Popular Posts

Monday, December 31, 2012

Here are the others!

Some people have asked me why I've selected only my top ten favorite films for the year, and why not the others, especially the regional films, and that's the reason I am mentioning the names of some of the other films that I have been much impressed by, for a variety of reasons, and in varying degrees (these include the Indian films too, Mehul!). Hope my readers would delight me with their comments.

50/50 (2011) 
The Tree of Life {2011)
The Help (2011) 
Moneyball (2011) 
Miss Potter (2006) 
The American (2009)
Carnage (2011)
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)
Daydream Nation (2010)
The Descendants (2011) 
We Need to Talk to Kevin (2011) 
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) 
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
The History Boys (2006) 
Julie and Julia (2009) 
War Horse (2011) 
Secuestro Express (2005) 
This Must Be the Place (2011) 
J. Edgar (2011) 
Before Sunrise (1995) 
Argo (2012) 
We Bought a Zoo (2011) 
Midnight in Paris (2011) 
A Christmas Carol (2009) 
Shame (2011) 
The Awakening (2011) 
Annie Hall (1977) 
Gangs of Wasseypur (2012) 
Gangs of Wasseypur II (2012) 
Changing Lanes (2002)
Dazed and Confused (1993) 
Margaret (2011) 
The Raven (2012) 
Detention (2011) 
The Hunger Games (2012) 
Womb (2010) 
Bel Ami (2012) 
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (2011)
The Conspirator (2010)
Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides (2011) 
Rango (2011) 
Oliver Twist (2005) 
Dark Shadows (2012) 
Triumph of the Spirit (1989) 
The Rum Diary (2011) 
Goats (2012) 
The Door (2012) 
The Flying Scotsman (2006)
Paan Singh Tomar (2012) 
Hanna (2010) 
Brave (2012) 
Hodejegerne/ Headhunters (2011) 
Take Shelter (2011) 
The Details (2011) 
Coup de tête (1979)  
Looper (2012) 
Trouble with the Curve (2012) 
Abosheshey (2012) 
Bhooter Bhobishyot (2012) 
Dutta vs Dutta (2012) 
Aiyyaa (2012) 
Barfi (2012) 
Vicky Donor (2012) 
Talaash  (2012) 
Cocktail (2012) 
Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu (2012) 
English Vinglish (2012) 
Ishaqzaade (2012)
Tawbe Taai Hok (2012)
Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana (2012)
Kahaani (2012) 

Paan Singh Tomar

Vicky Donor
Bhooter Bhobishyot
Tawbe Taai Hok

Annie Hall

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Films Seen in 2012: Top Ten

This year, the top ten films, chosen from among the ones I liked best, have something in common. It is for the readers to find out. It has not happened consciously, that I can swear. Maybe it had to do with my dominant mood. Or, maybe, it was because of the films themselves being real treats for a hardened movie buff like me. Or, maybe, it was a bit of both. After having seen so many films year after year, it is not easy for one to be still charmed or impressed by a film like a kid discovers something new. Yet, all these films (and a few more, actually) have been able to make me feel like a kid. I laughed, I cried, I cheered, I chuckled, and did a whole lot more. I have grown fond of them, having simply been overjoyed at the innate goodness that lay in the heart of the protagonists; rediscovering humanity; reaffirming my faith in my fellow-mates; recharging my batteries; even reviving my oft-battered soul. I hope my readers will warm up to all of them, if they already haven't been lucky to see them, and share my madness and may they find all meaning in that very madness, in their own special way, and make themselves better attuned to life.

1) Le Gamin au vélo (The Kid with a Bike) (2011)

This French film directed by Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne actually has a an emotionally enriching tale but the beautiful treatment is what makes it stand out. It says so much without actually saying out loud. The acting, the music, and the cinematography had me rooting for the film, and its central protagonist.

