahid Kapoor, Tabu, Shraddha Kapoor, Kay Kay Menon, Irrfan Khan

Special Mention - Khoobsurat, Hasee Toh Phasee

Strongly recommended documentaries - Katiyabaaz, The World Before Her 

Overall, 2014 was not the greatest year for Bollywood and we can only hope that the selection becomes even more difficult in the upcoming year. Sadly, most of the movies expected to be good have turned out very average in the past year, and filmmakers need to pull up their socks to give out better films. Fingers crossed. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Tevar Movie Review : Attitude Not Found

So after watching Tevar, which released today, I came back home and my parents asked me the movie I had gone for, and so I told them. Post my announcement, here is the conversation my parents had. 

Dad : Kaun hai is picture mein?

Mom : Arjun Kapoor. Boney Kapoor ka ladka hai na.

Dad : Toh bekaar hi hogi kyu gaye dekhne fir?

Me : I watch every film

Mom : Uski Ishaqzaade achi thi. Lekin pata hai Comedy Nights mein aaye the woh aur Sonakshi, bilkul hi mare hue. Koi Amitabh ya Shahrukh aate hai toh dekho kya maza lagate hai, yeh toh bakwaas hai. 

Dad : Arre yeh Arjun Kapoor wagarah sirf 2 4 saal chalenge apne baap ke paise pe, phir koi tv show karte dikhenge.

Post that, I found myself singing a song. Not because I was avoiding their delectable conversation, but because I had already seen and heard too much Tevar for the day. And I am neither Superman, nor Salman ka fan. Fun song that, fun film? Meh. 

Amit Ravindernath Sharma, first time director, is also a successful ad filmmaker. Sanjay Kapoor, first time producer, is also a failed actor. Boney Kapoor, the unlikely husband of the beautiful Sridevi, is also Arjun Kapoor's dad, and much in love with him. Looks like Tevar was destined to happen, after all the son did not get a customary machismo fueled launch from the family. However, he has done fairly well for himself, Arjun, even after having those thunder thighs he does. Yes, go notice them. Well, I expected nothing great out of Tevar, but then there was Manoj Vajpayee, a stalwart who can add copious amounts of spice to any frame. Also, the film looked very true to its roots, that of the hinterlands of Agra and Mathura, so I could expect some crackling dialogue.

The truth is that writer-director Sharma has quite a bit of that, but the shining bits are sparse and the remaining material is laced with excruciating crap. First and foremost, Tevar is unabashedly long, at a runtime of 160 minutes with song frequency that would give a Sooraj Barjatya a run for his money. Secondly, while Sharma uses the backdrop of the setting with much vim, yet he fails to churn up one moment of surprise in the spluttering narrative. Thirdly, even formula can be done well with fleshed out fresh characters, but in Tevar everything is out of the standard stock. No doubt, Sharma has an active taste bud for showing brutality which works, as well as an assured intention to capture the right lingo and milieu. But as an unassuming audience, you do atleast expect a few things from a formula film.

1. The story should not start after 1 plodding hour into the film
2. The hero can be superman, but should carry some distinctive characteristics. Also, he does something on his own and not just reacts to situations. 
3. The heroine has atleast something to do, apart from just doing the dances or getting saved. (Believe you me, Sonakshi's Radhika does not shed a drop of blood even as people around her die or get injured for her)
4. The action, comedy and romance are innovative and well-balanced. 
5. The villain brings the juice to the proceedings. 

Sadly, apart from No. 5, Sharma is unable to manage anything else. Whats good here is some of his one-liners, organic comedy between Pintu (Arjun) and his friends and above all, the way he has staged some scenes with a rare freshness. Such as the scene when Gajinder Singh (Manoj Vajpayee) kills a reporter, or the scene before intermission when Pintu throws Radhika off the roof or the scene when Gajinder walks into the rally. Apart from a wee bit of smartness, an appalling majority of the film is largely hokey. For a film boasting of attitude, they have misunderstood it for misplaced badassery. Technically, Tevar scuttles through most details and no departments stand out as such, save for Cinematography. Laxman Utekar's camera does make everything look palpable, without being acerbic. Aparna Sud can take a bow for efficient Production Design as well. 

Tevar rests on Arjun Kapoor's shoulders but as expected, his shtick only comprises of limited expressions. Frankly, Pintu is an excessive stretch for him, as it is supposed to be a mix of Rambo, Terminator and Salman Khan, as claimed by the film itself. Kapoor may be twee enough for a lover boy, but not for this one so much. Sonakshi Sinha is a champion in sleepwalking through roles in films, and she does not surprise us once again. Thankfully, this one isnt as regressive a character however it is shockingly inconsistent. Subrat Datta and Rajesh Sharma are wasted. Amongst the steadying quality decline all around, Manoj Vajpayee stands like a mammoth, delivering the wisecrack villain with a seemingly innovative spin. His Gajinder Singh is what keeps you going through most of the torture. 

On the whole, Tevar is a dull disappointing fare which bathes the audience in a stinky mud of cliches. For all its worth, it offers a few inspired moments but they fail to leave a fulfilling impact. It has supposedly taken a good start at the Box Office and the makers have left no stone unturned to get the film out there. If not for anything else, it is the length of the film which will lead to ennui, and hence to bad word of mouth. Obviously, a million crazy girlfans of Arjun Kapoor will be following their orgasmic needs. But then Tevar calls for a few more serious questions. Firstly, how many times more will we see the same story in films again? Yes, I can enlist 10 films which have the same story. Secondly, what is Bollywood's obsession with showing Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and surrounding areas as lawless massacre grounds and cradles for open crime? But more on that later. For now, you can completely miss Tevar unless you get a free ticket.

Rating - 1.5/5

Originally published for MadAboutMoviez here