Yet another hectic and eventful year at the movies comes to an end. Every year we see films which we love, hate, abhor, feel indifferent towards. And this year has been no indifferent.
As the year draws to an end, every film buff (including yours truly) loves making a compilation of films under various such categories (good films, bad films etc)
As a movie buff this year too was no different. There were some films, which made for pleasurable viewing while some films induced sheer boredom and made for a rather tedious viewing. Regional cinema (esp. Tamil and Malayalam films) in my opinion once again reiterated that they are churning out films which are different from the regular fares, yet makes for some good viewing while being commercially viable .
Besides there were a lot of foreign language films which made all the right noises amongst movie buffs and the film festival circuits.
So here goes my list of best films in the foreign films and regional cinema section.
Too many films and too little time has been the bane of every film buff. As always there were quite a few films I wanted to watch but could not due to various reasons. So in case you do not find a particular favourite of yours mentioned in this list, kindly excuse me. 🙂
Mumbai Police (Malayalam)
Director: Roshan Andrews
Cast: Prithviraj, Jayasurya , Rehman
After directing the turkey called Casanovva (starring Mohanlal) in 2012, director Rosshan Andrrews and writer duo Bobby-Sanjay made a smashing return to form with Mumbai Police this year. A murder mystery revolving around the lives of three cops (Prithviraj, Jayasurya , Rehman) , Mumbai Police is taut and engaging with a climax that is bound to surprise you. Besides being a well made thriller, the film also gives a fresh lease of life to the rather stagnated cop movie genre. Prithviraj in the lead role proves why he is one of the most promising and daring actors we presently have in mainstream cinema. The rest of the actors such as Jayasurya , Rehman etc shine in their respective roles. One sincerely hopes that Andrrews and Bobby- Sanjay continue doing good work hereafter.
Celluloid ( Malayalam)
Cast: Prithviraj, Mamta Mohandas, Srinivasan
Celluloid tells the heartbreakingly true story of J.C Daniel (played by Prithviraj) who made the first ever Malayalam film titled Vigathakumaran. However thanks to the orthodox ways of the society, he largely lived a life of penury and anonymity, till the journalist Chelangatt Gopalkrishnan (Srinivasan) put in his best efforts to get J.C Daniel recognized as the father of Malayalam cinema. Some of the greatest filmmakers have always got their due recognition only after their death. Sadly the story of J.C Daniel was no different. Director Kamal deserves applause for depicting the story of J.C Daniel with the right amount of sensitivity. It also creates the bygone era wonderfully. Celluloid also makes that important point about the sheer neglect which India has shown in maintaining the archives of our films and how it is indeed a challenge to find these films. Prithviraj once again gives a stellar performance with the rest of the cast giving him some wonderful support.
Cast: Vishal, Bharathiraja, Sharath Lohitashwa
Revenge films are one genre of films that never go out of fashion. And if done rightly, they never fail to strike a chord with the audience. Director Suseenthiran had proved it few years back with Naan Mahaan Alla. With Pandiyanaadu he delivers yet another engaging revenge fare. The film tells the story of a young lad (Vishal) who seeks to avenge the death of his brother who is murdered by an underworld kingpin (Sharath Lohitashwa)
One of the main reasons, this film works is because it is a very realistically told tale invoking the right emotions. Instead of transforming the hero into an overnight killing machine, the film shows him as an individual who makes smart and calculated moves to get his revenge. Refreshingly, the film also shows the father (Bharathiraja) silently conspiring to avenge his son’s death – an interesting subplot which rarely has been explored in our films till date. I have always felt that Suseenthiran has a flair for action scenes which are raw and visceral and Pandiyanadu is a good example of the same. The action scenes are engaging and realistic esp. the fight in the climax.
Pandiyanadu is also a big step up for Vishal (who has also produced the film). The film is a far cry from his usually mediocre films wherein he is normally cast as an angry young protagonist. And to his credit, he does a good job in this film. Veteran director Bharathiraja gives a superb performance as Vishal’s father who is also secretly seeking revenge, making you wonder why he doesn’t act more often. Sharath Lohitashwa who is largely seen in Kannada films gives an impressive performance as the antagonist.
Soodhu Kavvum (Tamil)
Director: Nalan Kumarasamy
Cast: Vijay Sethupathy, Yog Japee, Sanchita Shetty
Producer C.V Kumar has turned a messiah of sorts for aspiring film makers in Tamil Nadu by producing films which are out of the box yet make for some great viewing. Last year he proved this by producing films such as Pizza and Attakathi. And this year he continued this trend by producing Soodhu Kavvum , a quirky comedy which reunites him with Vijay Sethupathy – his leading man from Pizza.
