Posts Tagged ‘Videokaaran’

This has been a bad terrible year for hindi films. Forget ten, if you can spot even five great very good films this year, you should consider yourself lucky. Try, see how many you can count. And so, we are skipping the list of top films and are counting the exciting moments at the movies this year. Moments that you remembered long after the movie was over, discussion and dissection was done with, and they defined the films. In no particular order.

1. Opening Credit (Stanley Ka Dabba) – I have still not been able to understand why we don’t give much importance to credit roll in bollywood. It’s an ART. And a difficult one too. Click here to check out some of the best credit rolls. And this is where Stanley Ka Dabba scored over all other films. The film was an indie experiment and its delicious opening credit was like a Pixar short film. Done by one of India’s best animator Gitanjali Rao, it sets the perfect mood for the story to follow.


2. Monologue (Pyaar Ka Punchnama) – When the lead actor doesn’t get to kick the villains, he always gets a monologue. But if the actor is a newcomer, who would dare to give him a monologue? And 5minute long monologue? That’s rare, and if it manages to hold your attention, that’s rarest of rare. I have been accused of endorsing a misogynist and myopic view of the world because i like the film 1st half of the film. It’s a long debate but you can click here to read Paromita Vohra’s observation which i agree with. It was a small film with no names, no stars, all newcomers, but the film managed to survive on its own, and everyone who liked the film, talked about two factors – Liquid and the monologue. You can call it brutally sexist but it’s fun too.

3. Slo-mo sequence (Shaitan) – Who would have imagined that a shootout sequence on a classic song would make such a deadly combo. If there is an award for the most imaginative sequence of the year, give it to Bejoy Nambiar for Shaitan. Blazing guns, characters running and jumping around, bodies piling up, blood and gore making the screen red, and Suman Shridhar belting out a classic song, i was watching it wide-eyed. Killing never looked so cool on desi screen.


4. Cunnilingus (Delhi Belly) – Not sure if it re-defined bollywood’s “cool quotient” or “empowerment of mahila mandal” in anyway, but it was surely a welcome change. In a year when bollywood re-discovered machismo by doing zimby zouth remakes and stunts, a hindi film hero going down to pleasure his girlfriend was refreshing. It wasn’t presented as a big deal, it was just matter of fact. As casual as the hero getting a hard-on. Even that’s rare in Bollywood. Isn’t it?

5. The Girl On The Bike who smooched (Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara) – Ten years ago if Switzerland was the desi honeymoon fantasy (blame it on YRF), now it’s Katrina Kaif. How else do you explain her success? Just item numbers can’t take you so far.  Zoya Akhtar put her on a bike to chase the hero, grab him and plant a kiss. Was it easy because it was Spain? Or was it because it’s written and directed by a woman filmmaker? Whatever it is, a machine between the legs and a kiss on the lips is much better than dancing in the rain.

6. That Girl On the Phone (That Girl In Yellow Boots) – Pooja Swaroop. Going by the screenwriting rules, telephone conversations are generally boring. But she played a character whose only job was to be on the phone throughout the film. A bit of tease, a dose of humour, a chuckle, she blabbered her away to glory. Interestingly, we never get to see or hear the person on the other side of the line. Well, because there was none. That’s acting. And this was a masterstroke, as delightful as the scene where both characters (Kalki and Pooja) are on the phone at the same time, on two sides of the wall, in the same scene and talking to two different persons.

7. S and M (7 Khoon Maaf) – We got a hint of it in Abhishek Chaubey’s Ishqiya. In 7 Khoon Maaf, Vishal decided to go full throttle with the love story between Irrfan and Priyanka’s character. Benign by day, beast by night, the shayar who loved S&M – is there anything that Irrfan Khan can’t portray and make it look convincing?

8. Tum Ho (Rockstar) – (SPOILER) I had no clue that so many people were confused about the end of Rockstar. The song Tum ho left them clueless – was she dead or wasn’t she? At first instance it looked like a compromise for commercial sake, but once you hear the song carefully, you know it isn’t. As the song played and the credits rolled, i came out of the theater with the visuals of the last song stuck in my head. This was Rumi in Rahman’s song.


9. Booby Balan (The Dirty Picture) – Another monologue. And I don’t remember the last time i was so distracted during a monologue. In the film, there’s a scene where Silk (Vidya Balan) is given an award and then she delivers her acceptance speech. The speech in which she states her moral stand and insults the rest of the industry which is full of people with double standards. But even in that speech, all you remember is booby Balan. Someone should have told us to just hear the scene. Because it turned out to be funny in a weird way, you are hearing something and seeing something else.

10. Videokaaran – I don’t remember watching anything more exciting than Videokaaran this year. This was the best discovery of the year. Varun Grover found it, saw it, loved it and recco-ed it to us. Click here to read Jai Arjun Singh’s column on the film which was published in the Caravan magazine recently.

11. Ek Kwhater Bodvka (Tanu Weds Manu) – This one is for the cheap thrills. She famously said “you Besshterd”. Not once but in almost every film of hers. And we thought that’s the best that we can get from Kangana Ranaut. But she delivered something better in Tanu Weds Manu – ek kwhater bodvka.

What got you excited this year? Do let us know in the comments.

Most of you might not have even heard about the film Videokaaran. We also had no clue. A video link on someone’s FB wall and it quickly spread all over. Varun Grover saw the film, loved it and strongly recommends it. Read on…

“Nahin boloonga – Mera secret hai yaar yeh” – Videokaaran

Before the film: The trailer hit like a bolt. “A film about a slightly unusual film buff” it said, and gave me the biggest blood rush that week. It looked dark, candid, grungy, and very passionate. Aur Hindustan mein film lovers pe film kaun banaata hai? It looked like a story from our own backyard, an original story. The trailer was shared, RTed, discussed, and we all were very curious. A screening at Vikalp, Alliance Francaise Mumbai came up. Not on a weekend, hence only I from among the Mumbai group could make it. And mighty glad that I did. Baaki ki kahaani…cut to.