2) The Artist (2011)
Toasted at the Oscars, this film is one of the rarest gems that celebrates cinema, of the silent black-and-white era, and, essentially, celebrates life. The storyline of the silent-era star having a sweet romance with a young aspirant is laced with brilliant humor and pathos. It has its brilliant set-pieces orchestrating the rich dramatic crests and troughs and the two lead players, and the dog, are sure to win our hearts

3) Hugo (2011)
This is an incredibly lavish yet irresistibly endearing historical-adventure-drama-film - and it is in 3D. Martin Scorsese has definitely a made a masterpiece yet again, aided as much by Brian Selznick's novel as by the latest 3D technology. The film is gorgeously delightful, and is helmed by the performances of Asa Butterfield, Ben Kingsley, Chloë Grace Moretz, Christopher Lee, Jude Law, Emily Mortimer, Ray Winstone, and Sacha Baron Cohen.

4) Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
I was absolutely unprepared for the odd sweetness offered by this Wes Anderson film, which I saw near the fag end of the year. The story and the characters have a quaint, idyllic charm, and the eccentricities are so easy to relate to. More than the adult members of the cast, the usual prototypes used sparingly, it is the children - principally Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward - who steal the show. The production design, cinematography, and music are all top notch.

5) Life of Pi (2012)
A seemingly unfilmable novel, with a universally acclaimed philosophical premise, has been made into a visual masterpiece by And Lee and I do not have words to lavish praises on the end-result. It is simple yet profound; a breathtaking spectacle that offers a spiritual journey for every willing viewer.

6) Boy A (2007)
This 2007 British film was also chanced upon by me quite by chance. Andrew Garfield is a revelation in the title role. Peter Mullan is splendid as the rehabilitation worker showing empathy as well as dilemma. The premise is controversial, but the response generates introspection.

7) Biutiful (2010)
Javier Bardem could have been reason enough to find this film appealing. He is one of the best actors we have ever had, which he proves quite handsomely in this inspirational film directed by celebrated Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu. The film is beautiful, but heartwrenchingly so, much like life itself.

8) Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011)
I stayed awake all night to see this film. I could not sleep a wink after the film ended, as I was too emotionally charged by its sentiments. It addresses something too intense and gripping, and is dramatic to the core, but that does not take away anything from the film's underlying strength, and the celebration of innocence, even when it is maligned.

9) Beginners (2010)
Heady and heartfelt, serious and funny, emotionally loaded but never over-the-top, wisely bereft of maudlin hues, this is one of the most life-affirming films made in recent times. Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer are a treat to watch.

10) Cosmopolis (2012)
Coming from David Cronenberg, this film does not really shock us, but it makes us chuckle at the queer probity displayed by the maker with opulent confidence in his craft. The terrific theme deals with vacuous soullessness that threatens to plague us in an unthinkable manner, and few could have portrayed the wasted stance better than Robert Pattinson, surely my favorite.

The selection and ranking has been based on personal preference 
taking into account the 200+ films viewed - be it on the big screen or on video. 
Pics courtesy: Google Images 
[The year in brackets indicates the year of release and/or making] 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Life's struggles

Only a few people strive to enjoy each and every day to the fullest. 
Most think that they aren't luckier than the majority. They find themselves disadvantaged, and shortchanged. However, only when one assumes a neutral approach, ridding oneself of all the biases and prejudices that tend to make one feel gypped, that makes one feel trapped in a dysfunctional emotional space, can one truly appreciate life for what it is worth. 

As a new day begins each morning, and, opening one's eyes, there is a feeling of reassurance that one is alive, the petty struggles do not weigh heavy on one's mind. We take too many things for granted. We do not take into account the simple advantages that we enjoy, the simple but priceless gifts we are endowed with, and we do not as such appreciate the life that we live. 
Feeling grateful or thankful for the life that we have been gifted does not come easy, I agree. And it is primarily because of our feeling trapped within the very struggles that we have to engage ourselves in, often when we are extremely reluctant to do so. Some of our battles are themselves so huge, humongous, and hollowing, that they drain and deplete us, and keep us from valuing life itself. 
When I actually think about it, I realize how skewed my thinking has been, but it must also be said that one cannot afford to self-flagellate even if it comes to that, it is but natural - I tell myself - it had been charted for me that way, my life, my struggles, my battles within and without. Life's struggles end only when life does. 
Life would indeed have been too dull, too static, without the challenges, without the struggles; no?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Welcoming the Yuletide Spirit

