Yearender Speacial: Finest Films Of 2017!

It would be so  much easier to pick out the rotten apples  from  the Bollywood basket. 2017 gave  us  horrific atrocities  that left me feeling sick in  the pit of  my stomach. But then there were the sparkling gems redeeming what is possibly one of  the worst movie-going years in living memory. Here  goes with  the redeeming masterpieces.

1.  Kutta Se: In Haryanvi and partly in Hindi, the language of oppression that debutant director Rahul Dahiya spoke  in this bludgeoning masterpiece left me speechless. This extraordinary film derives  its unhampered persuasive powers not from posturing but from ripping apart  all our perceptions of what cinema is and should be , by entering the nervous system  of  a patriarchal community where women are still not given the right to choose their partners.There  is  no   honour in  honour killing. But there is an illimitable amount of  honour in a film like this. Take  a bow, MrDahiya.

2.  Anaarkali Of Arrah: Another debutant director Aninash Dasshowed  us what the tried and tested Vishal Bhardwajs and Imtiaz Alis failed  to do this year. Fresh, feisty and fearless ,nothing in this unexpected storm-trooper of a film  prepared us for its high-velocity energy and fervent statement on female sexuality. Without exaggeration Anaarkali Of Aarah  was the surprise of the year.Stunning in thought, spellbinding in  plot and  utterly gripping in  the way the story of a small-town dancer-singer’s adventures in lecher-land unfolds.And  Swara Bhaskara in the title role dazzled  with a beauty that was visible in her character’s soul.

3.  Mukti BhawanDebutant(again!) Shubhashish Bhutiani’s MuktiBhawan sweeps us into a world where death  is not the end but a release into a realm of imperishable freedom .Or Moksha, if you will.Crafted with the care of a jeweller working on a specially intricate piece , the director brings to life the most precious and  vital truth about death.As he takes us , along with his two protagonists, on a journey to the holy city of death Varanasi, the film somewhere along  its resplendent route to salvation, becomes a treatise on life as defined by the inevitability of death.This was yet another debutant director bringing immeasurable hope to our cinema

4.  The Silence: Like the  under-celebrated Kutta Se, this film is not in Hindi but Marathi  although one  of the protagonists spoke in Hindi.It really wouldn’t have mattered which language  it is in. The film’s shrieking  silences batter our conscience  into a rude awakening. The Silence is a very painful film to watch. It strips aside the niceties that would make child-rape more palatable to the audience , and  puts the audience face-to-face with the innocence of the little girl Chini(Vedashree Mahajan) and  the monster Mama(Uncle) who molests her . The Silence is not a film which you would forget  in  a  hurry. The little girl’s guilty eyes will follow your nights and  vitiate  your days.And Anjali Patil’s powerful performance  holds the film together.By its jugular.

5. Solo: 4 stories about bereavement and  loss, Solo with its supremely impassioned plea to fob off isolation is a shout-out for comfort and warmth in  a world gone completely cold. In the frigid frozen environment of  isolated  hearts and broken  promises,  a light is lit. Solo is ample proof of Bejoy Nambiar’s mastery over the desinoire genre which so far Anurag Kashyap thought  he owned.  It is also a lucid testimony to Dulquer Salmaan’s virtuosity. He has rapidly emerged as  one  of  India’s most  exciting contemporary actors.

6.     Tu  Hai Mera Sunday:  Once in a while in my long career as a movie fanatic I  come across a sparkling gem that reminds me  there’s still so much to see, so many places to go , for Indian cinema. First-time feature filmmaker Milind Dhaimade takes us into  places where we all have visited at one time or another. It is this mix of mirth and melancholy that makes Tu Hai Mera Sunday one of the most precious slice-of-life films in  recent times.  The ensemble cast is  the finest in years. If you didn’t get a chance to catch this gem in the theatres get it on a dvd. Beg borrow  steal. Don’t miss it.

7.     Hindi Medium:  The surprise success  of  the year is a wise and sensible peep into the world  of  English-medium education .  The desperate clamour to  find a place in  these expensive prestigious schools leads to an absurdist drama in this deliciously droll satire.Hindi Medium is a well-told parable of middleclass aspirations, scattered with moments that every parents would recognize with a combination of pleasure and dread.

8.  Loev:  The spelling isn’t right, I know. But the heart  in this drama  of  same-sex love was  in the right place. Loev is a tender yet brutal , slender yet sturdy drama strewn with clues to the heartbreak that eventually awaits those who dare not love  beyond  the prescribed boundaries.Writer-director Sudhanshu Saria doesn’t waste time in constructing back –stories  or deconstructing the  complex relationship of his two characters to make their passion more accessible to us.He  goes straight  for the  kill. With implosive and  passion and understated skill.

9.  Lucknow Central : This  was   the most engaging thinking-man’s thriller of the year again by a debutant  director Ranjit Tiwari. Ballsy and brave, it penetrates  the politics of prison life without relinquishing the right to engage us in a solid storytelling spree where a clever cat-and-mouse game is played out between a sadisticjailor(Ronit Roy, in top form)  and a  non-guilty prisoner(FarhanAkhtar) who is hellbent on getting his liberty at any cost. This  was a  prison-break drama  on a par with Franklin  Schaffener’s 1973 classic Papillon and  certainly superior in its intellectual political and spiritual ramifications to the overrated Shawshank Redemption.

10​. Arjun Reddy: This Telugu game-changer did to cinema in Andhrawhat Baahubali did to the costume-drama genre in Indian cinema.A startling jolting take on Devdas its leading man  played with insouciant intrepidity by Vijay Deverekonda, was an arrogant drugged doped borderline misogynist .But guess what! Arjun Reddy is also a brilliant surgeon. Director  Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s narrative seesaws between arrogant brilliance and lurching experimentation  creating a protagonist a film that  is  impossible to forget, let alone ignore.​

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