This is the kind of post I’d like to write more often. Through the year, our work is seeped into so much data and analysis on consumer perceptions and choices, that “seeing” a movie like a normal viewer is increasingly difficult. Even more so because there are films one has to see at rough cut stages, without background score, with green screens, in edit studios.
Yet, I have to keep reminding myself that one of the things that got me to do what I’m doing today is my love for cinema – the pleasure of watching a film in a theatre, where my emotions are privy to no one but me. My personal taste as a viewer should, hence, never take a backseat because of my professional engagement with films. This post, where I write about the five Hindi films I enjoyed the most in 2012, is purely based on personal choice.
Before I get into the main list, it is important to mention a few films that just missed making it to the top 5. Kahaani, in all probability, would have featured there, but for the abysmal theatrical experience I had, because of the third-rate audio quality at Fame Adlabs. I swore never to visit the theatre again, and was the happiest soul when it shut down a few weeks later. Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu was a sweet film laced with warmth and spunk, though I wish the campaign had prepared me better for it. It was easily the best romcom of the year for me. And it did something I’d have never bet my money on when the year started – It made me look at Imran Khan as a potentially good actor!
I’d have liked to include Gangs Of Wasseypur in the list, but it’s not my genre of cinema and much as I appreciated the vision behind the film, I can’t say it was one of the five films I “enjoyed” the most this year. I still haven’t watched the second part, something I need to correct soon.
With all that preamble, here goes:
5. English Vinglish: If I had to choose a film purely basis its first half, English Vinglish may have made it all the way to the second position. The interval feeling was light yet filling – that unexplainable emotion that grips you when you watch well-made cinema that you instinctively connect with. I felt a bit let down by the classroom portions in the second half, especially the ethnic banter, which seemed like a false note in an otherwise well-composed melody. But all’s well that ends well. Sridevi has been a childhood favorite, from Mr. India days. To see her back, never mind the botox, was a pleasure too.
4. OMG – Oh My God: There were certain particularly cheesy bits about this film. There was hamming galore, especially by an actor I have now developed a phobia for – Govind Namdeo. Lack of an experienced director showed in parts, but Oh My God had such great material at its foundation, it couldn’t have gone wrong. Paresh Rawal is generally good, but here, he made you think like himself. Bit by bit, as the story unfolded, you began to root for Kanji, wanting him to win his battles, because he could convince you he was right in everything he said. If I had to choose between Ranbir’s and Paresh’s as the male lead performance of the year, my vote will go for the latter. I didn’t like the hospital ending much, but the experience of watching Oh My God was memorable, given the sheer uniqueness it brought into our cinema.
3. Paan Singh Tomar: I had no plans to see PST. But then, the reviews started pouring in and there I was, at a theatre on a Sunday, to see what the fuss is about. My first memory of Irrfan comes from his roles in some episodes of Star Bestsellers in late 90s, where he would tower over other actors. PST took me back to that magic, where you just watch an actor in awe, as he achieves excellence without any hullabaloo. After an exciting first half, the second half entered a genre I don’t fancy, and I switched off in parts. But as I reached home after the film, the film continued to grow on me. The PST post I wrote that night was also the most read and retweeted post on my blog this year!
2. Vicky Donor: In a year filled with loud, mostly crass comedies, Vicky Donor was the slice-of-life comic film that I wish is made every few months, not just once in 2-3 years. It was also the best ensemble on display this year, with finely etched characters, backed by great performances. There was a certain breezy feel to the film, till it gets emotional in the last act, where the heroine’s acting limitations came dampened the spirits a bit. But between the Beeji-Dolly conversations and the delightfully picturised Rum Rum song at the wedding, I was overjoyed. John Abraham, thank you!
1. Barfi!: I watched Barfi! twice in the theatres and again last night on the DVD. Priyanka Chopra has achieved something special and rare in the way she has played Jhilmil. Her recent performances had disillusioned me. So much so that I was dreading her “overacting” in Barfi! I couldn’t have been more wrong. The tender moments that ensue about 70 minutes into the film, when Barfi brings Jhilmil home, all the way to the last scene at Muskaan, Barfi! had me in tears. But remarkably, tears of joy and appreciation, more than tears of sadness. Beautifully crafted and performed, Barfi! is more a director’s film than any of the other four on the list. The music, of course, was refreshing, in a year that was essentially noisy. In the film too, Kyon and Aashiyaan sweep the romantic landscape in a way that’s touching, but never sappy. Ranbir Kapoor may walk away with awards, but what he really needs to be applauded for is his choice of subjects.
(Not that it needs to be mentioned, but my personal take on the plagiarism debate around Barfi! was that none of the “inspired” or “plagiarised” scenes featured in my list of even the top 20 scenes of Barfi! That settled, I’m not a lawyer or moral police.)