Top 10 Indian films of 2014- by Ram Anand

Haider betters even Maqbool and Omkara as it is a movie in which Vishal expresses his whole range as an auteur and not just a filmmaker. 2014 was filled with some really good movies, but none better than this.

1. HAIDER (Hindi)

Director: Vishal Bharadwaj

Music: Vishal Bharadwaj

Cast: Shahid Kapoor, Tabu, Kay Kay Menon, Shradda Kapoor, Irrfan Khan.

A Shakespearean adaptation of epic proportions. Vishal, who so successfully adapted Macbeth and Othello into rough Indian terrains in the backdrop of local conflicts to make two classic movies in the past decade, returns with his third adaptation of a Shakespeare work, in Hamlet.

haider-6a

Haider is set in Kashmir in 1995, at the height of the insurgency among the Indian army and the pro-independence and separatists movement. People are captured by the army, and taken away without a trace, and Haider (Shahid Kapoor) suffers a similar fate as his father is taken away by the army for giving shelter to a rebel leader.

As Haider searches low and high for his missing father, he is disturbed by the courtship between his uncle Khurram (Kay Kay Menon) and his half-widowed mother Ghazala (Tabu). When he is told that Khurram is the one who betrayed his father, Haider pledges revenge, an intention that would set a cycle of constant destruction in the lives of everyone involved in Haider’s life.

Never before has the bloodshed and the destruction of revenge been brought out in such an emotional, haunting manner. Vishal proves once again that he is a filmmaker of a generation as he plays around with semantics to pay ode to the original Hamlet, and also how he kept Roohdar (Irrfan Khan)’s character mysterious throughout the movie (as in Hamlet, Hamlet is told by a spirit (Roh) that his father was killed by his own uncle).

The scene before the gory final act when three old men dig their graves with a haunting rendition of “Aao Na” indicating how tired they are of life explains Haider’s state of mind brilliantly.

Haider betters even Maqbool and Omkara as it is a movie in which Vishal expresses his whole range as an auteur and not just a filmmaker. 2014 was filled with some really good movies, but none better than this.

2. JIGARTHANDA (Tamil)

Director: Karthik Subburaj

Music: Santosh Narayanan

Cast: Siddharth, Bobby Simha, Lakshmi Menon, Vijay Sethupath

Jigarthanda is probably the coolest gangster movie you would see in 2014. But the movie is not only about gangsters- it is also about filmmakers, filmmaking, and the challenges that comes in making films. In only his second directorial venture (after the hugely impressive low budget horror movie Pizza), Karthik returns to helm Jigarthanda with such finesse that leaves you spellbound for a couple of hours.

Karthik (Siddhartha) is an aspiring filmmaker who has been told by his producer to make a film on gangsters. He decides that his subject of research would be Assault Sethu (Bobby Simha) regarded as the most dangerous man in Madurai.

He first observes the gang from far, but not having enough information means that he tries to reach the gang through a mole. When his cover is blown, all hell breaks loose as Karthik is now forced to make the movie using Sethu himself as the hero.

At times, the movie borders on slapstick comedy, but never without potraying the hardship of a filmmaker and also contrasting it with the growth of a local gangster.

Simha’s performance is easily the best performance of the year, while Siddharth carries his part ably. Santosh Narayanan’s music is also brilliant.

3. PK (Hindi)

Director: Rajkumar Hirani

Music: Shantanu Moitra

Cast: Aamir Khan, Anushka Sharma, Sushant Singh Rajput, Boman Irani, Saurabh Shula

I probably didn’t laugh and thoroughly enjoy a movie as much as this one this year. The only reason PK in this list is because of Vishal and Karthik’s filmmaking geniuses which left me spellbound, beyond merely impressed.

PK came with huge expectations, and fulfilled every one of them and even took it to the next level. Rajkumar Hirani and Aamir teamed up to deliver a movie that was even more thought-provoking, and even funnier, than the timeless 3 Idiots, and this too will go down as a movie of a generation.

Amir was simply wonderful as the alien PK, carrying the entire film on his shoulders. While 3 Idiots was laced with many supporting actors sharing equal weight and even lending to comic timing, 3 Idiots was almost entirely about Aamir’s whole range of bravura. The details that went into his performance means that this easily could be the best performance of his career.

