It's that time of the year again where people make lists of the best and the worst, especially about films. Add to it, it's 2009 and hence people get a chance to talk about the best-worst of the decade as well. There are already thousands lists out there about it, so I don't want to add it to the noise. Instead I'll talk about the movies that not only escaped aam junta's attention, but esteemed critics' as well. Movies that I think deserved better.
Haasil: Set mostly in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, this film will be talked about how politics mostly works in rural India from college politics to regional politics to one's personal life. Ironic as it may sound, so-called protagonists of the film, Jimmy Shergill and Hrishita Bhatt, are mere sidekicks. Dialect-based dialogues and witty one-liners are special highlights. Minor characters like Badrishankar Pandey, Inspector Tiwari, Jackson-wa leave their own imprints on this fabric. Most of all, the film will be remembered by power-packed performance from Irfan Khan. Irfan Khan's The Warrior may have won the BAFTA, but this is the role that'll be difficult to overtake even by the Khan himself.
Manorama Six Feet Under: I absolutely hate when any Hindi film-maker uses the word "inspried" loosely, when in fact his movie is straight lift or even frame-to-frame copy of another movie, Korean movies being the latest trend. Navdeep Singh, in the true sense, can use the word inspired. Based on Roman Polanski's classic Chinatown, Manorama is set in the desert state of Rajasthan. With all the elements that define noir cinema; double-cross, twists and turns to false identity; added with underplayed sincerity of Abhay Deol, makes a fitting tribute to the original movie.
Chameli: It'd have never struck me to cast Kareena Kapoor as the title character of the movie that is Chameli, but much to my surprise she plays out just fine. With backdrop of a rainy night, two strangers and soulful melodies (Total respect to Sunidhi Chauhan), Chameli manages to pull-off a superb fable of human emotions.
Hey Ram: No, it's not about the greatness of Mahatma Gandhi, nor it's about off-again-on-again plot to assassinate the father of the nation. Kamal Hassan, one of the most versatile actors of our times in the truest sense, in the role of Saket Ram talks about his partition riots induced, hatred-filled journey to the redemption. The film created curiosity for the wrong reasons (Kissing scene between Rani Mukherjee and Kamal Hassan) than it should have. This is the film that Atul Kulkarni and Shahrukh Khan can boast off in their resume, in spite of their supporting characters.
Zubeidaa: Zubeidaa was most likely Shyam Benegal's first mainstream movie, so critics did not feel the need to put it with Benegal's best of the works. Sad. In momentous role of her career, Karishma Kapoor, which won her the national award, plays the title character Zubeidaa with aplomb. Narrated as the series of memories by her estranged son, Riyaz(Rajit Kapoor), Zubeidaa goes through journey of a girl from her teenage effervescence to a trouble marriage to a queen of a falling empire ends with a quote from her son. आखिर माँ चाहती क्या थी? (What did the mother want after all?)
Obligatory honourable mentions: Waisa bhi hota hai - Part 2, Ek Chaalis ki last local, Aamir, Being Cyrus, Raincoat