Spoilers: Even I overrated some of these films when I reviewed them initially.A second viewing cleared the air and helped me expose the sham behind the claptrap.
1. Rangoon: Vishal Bhardwaj’s bombastic selfimportant ode to a screen queen of the Silent Era , played with squeamish fastidiousness by Kangana Ranaut. While I found elements of tardy ingenuity in the first viewing the second viewing left me aghast. The film’s selfimportant view of the film industry’s foibles and quirks and its painfully elaborate blueprint for its heroine’s temper tantrums just seemed so pointless and pompous in hindsight.
2. Lion: Garth Davis’ grossly overrated film was an over-sentimental journey into the life of its adoptive Indian hero. Dev Patel was unbearably out of sorts in the main role while Sunny Pawar who played the younger version of Patel completely overshadowed everyone and everything in this mediocre film. Also, to make the incandescent Nicole Kidman look so frumpy,takes some doing.Some achievement, that.
3. Naam Shabana:It started off as a solid espionage drama filled with rage and passion but petered off into whimper off a film where the female spy,Tapsee Pannu follows boss Manoj Bajpai’s orders with bland robotic subservience.And what was Akshay Kumar doing , showing up off and on , clutching Tapasee’s hand urgently and yanking her into dangerous situations. Though the film featured a female hero it finally showed her being commandeered by men.
4. Wonder Woman: I like what Ratna Pathak Shah said about this exceedingly overhyped super-hero film. Gal Gadot behaved like any male action hero with a pair of breasts. What is the point of turning the hero into a she-ro when she can’t retain her basic feminine grace? That apart the film was shot like a series of picture postcards from the la-la land of super-heroism. Virtuous to the point of seeming evangelical and completely devoid of irony the film just about made you smile because…well, Gal Gadot is so pretty.
5. Lipstick Under My Burqa: Goodness, so much fuss over the film’s showy sexual frankness!! Baba re! The women were all in desperate pursuit of liberation. And watching them thumping,bumping and humping a second time I felt I needed liberation from their frantic pursuits of liberation. This outwardly-bold look at female sexuality served no purpose except to let us know that men take advantage of women, sexual and otherwise. We know.
6. Rukh: There were lots of arthouse films in 2017….you know the brooding kind of noire-meets-the-grassroots tales which tend to impress us easily just because they are …well, brooding noire–ishand intense. I saw debutant director’s Atanu Mukherjee’s Rukh again and this time came away underwhelmed. The narrative is sluggish , the plot too slight and the pacing needed severe re-tuning. No wonder most of these Festival-travelled films flop.You can fool the critic . You can’t fool the man who pays Rs 300 to go to the movies.
7. Lady Bird: This hugely-acclaimed coming-of-age film about a troubled mother-daughter relationship situated in the soporific environment of Sacramento (US) left me impressed, but not deeply so. Though mother and daughter are played with finely- modulated clarity by Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf a lot of the characters seem to come and go not to create a dramatic structure but simply to echo the ennui of a smalltown . Such longing to escape is only interesting when the protagonist cac sweep us into the desire to escape. But most of the time first-time director Greta Gerwig has the audience sharing the protagonist’s boredom rather than her desire to escape. This is the kind of film where characters speak a lot so that we know their back-stories quickly without having to go deep into their lives. The focus is on the daughter, and Saoirse Ronan soars on the wings of her character’s dream in Lady Bird. But somewhere the flight is capsized by the director Greta Gerwig’s desire to yoke her own smalltown experiences with the genre that it occupies. The synthesis is not quite smooth. I’d be very surprised if Lady Bird wins major Golden Globes or Oscars.