PK chronicles the story of PK (Aamir), an alien stuck on earth, who is told that God will help him retrieve the amulet that he had lost- an amulet that would allow him to return to his planet. His whole range of search for God, and discovering the many religions and cultures in India made this movie an exceptional parody and satire of God and Godmen.

Rajukumar Hirani never fails to deliver a heart-warming story in the most entertaining way possible- and after Munnabhai MBBS, Lage Raho Munnabhai, and 3 Idiots, he replicates the magic again here. This was well worth waiting until the end of the year.

4. QUEEN (Hindi)

Director: Vikas Bahl

Music: Amit Trivedi

Cast: Kangana Ranaut, Rajkummar Rao, Lisa Haydon

No movie in 2014 would have probably put a smile on your face as big as the charming, effervescent, lovely Queen had done. Directed by Vikas Bahl, Queen tells the story of Rani Mehra (Kangana Ranaut), who is dumped by her fiancee on the eve of their wedding day.

Heartbroken and yet clueless, the village Punjabi lass decides to travel to Paris and Amsterdam, her pre-determined honeymoon spots, on her own, without a partner. The movie becomes a journey of self discovery and she makes friends with a whole array of different individuals and becomes accepting of different cultures and grows her own confidence in herself.

Queen was poignantly made, carved out beautifully, and brought to the screen with an exceptional performance by Kangana, who charmed her way into our hearts. The movie had plenty of heart, and plenty of love to offer.

Amit Trivedi’s music was soothing and constantly uplifting, in tune with the mood of the whole movie. Unlike many other Bollywood flicks, Queen actually gets its foreign casting right. Instead of forcing European actors to mouth Hindi dialogues awkwardly, Queen had European characters being completely themselves and contrasting themselves with Rani’s Punjabi jokes and traditions.

5. HIGHWAY (Hindi)

Director: Imtiaz Ali

Music: AR Rahman

Cast: Alia Bhatt, Randeep Hooda.

Highway was heavy, emotional yet absolutely poignant. It portrays the unlikely love bond between a kidnapped rich girl (Alia) and her kidnapper (Randeep). The contrast in their characters is huge, but the way the screenplay was woven to make get gradually drawn closer to each other, and how they found solace in each other from their tormented daily lives.

The musical journey that came with it- in the form of AR Rahman’s most soulful music in recent times, was a magical experience, just like Imtiaz-AR’s previous combo Rockstar.

Alia Bhatt’s performance was easily the best performance by a female actor this year. It was majestic, and Randeep matched her all the way towards the end.

6. MARDAANI (Hindi)

Director: Pradeep Sarkar

Music: Salim-Sulaiman

Cast: Rani Mukherji, Tahir Raj Basin

Rani Mukerji’s performance alone is worth putting Mardaani in this list. The film hardly had any other stars and she carried the weight of the film entirely to ensure it was traveling at a breakneck speed.

The film chronicles a female cop’s foray into the word of child trafficking after a slum kid whom she was guarding goes missing from her home, apparently being abducted by a rigorous child trafficking ring in the city- which pits her against a heartless young man at the centre of it all.

With no help offered by her superiors due to jurisdiction problems, she goes out of her way, at times jeopardising her own husband’s medical practice and her children’s safety, to nab the kidnapper.

Rani was to Mardaani what Liam Neeson was to Taken, and she simply marvelled with her performance.

7. FINDING FANNY (Hindi)

Director: Homi Adajania

Music: Sachin-Jigar

Cast: Deepika Padukone, Naseruddin Shah, Dimple Kapadia, Arjun Kapoor, Pankaj Kapur

It is difficult to describe how important of a film Homi Adajania’s Finding Fanny was this year. The movie had a stunning star cast- Dimple Kapadia, Pankaj Kapur, Arjun Kapoor, Deepika Padukone, and Naseruddin Shah. But these five characters are not in a thriller. Instead, they are together here in a slowly-paced road movie, set in a remote village in Goa.

Everything about Finding Fanny screamed of the touches of an independent filmmaker, and movies like this are often done in India using a lesser known star cast. But Fanny stands out as five able actors, especially the three veteran ones, provide us with performances of epic proportions to move a still story along until the very end.

