Our movies never had it so good. Our movies never had it so bad. Everyone pushed the envelope. But forgot to address the target audience. Just look at the fare on display last week.
Sudhir Mishra and Sanjay Gupta have as much in common as Madhuri Dixit and Konkona Sen. And yet they both were joined creatively at the hip-and-trendy last week.
They both dared. Dus Kahaniyaan gave us 10 fast-paced, sensitive stories about love, sex and sin one after another in rapidfire rhythms. I heard people in the audience grumble, “We hardly get into one story, and it’s time to move into the next.”
At the beginning of the year we had another very fine episodic film Salaam-e-Ishq which all the knowledgeable critics slammed for no reason. This one was cursed for the opposite reason.” So many stories and such lengthy ones. Who has the patience?!”
My favourite episodic film of the year was Vikram Bhatt’s Life Mein Kabhi Kabhie . A quaint yet powerful story of five young friends who follow different paths in life, the transition from script to film wasn’t as smooth as we’d have liked it to be. This one deserved better.
It’s strange, how different films in similar predicaments generate different reactions among the country’s opinion makers. And yet filmmakers continued to push the envelope in big and small ways throughout the year. If Sanjay Leela Bhansali abandoned his trademark operatic style to make the symphonic Saawariya , Sanjay Gupta gave up guns for the roses in Dus Kahaniyaan .
And Sudhir Mishra known for his hard-hitting intense political sagas suddenly went moist-eyed and romantic on us in Khoya Khoya Chand. 2007 was the year of uncharacteristic outbursts from the silver screen. Who would have expected Samir Karnik to emerge with Nanhe Jaisalmer, a film that delineated a dark yet light-hearted relationship between a little Rajasthani boy and a film star. Critical for exploring, the age-old star-fan relationship, Nanhe Jaisalmer was completely ignored by critics and audiences. Sadder still was the plight of Manish Jha’s second film Anwar which was the first release of 2007. Jha fell flat on his face, probably because he ‘dared’ to release alongside Mani Rathnam’s Guru.
In 2007 I also loved Milan Luthria’s episodic Hat Trick. It was funny and insightful and had some terrific performances from Nana Patekar, Danny Denzongpa and Kunal Kapoor. From Tara Rum Pum to Aaja Nachle , it was a tame year for Yash Raj Films. I’m still wondering why the Saif-Rani marital drama Tara Rum Pum didn’t work. Was it because the film’s concept of poverty (kids in Manhattan unable to afford pastries) didn’t jell with Indian audiences?
And why did Yash Raj’s Laga Chunari Mein Daag get the thumbs down from one and all? Didn’t like a nice middleclass girl getting into prostitution, eh?
Sure, these things don’t happen in real life....do they? Of course not. Nice girls in our movies get burnt todeath and resurface in their next janam as bubble-gum popping bimbos.
Robbie Garewal’s Mera Pehla Pehla Pyar and Bhavna Talwar’s Dharm came on the same Friday. Robbie made a cute modern day Bobby with very real moments between the puppy-lovers. Dharm according to me was the most neglected film of the year. And to even mention it in the same breath as Eklavya for the Oscars was utterly ridiculous. I suggest the entire nation go back to Talwar’s film one more time.
Sob! Vishal Bhardwaj’s Blue Umbrella ......sigh! What were we thinking when we decided we didn’t go to see this nascent nugget? What goes wrong with a film that’s as delicately perched on the edge of divinity, craning its neck out to make its presence felt among the works of art that touch the soul.
Pritish Nandy Productions’ Bow Barracks Forever with rivetting performances by Lilette Dubey and Victor Banerjee stunned me.
And would someone please tell me what was so wrong in Willard Caroll’s Marigold? Maybe we as a nation dislike cross-cultural relationships where a gora –mem-sahib steals one of our bhola-bhola chokra?
So, two genres of cinema that are strictly no-no are episodic dramas and cross-cultural romances? Got that? Now let’s move on......