It's Christmas week, and time for festive decorations and cakes, and spreading of good cheer and joy, and hence I am sharing two beautiful pics sent to me, from the Net, by a special friend of mine. I do not own the copyright, of course, and the pics are shared merely to bring a smile - or two - to the readers of the blog.
By the way, I am sparing you news from the contemporary goings on in the world because the things - too bleak and frustrating - which have been happening, in general, might be reflected upon appropriately only from a distance; a distance that would possibly allow me greater objectivity and rationale.
Let us all welcome Yuletide in our own little way, keeping the spirit of sharing and caring intact, let us pray for love, peace and hope all around. Merry Christmas!~

A promotional gathering for the film '3 Idiots'; cast-members Aamir Khan, R. Madhavan and Sharman Joshi - with their Christmas caps.

A scene from the all-time cult comedy 'Andaz Apna Apna'; Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, Raveena Tandon and Karisma Kapoor.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Living legend Messi

Messi is the subject of my blog-post, yet again, and indeed it is a honor to be feting the Prince of Football. He undoubtedly deserves all the ooh-aahs, not just from his umpteen admirers, but also from the genuine critics and observers who love the game of football and who do not hesitate to laud the feats of the greats, the legends. 
I know that calling someone a living legend is a rare honor, but Lionel Messi's success story is laced with legendary triumphs, it is truly the stuff that makes instant history. He is not one to sit comfy on his laurels, he keeps going from strength to strength. 
He is the superstar of football for all that he displays on the field, and even off it. He has created history this season by breaking the 40-year-old record of most goals scored in a calendar year. And that is not all, the football crazy city of ours and the soccer lovers around the globe are all hoping that he will set many more records. 
He shoots the ball into the goal like a dream, and hence the very sight of him in action, on the field, is a feast for our eyes. It has been rightly said that he roams the ground with a boyish abandon, and nothing can beat the way a certain hush descends on the stadium as he embarks on his magical run towards the opponents' goal area. 
Here's wishing him all the best for the days ahead!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Who is stress-free?

Stress, stress everywhere....... all around, all the time.
Who is stress-free in this world?

Well, the search may prove to be more stressful than bargained for.
However, I have come to realize that managing stress or dealing with it effectively is what should be our key concern.
With our hectic schedules, and umpteen pressures, stress becomes our biggest enemy.
It tires us out for anything productive in the long run. We are haggard just fighting stress all the time, and thus, in the process, we are always the losers, no matter what. The belly fat that the hormones triggered by stress induces is hard to hide, so is the overall worn out look of ours.
I like to tell my mind that I have just a manageable level of stress even when the reality might be quite opposite. But do I fool my body's system and get away with it? Mostly, yes. 
After all, I can't spend hours sitting on a pillow. 
I can't emulate the ideals of a yogi or an ascetic. 
I throw my hands up in the air even for the exercise regimen, and hope to be gymming only while I am asleep, in my dreams that is. 
All I have to depend on is an inner communication with my own self. 
Else, I have to wish my stress away, magically; 
I believe in magic, although I am devoid of magical powers.

I believe, I need to look within, a lot more, instead of trying to decipher the happy expressions on people all around - on the streets, on the sidewalks, in cars and buses, at places of work, pleasure or worship - and coming to terms with the possibility of them being more stress-free than I am. Well, I guess, I have to come to terms with merely being stress-adjusted. I better let go of the stress-free aspiration in life.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Autumnal Blues

During autumn, each year, Kolkata gears up for the autumnal festivals........ the biggest of which is Durga Puja. The fun and festivities are anticipated well in advance, the plans are made by the revelers, and the days of celebrations whiz past us - as if in a jiffy. Right now, we are awaiting more excitement, more enjoyment, as, post Durga Puja, it is the turn of the other festivities, climaxing with Kali Puja and Diwali. 