For me, Fanny was probably our own Little Miss Sunshine, a movie about dysfunctional people on a journey together and how they try to adjust to each other, in an effort to find Fanny, the long-lost lover of Naseruddin’s character.

Deepika proves in this movie that she can stand tall beside her more celebrated co-stars, and has the makings of a long career herself with her acting skills. Arjun holds his own too in such luminous company, though his character is not given much to impress aside from being grumpy half of the time. Finding Fanny would be a defining movie for Bollywood for years to come. And the fact that so many stars came together to star in a production that they knew was not going to mint money was heartening.

8. DEDH ISHQIYA (Hindi)

Director: Abhishek Chaubey

Music: Vishal Bharadwaj

Cast: Arshad Warsi, Naseruddin Shah, Huma Qureshi, Madhuri Dixit

The rampaging duo of Naseruddin Shah and Arshad Warsi return to play foolish thieves who get conned by a femme fatale for the second time running in Dedh Ishqiya. Vishal Bharadwaj has been one of the best filmmakers of our generation and his touches are just prominent throughout the movie, from the first scene till the last.

Abhishek Chaubey, the director, executes it to the gallery of hallmark Vishal-thrillers, and to replace the voloptous Vidya Balan, Madhuri Dixit plays the femme fatale, that of a Begum, to a tilt. The presence of Hema Qureshi adds another dimension to the characters.

This dark comedy was worth the time and money invested in it, once you manage to wait it out for the final moments of madness where everything comes to a head, and the two heroes end up paying the price for crimes that they had unwittingly participated for the sake of a woman.

9. VAAYAI MOODI PESAVUM (Tamil)

Director: Balaji Mohan

Music: Santosh Narayanan

Cast: Dulquer Salman, Nazriya Nazim, Pandiarajan, Madhoo

This film saw the return of director Balaji, who shot to fame with the 2012 romantic comedy Kadhalil Sodhapavadhu Yeppadi, was pleasant, unique and presented a potpourri of characters that are normally not available in regular Tamil movies.

The various layers of human relationships are brought out beautifully by Balaji with this story about a whole town that is rendered mute due to a disease spreading among its residents. When people resort to gestures to communicate only important things, they find the value of words again.

The film is paced well- at a pedestrian pace as we grow with the characters, with doses of humour generously sprinkled in some parts. The whole setting and the mood of the movie makes you feel good, and it is an amazing feat that Balaji managed to pull off a plot featuring so many characters without a single dialogue for the entirety of the second half.

Dulquer Salman and Nazriya Nazim were both pleasant, but it is the performances of character artistes such as Madhoo which adds flavour to the performances in this film.

This film is all about Balaji’s filmmaking techniques, and despite some flaws that can be attributed to his age, Vaayai Moodi Pesavum was one of the best, most pleasant, yet meaningful efforts at filmmaking in 2014.

10. VELLAI ILLA PATTATHARI (Tamil)

Director: Velraj

Music: Anirudh Ravichander

Cast: Dhanush, Amala Paul, Saranya Ponvannan, Samuthirakani

In my years compiling top ten lists for movies in a calendar year, I probably had never listed a movie regarded as a commercial potboiler in my top 10 list. This year, I’m breaking the convention with this movie, which was known popularly as D25 (Dhanush’s 25th film) or VIP, in abbreviation.

Everything about VIP’s story was not out of the ordinary. Dhanush plays a jobless youth, with a nagging father and loving mother, and a more successful brother to boot. He gets a job, but with it comes a villain who is determined to halt his plans with all his might. The story is the template you’d follow for a commercial movie, but what makes it stand out, however, is the sheer energy of Dhanush’s performances and also the brilliant, relentless screenplay by debutant director Velraj.

I make no apologies for considering D25 as a thoroughly entertaining movie, because it was exactly that. Dhanush’s energy is above par than his usual fares, presenting plenty of emotions, style, and guile that went hand in hand with a youthful, absorbing musical composition by Anirudh Ravichander, Dhanush’s favourite musical ally nowadays.

Both Samuthirakani and Saranya Ponnvanan were exceptional in their role as parents, and brought another layer of emotion to the story instead of appearing like the regular pedestrian “parents” depicted in most Tamil movies.

My biggest disappointment is the fact that Vasanthabalan’s Kaaviyathalaivan did not make it my top 10 list, despite my initial expectations that it would be here. A lack of execution for KT means that VIP stays in this list- probably a travesty for someone like me who loves cinema that is different from the regular commercial fare.

