I have stood in front of the mirror, pointed my index finger at my image, just like Sam points at Suzy in that delicious Wes Anderson film, and have asked the same question quite a number of time, using all kind of possible emotions. And whenever i think about the scene, it still makes me smile. Bit of Googling tells me that am not the only one who loves this dialogue so much. Though it’s quite difficult to dissect why such a simple line from the film has turned out to be one of my favourite quotes of the year and has stayed back with me for such a long time.
So i thought about doing a collaborative post on similar lines. Quickly mailed some of the friends/films buffs for a simple exercise –
1. Close your eyes
2. Think of all the films you have seen in 2012…released/unreleased/long/short/docu/anything
3. Think what has stayed back with you…impressed/touched/affected/blew
4. Write on it and tell us why.
And i didn’t tell anyone else what the other person was writing about. Got some very interesting responses on all kinds of films and i have put it all together in this collaborative post – 15 film buffs on 17 movies (memories) of the year. The post has turned out to be bit long but hopefully you will enjoy it. And it can also serve as a movie recco list if you haven’t seen the films.
—–> Kushan Nandy on The Act of Killing
I saw this two and a half hour-plus documentary at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2012 and was blown away. Long after the film got over, after Joshua Oppenheimer spoke about it, even much after, weeks later, the film haunted me. It did to me what Incendies had done to me a couple of years back. But much more.
Never before have I seen a film or documentary, where, during the process of film making, the characters go through a life changing process. They metamorphosize into better beings, and this becomes a part of the actual film.
For example, what would happen if someone video interviewed Modi, his political associates or even the people who were the actual executioners of the 2002 Gujarat massacres? And they all accepted their crimes and celebrated this with glee? But suddenly, one of them changed, understanding the repercussions of what he had done?
Anwar, from The Act of Killing, is a person I will never forget. He had butchered thousands. But it was this documentary, and the process of filming it, that showed him who he actually was. He can’t sleep anymore, he stutters, he throws up. He will never be the same again.
And after watching this film, I wont either.
—–> Varun Grover on Shah Rukh Khan/Jab Tak Hai Jaan
Setting: 7 degree centigrade. Fog. Railway station. A small town in North India where Shatabdi/Rajdhani trains don’t stop.
My fingers are numb and typing out each letter is like feeling the power of it. For some strange reason, the 1st image from Cinema of 2012 that comes to my mind is SRK’s bike rising above the horizon as AR Rahman’s strings go crazy in the background. The theme music of JTHJ (the one they used in promos) it is. Call it the power of music, and it can’t be anything else ‘cos I didn’t even bother to watch the film, or call it my latent romanticism.
My friends from Lucknow – who were there alongside me, fighting for tickets outside Anand cinema hall in 1997 when Dil To Paagal Hai released – watched JTHJ on 1st day in Lucknow and sent me an excited SMS telling me – “Don’t believe the reviews. It’s as good as any Yash Chopra – SRk film you’ve seen. The crowd at Novelty loved it.”
The crowd at Novelty. I was that crowd once. My life’s biggest joys came from being that crowd. Especially on being among the select few who had the matinee show ticket on the 1st day. (1st show was for loafers, matinee was for civilized middle class.)
For Dil Toh Paagal Hai, our friends’ group of 5 was split into 2. Three of us got the evening show, while two fortunate ones got the matinee show. They were clearly the winners – getting to see Maya and Rahul and a new-look Karishma before us. Also they’d get to tease us on their way out, may be telling a couple of spoilers too. So we tried our best to avoid them as their show got over and we were allowed in.
But as it turned out – the theatre owner had cut the film by 15 mins in the 1st and 2nd shows. Apparently he didn’t think the Karishma outrage scene by the river had any merit. But when he saw the audience going crazy with whatever they saw in 1st two shows, he added the cut footage back. And we, the losers till just a few hours ago, were the 1st bunch in Lucknow to watch the entire film.
This scene, Karishma blaming God for complications in love, is almost the crux of Jab Tak Hai Jaan. Though that doesn’t explain why that image of SRK is the 1st that comes to mind. My nostalgia does.
—–> Varun Grover on Paan Singh Tomar
Now inside the train. Cozy and warm. Time to think clearly.
