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The Ones That Deserved  Better in 2022



Laal Singh Chaddha

Why didn’t the  audience turn up to see  these well-made films?

  1. Laal Singh Chaddha:  Aamir Khan is an actor known to be  trusted  by the audience. How could his judgement  fail him so badly this time? Or was  it something else? Maybe the audience doesn’t like remakes? If so, why did  they flock to see Drishyam  2 ? Maybe they  don’t  like Hollywood remakes? It boggles the mind why  Laal  Singh  Chaddha was rejected. Once in a while in this imperfect  world we get a near-perfect film  about flawed characters trying to stay on the  straight and narrow path. Actor-turned-screenwriter  Atul Kulkarni’s adaptation  of  Robert Zemeckis’ 1994  classic Forrest Gump is  every bit as charming  disarming and  enchanting as the original, and then some  more.Some characters specially that of  the heroine is  re-written to  suit current  times. But the spirit of innocence and faith remain  intact.  Through the  naïve uncorrupted eyes  of Laal Singh Chaddha we get a  world-view of  history as  it unfolds from the Partition  to  the demolition  of the  Babri Masjid.
  2. Dhaakad: A fabulous  action film with diligently choreographed action scenes Dhaakad  relies almost entirely on treatment and execution. And kudos to  debut director  Razneesh Ghai for making the violence look so dirgefully dynamic; the  bloodshed feels like  a blizzard of remorse  showered on an unrepentant conscience.Gory? Yes!  Violent? Of course! We  live in a violent  world where an eye  for an eye is not enough. It’s more  like  a limb for an eye. Seeing Kangana in the killer mode is reward enough  for  all the time we’ve had to bear with  inept female heroes taking revenge on all mankind for wrongs done.Dhaakad is slyly slick,and  remorselessly violent. It sticks to the point.  And gets to  brass tacks immediately. Kangana  playing a spy named Agnee is assigned by her boss(the very  capable  Saraswat Chatterjee) to extract a human trafficker/drug dealer Rudraveer from his hideout. Dhaakad is a film in a hurry. It moves breathlessly from one fabulously-staged fight to  another almost daring us to exhale. There is no time or space for anything but vendetta in Agnee’s ravaged life.While Kangana and Arjun Rampal roar  in brilliance as adversaries there are three other stand-out performances  by Divya Dutta, Saraswat Chatterjee and the  underrated Sharib Hashmi.But the real  star of the show  after Kangana and Rampal is  cinematographer  Tetsuo Nagata. Even when the frames  ooze blood Nagata makes the film look  like  poetry in commotion.
  3. Jersey:  This is a  film that is  not afraid to  flirt with broad emotions. It plunges into its protagonist’s life with a  fervent  gusto,sparing us  none of his anguished  self-loathing for being a loser, specially  in the eyes of his wife and son.The father-son bonding is crucial to  the efficacy of this mellow drama. Shahid Kapoor,  giving what  could arguably rank as  his  career’s best  performance, bonds beautifully with his screen son played by Ronit Kamra. It’s a pleasure beyond measure to see the two  of them  together. Even when they don’t speak to each other, the father and son are heartbreaking  in their mutual devotion.
  4. Goodbye:  In 2022 there were other films on a death in the family  like  Ram Prasad  Ki Tehrvi and Paglaitt. In spirit, Goodbye is  closer to the former, though the only similarity between the two films is  a  sudden  death  in the family. In Ram Prasad… it was Supriya Pathak  coping with the death of her husband and the drama of push and pull of interests that follows.Amitabh Bachchan in Goodbye  as  Harish Bhalla,  the  patriarch  of the family is  a bristling bundle  of  ire and sarcasm. His  abnormal aggression at his loss targets  all his children especially the daughter Gayatri(Rashmika  Mandanna). Many times  as  this lengthy film moves from tragedy to acceptance , you will find   yourself  connecting to the tamasha that  ensues after a death in the family. Vikas Bahl is  very good at juicing the  contradictions and hypocrisy that  underline the tragedy. he blemishes in the script(and that includes a  long unnecessary  moaning monologue by Mr Bachchan about  his dead wife’s half-empty bottle  of shampoo  lying in the bathroom, etc etc) are swept away by the genuinely  moving episodes and some validating  performances  especially by Pavail Gulati,Elli AvrRam, Sunil  Grover(as  the coolest godman in  Hardwar), Ashish Vidyarthi,  Divya Seth, Shayank Shukla(as the snivelling cousin getting ritual instructions on the phone), Martin Jishil(as  the  guy who informs Mandanna  of her mother’s death) and of course Mr Bachchan. Neena  Gupta plays the corpse with dead seriousness.
  5. Salaam Venky:  Revathi’s Salaam Venky doesn’t give us  a choice. We HAVE to  like, if not love ,this big-hearted  film about a dying son  and his  tirelessly devoted mother. Apparently based on a true story,the  film clasps us in a tight embrace not allowing us  to breathe. So overpowering is its commitment to  wrenching tears  out of us that  the narrative  frequently becomes  melodramatic  and maudlin, going as far as  to making the mother  sing a lullabye  on her son’s death bed.Seriously!  What  can we do except  to surrender  to director  Revathi’s sentimental  journey  into the heart of  a soap opera ,played out with finesse,I might add.No one can fault  Salaam Venky for faltering in its  commitment to communicating the mother’s grief.  Kajol  as the strong solidly nurturing Sujata curbs her  tendency to shriek and  shout. She has  played that  kind of a hyperventilating mother quite recently  in  Helicopter Eela. This time she  is far  more restrained and implosive, thanks to Revathi’s direction which  impels the matriarch  to bleed in places that cannot be seen.
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