But when something’s good, you have to give due credit.

Ends.

Dedh Ishqiya- Movie Review by Ram Anand

This is the closest Bollywood has got to marrying Pulp Fiction to Double Indemnity, retaining the Tarantino mood and self-parody of gangsters, while arming its female characters with such sensuousness and oozing cunningness done in the best of femme fatale movies.

What makes a great movie? Good story, good execution, and good performances of course. But then, what makes a timeless cult classic? I don’t know the formula. It is something as mysterious to filmmakers themselves, because anyone who sets to deliberately create a cult doesn’t succeed in doing so.

Mind you, a cult classic doesn’t mean it’s a box office golden hen. It simply means that those who love this movie would literally drool and cherish every scene. Dedh Ishqiya, like its prequel Ishqiya, offers this unique experience- the experience of a classic. Something about the atmosphere, and the mood of this movie is so ingenious and masterfully crafted, that even the most serious dialogues can crack you up.

This is the closest Bollywood has got to marrying Pulp Fiction to Double Indemnity, retaining the Tarantino mood and self-parody of gangsters, while arming its female characters with such sensuousness and oozing cunningness done in the best of femme fatale movies.

Khalujan (Naseruddin Shah) and Babban (Arshad Warsi) return with their timeless combination, this time masquerading as a Sufi Nawab and his assistant, in an attempt to win the heart of Begum Para (Madhuri Dixit), the widowed wife of the Nawab of Mehmoodabad who organises a poetry competition to search for her new husband, which, according to her, was her husband’s last wish. She is ably assisted by the mysterious Muniya (Huma Qureshi), her assistant and closest confidante.

I don’t know want to give away anything more as they would be spoilers for this movie, but rest assured, you will find it hard pressed to discover a better potpourri of performances in a film this year.

Madhuri Dixit is simply timeless as Begum Para, while Huma Qureshi literally scorches the screen as she brings the kind of sensuousness that Vidya Balan brought to the first instalment of Ishqiya.

Naseruddin and Arshad, needless to say, are perfect as the double act thieves who lose their hearts with such simplified innocence that brings all their masterful planning and execution of their crimes to a naught.

Vijay Raaz adds to the mix as the immaculate Jaan Mohammad, the Nawab-wannabe, while you get a Kaminey-like gunfight at the climax. Vishal Bharadwaj’s music is wonderful, especially the theme song Dil Ka Mizaq Ishqiya. The opening song, Horn Ok Please, is just as catchy as Ibn-E-Batuta was from the first Ishqiya.

Equally brilliant is Vishal’s dialogues, which can make you laugh and ramp up tensions with the simplest of deliveries. And there are some real brave lines, such as Hema and Arshad’s stunning heated argument about sex and love when the movie picks up pace.

The innuendo to homosexual relations is hitherto another unfamiliar terrain for Indian filmmakers, and it was definitely not pursued in a manner like this before, though the hints, without a shred of doubt, were rather subtle rather than explicit. But all the same, these worked for the film’s artistic values.

Abhishek Chaubey and Vishal together had crafted the perfect screenplay that a cast and a production design like these demanded, and Abhishek obviously could not do much wrong in directing such a good material which has been laid out.

Dedh Ishqiya is better than Ishqiya, and I would not mind if the Ishqiya franchise is here to stay. Hell, Khalujan and Babban never bores me. This is a classic.

Rating: 9/10

Saat (7) Khoon Maaf- Movie Review

The film is, in its own way, a dark, haunting piece of poetry and you might have never seen or experienced before.

After the supremely entertaining ‘Kaminey’, in which Vishal Bharadwaj emerged out of the critically-acclaimed shell and went on to be both a critics’ darling and also a box-office moolah director, Vishal gets back to fulfilling his artistic thirst with his latest tryst, Saat Khoon Maaf.

Based on Ruskin Bond’s short story ‘Susanna’s Seven Husbands’ (this is the second time Vishal has adapted Ruskin’s work, the previous one being the Pankaj Kapoor starrer ‘The Blue Umbrella’, which was also Vishal’s directorial debut), Vishal dishes out a cinematic experience that Indian audiences might have never seen to date.

