DHUIN : The Foggy Echoes of Life

In Achal Mishra’s new fifty minute long feature Dhuin, which is now premiering at the 22nd Mumbai Festival, ambitions, emotions and the related frustrations of life come staring at us in nervously unsettling ways in its stillness, fogged gloom and the burdens of reality. Through striking visual imagery, and a gorgeous background score dominated by minimalistic guitar riffs, Mishra adopts a pristine, simple and subtle approach of narrating a story of dreams and ambitions, thereby delivering the deep impact of his quietly disturbing film in a poignant resonance of life.

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The Bappi Lahiri beyond his Disco Beats

Bappi Lahiri, who was rightfully called the Disco King for hindi cinema, is no more with us, and is hopefully swaying to his rhythmic beats in a better world. True, what he did to the disco phenomenon for hindi cinema is something that clearly sets him apart and laid footprints that would remain for life. But there is an utterly melodious side of Bappi Lahiri that often gets overshadowed, which should not be, because it has a bunch of gems, both popular and rare. Today, as we mourn the passing away of this prodigal music director, here’s looking at 12 of my favorite songs of Bappi Lahiri that stand firm, drenched in melody, and are equally a part of the legacy that Bappi Lahiri has left behind outside of disco. Just my personal choices, in no particular order, and there are many more that I could add to the list. But I just stayed with twelve for now.

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Rewind 2021 | Favorite Malayalam Films

When the Pandemic came and hit us from nowhere in 2020, cinema was possibly one of the most impacted industries in terms to figuring out how to take quality and commercials forward. The entire world came to a standstill and naturally the impact of cinema was widely evident. So much so, that even the Malayalam film industry that has been consistently producing the best cinema in India for a few years now struggled to find its feet. After a terrific 2019 and host of brilliant movies, 2020 was relatively listless for them. But they came back in 2021 and how! 2021 will possibly go down as one of the strongest years of content for the Malayalam film industry and they played the game very smart by ensuring that most of their quality content was available through the leading OTTs of the country and hence they ensured that their consumer base increased far and wide all across India, initiating several cinema lovers to their magic. They played around with genres, periods, storytelling styles but always ensured that the content was always rooted to the local culture, always touched hearts and stirred souls. The plethora of excellent choices they offered also has inspired me to make an exclusive list of my 10 favorite Malayalam films of 2021 for the first time.

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Rewind 2021 | Favorite Hindi Films

2021 has not been a good year for hindi films. As the year was mostly spent in waiting for unlocking of theatres, most of the content was made available to us more through the OTT platforms and less through theatrical releases. But that was not really an excuse for great content not being available to us, as in a parallel universe, Malayalam film industry was dishing out gems after gems (more on that later). Yes there were a couple of exceptional films, but for the times where there is scope to experiment with so much of different kind of content, it is a shame that not much in Hindi cinema flashed this year. So here goes a round up of what worked and what did not work for Hindi films for me this year. Will keep this to just listing of the films for this year (with a link to the individual reviews if a detailed write up was done). As always this is a very personal list, and my 10 favorite films of 2021 is based on what I could watch based on availability on public platforms (and I have not watched a lot of available films by choice too).

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Rewind 2021 | Favorite Indian Web Series

2021 was yet another year in our lives where most of us were locked up for a large part of the year in our homes and most of the entertainment that was available to us also came through OTT platforms. This included both movies and web series and there was more content up there to consume than time available to get to all of them. Quantity however did not commensurate with quality and the web series content particularly paled given the previous year had given us content like Panchayat and Scam 1992. There were a few web series however that were really good and stood out on merit of their making and performances, and here we look at the 5 Best Indian Web Series of the year. This is again a very personal list and based on what I have watched in the year. It is hence worthwhile to mention that while in cinema, I indulged into a lot of great movies from all over India including Malayalam, Tamil, Marathi etc., my web series watching for Indian shows was more restricted to Hindi, English and Bangla only, so the list will be reflective of that. Also to be noted that there are a couple of critically acclaimed series that I have not watched this year and hence cannot comment how they are. This includes the hindi show Family Man Season 2 (skipped it because Season 1 did not work for me) and bangla web series Mandar (on the watchlist but haven’t got there yet). So based on whatever I have seen and liked, here goes my top picks for the year.

