The year 2012, saw its fair share of good films, some wowed us with impressive storylines, while others floored us with fantabulous cinematography. Here’s a look at some of our favourite Bollywood movies from the past year.
Based on the life of Paan Singh Tomar, who represented the Indian Army in the International Military Games in 1967, and won a gold medal in the steeple chase event, this film is a brilliantly made biopic and an examination of the reasons for a man such as this, turning dacoit. The film begins with a reporter interviewing a dacoit (Paan Singh) who has killed 9 people of a community and then moves into a flashback of 1950, where a young Paan Singh leaves the army to protect his family. With marvellous performances by the cast, and an exceptionally brilliant performance by Irfan Khan in the title role of Paan Singh Tomar, director Tigmanshu Dhulia has created a film that’s marvellously vocal, without ever resorting to being jingoistic or loud.
Vidya Balan’s portrayal of a pregnant woman in search of her missing husband in an unfamiliar city woven into director Sujoy Ghosh's exquisite portrayal of the knells and dells of the creature that is the city of Kolkata makes for a film that is absorbing, gripping, and strangely surreal, all at once. Faced with a city that seems to have quietly erased her husband’s identity, Balan, aided by the aptly named inspector Satyaki Sinha, embarks on a quest to find her missing husband. An excellent storyline, a well-crafted script, brilliant performances, and a haunting soundtrack (especially Amitabh Bachchan’s rendition of Tagore’s Ekla Cholo Re)- that will follow you long after the film, are some of the things that make this movie a must-watch.
Originally shot as a single 5 hour long film, Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur was later split into two parts for the Indian market. The storyline of this film hinges on a classic Bollywood cliché- revenge, but everything about the film, from its bare, brutal portrayal of its characters, to a narrative that can only be called Kashyap’s signature style, set it far above anything that can be called one. Gangs of Wasseypur I, begins with Shahid Khan being outcast for robbing British trains in an impersonation of the legendary Sultana Daku. Shahid then becomes a worker at Ramadhir Singh's coal mines, but his ambitions of taking over the mines, anger Ramadhir Singh, who in turn has him assassinated. Shahid’s young son, Sardar Khan, vows to avenge his father’s death. This film is a cliché in that it is the tale of three crime families entrenched in a battle to avenge wounds, both old and new. But if there were ever a film to make one see why a cliché is a cliché, this is the one.
Don’t worry, be Barfi! Set in 1970’s Darjeeling, Barfi is the artlessly told tale of three people- Shruthi Ghosh/Sengupta, the hearing and speech impaired Murphy “Barfi” Johnson, and Jhilmil Chatterji- an autistic girl. The story is an examination of the resilience, the universality, and sometimes the limitations of that celebrated emotion- love. With endearing characters, a beautifully poignant storyline and a delicately nuanced narrative, this film can’t help but strike a chord with audiences. Ranbir Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra deliver, what some argue, are their best performances to date.
Sridevi is back after a long hiatus, and how! Kudos to Gauri Shinde on this fantastic directorial debut. The simple tale of a Marathi housewife, who overcomes the limitations she faces owing to her lack of knowledge of English, this film does away with pretensions of being anything else- and that is its most endearing quality. On a trip to Manhattan, Shashi Godbole (Sridevi), decides to enrol in English classes and in simple, everyday ways, redefines who she is. In this film, Sridevi, one of the most celebrated leading ladies of the Indian film industry, proves her mettle yet again.