But that’s not to say the film is recommended for everyone. The bottom line is that some will find the film boring while some will cherish it to no ends. Those who loved Vishal’s Kaminey and became his fan after the Shahid Kapoor starrer might be in for a bummer, but for those who have adored this film-maker since his ‘Maqbool’ and ‘Omkara’ days (I fall into this category) will be in for a treat.

The film’s plot, strangely enough, has been revealed to the public even before its release. We all know that Susanna Marie Anne Johanness, an upper-middle class lady, will marry and kill her six husbands in her undying quest to find true love. Some who bothered to read the previews will also know why these six husbands deserved to die in Sussana’s hands, at least why she felt it was justified to kill them. But the only missing piece is the seventh husband, which basically arrives during the climax of the film.

So you will be sitting through a film for which you would already know three-quarters of the story. So do not expect surprises. You shall get what you are promised according to the previews and the trailer. It’s a travesty to go into the theatre and expect a Kaminey even after the promos clearly indicate that this will be a dark noir film.

Susanna (Priyanka Chopra) loses both her parents when she is young, and since then, she attempts to fill in the void left by his father, by attempting to find her true love. She quickly marries an army major (Neil Nithin Mukesh) in her youth, only to find him turning into a demon once he loses leg in battlefield. He bashes a fellow soldier for dancing with his wife, shouts at her, has her doing all household duties like housewives of the yore, and half-blinds one of her long-time servants. It’s a bit too far for Susanna.

She takes him out for a hunting ride into the jungle, under the pretext that he would get to shoot a man-eating panther. And when he gears up to shoot from a high branch, she pushes him down to be abhorred by the panther.

Then comes Jimmy Stetson (John Abraham). She meets him during her first husband’s funeral, and from there on it takes off. He is an aspiring musician, and their marriage gives him a break to stardom. He sweeps her feet off with his stunning ‘Oh Mama’, and sings to her almost all the time. But once stardom kicks in, his other side begins rearing its ugly head. She tries to save him, but all in vain. She had no choice, and so she killed him.

Frustrated, she heads out to Kashmir and then meets Wasiullah Khan (Irrfan Khan), a poet who sweeps her with his calmness, adoration and subtle poetry. Its eons apart from the hard-hitting rock Jimmy provided. But Wasiullah turns into an abusive beast while on the bed. He slaps her for not learning her verses well. She buried him alive under the snow.

Then came Nikolai Vronsky, a Russian. He desperately tries to woo her to date him, and even when she refuses, he insists on marrying her. But little did he know by marrying her, he has entered into a death trap. When she finds out that he has another wife in Russia that was all she needed. She feeds him to the snakes.

But this time there is trouble. Keemat Lal, a local inspector who drools over her sexiness smells the foul play. But all her ever wanted was to be able to touch her. So she gave herself to him. Countless Viagra pills gave him the ‘pure satisfaction’ that he wanted. But then that wasn’t enough. He divorces his wife and insists on marrying Susanna, and promptly turns up in a coffin in the very same church they get married in.

From herein on, plus another husband (Naseruddin Shah) the story slowly unfolds towards its climax.

The above synopsis that I have narrated clearly tells you what to expect from the movie. The plot has already been revealed. But what make it a worthy watch are the performances. Even though for only a brief time, every single husband play his part significantly. Neil Nitin Mukesh, often seen in more mellow characters, convinces as the brutal army major, so much so even you would feel like killing him.

John Abraham rocks his heart out as the crack of a musician he plays, and also convinces and the pathetic drug addict. Irffan Khan is brilliant as the hot-cold poet who has a beast inside him during the night. Naserrudin Shah is his usual brilliant self during his brief appearance.

Vivaan Shah takes the cake from the lot with his role as the half-frustrated, half-annoyed young man who cares for his saheb and yet resents her ways of doing things.

But above all of it, it is Priyanka Chopra who inevitably steals the show. She donned 12 avatars several years ago with the bomb What’s Your Rashee, but the seven avatars she takes in this movie beats almost any other female performance you have seen in the history of Bollywood. As the classy wife of a major who dances to jazz, as the rockstar’s wife who does crazy things with him and lies half-naked with him under the rain, as the Muslim poet’s wife who covers even her hair and becomes faithfully subtle and subdued, as the Russian bureaucrat’s wife who dances to Kalinka and drinks pints of Vodka, as a lusty inspector’s wife who just caters to his needs on bed and his disgusted by him off it, as a hurt woman trying to recover from a suicidal attempt while seeking solace in a healer, and also in her final avatar, she is a revelation.