After the film: Starting with a question. How many of us remember the title song, with antara, of Amitabh Bachhan’s 1992 film ‘Khuda Gawah’ (probably his last good act as a ‘hero’ in Hindi cinema). Think a bit. I am sure some can come close to remembering ‘Ho koi ghulaam…ya ho baadshaah…ishq ke bagair, zindagi gunaah’ lines. (Or was it ‘zindagi tabaah’?) But how many will remember, AND relish, the casually thrown in repeat-phrase ‘wai-wai’ throughout the song? Videokaaran is about a group of film-lovers who not only remember this ‘wai-wai’ bit but also sing it (over a doped out night at one point in the film) with as much respect as the rest of the song. In fact, a lone voice keeps singing ‘wai-wai’ even after the rest of the group has faded off.

Now this may sounds like a frivolous start – especially when the claim is that Videokaaran is the most definitive work you will see on the very complex cinema-fan relationship in India. But the example, much like a zen puzzle, is an answer in itself. It’s about passion for something some of us may consider unpassionworthy. It’s about people, who while living on the edge in their day to day existence, find a bond with moving images, words, tunes, stories, and to use an Arundhati Roy-esque term ‘the collective hysteria of larger-than-life’.

And it’s not a ‘look, they are so unique/ weird/ curio-pieces’ narrative the director goes for at all (the easiest way out, taken by many including the ‘B-Movie-Club’ of Mumbai which shows 80’s films to a group ‘for laughs’, or Anuvab Pal’s latest book on ‘Disco Dancer’ which reads the film as campy fun at its best). The subjects, with Sagai Raj in focus mostly, have been treated with as much respect as a serious film lover/observer deserves.

And the best part – Videokaaran (Video-waalah), doesn’t just stop at cinema. It very incidentally, mostly through the conversations, paints a picture of a world within Mumbai which seems not only time-removed from us, but plane-removed too. The characters, their pains, days, uninhibited laughter seem to hang in a surreal space-time we never cared to check. (But don’t mistake it for an ‘activist’ take on ‘two Indias’ or such. It’s as much fun as you will ever have at the movies.) A real, brass-and-nails world where Rajnikanth is God, and with a very strong reason.

And it helps that the Rajnikanth fan Sagai Raj, the central character of Jagannathan Krishnan’s debut docu-feature, has a unique, intelligent opinion on almost everything to do with cinema. Sagai used to run a Tamil video parlor in Chembur, in the shanties by the railway tracks, and is the kind of Thalaivar fan we have come to smirk at. But the smirk fades off with every passing minute, replaced by friendly warmth.

Sagai talks non-stop, loves porn and slasher flicks, has a quirky tangential mind (“I can’t fool a mad dog by pretending that I am not afraid. Dog’s sixth sense will interact with my sixth sense to let out the truth”), a weirdly original thought process (“porn films are the best indicator of a girl’s mind”), lives in a shady locality where police-raids and death by local trains is a norm, and has a life-story straight out of City of God. But above all, and in the context of Videokaaran, he is the brand ambassador of a class of people who consume cinema differently. And a brand-ambassador who not only was a regular viewer, but somebody who sourced porn to be exhibited, edited out films according to audience tastes at his own machine, marked out escape routes and strategies in case of a police raid, and indulgently, heartbreakingly filmed (on his DV cam) the bulldozer destruction of the very video-parlor he helped grow.

Interspersed with film footage (‘Subramaniapuram’, primarily) and Hindi songs sung by the group of Sagai’s friends on a trippy night in Karjat, Videokaaran is as intimate a piece of documenting a vanishing history as it comes. The astonishing thing is, Jagan had not initially planned to make the film around Sagai. Sagai was just going to be the camera-person for the documentary, and the story was supposed to be about this bunch of Chembur guys who are the standard target audience of single-screen and/or video parlor cinema. And this bunch is equally interesting – comprising of a professional juggler and clown, whom Jagan calls ‘an evolved soul’, a DJ and painter who even designed a camera rig for the shoot on his own instinct, a sadhu baba they chanced upon who loves singing sappy songs from the 90’s hindi films (and whatay voice he has!), and a couple of other friends from the locality. (“We even thought up a sequence where the juggler-clown (name: Alisha) stands outside SRK’s bungalow, wearing an SRK mask, and does the juggling act.”)

But while filming, Jagan stumbled upon Sagai’s story and the camera changed hands. (The film still retains many portions shot by Sagai too.) From then on, it’s Sagai and his worldview – filled with anecdotes that shock, regale, and in a few surprise moments pierce through the hard skins of our snobbery to treat him as an equal, if not greater film lover.

The 70-minute film, culled from 40-hrs of footage, is edited (by Jagan’s life-partner Pallavi Singhal) unconventionally too. No voice-overs, no time-stamps or location-stamps (you won’t see many documentaries this confident about their content), and no fixation with linearity – Indian docus just took a huge leap ahead with Videokaaran.

Watch it wherever you can – jaise bhi. A film this passionate deserves some passion from each and every film lover out there. Options? At a film club or festival screening, by buying the DVD straight from Jagan, or waiting for someone to rip it off and put it up online.

As a final important word – Jagan hopes the film helps Sagai get more work as a photographer and photoshop artist. He is a brilliant, natural artist, as per Jagan. He can be contacted through his FB page: And Jagan at: So if any of you have any photoshop or photography gig in Chembur or around, try Sagai.