63rd National Film Awards (2016): List of Winners

The 63rd National Film Awards for Indian Cinema of 2015 has just been announced a short while ago.  The awards will be distributed in early May this year. Given below is the list of winners-Continue reading “63rd National Film Awards (2016): List of Winners”

Ranveer Singh is the Face of the Year (Man) at the Femina Beauty Awards 2016

What a year it has been for Ranveer Singh! The actor who has outdone himself in the role of Peshwa Bajirao, has been winning accolades, from all over for his spectacular performance in in the film. Adding another feather to his cap, Ranveer was presented the ‘Face of the Year (Man)’ and ‘Most Beautiful On-screen Pair (along with Deepika Padukone)’ Award at the Femina Beauty Awards 2016, held in Mumbai on February 5 at ITC Grand Central.Continue reading “Ranveer Singh is the Face of the Year (Man) at the Femina Beauty Awards 2016”

Bollywood Movies 2015: The Year End List

2015 was arguably a good year for Hindi Cinema. Though there might not have been any landmark movies, but there were many brave attempts and I am sure a few of them will live long enough to be discussed on forums like these.One can never possibly compile the year’s best list. A movie, like love, is an extremely subjective experience. So I won’t say this is my list of year’s best films,but rather list of 10 films that engaged me sufficiently and a few of them left an impact deep enough to mull over them for days in a row.Continue reading “Bollywood Movies 2015: The Year End List”

Bajirao Mastani Movie Review: An emotional juggernaut. A blockbuster!

1442308541_ranveer-singh-gajanana-song-bajirao-mastaniMost of the times I do not pen my thoughts on movies which are an experience (for me) rather than an exercise (for me). Reason being, I have nothing specific to say about them. I’m awed by them, they transport me to a place and I’m in the film-maker’s control for the entire length, I’m not viewing it critically, I’m just experiencing it (like the good ol’ 90s). So instead of wasting time in hyperboles and adjectives like stupendous, fantastic, amazing, I just lay low with a brief little Facebook status hailing the film. (Probably I’m not breaking these movies down, so as not to ruin my experience, because I’m still that guy who is insecure about his favorite movies). So that’s what I did with Bajirao Mastani. Just a provocative statement on FB “SLB makes Rajamouli look like an amateur” and I was done. But the general indifference and reserved/hesitant praise from our mainstream movie critics (probably the worst in the world) and the Bollywood blog scene towards Bajirao Mastani has made me angry enough to write this piece.

My main concern here is why there is no excitement? Why no one is really hailing and championing this film vociferously, say like Bahubali. BM is so obviously more spectacular and dramatically satisfying than Bahubali. Of course there are acting inconsistencies, dialogues overkill, bad CGI but don’t all mainstream Indian movies have them? We have attuned ourselves to overlook these as minor mishaps and not let it disconnect us from the movie. Why should we really hold these things against Bajirao, when on the other hand it’s giving us a blockbuster movie experience with grandeur, killer dialogues, drama, music, searing emotions and all this at an exhilarating pace. I know it’s already started sounding like those stupid, silly open letters ranting their personal frustrations in the guise of addressing it to someone. But this is really important to me and I will risk sounding stupid here for a movie which deserves praise for the cinematic experience it delivers like no other in recent times. And when it comes to mainstream hindi movies, it gets personal.

On the night I watched the movie, I texted my friend who is one of the best critics out there Satish Naidu, that he should watch Bajirao without fail. I remember him loving the trailer. But he raised his concerns, and asked if it’s a regular period drama. If it is he said it will be tedious and he will probably skip it. I didn’t exactly understand what he meant. Bajirao is definitely a period film and it definitely is a drama. But tedious? No way. And then during the course of our conversation, I understood what he was alluding to by period drama – Mughal-e-Azam, Jodha Akbar etc. Thankfully Bajirao is not in the same vein as these. Its drama is tense and high-strung and never sagging with the burden of period detailing. And I would like to give credit to the screenplay penned by Prakash Kapadia. It takes the juggernaut narrative approach rather than a ‘grand’ approach, where long scenes are built up around the sets with pauses in dialogues so that audience can absorb each and every detail. And SLB, who has been vocal about his Mughal-e-azam love, would surely have relished the ‘grand’ approach given his OCD about detailing. But thankfully we are spared that and what we get is a thrilling historical re-telling of Peshwa Bajirao Ballal’s love triangle, packed with small scenes with high drama.