The scene in which she murders Naseruddin is the best of the lot, with the kind of fear, heartbreak and also vengeance that she shows all in a single shot sending chills down your spine.

Usha Uthup also takes the plaudits in an excellent cold-blooded supporting role.

The music contributes heavily to the film. Apart from the distinct flavors of Oh Mama, Darling, and Bekaaran, the number Awaaran helps increase the tempo of the film while the dark, haunting composition of Yeshu basically epitomizes the whole film.

It has to be noted that it takes a brave person to make a movie along these lines- and it is not easy to write an engaging screenplay for a story as dark as this. But Vishal manages to incorporate those elements so well that he does complete justice to Ruskin’s short story. The film is, in its own way, a dark, haunting piece of poetry and you might have never seen or experienced before.

But then again, it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. Since the story was made public, the film’s main strength is the depth of characterization that comes with each character among a star-studded cast. From Usha Uthup to Vivaan to John, everyone gets an opportunity to flaunt his or her acting credentials in front of the camera.

If anything, this film reinforces the fact that Vishal is a master when it comes to extracting the best performances from his cast, and that he always knows how to choose the right people for certain roles.

As I always said, there is non-one out there who can make a dark movie as good as Vishal and he nails to that fact with his darkest, most morbid film to date. And yet he turns the audiences into cold-blooded beings as well with the scene in which Keemat Lal is shown dead. Though morbid, the promptness of that shot was so ignorant that it sent the theatre into restricted, yet stunned laughter.

There isn’t a comparison for a film like Saat Khoon Maaf, as there isn’t a film in this genre that has graced Bollywood yet (if I can discount Anurag Kashyap’s No Smoking, which is a film nobody understood).

All I can say is it is a very poetic film, but a stunningly morbid and dark one at that. But the ending of it does give you a distinct satisfaction.

Rating: 8/10

7 Khoon Maaf- Music Review

On the whole, this is the Vishal Bharadwaj show, and that’s all I’d say.

Vishal Bharadwaj. Oh, that name sends chills down my spine. I remember watching Omkara with the haunting ‘Naina’ song so many years ago. It was a combination of both- of the haunting music, the Shakespearean aura (the movie was an adaptation of Othello) and also the picturization. The mood and the tempo of his films are unmistakable. He tells a tragedy and yet I come out of the theatre every time feeling I have got my money’s worth.

Kaminey saw him depart to slightly ‘brighter’ territories, but heck, he doesn’t always have to please the ‘intellectuals’ don’t he? That movie was a blast for its genre. You’d think the concept of twin brothers at different ends of righteousness would be a bygone concept, but he redefined it.

Of course, ‘Dhan Te Nan’ and the criminally-good ‘Pehli Baar Mohabbat’ numbers helped them a great deal, but well, he is going to take all the credit will he not? For both music and film belonged to him. What this multi-talented storyteller can’t do?

So now, he is trying something so sinister- a story about a woman who marries (and presumably murders) all seven (!) of her husbands. I haven’t got my hands on Ruskin Bond’s novel (of which the film is based on) so I’m quite curious. I know he’s going back to Omkara days.

This is no adrenalin-rush ala Kaminey. This will be darker, and I love that fact.

So, here’s the music review, for a start:

The album starts with Darling, which by now should have been famous because it appears in the trailer. This song pretty much sums the whole film up- unconventional. Usha Uthup (yes, Madhavan’s mother in Manmadhan Ambu) shows her true potential here with great crooning. It sounds like a song a woman who sing just before she pulls a trigger mercilessly on a man. Well, we have seen male villains do this on women on screen and become classic psychopaths in the hall of fame, but here we have a woman doing it. Listen to it again, watch the trailer, and slowly when the images stick you’ll like this song.

If you will like that song, you’ll definitely love Doosri Darling. It literally means the ‘other’ Darling. It means another version of course. This song is based on a Russian ballad (Kalinka is the name if I’m not mistaken) and this number stays loyal to the original by including Russian lyrics at the beginning. But once again, Usha Uthup takes over and the result is phenomenal. This number is higher on tempo and sounds like an orchestra that would fervently play when the woman is choking her husband to death (is my imagination going too graphic?)

