By Subhash K Jha
MUMBAI: As an eventful year for Bollywood comes to an end, film critic Subhash K Jha selects his 10 favourite films of 2013. Here are these:
1. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag: As Farhan Akhtar ran for his life, we were left breathless. This actor didn’t just prepare for his real-life part of the Olympian sprinter Milkha Singh, he entered Milkha’s soul to own the runner’s fabulous life. Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s bio-pic immortalized Milkha in ways that most sport-spersons in our country can only dream of.If only every Milkha got a Mehra.
2. Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram Leela: Fabulous,flamboyant and exceedingly libidinous…This was Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s raunchy intense compassionate and playful take on Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. Released in mid-November this exacerbated excursion into the heartland of passion and romance had the nation swooming in delight. This was Deepika Padukone’s fourth hit this year, and by far the choicest selection of the quartet. The film’s operatic tone and musical interpretation brought Bhansali back in the limelight after three failed films. Ram Leela made the other romantic filmmakers of Bollywood of 2013 look like pulp fictioneers.
3. Bombay Talkies: Producers Viacom 18’s 4-storey steep and sublime skyscraper of a towering accomplishment. Each one of the four stories directed by director Karan Johar, Dibakar Bannerjee, Zoya Akhtar and Anurag Kashyap was a compelling take on life.Hard to play favourites here. The quartet of directors exuded excellence.Johar’s coming-out-of-the-closet saga was the most surprising of the fabulous foursome.
4. Shahid: Hansal Mehta’s bio-pic on real-life TADA-detainee-turned-TADA-lawyer Shahid Azmi was so brutally direct and honest, so real and yet so cinematic, so fragile yet so powerful, that it created an impact far beyond its playing-time on screen. As the slain lawyer who won’t cow down under political and communal pressure Raj Kumar Yadav was compelling and credible. Riveting from first frame to last, the film finally gave the talented Mehra the recognition he deserved.
5. Raanjhanaa: Aanand Rai’s Varanasi-based love story was volatile vibrant and vital, brazen and brilliant. The film captured the essence of a mismatched chalk-and-cheese alliance through vivacious vignettes from the lead pair Dhanush and Sonam Kapoor’s lives as they sang their way through some of A R Rahman’s finest songs in recent times. The film marked the coming of age of Sonam Kapoor as an actress worth watching. Anil Kapoor just can’t stop beaming.
6. The Lunchbox: 2013 would be remembered for giving us a film about two lovers who never meet , and touch each other only through the letters that they write to one another in a khana ka dabba. Now, who writes letters in this eras of virtual contact?! That’s a question Batra’s elegiac lyrical film never allows us to ask. Irrfan and Nimrat Kaur as a neglected housewife and a widower seemed destined to meet. That they don’t, is the ironic twist in this delicate tale of love in the bustle of Mumbai.Delicately fragrant,the aromas from this delectable Lunchbox pervaded every part of the world. This is probably the most celebrated Indian film since Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali.And deservedly so.
7. Jolly LLB: The sleeper success of the year directed by the very astute Subhash Kapoor whose previous film Phas Gaya Re Obama never gave us a hint of what was in store in this hard hitting satire on the loopholes in this country’s legal system. The film hit where it hurt the most. Funny and moving sometimes in the same frame, Kapoor made sure that the filmy courtroom would never be the same again.And have seen a more entertaining judge than Saurabh Shukla?
8. Ship Of Theseus: The remarkable thing about the films in 2013 was their versatility and the makers’ mastery over the language of cinema. This one saw the debut of director Anand Gandhi with a three-storey film that pleaded for a place among the greatest work of cinematic art in the history of our cinema. Ship Of Theseus fell short of being a flawless masterpiece , as it could not bring the troubled tormented restless protagonists’ lives from the three stories to any conclusive closure. Gandhi’s film was more about the search than the destination. Life’s like that only.
9. Aashiqui 2: And a star was born!!!Shraddha Kapoor as a singer more talented than her mentor-lover reminded us of Jaya Bhaduri in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Abhimaan. Mohit Suri’s new take on the age-old exposition on the male ego in the entertainment industry was dotted with emotional moments. While Shraddha anchored the emotional drama Aditya Roy Kapoor as the drunken superstar stumbled all over. The chemistry was palpable. If rumours of a real-life romance are true then this would be the first where a real-life pair’s chemistry was palpable on screen.
10. B.A Pass: The dark horse of the year.Director-cinematographer Ajay Bahl’s debut film visited the dark sleazy underbelly of Delhi where bored housewives make out with virgin boys. Ouch!Detailing the voyage into the damned of one such house(Shilpa Shukla) and her toyboy(newcomer Shadab Kamal) the film was a nifty slice of noire cinema. Original and sexually unabashed the way B R Ishaara’s Chetna was 45 years ago.