Looks like, this is an extremely interesting year for the Hindi film industry. The last three movies I watched in the next door multiplex, in as many weeks were riveting without me having to dumb down my sensibilities. I hope I am not being carried away when I say they played out like meaningful European cinema from an Almadover or Kieslowski.
‘No one killed Jessica’ is a fictional narrative based on a real tragedy we are all familiar with and rides on the sheer power packed performance of Vidya Balan. Playing Sabrina Lall, sister of the murdered girl, Balan is a revelation. She communicates the anguish and turmoil of the character without resorting to any melodramatic gimmicks. There is a certain internalization she vests the character with and we sense her grief only through her silences and body language. Here is an actor who knows her craft and I found myself imagining her acting in that Bergman classic ‘Autumn Sonata.’ Balan would be perfect as the daughter.
Rani Mukherjee on the other hand is happy with the Shahrukh Khan brand of hamming and managed to grate on my nerves. No doubt, Filmfare would give an award to Mukherjee next year as the best supporting actor and reserve the critics’ award for Balan. I plan to skip watching the award ceremony on television this year, because of their ridiculous decision to hand the acting trophies to Shahrukh Khan and Kajol for that lame ‘My name is Khan.’ And to add insult to injury, Kareena Kapoor shares the acting honours in a supporting part for “We are Family.” Karan Johar is the ‘best’ director. Clearly the awards have been rigged as they have been happening for years now. When I read the TOI headlines about the winners, I found myself wishing that all future collaborations between Johar and Khan turn into the biggest box office duds. They deserve it for all their machinations to deprive the deserving of their laurels. After that peeved aside, let’s move on.
'Dhobi Ghat' is a lyrical and languorous tale of Bombay. Kiran Rao makes a stunning debut as a director. Her vision is uncompromising and the experience of watching the film is like being in the audience in a classical music concert by a maestro. You warm up gradually and by the end of it you are ready to swear that it has been one of the most divine experiences of your life. The film is subtle and the screenplay nuanced and layered. While the film purportedly narrates the tale of four protagonists, the subtext is all about the resilient city that offers dreams and disappointments in equal measure.
'Yeh Saali Zindagi' is an edgy mishmash of romance, thrills and ribald humour. It is clear that the director Sudhir Mishra had a lot of fun doing this one and so did all his actors. The film is a fairy tale set in the underbelly of Delhi, teeming with corrupt politicians, fixers, nightclub singers, cross dressing gang lords and plenty of wicked fun. And the best thing about the film is it ends happily ever after for all the thugs you feel empathetic towards.There is a Jim Carrey- Kate Winslet classic 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' that wouldn't work as anything but a screenplay. You can't reporoduce the plot in a short story, novel or even a play without losing most of the zing the film carries. This one is like that.
Now if every week had something like this to offer instead of Akshay Kumar’s ‘Patiala House.’