I can’t be a cinema buff by just noting down SRK/ARR as the lasting memory of 2012. But of course there are more. Neeraj Kabi’s intellectual-saint from Ship of Theseus, Denis Lavant and Kylie Minogue singing the existential song of the year (Who Were/Are We) in a post-apocalyptic shopping mall, Sridevi’s eyes full of tears (sprinkled throughout EV), Pi’s uncle swimming in what appears to be sky, the big-screen film print grainy look on Naseer’s face as he looks in the mirror half-seduced, half-confused by Bhakti Barve’s reflection in JBDY (which re-released this year), the spaceship landing smoothly in waters next to a dense mountain in Cloud Atlas, the sad, spent face of Dimple Kapadia at Rajesh Khanna’s funeral (in contrast to a 21-year old Dimple asking Khanna which color sari she should wear for the wedding reception party in the excellent BBC docu resurrected this year due to once-superstar’s death), Gael Garcia Bernal walking away silently, amused and (maybe) depressed amidst the emotionally charged crowds of his nation in Pablo Lorrain’s excellent NO, the trailer of Nikhil Mahajan’s ‘Pune 52’ (though the film didn’t live up to the high expectations and made the trailer look like a red herring), Faisal Khan’s eyes as he lets his gun go crazy on Ramadhir Singh while singer-composer Sneha Khanwalkar screams ‘Teri kah ke loonga‘ in the background……. and I can go on and on.
But one image that will shake me for many more years, the one that is so depressing that I haven’t seen the film again even though it is, for me, one of the best films of the year – Paan Singh Tomar’s sadness at seeing his worst enemy Bhanwar Singh dead. The man who had forced Paan Singh to end his international sporting career to become a dacoit had died. And instead of being relieved, Paan Singh was left purpose-less. The cries of Paan Singh, telling Bhanwar Singh’s dead body that he will chase him in another world and get his answers still give me chills. Those lines are the best lines of the year for me, resonating so much with the cynicism and depression of our times, where one fine morning, without any notice, all good turns into hopeless, impossible bad by the apathy of the system and resident evil of vengeful human kind we are, making Paan Singh Tomar the film, a kind of socio-political version of unrequited love stories.
—–> @Anand Kadam on Talaash
This year we saw a gamut of movies from the hilarious yet fresh Vicky Donor, violently poetic Gangs Of Wasseypur, and a mystery with a pregnant femme fatale – Kahaani . But the movie that has stayed with me, which still sneaks into my mind and cuddles me, is a strange one. I call it a strange choice since this movie isn’t a great one (to be honest), and i didn’t think of it much when i watched it. But the grief stricken Shekhawat and his wife refuse to leave me. Talaash is like “Rabbit hole” with more guilt. When you lose someone very close to you, really really close, his or her or its memories sticks to you like a parasite, sucking every notion of happiness from you. You become a robot going through your daily chores with only one thing playing inside your head – how things could/would have been different. And when a small ray of hope or redemption comes into your life, even if it defies common sense, you cling on to it, not for a closure which comes later (or does it really comes) but for confronting the loss and accepting life as it is.
This is Talaash for me, not the twist, not Kareena or Aamir Khan, or the underbelly of Mumbai. And as i had said it earlier – A movie is never about its twist and if it is, it’s not worth it.
—–> @Vasan Bala on Kumki
This year, I guess, without much fuss some low budget sleeper hits happened down south. Sundarapandian, Pizza, Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanom (a few pages missing in between). This year’s Paruthiveen-set-in-the-Jungles-with-an-Elephant marked the debut of Sivaji Ganeshan’s grandson, KUMKI! Breathtakingly shot. Directed by Prabhu Solomon, the guy who made Mynaa.
The film was earlier called “Komban” (Big Tusker). It’s about a mahavat and his “timid” Elephant Kumki, which is supposed to keep a wild elephant Komban from straying into the fields. The film is basically Kumki v/s Komban. It almost reads like a Pixar film, doesn’t it? BUT….Like any south RURAL “hit” this too has it’s rugged faced man with a toothy grin walking behind a shy girl “LOU STORY”, this one too has endless walks and shy glances and grins and predictably ends in a bloody tragic battle. An epic elephant battle! and it boils down to Computer Generated Blood and Dust (hmmm..ummmm). It’s a bona fide formula now, it’s a dream debut for any Star before he graduates into City “Criminal and Cop” roles, mouthing punch lines and beating up Telugu Villains. Loved the music though.
—–> Jahan Bakshi on The Sarah Polley Double Bill : Take This Waltz & Stories We Tell
Sarah Polley delivered a double whammy this year with two diametrically different but intrinsically linked films. The first was Take This Waltz, her deeply sensual and feminine take on love, longing and those gaps in life that we try to fill in vain, and those questions about relationships that never have easy answers. Once you get over the affectedness: the overtly twee touches and some clunky dialogue at the start, Take This Waltz is in turns both superbly seductive and devastating. Michelle Williams once again, brilliantly owns her character and her mousy imperfection, and it’s clear that Margot could only spring from the mind of a filmmaker with a distinctive voice, and one who is a woman. And it contains two of the most exhilarating (musical) sequences I’ve seen at the movies this year.
