Indie films are something altogether different from the mainstream, much like the new crop of YouTube or Internet based series, in that, there’s a freedom and raw quality to the work. Doesn’t mean what is produced isn’t quality material, in substance, performance or production but that “the Man” isn’t looming and curtailing each movement. However, there’s also that tiny vein running between both entities that some projects find a way to tap into, where the audience gets the best of both worlds— and this year for Indian cinema, Bombay Talkies snags the first spot in line.
Not to be confused with the 1930s, film by the same name, Bombay Talkies brings together Hindi films’ most popular and favorite directors in one film with four stories, in celebration and tribute of 100 years of Hindi cinema. Oddly enough, the draw to this film has little to do with the star cameos and garners it’s interest from the collaboration of it’s directors and their chance to use there twenty odd minutes to show speak on their Bollywood.
Ajeeb Dastaan Hai Yeh – Karan Johar
Synopsis: An urban couple is happily married or at least it seems so until the wife meets a new colleague at work which changes her life forever.
Cast: Rani Muhkerjee, Randeep Hooda, Saqib Saleem
Karan Johar (Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, My Name is Khan) is known for his flashy high profile “filmy” movies, but this project is by far his most daring and may prove to his many naysayers, that the man actual has talent. There’s never been much doubt of the fact in my book, but this dank and eerily personal venture does well to solidify Johar’s growth as a filmmaker. I truly can’t gush enough about the actors chosen for this project for they are nothing short of perfect and I have no doubt that this is an excellent step on new journey for Johar.
Star – Dibakar Banerjee
Synopsis: A failed actor is struggles to make a living after his father’s death and in a turn of events, stumbles upon his last chance to prove himself to the world and more importantly, to his young daughter.
Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui
Dibakar Banerjee ( Oye Oye Lucky Lucky, Shanghai) in my mind, is the elusive film director, that makes cinema that is quirky but poignant, without the need to be gritty, though at times he may veer in that direction. His films are unforgettable, whether by look or characterization, a Banerjee film will always make a movie lovers’ critical Top 10. Words can’t describe my anticipation to see Siddiqui onscreen again, for there aren’t many film actors I would pin as gifted, but this man is magnetic. His vulnerability will cause you to weep and scream, his emotions being that tangible.
Sheila Ki Jawaani – Zoya Akhtar
Synopsis: A 12 year old boy from a middle-class family is inspired by a film star to break the conventions of the society and follow his dreams come what may.
Cast: Naman Jain, Katrina Kaif
Like Johar, Akhtar (Luck by Chance, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara) comes from a film industry family, therefore, it’s all the more refreshing that she takes risks with her cinema, whether it’s co-writing with other filmy females or poking playful fun at the source of her livelihood. Akhtar makes her background work for her, using her own personal experiences to create. This marks her third project behind the camera but she’s no stranger to what makes the celluloid engine run having donned several hats before settling into head director status.
Synopsis: A man from a small town in UP comes to Mumbai to fulfill his ailing father’s last wish which may also save his life.
Cast: Vineet Kumar Singh, Amitabh Bachchan
Kashyup (Last Friday, Dev D) actually attempts to take the traditional route and make a film that most, if not any Bolly lovers have experienced or seen told before. I find this fascinating, given Kashyap’s practice of intense storytelling within the Bolly mold. For, he’s tried so hard to pretend to remain too indie for mainstream, that it’s rather comical he chucks it all and accepts his fate.
Trailer: I am admittedly a very reluctant trailer viewer. For they aren’t the best gauge for a good project, nor is it usually the catalyst to sway my opinion for or against a film, but some trailers are just undeniably wonderful and this one is on that list.
Thoughts: This film has brought together three of my all time Hindi director biases, therefore, there’s no way, I won’t love one, if not all of these segments. The actors involved are solid performers, with a child actor debut that I can’t wait to experience.
Considering the goal of this film is to celebrate what is lovely and endearing about Hindi films, I find it humbling, the directors chose to tell their stories from a space outside the filmy world, zeroing in on the common man. Of course, from my interpretation none of the protagonists are exactly “common,” for each has a unique story to tell and journey to take but for a film about movies, it’s pretty great it focuses on the individuals who are inspired by and through film from their dark theater seats, or dusty sand floors, rather than those glammed in front or wielding the cameras.
One of my guilty pleasures is watching artists I believe are talented and could glean from, speak about their work, for it gives me more clarity and less bias to be innately critical, allowing a greater appreciation for the hard work individuals put into projects. Therefore, it was a delectable treat to watch these directors speak about their medium, their influence and what they deem as great cinema. Thankfully, they sat down for interviews with film critics Anupama Chopra and Rajeev Masand during their press junket, making gluttons like myself, incredibly happy.
The Front Row with Anupama Chopra