TOOFAAN : Doesn’t have the firepower

TOOFAAN could have been a completely forgettable film because the sports drama and rise of the underdog template has nothing new to offer. But it still leaves a definitive footprint because it has a beautiful love story at its core whose beating heart and heartfelt moments is the strength of the film. It also has a certain dignified grace as a family drama that works through its ups and downs. The sincerity and hard work of Farhan Akhtar clearly shows, but it is Mrunal Thakur and her spunk that makes Toofaan a significantly better film than the disaster that the trailer indicated.

Oh Ananya!

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MALIK : Dazzles Through and Through

Mahesh Narayanan’s MALIK is as grand in its ambition and as dazzling in its execution, as the marvelously crafted single take 13 minute long opening shot of the film. By the time the film’s title card shows up at the end of that shot, Narayanan has sealed in your attention and admiration for what will follow for the next two and a half hours of his film.

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Kanika Dhillon has a knack for creating delicious characters. But doesn’t she also need to master what to do with them eventually?

Vinil Mathew picks up the right cast to play those delicious characters, and extracts very engaging performances from them to make them rather exciting. But does he believe that a film can thrive merely on excellent performances?

Pulpy trashy novels within your script can be interesting inspirations to orchestrate the filmy twists in your story. But don’t the writer and the filmmaker have the responsibility to ensure their film eventually doesn’t become that inspiration?

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Top 12 Indian Films of 2021 – Mid Year Check Point

So just like that, six months of 2021 are already gone. And while we had hoped at the beginning of the year that 2021 would be the year of life opening up again including our regular visits back to the cinemas, sadly that was not to happen. The six months went by with us locked up in the corners of our homes, and watching a lot of cinema that saw their releases across digital platforms – big and small, across languages, genres and themes. There has been a lot to appreciate in what we consumed, quite a bit to feel disappointed, but the overall feeling has been of hope because cinema is becoming far more universal crossing the boundaries of languages and geographies and speaking to our sensibilities with their global human themes. As we are at the mid year checkpoint of 2021, here is then looking at a dozen films that stood out at the top, appealing the most to my sensibilities and making a very strong mark. As always, this is a very subjective list and may not match up with your favorites for the year, but it would be wonderful to know what were your favorite films of the year so far, so that I can also catch up on anything that I would have missed out.

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RAY : No Traces of Ray Here

Forget Me Not | Srijit Mukherji – This may be one of the better films Srijit Mukherji has made in recent times overall, but digs its own grave by using some of the highly objectionable ‘Srijit-ish’ tropes to add some gimmicky glitz and forced darkness to the story. It somehow survives due to some decent performances by Ali Fazal and Shweta Basu Prasad and an okayish overall screenplay. The final memory lane trip depiction is rather unclever and literary though, and takes away some more sheen from the film.

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GULDASTA : Is a Fragrant Bouquet of Emotions


…. is a lovely bouquet of variety of emotions closely relatable to the heart

…. is a handpicked bunch of lived in moments of life that breathes warmth in every frame

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SHERNI : The Tigress on the Run

The Tigress out there is fighting alone to survive in a jungle that’s turned into a mess by anarchy, whims and fancies of a bunch of bad boys! The rot is deep, the traps are furious, the adversary exists in various forms! The metaphor is strong and leaves its pug mark trails throughout the length of the film.

Amit Masurkar had enough meat here to stew a sumptuous experience with a lingering after taste. Unfortunately at times his process remains inconsistent, and the uneven switch between slow burn docu style storytelling and the parallel layered complex human drama doesn’t deliver the necessary gripping bite to stay uniformly invested throughout.

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EK DOCTOR KI MAUT : Sheer Brilliance

With doctors worldwide in the forefront of the pandemic battle today, and vaccines being the talk of the town, Tapan Sinha’s 1990 classic ‘Ek Doctor ki Maut’ comes to mind and how!

Based on Ramapada Choudhury’s short story ‘Abhimanyu’, Sinha’s film delved deep into the passion, power, politics and the pain associated with the journey of Dr. Dipankar Roy (Pankaj Kapur) and his wife Seema (Shabana Azmi), as they traverse the turbulent path of finding a vaccine for leprosy!

Sadly this brilliant film isn’t remembered as often today, but it must be watched for the terrific performance of the lead couple, and the sheer genius of Sinha! The film would certainly feature in any Best of Pankaj Kapur listings. And yes, one can find a bit of early days of Irrfan as well in the film where he left his impact in a smaller role as expected.. The film is available on YouTube..

Remembering ‘Ek Doctor ki Maut’ today, and wishing Pankaj Kapur a very happy birthday!

AARKKARIYAM : Subtly Superlative

Aarkkariyam‘ is a brilliant example how a film does not need to have any heavy dramatic build up, or big reveal aha moments, and yet can be the most gripping human drama that intrigues you with the complexities of the human mind and the brooding spell of a developing pandemic. One can only be amazed at Sanu Varghese’s craft and the maturity that he displays in his debut feature film, because perfect is one word you could easily use to describe the terrific film. Add to it the tremendous rooted performances from all the three leads where each of them nails down every finer detail of every reaction without needing to have any big ‘performance’ moments, and you are fully satiated with the experience of watching complete cinema.

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SANDEEP AUR PINKY FARAAR : Layered with Smartness

When Dibakar Banerjee makes a film, you watch it.

You can be assured it will be smart, intriguing, layered, and unlike anything what you have seen in the genre before. You can also be assured that he will even make Arjun Kapoor act and Parineeti Chopra get back to form. And you can be assured that the film stays with you for all the right reasons.

So when Dibakar Banerjee makes a film, you watch it. Period.

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