Directed by debutante Nalan kumarasamy, Soodhu Kavvum tells the story of three youngsters (Simha, Ashok Selvan, RJ Ramesh Thilak) who end up joining forces with a bumbling kidnapper (Vijay Sethupathy) resulting in a series of hilarious situations. The film never loses its momentum whilst keeping you entertained and engaged throughout. Vijay Sethupathy continues with his impressive form. The rest of the actors are also impressive with Yog Japee deserving special mention for his role as a ruthless cop who rarely speaks.
Director : Bharat Bala
Cast : Dhanush, Parvathy Menon, Salim Kumar
Directed by Bharat Bala, the man best known for his visually striking music videos, Maryan tells the story of an Indian fisherman and his fellow workers kidnapped by Somali pirates in the faraway land of Sudan. Inspired by a true story, Maryan is an engaging tale of survival and hope. Bharat Bala brings his usual visual finesse to Maryan, besides telling an engaging tale. The film is very well complemented by A.R Rahman’s enchanting songs and background score and some stunning cinematography by Marc Konicxx
One of the film’s highlights was the wonderful love story of the lead pair (Dhanush and Parvathy Menon) which forms the crux of the film. While Dhanush once again does a good job after this year’s Raanjhana, Parvathy Menon was particularly impressive amongst rest of the cast of the cast members.
Director : Pawan Kumar
Cast : Sathish Neenasam, Shruthi Hariharan, Achyuth Kumar
The crowd funding method of film making got a much needed boost this year, thanks to Lucia. Directed by Pawan Kumar, the film was a breakthrough commercial and critical success. The film which tells a thrilling tale of lucid dreaming is one of the most impressive films to be made this year. With impressive performances Neenasam, Hariharan and Kumar , Lucia should prove to be a much needed shot in the arm for the Kannada film industry, largely known for making mediocre movies and remakes of other South Indian films. Moreover, it has proved to be an inspiration for aspiring film makers who should be all the more enthused to undertake the route of crowd funding more than often hereafter.
Director : Satish Rajwade
Cast : Atul Kulkarni, Sidharth Menon, Ameya Wagh
After an impressive 2012, which saw some wonderful Marathi films being made, 2013 was a rather dull year for Marathi cinema. There were very few Marathi films this year which made for good viewing. One of them was Popat.
Directed by Satish Rajwade, Popat tells the story of three youngsters (Siddharth Menon, Ameya Wagh and Ketan Pawar) who with the help of Janya (Atul Kulkarni) embark to make a film on Aids awareness. And this journey teaches them a lot about this disease and life in general.
Making a film on socially relevant subject, which is entertaining yet informative is no mean task. However director Satish Rajwade achieves this task rather skillfully with Popat. The film is hilarious yet never fails to give some relevant information and create awareness about a subject like AIDS. The comedy in the film is done tastefully without any unwanted double entendres.
Sadly this film didn’t fare too well at the box office. Nevertheless, do make it a point to watch this film which is now available on DVD.
Director : Aditya Ajay Sarpotdar
Cast : Dilip Prabahwalkar, Manoj Joshi, Kishori Shahane
Based on a Bengali play Shujaano Bagan , Narbachi Wadi tells the story of an old man Narba (Dilip Prabhawalkar) owning a huge piece of land which is eyed by a zamindar (Manoj Joshi) .The film revolves around the efforts made by the zamindar to acquire the land from Narba often resulting in hilarious situations.
Director Aditya Ajay Sarpotdar wonderfully employs an old world charm to the film making it a very enjoyable watch. The film reminds you of the tales of Panchatantra which mainly revolved around the triumph of good over evil. With superb performances by Dilip Prabhawalakar, Manoj Joshi amongst others, this is one film you shouldn’t miss .
New World (Korean)
Director : Hoon Jung Park
Cast : Lee Jung-Jae , Choi Min-Sik, Hwang Jeong-min
The film tells the tale of an undercover cop (Lee Jung-Jae) stuck between a conflict of the mob and the cops and finds himself in a dilemma about where his loyalties lie. The film is reminiscent of Infernal Affairs and such other gangster flicks. However the direction and the screenplay make this an absolutely riveting watch. When it comes to making gangster movies, very few can rival Korean cinema. New World is yet another example of the same.
The Voice of the Voiceless
Director :Maximon Monihan
Cast : Janeva Adeva
Olga a young, deaf and mute woman receives a scholarship from an institute in New York to learn sign language. But soon this turns into one long nightmare as she is forced to sell ‘I am blind’ trinkets in trains. As the film which focuses on a mute protagonist, the director has very smartly shot it in a traditional style of silent movie using a tragicomic approach. Yet it makes for an impactful viewing. The fact that it is based on a true story makes it sound all the more disturbing.
The film makes very smart use of colours and sound to depict the protagonist’s frame of mind. Using bare minimum sound, the way a deaf and mute person would hear sounds was a superb idea. Commendably, the director does not portray the protagonist as a hapless victim. Rather she is shown as a strong girl who fights the situations very smartly.
Janeva Adena as Olga makes an impressive acting debut. Similarly director Maximon Monihan makes a good impression with his directorial debut venture