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20 Favorite Movies Around Christmas

Christmas and New Year is that time of the year where everything around us pretties up and everyone looks forward to have a good time around family and friends. There is warmth in the chilly air and with everything slowing down a bit for a break, it is the perfect time to sit curled up in our couches and enjoy some good movies, around Christmas or otherwise. Hence this seemed like a perfect time to list down some of my favorite movies that either have Christmas at its core, or have things happening around the Christmas time, or have some significant or important events happening around the Christmas time as part of the narrative. They are not necessarily all the sugary sweet feel good movies that we usually default ‘Christmas movies’ to, and a quite a few of them are very unlike the charming holiday movies we have in mind for this genre. Also, these are not necessarily the best Christmas movies made by any means, these may not include a lot of movies that are considered Christmas classics, these are just personal favorites and not ranked in any chronological order. So here my 20 favorite Christmas movies with quite a bit happening around Christmas, and the feel of the times distinctly staying back with us in one way or the other.

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Rewind 2021 | Favourite Hindi Songs

2021 has been a disappointing year as far as Hindi film music is concerned. In fact, we can extend it to say that 2021 was as such disappointing for Hindi films too (other than one exceptional film, and a few good ones), but more on that later. Coming back to music, there wasn’t one single album which could even claim that it had three or four real good songs. Most of the times it was one good song here, another decent song there. Even the albums like Atrangi Re that had solid names associated with it finally delivered only a couple of good songs. As an album, Meenakshi Sundareshwar was possibly the best of lot with two or three very good songs, lot of freshness, but then there was so much mediocre and forgettable music all around, that anything slightly more melodious than the rest stayed back. One has to mention about the background score of Sardar Udham though, that was as brilliant as the film was, even though it didn’t have good songs in the offer and rightfully so. There were a few surprises thrown in from unlikely quarters, but overall the music scene was just dull. So much so that when I sat down to compile the best hindi songs of the year, I could not get to 10 songs even. So, here goes my pick of 7 Best Hindi Songs of 2021. It is of course a very personal list, and your choices could be very different than mine. Also it is not a ranked list in any chronology.

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AARYA Season 2 : The Mother Who Dares.. And Cares…

In Aarya Season 1, which brilliantly told the story of The Rise of The Phoenix, one thing was very firmly established. Aarya was Sushmita Sen, and Sushmita Sen was Aarya. Her career defining performance, Sushmita was Sen-sational the way she arrived. At one go, she nailed down the complex emotions of a wailing wife, a super protective mother, and vulnerable helpless human being who would do anything to protect the dignity of her immediate family, and fiercely guard her exposed children and self from anything that comes and harms them. And there was enough and more of evil engulfing her from all around waiting for any opportunity to get them, destroy them. By the end of Season 1, Aarya had won some battles, but those transient wins had given rise to more harmful antagonists and Aarya, with all her might, had thought that going away from all that would keep her family safe, give them the much needed peace they deserved and craved for. Aarya Season 2 picks up right from that point.

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JAI BHIM : Not An Outright Winner

The stories about police brutality on the marginalized, about the atrocities of the people in power on the weak, on the ostracized need to come up and need to told with all the gutsy fierceness. And the makers of Jai Bhim should definitely be applauded for that. That they brought forward the real life incident so that it could reach out to a much larger audience through the power of cinema. But is that enough to call it great cinema?

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SARDAR UDHAM : Say it like Shoojit Sircar

Shoojit Sircar is a man of quiet depth and restrained emotions. Even when he makes his lighter films, there is a unique elegance and classy charm attached to them, them studded with precious gem like moments, deeply layered subtlety, and an inexplicable repeat watch quality where you keep discovering a new something with every repeat watch. When the news first started flowing around that my most favourite hindi filmmaker of today’s times was going to make a biopic on Sardar Udham Singh and had the incredible Irrfan on his mind to play the titular role, it was naturally very exciting. While there were apprehensions about Shoojit also jumping into the biopic bandwagon, and also indulging in a genre that was outside his comfort zone, I also had the confidence that Shoojit, with his research , detailing, aesthetics and restraint, will lend the right amount of depth and gravitas to the forgotten story of this valiant revolutionary who took all his time but never lost focus on seeking justice on possibly the single most heinous crime and the darkest event of blood bath that marred India’s struggle for independence.

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