In Stories We Tell, Sarah turns the camera on her own family with a brave, deeply felt documentary/personal detective story about her discovery of her real biological father, but more importantly, the meaning of family, secrets, memory and the very nature of storytelling. This must have been an impossibly hard and emotionally testing project to put together, but Polley pulls it off- life might be messy but Stories We Tell holds together very well as a rich document, revelatory in unexpected ways. Watch it when you can, and you’ll see where Take This Waltz comes from.
He gets to know that the system is rotten, that the investigation he was heading was flawed to start with from beginning, that beyond the scattered red herrings lay the actual ‘villain’, who incidentally is the same person who gave him the power & ‘support’ to start the investigation in the first place, that the ‘villain’ is the CM of the State.
So easy for any protagonist to become an Anna Hazare/Kejriwal in such a case, or to become a whistle blower and later face the inevitable martyrdom (ala the Satyendra Dubeys & Manjunath Shanmughams). What else can a cog in a wheel in such a scenario do? Pickup the gun like Eddie Dunford in Red Riding 1974 and blaze away? Become corrupt like Micheal Corleone or Ram Saran Pandey (Mihir Pandya has written an awesome article on Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar) ? Or run away into overexposed light like Vijay in Pyaasa? Should he accept defeat and get down to some other profession like learning Medicine (like KK Menon in HKA), or resign hopelessly like Vikas Pande in The New Delhi Times? Even Z didn’t have an answer.
He goes to the party and plays a ‘Prisoner’s Dillema‘ of sorts with his Paneer tikka-munching Boss and the other Powerful man. Eventually he somehow manages to ensure that the guilty get their comeuppance. But this ‘victory’ is hollow. As his Boss asks him “Yeh hai tumhari Justice?”, he gives a reply which was there in the promos but sadly cut out from the film – “Justice Ka Sapna Maine Chhod Diya Hai”.
And this was probably my moment of the year which is not there in the film, but there in my memory, for a long time!
—–> Shripriya Mahesh on Beasts Of The Southern Wild
The movie of the year for me was Beasts of the Southern Wild. I saw it in Sundance in January 2012 at it’s premier. I knew very little about the movie going in because the filmmakers were careful about not even putting out a trailer before the premier.
It was instantly captivating. I love the world Benh Zeitlin creates. It is constantly surprising, always engaging. All the actors are local and that lends significant authenticity to the world (bigwig directors would do well to take note). It tackles such powerful themes, but all from the perspective of the little girl, Hushpuppy, played to perfection by the adorable Quevenzhané Wallis.
There are no long speeches about government control, environmental disasters or about the right to live freely in a manner you choose. No sermonizing. The visuals speak and the magical realism is very nicely done. The music (also composed by Zeitlin) and the the production design really elevate this movie.
And it’s a debut feature. It won the Camera d’Or and Sundance.
Since the film’s theatrical release, there has been a fair share of haters. But for me, it just worked. Eleven months later, I still think about it.
There are times when I can’t put things in words, I feel the need to express and communicate in visuals. Visuals stick with me and this year one such visual experiment has been playing in my head for the longest time. Directed by Alma Har’el, the Sigur Rós music video, Fjögur Píanó.
Har’el, director of last year’s surreal documentary Bombay Beach creates this gorgeous portrait about the painful pleasures of love. The couple, addicted to each other only really ‘feel’ the pain when separated. The edit juxtaposes the bruises on the girl with the boy softly touching the butterfly. This image stuck with me and Alma Har’el’s quote sums it up so perfectly, “For me it’s about not knowing how to get out of something without causing pain to somebody else.” Without lyrics Alma Har’el has created this beautiful story which I feel was one of the best, cinematic experiences of the year. Due credit to Sigur Rós’ music that inspired Alma Har’el to create this world. Click here to watch the video if you still haven’t seen it.
Other Picks: Celluloid Man, Last Ride, Rampart, Once Upon A Time In Anatolia, Holy Motors, Your Sister’s Sister.