Why does my heart feel heavy? 
What do I apprehend? 
What does fear lurk in my heart? 
What are the myriad hues that catch me unawares? 
Why has my soul been singing the perennial autumnal blues?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Reality - bizarre

Reality can be bizarre..... even simple reality at that!

Facing reality, as it is, can be a lot more difficult than it sounds.
It can be tricky; it can seem unreal, and a strange ball game.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Thirsty ...

Thirsty? Asks the campaign. 
Thirst for what, you may ask....... 
Well, it could be a campaign for anything, 
not necessarily for some cola or bottled drink, which earlier would have been looked down upon as conspicuous consumption. Not anymore, since there has been a change in perception for all things that do not fit the description of 'necessary  - by definition'.
We have grown up as consumers, as they smart marketing men would tells us. 
There is a ubiquitous demand for the advertised comforts, 
things that quench an artificial thirst of ours....... 
a thirst that has been generated by a hype, or a craze, 
using our weaknesses, or aggressively targeting the repressed faculties.
The cynics would simply say, we are too stupid to fall prey...... 
the doomsayers would project a collapse of the old-order 
because of a sudden surge of our new found thirst...... 
the optimists would see newer fantasies spicing up the boring lives...... 
the pessimists would see the tinge of conspiracy and would even 
consider the thirst-manufacturers as the new super-villains working
towards a catastrophe, fulled by their gorging on our natural impulses.
We are no longer thirsty for knowledge - it is staid as a concept!

We are just thirsty for more...... more of madness,
more of mediocrity, more of intolerance, more of shamelessness, 
more of the things of a lesser, baser kind!
The more we drink, the thirstier we get..... but naturally.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

At the end of it all....... 'Abosheshey'

Abosheshey (At the end of it all) is a film that has touched me deep.

My heart went out to the characters, my heart melted with the protagonist's passion and zest for life. It is indeed one of the best Bangla films made in recent years. Interestingly, the film marks the debut of director Aditi Roy, aided brilliantly by the principal cast, the flawless cinematography of Ranjan Palit, and the praiseworthy musical soundtrack designed by Prabuddha Banerjee.
It is essentially a mother-son story, and as a special friend of mine has rightly observed that mother-son films seldom fail, principally for us Bangalis who (much like the Irish and the Hispanics have a cultural tradition that is steeped in special mother-son bondings). However, this film - despite the much-recognized motifs - is much more than a mother-son story. It deals with emancipation, loss, identity, legacy and continuity.

Ankur Khanna plays the son who connects with her estranged, and now dead, mother, Suchishmita (Roopa Ganguly) who has left a long letter for him, desperately hoping that one day he would return to his city of birth and would make an effort to know the city and also his long lost childhood from which he had been detached since his departure along with his dad (to America). The son eventually gets to know her, through all those intrinsic contents that made her the person that she was, of which he had been completely oblivious, and he is also able to discover the many unknown facets that intertwine though time.

The fact that the film celebrates nostalgia is reason enough for someone like me to love it. I can't help shamelessly craving for nostalgia. People who know me well say, that I am a sucker for nostalgia and, according to a dear friend, it is on account of my being a sucker for romance. I love serenading the nature, and the hills form the idyllic setting in my dreamscape, though in reality I have never been to a hill station, not yet. I have a love-hate relationship with the city of Kolkata, where I have been almost all my life, and the film has Kolkata as a character. The things said through words, and visuals, about the city of Kolkata are something that I fully empathize with.

Apart from Roopa Ganguly and Ankur Khanna, the cast includes Raima Sen, Sudipta Chakraborty, Suman Mukherjee, Manasi Sinha, Arijit Dutta, Ronjini Chakraborty, Bodhisatva Majumdar, Kamalika Banerjee, Avijit Guha, Amitabh Bhattacharya and Deepankar De.

Endnote: Nothing remains forever. But the memories linger on. Memories haunt and reshape the minds of those who are left behind by the dear departed. Sieving through memories may be a mellow process, but need not be steeped in melodrama, the narrative even unfolds a wee bit of suspense which steps up the dramaturgy but it never allows melodramatic excesses. In fact, the director, with the help of the editor Abhro Banerjee, has shown exceptional control and restraint.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Happy B'Day, Ron!