In every Vishal album, there is that one cult song (Beedi Jalaile, Dhan Te Nan), but there is also one antithesis slow one (Pehli Baar Mohabbat, O Saathi Re), so we have our antithesis here in the form of Bekaara. Oh, I’m jealous. Not content with composing, directing, producing and what not, he sings this number as well. I personally think only ARR and Vishal understand the importance of using minimal instruments and natural sounds to make a romantic song really hook a listener while and transport them to another world. Here, you hear slight sounds of running water, and the whole song seems like one you would listen on a rainy day while watching the rain. Fall in love, that’s all I’d say.

Vishal knows how to rock as well, if Dhan Te Nan hasn’t already proved that to you. So he goes on to rock with Oh Mama. But the effects are quite different. This isn’t a club number, this is yet another moody number which tries to give the haunting effect in quite a different way, and it suceeds. Kay Kay returns after a long time, paired with Clinton Cerejo, and they both, well, just rock. Good.

If you think he hasn’t rocked well enough with Oh Mama, then you got your boon with Dil Dil Hai. Suraj Jagan just explodes in front of the mike and this one song will pump in so much adrenaline in comparison to the whole album put together. Rock it! To bad its just 3 odd minutes long though.

Yeshu is quite a sinister number. It’s slow and much more situational compared to the rest of the album yet its mood fits the whole album’s tempo. Nothing special here, but still good.

If one romantic ballad in the form of Bekaara isn’t enough, Vishal applies a more traditional touch with Tere Liye. This is yet another close-your-eyes-and-listen number, and Suresh Wadkar does an exceptional job by crooning with subtlety. Great.

Awaara has a sufi touch to it, and is yet another very good number (Vishal is one of a few composers who hardly ever churn out a Bad number). Master Saleem is in his forte here, and the song leaves the kind of impact it should leave for its genre. It’s a sufi number but to add Vishal’s touch, this too is haunting.

The album concludes with a different mix of Oh Mama, and here Vishal is a criminal. He takes out the rock element and the song now turns into a love ballad, wonderfully sung by Suraj Jagan. And then it ends, after just a minute or so. Talk about travesty.

On the whole, this is the Vishal Bharadwaj show, and that’s all I’d say.

Album rating: 7.5/10

I’ll add the trailer too: (a trailer I rate 10/10)

Top 10 Bollywood films of the last decade- Part 3

5. Omkara (2006)

Cast: Ajay Devgan, Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Vivek Oberoi, Konkona Sen Sharma

Writer: William Shakespeare (Othello), Vishal Bharadwaj

Director: Vishal Bharadwaj

Brief Synopsis:

Omkara is a local lawmaker in a dusty terrain in North India. When a minister passes away and his mentor subsequently takes up a ministerial position, Omkara gets promoted to the role of the new don of the area. But the problem is he needs to choose a new lawmaker to suceed him, and he has two candidates. One is Langda Tyagi, a long-time, slightly-crippled right-hand man of Omi, and another is the young charming Kesu.

On the day, Omi opts for Kesu to be his successor, trigerring jealousy and hatred from Langda, who starts planting seeds of vengeance by making up a story about an affair between Omi’s lover and soon-to-be-wife Dolly with the ever charming Kesu.

When Omkara finally buys the story, all hell breaks loose.

Vishal Bharadwaj made two adaptations of Shakespearean tragedies in the past decade, of which Omkara is the second one. Vishal’s Maqbool, which is an adaptation of the more popular Macbeth, is an equally good picture, but Omkara personally takes the cake for me as the technical qualities in this film have gone up a notch.

Omkara is as good an adaptation of Othello that you will see anywhere, as Vishal brings the British tragedy to the dusty terrains of Uttar Pradesh, and fills them with foul-mouthed, gun-wielding people. Omkara’s mood and tempo is one of the best you would ever see for a dark film. And Vishal takes it up even a level higher with his music. The haunting ‘Naina’ track especially stands out.

Omkara was filled with a stellar cast and everyone gave their best. Saif obviously delivered the best single man performance of the whole decade as the jealousy-infused Langda Tyagi, while Ajay and Kareena both look their parts. Even in small roles, Naseeruddin Shah and Konkona both left their marks on the film.

