Films: There were some really good ones and there were some really bad ones, and then there was mostly a lot of stuff in between. After a hiatus from Bollywood I went back to watching a lot of BW films (mostly what released in theaters here), while picking my HW films with care and caution! Here is a HW list:
1. Inception – loved the film, the mind-bender that kept us thinking and discussing for days on end. Leo DiCaprio did not disappoint and Marion Cotillard was luminous.
2. True Grit – as a 14 year old girl seeking revenge for her father’s killing, Hallee Steinfeld was brilliant, and Jeff Bridges shone as Rooster Cogburn.
3. Shutter Island – I thought this one was an overlooked gem, again a mind-bender with DiCaprio in a lead role as the man who is living withing the illusions created by his mind.
4. 127 Hours – a gory tale of man vs. nature, with James Franco shining in the role of Aron Ralston. Must see once, but certainly not worth seeing again for me.
Next is the BW list:
1. Ishqiya – a film rooted in the hinterland, with a vengeful woman and two drifters seeking romance; Vidya Balan finally found a milieu that suited her to a T and Naseeruddin Shah was brilliant. The music was sublime.
2. Raajneeti – a near improbable tale mixing the Nehru family in with the Mahabharata, but something in the film appealed to me! The ensemble cast did well but standouts were Manoj Bajpai and Arjun Rampal.
3. Band Baajaa Baarat – the tale of Bittu and Shruti and the wedding planning binness – who would have though this could amount to much? But it did! The film sparkled like a gem, carried aloft by the grounded setting and the crackling dialogs.
4. Dabangg – again it was the rootedness of the setting that appealed to me. I cannot really pinpoint why Wanted seemed horrible and misogynistic but Dabangg did not! Salman was not acting but carried the film on his persona, and Sonakshi was a welcome change from the size zero beauty queens that grace the silver screen today. And Munni kills Sheila A N Y D A Y!!!
As for the worst: It was hard to pick there were so MANY! And the disclaimer is that these are the films I saw OR gave a good college try at seeing. Many much worse ones must exist – but I cannot diss that which I did not experience!
5. Kites – The film was so drab and uninteresting, so sloppily written, and so pretentious it was had to stomach. Barbara Mori was unsuited for this role, brought nothing to the table that could be shown uncut to Indian audiences, and Hrithik got little chance to showcase his abilities.
IN A TIE WITH
5. Guzaarish – the film was dull and uninteresting as a tale. The protagonist was never a living breathing creature whose loss of limbs we could sympathize with. Aishwarya did a decent job as the nurse but was not given much opportunity to rise above the extreme makeup and clothing that adorned her.
4. Khelein Hum Jee Jaan sey – I cannot doubt the sincerity of the film, the need to tell this particular story, but even documentaries must engage or they lose their audience. This one was again drab and dull and hard to get past the intermission mark for me.
3. Dulha Mil Gaya – aargh! Sushmita and Shahrukh – what were they doing in this mess? Fardeen I can understand – but why even make this film?
2. Tees Maar Khan – I did see this one all the way through, but the gags were unfunny, the material was tired and story told in an uninspiring way. It is not enough to have the three stooges tell us that Khaanon Mein Khan is Tees Maar Khan – we needed to experience that to be engaged in the story. The film “insider” jokes were unfunny – Manoj Day Shyamalan and Day ho?
1. Action Replayy – The crown goes to this drab and dull film that failed to engage from the get to. The leading man lacked any charm or personality and leading lady was unlikeable. The saving grace was the music, BUT most unsuited in the film.
Music: Disclaimer – I like peppy music, and am a sucker for poetry – just so you can understand my tastes!
1. Dil Toh Bachcha Hai ji – Ishqiya – stunning describes it perfectly. Such poetry, such awesome poetry – this one will live long after 2010 is gone.
2. Surili Ankhiyon waale – Veer – this is an amazing composition, just hear it and forget about what is happening on screen.
3. Uff Teri ada – Karthik Calling Karthik – lovely song!
4. Dhanno – Housefull (goes and hides in shame) – But I love Mika’s energy and the dhol beats in this song.
5. Munni Badnaam Hui – Dabangg – it is a total nautanki song, and the earthiness is very appealing.
6. Zor ka Jhatka – Action Replayy – Daler Mehndi doing what he does best, a fun filled track.
7. Gal Mithhi Mithhi Bol – Aisha – hard to stop dancing when you hear this one, Amit Trivedi rocks!
8. Disco Dancer – Golmaal 3 – I know this is almost sacrilege, but somehow Bappi Lahiri’s fading voice and Mithun’s aging persona on screen make a fun nostalgia filled pair for me.
9. Ainwain Ainwain – Band Baajaa Baraat – a fun filled number which is hard to resist.
10. Dhoop ke Makaan sa – Break ke Baad – mellow, lyrical and slowly growing on me.
(Phew – I just realized a year of music and not one Rahman track in my top 10)
Books: I wish I had read more, this was a bad year for me reading wise (partly because work involved a whole another kind of intense reading). I started The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Steig Larsson) and quickly read through the whole series! It was harrowing and graphic and yet mesmerizing. Lisbeth Salander as the brutalized, but never helpless, protagonist was hard to forget.
Next I started on the Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. Read through part 1 and 2 (Runes of the Earth and Fatal Revenant) and they were engaging though not at the same level as the first and second Chronicles. Now I wait for the third book to appear in paperback! If you want to try this you have to go back and read the 6 preceding books, so mostly it is for the fans of Thomas Covenant and Stephen R. Donaldson. Here too the protagonist is a female, Linden Avery, and Thomas Covenant is long gone though one hopes that in the land where anything is possible he may reappear.
Travels: I discovered Turkey and the Greek Islands! Ephesus in Turkey, the Island of Mykonos and the ruins of Delphi in Greece were amazing. This buffet version of the Greek Islands made me crave more, but with a more focused travel plan.
Food: Rose tea, Turkish delight made with Pomegranate juice and fresh pistachio nuts, Auchentoshan Single malt discovered in Dundee, Scotland, “Jack with Coke” ready to drink in a bottle, Butternut squash cooked in the style of Madhur Jaffrey for Thanksgiving, Mochi icecream, and Broccoli casserole with walnuts!
Filed under: Books!, Film News, General, Music, Travel | Tagged: Band Baajaa Baarat, best of 2010, Bollywood, Books, Dulha Mil gaya, food, Guzaarish, Hollywood, Inception, Ishqiya, Kites, Music, Shutter Island, Tees Maar Khan, True Grit |