—–> Neeraj Ghaywan on Supermen Of Malegaon
At the surface it may be about the lives of people dreaming about film-making with empty stomachs and hearts full of passion, it could be about an accidental hero, about a world we have never seen but still seems so close. The director is never interested in milking the tragedy of the crew’s limitations, their poverty or the tragic loss of the lead character. Instead, she turns it all into a celebration of life, we smile along with the characters who are making the film, in a way we reflect upon our own personal constraints and learn to laugh at them. It is a comment on the Bollywood system of over-produced film-making, it is paying homage to films of the 80s/90s, it’s also a drawing lessons about how to keep going at it even when there is no hope, it is philosophical at times, it is laughing at itself too.
A film that is so simple in its structure and still speak at so many levels is remarkable. And above everything, it inspires you to take the plunge without thinking twice. When I saw the film, I wanted to get out of the hall and start shooting a film immediately. The biggest achievement of this film is that it goes beyond the confines of being a documentary and touches you more than a big budget fiction based feature.
Be it a random blogger or a certified critic, everyone is Noah on internet and takes no time to float the boat of top ten lists. Like the middle-class father comparing his kids among themselves or with other families, we always manage to make a list of ten best films every year, irrespective of their debatable qualities. I am no exception.
However, when I was asked to contribute for this collaborative piece after shutting the eyelids, a bald man appeared in front of my eyes, riding a fly. So, here I am, writing (only because I have been threatened with sarcasm) on two of the most remarkable Indian films of 2012.
It starts late at MFF 2012. I am almost certain that I would leave it midway because Hansal Mehta’s Shahid is right after it and almost everyone from my group is going for it. The film opens, Godse shoots Gandhi and my doubts evaporated in no time. This is the world of an old man, disinclined to show emotions and engrossed only in his mundane office work and his little grandson. A Gandhi lookalike, when he is approached to play Gandhi in a TV show, he vehemently opposes but gives in due to the greedy family tentacles. Gandhi, like the fourth passenger in Mumbai locals, slowly invades his life, brings him down to the level of helpless co-passengers. Like a master of swift attack, Girish Kasaravalli breaks down the middle-class system and releases the Gandhi in him, leaving him in the midst of incessant disintegration of his surroundings. Rajkumar Hirani’s Munnabhai MBBS was a joy to behold, but Lage Raho Munnabhi, despite a splendid screenplay, offended the adult in me, with its preachy attitude. Without making him God, Koormavatara makes Gandhi accessible showing the mighty repercussions it can have in a typical family in independent India. As far as breaking down the myth of Mahatma, this is the best we have seen so far.
With scenes dipped in liquid cheese, a boy constantly stalks a girl with trite expressions; Makkhi was loathsome in the first 20 minutes. I wanted that boy to just die. Thankfully he did thanks to the overdramatic villain, soon after I wished. Little shaky special effects took charge. And I witnessed the most inventive revenge drama this year. A fly killing a mighty man is simply an impossible idea! But the way this little soldier choreographs his action scenes in the concrete fort of the villain, you can’t help but root for an insect that you have always detested. The triumph of S S Rajamouli’s film lies in the sheer leap of faith. We are yet to have our Jaws, but this is the one that comes closest to the idea of a fantastically executed concept film.
—–> Pratim D. Gupta on Kahaani
Parineeta did the same thing for me in 2005. Celebrate Calcutta! And how. It reminded me of the way Mira Nair shot Delhi in Monsoon Wedding and Taj Mahal in The Namesake, almost pausing the narrative to just soak in the sensuality of the space. You sexy! Also what Sujoy Ghosh did brilliantly was inculcate his love for cinema in the many myriad moments of the movie in a way that they never became copie conformes but rambunctious references that served those respective scenes just fine. From Satyajit Ray to Salim-Javed to Bryan Singer. And those eyes of Bidya Balan when she looks up in the twist-revealing scene before unleashing her real self. Eyes filled with hurt, vengeance and rage…Our own Beatrice Kiddo? Present please!
—–> Svetlana Naudiyal on Ship Of Theseus
I don’t see all films that release in the year (and I am kind of unabashedly arrogant about it; can’t spend moneys contributing to someone’s 100 crores or out of sympathies to so called indie/different films), so my opinion from the very beginning of it, is skewed. The indie film movement (or whatever there is of it) took a whole new leap with PVR Director’s Rare creating a platform for their release. And even though in my personal opinion, indie films are becoming the cinema equivalent of DSLR carrying people with so & so photography facebook pages (read opinion as – ‘people should be banned, either from making films or from expecting people to watch’), there have been moments of pure delight at the movies in 2012 than years before that, much thanks to the few Indie films that released this year.
