SHUBH MANGAL ZYAADA SAAVDHAN : A Film We Need Even If We Don’t Love It Fully

In one of the more memorable scenes of Shubh Mangal Zyaada Saavdhan, writer-director Hitesh Kewalya poses a question back to an ordinary Indian couple on screen (read. us the audience) through one of his lead protagonists – Why does no one ever ask Jack whether he wants to go up the hill with Jill or Johnny? May be Jack and Johnny have a plan to live in love and laughter up there. He challenges the couple not to pre-set the mind of their young child that only Jack and Jill going up together will remain happy or should be accepted as the norm. He knows that the change for the child’s broadened perspective has to start happening right from there. He possibly wishes that at least that young boy doesn’t face the daily and most painful struggle of his family not accepting the way he is, and instead feel the imposed weight of their standards of normal to define his agency.

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Oscars 2020 : Predictions.. Favorites.. Misses…

And the Oscar goes to…

As we draw very close to February 8th, the night of Academy Awards 2020, it is time to predict the most likely winners of the year based on current momentum and buzz from other awards, and also present the Third Vantage Point Perspective on who are the most deserving winners based on nominations, along with the major misses and snubs in all major categories.

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ABYAKTO : Brilliance Beyond Words

Abyakto (The Unsaid) leaves you in a trance of brilliance which is indeed difficult to capture in words. At all of 88 mins of runtime, debutant director Arjunn Dutta transports you into a world that is immersively poetic, heartbreakingly beautiful, intriguingly complex, and simmering with the melancholy of ‘nibiro bedona te puloko laage gaaye‘ in every frame.

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PANGA : A Luke Warm Challenge

Panga is a good film that could have been great. It is set on a very relevant and important theme of how one can reignite the flame of passion in women who make do with themselves and their dreams trapped in the realms of a kid and a home, provided the same family can stand behind her like a rock. Naturally the potential of the film to touch some raw emotional core was huge. Ashwini Iyer Tiwari has a panache for picking up such relevant slices of life and let those stories soar through her deft and deep writing while sprinkling them with everyday humor. Unfortunately it is her uneven and somewhat impassionate writing here that does not reach the height of her first two films, and leaves behind a somewhat tepid Panga.

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1917 : Spectacle with a Soul

Enough and more has already been said about the awe that you are left with as you experience the cinematic spectacle called 1917, and how the tremendous craftsmanship of Sam Mendes wonderfully integrates everything from the ‘one take‘ cinematography in constantly changing war terrain, to impeccable battlefield action choreographed against mighty impressive warzone design, to terrific editing, to pitch perfect sound design and background score, to deliver the most compelling and visually enthralling theatrical experience in a long long time.

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CHHAPAAK : Gruelling Horror, Triumphant Human Spirit, & A Deeply Moving Experience

It has been a few hours now since I have watched Chhapaak, Meghna Gulzar‘s new film based on acid violence, and inspired by the journey of Laxmi Agarwal – right from the horrific attack, her painful fight back, and her plunging into the larger cause to arrest the issue at its root. Yes it has been a few hours, and I still haven’t gathered myself to write in detail about it. It has been an overwhelming experience and the horror of what unfolded on the screen for two hours is still seeping deep into my skin, still shaking me up and the shock is difficult to come out from. The film feels so disturbingly real from its first frame to last – the trauma almost leaves you feel violated, but at the same time you can’t look away from these tremendous champions of life and their amazing story of hope.

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Happy Birthday Basu Chatterjee!

The world of Hindi Cinema has got a lot of its simplistic and heart felt beauty courtesy the warm and endearing cinema of Basu Chatterjee. Along side Hrishikesh Mukherjee, he made those evergreen everyday commoner stories that we could all relate to, revolving around protagonists who were so very you and me. A Chhoti si Baat, Baaton Baaton Me, Khatta Meetha or a Rajanigandha hence become any time watches for many. As we watched and rewatched, we fell more and more in love with the films, and with life. At the same time, there is the brilliantly adapted Ek ruka huya faisla, or Swami, or Apne Paraye in his filmography as well which have their own emotional and cinematic appeal, all attacking very different topics. With Kamla ki Maut, a story and a style was chosen much ahead of the times. That is the versatile talent of the man, as much as we try to box him within a sugary sweet zone.

Happy 90th birthday Basu’da! The treasure chest of Hindi cinema looks far more richer for the gems you added to it.

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GHOST STORIES : When Fear Gets The Makers

The first film of 2020 starts on a disappointing note. The latest of the anthology series by Zoya-Anurag-Dibakar-Karan, Ghost Stories, is their weakest collaborative effort so far (scaringly enough the trend on quality is downward with every passing film). Horror isn’t the easiest of genres though, and one needs to have a tight control on the sense of eeriness, atmospherics as well as metaphorical subtext to really make a lasting mark with it. None of these should be overdone just for the sake of it. Horror will only be haunting if one can elevate oneself from the jump scares and gore, and blend in a deep subtext of more relevant societal horror into the expansive play zone that the genre offers. Which is why there are only two shorts in the anthology that actually work.

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Best Bengali Films of 2019 – Ranked

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Unlike Hindi films, 2019 has been an excellent year for Bengali films. There was a lot of great films on offer, and this year in Bengali films is possibly the strongest year for content and quality since 2014. Hence there was enough and more to choose the Top 10 Bengali Films of 2019, and celebrate their richness and overall cinematic appeal.

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Best Performances by Male Actors in Bengali Films of 2019 – Ranked

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For Bengali cinema, 2019 was a year of great films, great stories, and naturally quite a few great characters and performances across the board. The themes explored were across genres, giving scope for wide variety of characters to flourish and actors to explore their potential beyond what is expected from them. It can also be safe to say that 2019 clearly belonged a few artists who dominated the scene from start to end and the two names that shine the brightest are Ritwick Chakraborty and Kaushik Ganguly. But there are other actors as well who repeatedly performed well across films. Hence we look at the Top 10 Male Actors in 2019 who delivered the best of performances across one or many bengali films released this year.

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