I have really nothing insightful to say about the film-making or the films content. All I have are generic overarching statements on how this movie is THE movie. So I’m not going even going to try that. Instead what I’ll do is recount few portions/aspects of the film that literally made me quiver with excitement.

Opening –

darbarThe restlessness of the screenplay is very evident here, as it begins by putting us write into the middle of the arguments about the appointment of Maratha Empire’s next prime minister. And amidst it, Ranveer Singh walks in spectacular fashion. I would like point out two aspects of the scene, both related to period detailing

  • Shahu Maharaj’s darbar – It consists of a long and narrow open space surrounded by a trench filled with water, leading to the throne. It is surrounded by an elevated area for the darbar members (all standing).
  • Bajirao’s look and accent – Dhoti clad, bald headed with the bhramin choti speaking Hindi with a heavy Marathi accent.

Fpeshwairstly, the length of the darbar is used fantastically for effect. First Ranvir Singh is introduced by making him walk the length (from the door to throne). Few moments later he is challenged to split a feather with an arrow. The feather is kept at one end, and Bajiro stands on the other hand with bow and arrow. Secondly, the look , along with being authentic is carried out with real badassery by Ranveer Singh. And finally when he delivers his first dialogue in that Marathi accent, boy!!! Pure joy! And moments after this, he wins the challenge, is crowned the prime-minister and then walks in wearing something much more opulent, head covered with an oversized head gear. Walks again through the same long and narrow space for the ceremony (probably not the same, but looks same, and works perfectly in contrast with the earlier moment), exchanging a look with Kashibai.

Deewani Mastani –

mastaniThis was promoted as THE musical set piece of the movie. And it lives up to its billing. When it comes to such ‘item’ songs in Hindi movies, I’m very stickler about the placement and the build-up. When a BIG item number like Munni Badnam just starts randomly, I get all worked up and lose all the excitement. Deewani Mastani was one song, which I’d been waiting for. I love the audio. It starts with a rocking Marathi folk prelude and then settles into a grand rhythm. I was conscious, that in the movie if it just cropped without any underlying emotional layers, it would be a dud. But the build-up is nothing short of amazing.

  • Mastani has arrived in Pune, but is not allowed to meet Bajirao, instead is insulted by putting her up at a brothel instead of a guest house.
  • After a brief flirtation with Mastani in Bundelkhand, Bajirao returns to his loving wife and is shown making love few scenes before
  • Kashibai is ecstatic of Bajirao’s return and is in LOVE with Bajirao. She mentions to someone, that ‘my’ Bajirao will never look at any other woman.

Adeewani mastanind amidst this, Mastani is asked to perform (as an insult) at Bajirao’s homecoming ceremony. We see Bajirao dressed ceremoniously sitting on the throne. We see Kashibai and Bajirao’s sisters sitting in the side balcony. They are waiting for the dance to begin. It begins with the folk dancers dancing to the Marathi prelude, and then the beat dies down and there enters Mastani to Bajirao’s surprise. In the course of the song, Kashibai watches nervously from the balcony. The BIG love triangle is NOW set. The song marks the arrival of the turbulence. I’m not sure of the costume and choreography here, but at a musical and emotional level is works fantastically.

