Sunday, January 5, 2014

Filmi Girl bids good-bye to 2013

Good-bye, 2013.

This was a mixed year for me on many fronts. Real life served me some wicked highs and lows, some of which played out here on the blog and you all were reminded, yet again, that I am not always the sassy Helen-esque persona I put on.

One thing I noticed in 2013 is that I much, much prefer seeing a film in a theater if I possibly can. It has become increasingly difficult for me to concentrate on films at home, with all the tweeting and g-chatting I have access to. Not to mention my very bad habit of pausing to take screen caps of things. In a theater, all of that is out of my control. I can’t pause; I can’t tweet; I just have to sit there and experience the film.

All of this tweeting and pausing takes you out of the film. With all this distraction, it’s hard to build up an emotional connection with a story and you either end up bored or taking things at very face value (i.e. concentrating on stupid outfits). Being in the theater is really the only way to experience a slow moving film. This is something I felt very deeply after watching Kai Po Che in the theater in February when my enjoyment of the film was thrown off a bit by the lack of an interval. The interval is part of the theater going experience. It’s a mandated pause to rest, refresh, clear your mind, get some snacks, pee, check those messages, so you can enjoy the second half of the film without worry.

Which brings me to another thing I noticed in 2013 is the huge gap between the guys making films for people who hear double role and think The Prestige and for those of us who think Ram aur Shyam. Why didn’t Kai Po Che have an interval when there was a clear place for it in the narrative? The only explanation then and now is that Hollywood films don’t have intervals and there are a lot of young filmmakers now who are either embarrassed by the masala films and parallel cinema their parents were making back in the 1970s and 1980s or just don’t connect with the narrative form.

Anil Kapoor and his mustache were boring; Robert De Niro was the cool and exciting and exotic one. I do understand this impulse, believe me--especially as somebody who finds most of the cinema of her native land extremely unrelatable (although I do love me some Jared Hess, John Waters, and David Lynch.) But, on a personal level, I find it disappointing that so much of what I love about the Indian style of filmmaking is being tossed aside as garbage by this younger crew. And I’m not even just talking popular cinema but in what used to be called parallel cinema, too. I happened to be lucky enough to catch Rajat Kapoor’s beautiful new film Aankhon Dekhi towards the end of the year and it was so refreshing to see a serious film that wasn’t tied up in a Western style of storytelling.

The end of the year really did give Filmi Girl some faith in Hindi cinema again, between Aankhon Dekhi and the three whammo mass films--Krrish 3, Ram Leela, and Dhoom 3.

But the beginning of the year for me was all about Tamil films. I was lucky enough to catch Kamal Hassan’s Vishwaroopam, Bala’s Paradesi, and Dhanush’s Maryan in the theaters and cried in all three. 2013 listicles feel played out but if I was going to write one on my top films of the past year, Paradesi would be number 1 by a mile. There really is nobody out there making movies like Bala… although after Maryan I’m very, very excited to see what Bharat Bala does next.

The other two standout films for me this year were:

Go Goa Gone, which was hilarious and freaky and absolutely lived up to the promise generated by casting a blond, Russian-accented Saif Ali Khan. Besides which, Kunal Khemu had his charm turned up to eleven and I loved the group dynamic in the cast, especially the incorporation of Puja Gupta in a non-stereotypical female role.

Raanjhanaa, which showcased the dark and murky side of romantic feelings and was unfortunately misread as a romance by many people, much like Darr back in the day. Still, Dhanush made a really favorable impression so I’m hoping that we’ll see him again soon in Bombay.

There are quite a few things that I really wanted to see but that never made it to the little two screen theater in my neighborhood and a handful of others that I was too busy to see on the weekend they were showing: Bullett Raja, Jolly LLB, R… Rajkumar, and Shortcut Romeo are four off the top of my head but there are plenty of others, especially regional films. It’s really not the same watching a mass film on my laptop screen where I’m the only one cheering a hero entrance and watching in the theater.

This year in gossip wasn’t quite as eventful as last year, although we did have Ranveer Singh spicing up otherwise dull functions with his antics. And then there was the Priyanka Chopra Desperation Roadshow 2013, which saw Ms. Plastico Fantastico doing everything she possibly could to earn herself bold name status in US Weekly by producing some spectacularly mediocre music and working the press circuit on both sides of the Atlantic for C-list Disney animated film Planes like it was Chennai Express and she was Shahrukh Khan. (ZING!) Sanjay Dutt popped in and out of jail; Vindu Dara Singh developed a corrupt stench; films flopped that were supposed to be blockbusters causing some gleeful pushback on Khans, Sajid and Imran; Vivek Oberoi had a surprisingly turnaround with two hits that were supposed to be flops; I worked on my reputation as an eater of Star Sons and...

Finally, we had to say good-bye to two of actors that really had a large place in my heart: Pran and Jiah Khan. Pran lived a long life but his passing is still sad. I fell in love with his screen presence from the very beginning. Something about his soulful eyes always allowed you to see a few shreds of humanity in even the most dastardly written characters. He truly was the master of the villain role.

I think a part of me will always be in mourning for poor Jiah Khan, who never really had a chance to show the world what she could do. All I can do is remember her as a beautiful soul lost to us at too young an age. RIP, Nafisa.

So, what do we have to look forward to in 2014? For me, right now, it’s all about Salman Khan in Jai Ho and Kick (?), Kangana’s Queen, and the Hrithik-Katrina starrer if that shows up this year. Plus, I am tentatively looking forward to Madhuri’s double feature, Highway, which promises to be deliciously fucked up, as well as the Govinda-Rani-Ranveer-Parineeti-Ali Zafar film Kill Dil and Shahid’s turn as Hamlet. I don’t quite trust the Hindie world as much as I do Salman Khan, hence the ‘tentative.’

And that’s it for 2013!

Happy New Year, everyone!! I look forward to rapping with ya’ in 2014, too!

1 comment:

odadune said...

Hope 2014 goes well for you on both the RL and the Asian pop culture fronts, and thank you for continuing to blog.

For me re: Bollywood 2014: the films that make me bounce in my seat and ask whether they're here yet are Gulab Gang, Bang Bang, and Gabbar. (Which is ironic, because two of them are gonna be pretty dark.) I will probably enjoy Holiday, Kick, It's Entertainment, and Happy New Year if I get the chance, but I don't feel as strongly about them.

Note from Filmi Girl:

I love Bollywood - and all the ridiculous things that happen in Bollywood - but it doesn't mean that I can't occasionally make fun of various celebrities and films.

If you don't like my sense of humor, please just move on by - Trolls are not appreciated and nasty comments will be deleted.

xoxo Filmi Girl