RAAT AKELI HAI : Solitary Shades of Darkness

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In Honey Trehan‘s debut feature film Raat Akeli Hai, a dysfunctional family, with a rich socio-political backing, is facing the mysterious murder of its patriarch on his wedding night. But that is not the only mystery that inspector Jatil Yadav, in charge of solving this case, is dealing with. There are at least five other deaths that we encounter as a part of the unfolding narrative over two timelines, that have their own flavors of murder, revenge or redemption; and there are more lives on the line who have been used, abused and exploited in their own ways.

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Sonu Nigam : The voice, the emotions

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Sonu Nigam is a voice that has easily stayed with us the longest over the last three decades or so, and has delivered some of the best soulful songs of the recent past that play in abundance in our playlists. After Mohammad Rafi and Kishore Kumar, one can say that it has been Sonu’s voice where we have felt the most of pathos and emotions, and it is that personal touch that makes his songs very intimate and long lasting.

On his birthday today, here is an attempt to create a playlist of the Best of Sonu Nigam songs. These are my personal Top 20 Songs of him in no particular order and includes both solos and duets. Let us then celebrate Sonu in the best way we can – musically!

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Monsoon Melodies – Beautiful Rain Songs

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Boondon ke Moti – The wet monsoon days always stand out distinct from the rest. For some, it takes them back to their childhood search of their Kaagaz ki kashti, while for some others the drizzle or the outpour outside evokes romanticism at its best. And there are some others, for whom this is just the gloomy weather to go back to their cocoons and find company in sorrow. But whichever way you perceive the rains, there is no denying the strong musical connection the pitter patter gets aligned to, and there is possibly a beautiful rain song for every mood that this tricky weather evokes.

Here is then an attempt to list down my most favorite 25 rain songs, in no particular order… Again these may not be the most popular ones, but they have the soul and charm of what rainy days mean…

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Pancham – Dual Version Songs

The genius of R. D. Burman is remembered in terms of how he brought in a new sound to the world of contemporary or film music. Even if there were inspirations, he would take them and convert them into something totally different. He also kept reused his tunes, some times even within the same language. So Humein raaston ki zaroorat nahi hai (Naram Garam) easily metamorphosed into Saagar kinare (Saagar), of course this particular tune has had so many versions by so many composers. He kept reusing the prelude or interlude tunes of his songs to make new songs as well and there are again plenty to quote there. But the biggest bucket of Ek Sur Do Geet from Pancham’s discography comes from how he kept making twin songs in Bangla and Hindi from the same tune.

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AARYA : The Rise of the Phoenix

“Dukan phir se khul rahi hai…”

As Aarya Sareen raises a toast in anger, helplessness, fear and utmost strength during her party, Sushmita Sen basically announces back to the entire world boldly that she is back in the business and how! Without any doubts, it is the most definitive performance of her career, and she nails down the complex concoction of a varied range of emotions of Aarya in every single scene. This is classic Sushmita Sen at her resilient, fearless, terrified, graceful and affectionate best, and helps raising an already solid writing of a highly engaging show to the next level. Sushmita with Aarya, and Aarya with Sushmita, flies and soars, in all her shades of a mourning wife, a helpless but super protective mother, a smart and sharp thinker, a vulnerable woman, and a go getter, never losing her focus or poise in her messy and challenging journey.

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GULABO SITABO : Jeevan ka Khela

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In general, our movie watching experience is often driven by a few things especially when we talk about the slice of life genre – How likeable are the characters? Can I emotionally root for one of them? How attached are the characters to each other thereby evoking compassion or sympathy? Is it explicitly making me laugh, feel sad, get angry? Is it aligning with my preconceived notion of how I am supposed to feel for this film? Sometimes when we don’t have clear answers to most or any of these questions, there is a chance we will dismiss the film as uninteresting, bland or confusing. But Shoojit Sircar and Juhi Chaturverdi are not interested to find a happy path to these questions and create a feel good laugh out loud comedy to satisfy everyone. For the fourth time in a row, they present another deeply layered observational film packaged unconventionally yet again, this time as a dramedy, on the futility of attachments and running behind the eventually inconsequential things for a lifetime. Life is often about its nothingness and a goose chase to feed our desires, and the whole pointlessness of the entire journey and its disappointment is what one is left with in the end. Gulabo Sitabo shines because Shoojit Sircar and team intricately weave in this deep philosophy as the melancholic soul of the film, with an effortless ease into the everyday ordinariness of a seemingly brewing cacophonic premise.

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CHOKED : PAISA BOLTA HAI – waivers its potential

When the human moral compass waivers, and greed chokes the ability to feel anything else, the relationships go down the drain!

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CHINTU KA BIRTHDAY : Longing To Be Loved

What happens when the common ordinary man feels emotionally marooned because they are all trapped in a world of chaos and war? It could be a migrant Indian family desperate to go back home from a war laden Iraq, but their employer has opportunistically tricked them and their government has conveniently forgotten them. It could be a native Iraqi whose life has been shattered in the hands of an autocratic ruler and then by an unwarranted foreign invasion. It could be the trapped American soldier of the frontline whose inherent human instinct is long lost amidst all the violence and bloodshed but is desperately seeking a revival. Or it could simply be a young six year old boy whose innocent ask from life is to get his birthday celebrated, but last two years has robbed him of such simple joys of life. The new Zee5 Original film Chintu ka Birthday is a story of all such broken, marooned people who are desperate to cling on to life and its small gifts, however illusive they might be.

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NATKHAT : Soft Gloving Life Brats!

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Natkhat – The thirty odd minutes long short film by Shaan Vyas premiered on the We Are One global film festival and is an important film that talks about how misogyny is most often ingrained in young innocent minds in their homes and in the playful environments surrounding them, and how it is critical for parents to protect them from the same even at the expense of exposing their vulnerable selves to this impressionable innocence.

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EEB ALLAY OOO : Calling For Existence

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Because the basic human dignity of the marginalized has become a monkey business in this country!!

.. Prateek Vats‘s sharp political satire Eeb Allay Ooo that brilliantly inverts its lens for a bold commentary on the power dynamics between ‘Lutyens Monkeys‘ and ‘the common man at their mercy‘ is an essential viewing experience, more so now than ever before!

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