Some of the favourites this year are Supermen of Malegaon (one of the best, a documentary so delightful, hard hitting and yet nowhere remotely close to being poverty porn), Kshay (for Chhaya), Gattu (for finally bringing to the screen an unpolished, bratty, clever, naive and most importantly, real kid), Shanghai (for creating that discomfort that exists in our world and we do not see) , Anhey Ghorhey Da Daan (for creating a cinema experience like no other, for delving into time space and making the silences speak)
The most favorite of all that I managed to see in 2012 would be Ship of Theseus for its language, for its being able to be so unique, so evolved in thought and yet not have an iota of pretentiousness and be accessible to just anyone. For the benchmark it creates not just for indie filmmakers but Indian cinema, in general. I am dying to point out and quote every single nuance I loved, but that should be saved for the film’s release. For the smallest of elements it picks and for the whole it creates. For repeating itself like a poem long after you’ve seen it. This is Cinema!!
—–> Mihir Pandya on “अन्हें घोड़े दा दान” (पंजाबी), निर्देशक – गुरविंदर सिंह
एका – कदमों का, कराहों का, नांइसाफ़ियों का, नकार का। एका – दुख: का, संघर्ष का, सपनों का, समता का। वही इंसानी पैरों का जत्था जिसकी मूक कदमताल में पलटकर मेलू सिंह के पिता शामिल हो जाते हैं। किसी अभ्रक से चमकते इंसानी इरादों का जत्था, जिसका सीधा मुकाबला समाजसत्ता अौर राज्यसत्ता के मध्य हुए भ्रष्ट समझौते से तैयार हुई दुनाली दुरुभिसंधि से होना है। किसी ख़ास दिशा में सतत बढ़ते चले जा रहे वे कदम कोरी भीड़ भर नहीं, वे जनता हैं। एक अात्मचेतस समूह। निर्देशक गुरविंदर सिंह की ‘अन्हें घोड़े दा दान’ के इस विरल संवादों से बने विस्मयकारी दृश्य में, जिसके अन्त में सरपंच की दुनाली के सामने गाँव के दलित फ़कत लाठियाँ किए खड़े हैं, अाप सोचते हैं कि अाख़िर वो कौनसी अात्महंता चेतना है जिसने उन्हें वहाँ साथ अा खड़े होने का यह गर्वीला माद्दा दिया है?
बराबरी का सपना। समता का सपना। यह खुद अपने में पूरा मूल्य है। गैरबराबरी के अंधेरी सुरंग रूपी वर्तमान के अाख़िर में न्याय अौर समानता रूपी किसी उजले सिरे के होने का यूटोपियाई स्वप्न। बराबरी स्वयं ऐसा मूल्य है जिसके लिए लड़ा जा सकता है, जिसके लिए मरा जा सकता है। अौर जिस दिन एक दलित दूसरे के लिए खड़ा होता है, एक शोषित दूसरे शोषित के हक़ की अावाज़ का साझेदार बनता है, वह सदियों से जड़वत इस सत्ता व्यवस्था के लिए अंत का बिगुल है। यह दलित चेतना सबक है जानने का कि हमारी देश के भीतर की तमाम पुरानी संरचनाएं कहीं गहरे बदल रही हैं। यह शोषित की साझेदारी है। यह दुख का एका है। वो बस एक फ्रेम भर है ़फ़िल्म में। गाँव के सरपंच की दुनाली के सामने डटकर खड़े मेरी पिता की उमर के ये निहत्थे भूमिहीन किसान। लेकिन इस एक फ्रेम में अक्स है मणिपुर की उन तमाम माअों का जिन्होंने अपनी उस एक बेटी के लिए खुद को विद्रोह में उठे जिंदा माँस के झंडों में बदल लिया था। इनमें अक्स है सशस्त्र सेना का सामना पत्थरों से करने का दम रखने वाली उस नौजवान पीढ़ी का जिनकी ज़बान पर बस यही गूँजता रहा, “हम क्या चाहते… अाज़ादी”। इनमें अक्स है खंडवा मध्य प्रदेश के उन किसानों का जिनकी सामूहिक जल समाधि ने एक बहरी सरकार को भी सुनने अौर अपना फैसला बदलने पर मजबूर कर दिया। अौर इनमें मेरी ही उमर के उन दो नौजवान साथियों का भी अक्स है जो रविवार की उस रात उस बस में इंसानी जिस्म की हदों के पार जाकर भी अंत तक लड़ते रहे, एक-दूसरे के लिए। बराबरी के उस अप्राप्य दिखते स्वप्न के लिए जो सदा ‘फेंस के उधर’ रही इन अाँखों ने अब देख लिया है।
So this was our list. Do comment and share your movie memories/thoughts/opinions of this year.