Omkara is the best tragedy movie to have been made in the last decade. And that proves only one thing- that Shakespeare is still the master of tragedy. And Vishal’s affinition to adapting the legend’s works can only mean one thing- even better films in the future.

IMDb rating: 7.9/10 (after 3,000 votes)

4. 3 Idiots (2009)

Cast: Aaamir Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Sharman Joshi, R Madhavan

Writer: Chetan Bhagat (Five Point Someone)

Director: Rajkumar Hirani


Brief synopsis:

Farhan, Raju and Rancho are all roomates in the hostels of the country’s premier engineering university, IIT. But all three of them are not exactly the apple of the eye for their lecturers nor the dean due to their philandering ways of going about things. Rancho, though eccentric, and bizzarely creative, manages to score top marks in every exam while his two friends languish in the bottom of the mark sheets.

They all clash with their obsessive dean, Viru, mainly due to Rancho’s affection towards the dean’s daughter Pia. What follows is a series of quirky, comedic events that lead up to the end of their college life.

However, Rancho goes missing after that, and after several years, Raju and Farhan, who have both pursued their dreams, go on a journey searching their lost friend, who was also an inspiration for them.

When Aamir Khan is involved, the potential is always there for a film to become a cult hit. And that was exactly what happened with 3 Idiots. Perfect entertainment. Loosely based upon Chetan Bhagat’s novel, Aamir and Rajkumar Hirani combine to deliver a film that totally rapes the Indian education system and asks quentessential questions in relation to academic achievements and success in life.

The song ‘Give me some Sunshine’ stands out as it perfectly narrates the travails many students face as they sacrifice their dreams and potential for what the world perceive to be real ‘success’. Having personally been a victim of such situations, 3 Idiots was more of an eye-opening film that boldly takes upon a hiherto untouched subject with entertaining bravado.

Aamir takes the cake as he charms his way through the whole film with his Rancho avatar, while R Madhavan and Sharman Joshi both perfectly fit the bills as individuals who are striving to be different but are forced to follow the flock due to their circumstances.

Shantanu Moitra’s carefree music added with the catchy, funny song lyrics, made everyone step out of the theater truly believing that all is going to be well.

And that is great cinematic achievement.

IMDb rating: 8.3/10 (after 12,000 votes)

3. Rang De Basanti (2005)- Paint it Saffron

Cast: Aamir Khan, Sharman Joshi, Siddharth, R Madhavan, Soha Ali Khan

Writers: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Rensil D’Silva

Director: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra


Brief Synopsis:

Sue is a young British documentary film-maker who comes to India in order to make a documentary film about India’s freedom fighters, based on the memoir of her grandfather, who served as a prison guard under the British Indian empire. With the help of her friend Sonia, she auditions several people for the roles but decide that Sonia’s close group of friends fit the characters best.

The youths, who mock the freedom fighters, agree half heartedly, and start shooting for the documentary. They find it hard to relate to the freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives for the sake of the country until their dear friend Ajay, who is also Sonia’s boyfriend, a flight lieutenant for the Indian army dies in one of his flights. They get enraged when the corrupt Defence Minister blames Ajay’s pilot skills as the reason for the crash, and sense injustice in the air, wanting his name to be cleared, and his contribution honored. This is when they realize the extent of corruption in the country and take drastic steps against them, inspired by the very characters they were playing in the documentary.

The movie of a generation. When Rang de was released, no other film had the kind of social influence that this film managed to have. A realistic, heart-wrenching climax at the tail end of a fun and frolic looking film which depicted India’s youth with such great flavor makes this film one kind of an emotional ride.

R Madhavan delivers the best cameo ever delivered since cameos were invented in his brief appearance, while Siddharth’s performance tailed up so fantastically that he overshadowed Aamir Khan. With a star cast that was inch-perfect, and AR Rahman’s re-defining music, from the rebelious ‘Khalbali’ to the soulful ‘Tu Bin Bataye’, RdB attained cult status, and gave patriotism a new glossy look, away from its previously melodramatic, hyped look. Even the audience could feel the patriotic angst of the characters in this film- that was how well it was etched out.

IMDb rating: 8.3/10 (after 13,000 votes)