Gajanana –

gulaalAnother musical piece that I was excited to see how and where it was used was the Ganesh aarti. Before 1999, no one thought that the ganesh aarti could have a violent cinematic power. But in Vaastav, Mahesh Manjrekar infused the ganesh aarti with a sort of tension and exhilaration that no one could have thought a high tempo prayer recital could be the perfect background score for a Godfather style (the final multiple locations shootouts) action intercutting. And here 16 years later we have SLB using it in undoubtedly the best 5 minutes of Bajirao Mastani. We hear faint echoes of Gajanana playing inside closed doors. Kashibai is on her way to the aarti when she receives a message that killers are on their way to Mastani mahal, save her if she can. She is shocked. She slowly approaches the closed door (from where we hear Gajanana – still faint, increasing slowly) and then opens it to the blast of Gajanana and blood red gulaal filled air. Meanwhile we see Mastani woken up by the intruders. Kashibai proceeds in slow-motion through the crowd with ear blasting Gajanana playing. Mastani is seen defending her child with a sword killing the intruders one by one. We now cut to Kashibai’s close-up, seeing her dilemma, whether to tell Bajirao or just ignore thus getting her souten out of the way. The tempo of the aarti escalates with the intercutting of Kashibai and Mastani. These 5 minutes of pure audio-visual crescendo is absolutely breathtaking and worth every penny of the ticket.

This movie is indeed an event movie. You feel like you’ve watch 4-5 movies packed into one.  You get 10 times the bang for every shot in the trailer. Easily the best of 2015 and one of the best ever.

PS: Thanks to my wife for passionately discussing this movie with me and making me realize it is SPECIAL. Also, thanks for pushing me to write this. I feel a lot better than I did at the beginning.

Bajirao Mastani: A Quick Review

Bajirao Mastani PosterThis weekend seems to be a battle of heroes- one is a reel hero (SRK in Dilwale) and the other a real hero (Bajirao) and the second one wins hands down! Sanjay Leela Bhansali finally seems to have got a lot of things right with Bajirao Mastani, a good film after a long time after Devdas. Maybe he loves pitching a man against two women!Continue reading “Bajirao Mastani: A Quick Review”

Bajirao Mastani Movie Review: A Glittering Period Love Tale but Not Quite an Epic

Perhaps there is hardly anyone around who hasn’t heard of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s dream project Bajirao Mastani and his plans to make it over the years, which for some reason or the other never really took off for a long time. Finally after going through several iterations the ambitious project has made it to the theatres. Though of late the film has been more in the news for the fight for screens and shows due to its big clash with Rohit Shetty‘s Dilwale, it wouldn’t be an understatement to say that the film has been keenly awaited, what with every promotional input being well received. Needlessly to say I was quite curious to know whether the film actually manages to make the wait for the same be worthy enough for both Sanjay Leela Bhansali and the audience, especially considering the various changes in the casting that the film has gone through.Continue reading “Bajirao Mastani Movie Review: A Glittering Period Love Tale but Not Quite an Epic”

Breaking News: Sanjay Leela Bhansali to Revive Bajirao Mastani with Salman Khan, Film to Feature Aishwarya Rai As Well

Bajirao Mastani-Title CardWe all know that in the recent past there have been so many rumors of SLB about to revive his long pending dream project Bajirao Mastani. While originally the film was supposed to feature Salman Khan and Aishwarya Rai in the lead (before Kareena Kapoor replaced Aishwarya), both Salman and SLB had moved on and the film remained shelved indefinitely for a long time. All of a sudden we have been hearing of various names like SRK, Ajay Devgn, Ranveer Singh, Hritik Roshan etc who are in contention for the male lead. Certain reports even claimed that Ranveer Singh would in all probability be the front runner. But SLB has been keeping a studious silence on this topic and hasn’t revealed anything apart from indicating that the film is certainly going on floors soon.Continue reading “Breaking News: Sanjay Leela Bhansali to Revive Bajirao Mastani with Salman Khan, Film to Feature Aishwarya Rai As Well”