Ranbir Kapoor celebrates his birthday today.....

Ranbir is not just Bollywood's young turk, he is also one of the very best.

From doing experimental films to establishing a niche for himself, he has had success, getting his turf well assessed and staying focused with his priorities, not that he can skip being tabloid fodder altogether for liaisons of the heart.

And the sweet success of Barfi! is making him bask in glory, for sure.

Pics courtesy: Lenovo, Pepsi and Google Images.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Goats is unusual, quirky, bizarre and yet very much a warm-hearted treat. It is a film that I happened to watch without having known about the film in advance. I was not too excited by the cast either, not when I saw the poster splashed on the cover of the DVD that I borrowed from the library. As the movie began, right from the animation accompanying the title card, I was hooked.

I could not believe my eyes watching David Dachovny as the Goat Man! David's renown for being the lead in X-Files far exceeds his fame as an actor of substance his act in Full Frontal notwithstanding. He has given quite a career defining performance in this film, I must say. The film also has such fine actors as Vera Farmiga, Ty Burrell, Keri Russell, Justin Kirk and Dakota Johnson. And, of course, there is the young and talented Graham Phillips, who plays Ellis, the Arizona teenager whose coming-of-age story Goats is.

The film is based on the book by Mark Poirier, who has also penned the screenplay. Woody Jackson and Jason Schwartzman have composed the music for the film, while Wyatt Troll has done the cinematography.

The film might not have captured really any exceptional ground, but for someone who has experienced incredible identity crises of one's own, my own backdrop of inconsistencies being a valid reference point, the film is nothing short of a revelation. Disturbed virtues can be so widely dissimilar and yet so very alike in terms of identifiability. Ellis, the protagonist of the film, journeys through the oddities that comprise his life and discovers longing, loyalty, camaraderie, clarity and pragmatism in his own way.

Friday, September 14, 2012

'Barfi!' - a heart-stealer!

BARFI! is the latest cinematic offering from Anurag Basu.
As a filmmaker, Anurag has already proven his worth with some entertaining and thoroughly engaging feature films, and even with some interesting work on television. But this one sets him apart in many ways. He has hardly compromised with his creative vision, despite the film having an A-list star-cast and a big studio-backing. 

The film tells an endearing story. Two of the protagonists - including the eponymous one - are differently-abled (challenged, according to the so-called politically incorrect) and yet the film has happened to strike just the right chords, it has hit the right notes at the box-office too. The film has been called a mini-masterpiece by some, while some have lauded it as the most broad-based emotionally overwhelming film made in recent times. 

Anurag Basu has told the tale with some amount of freshness and with a lot of passion and optimism. Ranbir Kapoor in the title role (Murphy, which in the flawed utterance becomes Barfi!), as a deaf-mute guy, oozes cherubic warmth and divine energy, and Priyanka Chopra, as the autistic girl, Jhilmil, has her own moments of brilliance. There is also the other important character, Shruti (played by Illeana D'Cruz, making her Hindi film debut), that stands out in a refreshingly muted way; ironically it is she who threads the narrative with a voice-over that breezes all over with back-and-forth forays (flashbacks and 'super' flashbacks!). 
The viewers would love the ride. I loved it, honestly. I chuckled, smiled, laughed, sobbed and relished the magical moments that played out on the big screen. I cheered for Barfi, I delighted in his exploits, I surrendered to the simplistic charm and innocence in the synthetic recreation of the Seventies.

I would excuse Basu the digressions and the indulgences (which has a distinctive flavor of the Tamil/Telugu films) and also the show-offish excesses. They are but minor flaws. What I took home was the abundance of love and tenderness and sensitive portrayals, and some meaty moments packed in minuscule segments. The film celebrates life, love, and hope.
In one of the promotionals for the film, the cast members put it brilliantly, that a viewer would take from this life-affirming film the kind of flavor that essentially defines him/her and the kind of flavor that he/she would like to permeate in his/her life. 
Barfi, the character, is a heart-stealer, and so is the film.