By Martin D’Souza | Opening Doorz Editorial | December 27, 2016

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Bollywood began and ended this year with a bang. There were highs, there were lows and there were abysmal movies that found its place on the screen. As the year draws to a close, I focus on the movies we began and ended with and two other films that caught my eye.

 

When Chauranga churned the insides
Let’s begin with Chauranga, the first release of the year along with Wazir, both rated 4 stars by Yours Truly.

Chauranga may not have rattled the box office with the figures by way of returns, but it rattled the movie buff and the critics alike. I, for one, loved the manner in which this film was crafted. It was hard-hitting it churned the insides: that’s what brilliant cinema that goes deep within the core issues, does to you.

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Inspite of telling the film with no emphasis on any one particular scene [however traumatic], first-time director Bikas Ranjan Mishra moved on to the other! This, in hindsight, was a deliberate move to display the callous attitude of the people around. Mishra painted a glorious picture which depicted the brazen cast divide leaving a knot in your stomach.

How you wish he had delved more into a few scenes and connected a few so that the others in the plot would know of what happened to the other. This very longing of the viewer is what makes the film gruesomely handsome! It left a tale untold, yet laid the facts bare!

Producers Onir, Sanjay Suri and Mohan Mulani deserve special mention here for backing this project. Also deserving mention are Tannishtha Chatterjee who played the mother and her two sons played by Riddhi and Soham. Anshuman Jha and Dilzad Hiwale both displayed that required ‘disdain for the lower caste’!

Movies like these deserve more space and more backing.

Panditji made the winning move in Wazir
Bejoy Nambiar came back with a bang after his David debacle. In Wazir, he got out his chess board and took the viewer on a cinematic ride!

Long after the movie ended and I hit my pillow, I kept playing the moves in my head; it moved flawlessly. To be honest, I failed to track any move that would put me in the driver’s seat. I was as confused as the protagonist!

Danish (Farhan Akhtar) and Panditji (Amitabh Bachchan) involved in their own quest for revenge, played out their parts with aplomb. You never knew who the killer was until the remote was in ‘the hand’.

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Sitting in the wheelchair, you thought Panditji was incapable and banking on Danish. Danish, on the other hand, thought he was reaching out to Panditji. Little did he realise that Panditji was taking him to his destination while being the real ‘pawn’ in the game! Nambiar used the game of Kings and Queens and Pawns and Bishops as a metaphor to drive home the puzzling, winning message.

Farhan Akhtar outshone every other character with his taut body language and a performance that hit the high notes as suddenly as it dropped to create that soothing melody on a saxophone. Manav Kaul as the minister sent a chill down your spine: he was as methodical and clinical, as his character demanded. Aditi Rao Hydari brought in that softness to the plot with her subtle, subdued act. Neil Nitin Mukesh in a small but potent role lent excellent support.

Wazir, in a way, resurrected Nambiar’s career.

Bollywood Diaries and Moh Maya Money
Chauranga and Wazir, set the tone for the films to follow, and we all know what Dangal is currently doing in the multiplexes. But there were two inconsequential movies (or so the multiplex owners thought) that broke forth from the mundane mediocrity we were sometimes subjected to in the year.

Even as you were watching Bollywood Diaries and wondered what was happening, it suddenly enveloped the theatre. The characters came alive and suddenly there was a buzz. It was like cricketer Yusuf Pathan walking in a dead situation and slamming the cricket ball to all parts of the stadium in a frenzied state to give his team a win.

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We have seen movies on Bollywood, but from a different perspective, of those who made it big, despite the odds. Bollywood Diaries celebrated the lives of millions of wannabe stars, whose dreams were torn asunder and whose lives came crashing down. There was no luck by chance here!

Salim Diwan (who played Rohit) going nuts towards the end when the judges tell him exactly how they feel about him, is brilliant. Both the scenes—at the reality show after his act with the judges and the after-effects of the opinion and his wondering of what will now happen to him—are honest. Salim brought the house down with this one act of his. To pull off a good act on screen requires talent. But to pull off an act where you have to portray that you cannot act requires immense talent. To me, Salim Diwan was the find of the year!

The judges (Ekavali Khanna, Mohit Tripathi and Manish Shankar) took time to grow on you and once they did, you were not in a movie, you were watching a prime time reality show. Adding weight to the proceedings was Poorva Neeraj who played the female anchor. She conveyed the ‘angst’ of the moment with the judges with her powerful body language.

First-time director K D Satyam, may have faltered as the movie began, but when the movie ended, he was like a man possessed!

In Moh Maya Money, it was the same effect! And Like Salim Diwan, it was Vidushi Mehra who left you longing for her character!

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