I saw a LOT of Hindi movies in '07 - I think that I manage to squeeze in more and more viewings every year, as my interest grows and I become more certain of what I like. Some of these movies allowed me to expand my Bollywood 'horizons', while others were just a continuation of the things and people I've always loved...
I'll start with the new discoveries - here are my top 5...
Sridevi: As a child, I think saw one of her movies but my memories of it are extremely vague - so I think 'Lamhe' may safely be called my first Sridevi movie. I've seen her dance on TV, but watching her act was a revelation - I didn't love the storyline of 'Lamhe' but I loved her in the film. I'm definitely up for more... up next is 'Chandni'...
Ayesha Takia: I am currently fascinated by this young woman's face, and she will probably the first subject in my 'Faces' series (the series will really just be an attempt to share some of the many, many screencaps I've accumulated over the past couple of years). I also think she's a very good actress - this year I caught her in 'Dor' and 'Salaam-e-Ishq', and loved her in both (especially in the former).
Shreyas Talpade: Loved him in 'Dor' and 'Om Shanti Om' - he has a great flair for comedy coupled with an emotional depth as an actor that makes him a joy to watch. And he has this twinkle in his eye that I just love. I think he was perfectly cast in both of these films and look forward to seeing him in more films that play to his strengths. Up next for me is 'Iqbal'.
Irrfan Khan: In 2007, I saw him in 'The Namesake' and 'Life in a Metro'. In 'The Namesake', I could've sat and watched him for hours although he truly broke my heart by reminding me of someone special that (like Ashima in the film) I loved dearly and lost. In 'Metro', he brought such life to a character that was absolutely wonderful but could have so easily been ruined - Irrfan did him perfect justice and I love him for that.
Shabana Azmi: It's very very strange to look back and realise that at the start of 2007, I hadn't seen any of Ms. Azmi's movies. A lot's changed in one year - I've caught 'Amar Akbar Anthony', 'Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd', 'Masoom', 'Arth' and 'Fire' (the last couple of links are to reviews at Carla's brilliant Filmi Geek blog) - and loved Shabana in every single one. I can't get enough of this woman's acting - and I totally blame Carla for making me a convert! Up next is 'Fakira' (co-starring Shashi Kapoor), which I recently acquired along with 'Jab Jab Phool Khile', which very neatly leads to the next item in my review...
... turnarounds of 2007 - Sometimes you've just gotta admit that you were wrong - either that the thing you've praised to high heavens actually kinda sucks, or that the thing you've never liked at all is actually kinda neat. I don't have many volte-face moments where Hindi cinema is concerned - I am very constant that way - I pretty much love everyone and everything I've always loved and dislike everyone and everything I've always disliked... but I did have 3 big turnaround moments in 2007...
Shashi Kapoor: Before 2007, I'd caught Shashi in 'Do Aur Do Paanch', 'Trishul' and 'Satyam Shivam Sundaram', and I was not a fan. I didn't dislike him exactly, but I just didn't get what all the fuss was about, really. One film changed all that in '07 - 'Deewaar', in which his performance is spellbinding. Now I'm definitely ready for more Shashi...
Salman Khan: Why do I feel so charitable towards this guy all of a sudden? I started 2007 really really REALLY disliking him... but watching 'Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya' and a number of other films changed all that, and while I don't really have serious affection for Sallu (the way I do for SRK, for example), I have loads of respect for him, and I actually like him (gasp).
'Koffee with Karan': I started out absolutely loving this show, but towards the end of its run I got sick of it. The formula started to wear thin and to grate on the nerves - it just wasn't as much fun - and it started to feel like the show was becoming a platform for stars to promote their films or successes, rather than just a fun 'chill', the way it used to be. Karan Johar is a smart guy - I think he put paid to things at just the right time, even though he didn't get the coveted Abhi-Ash interview at the end of the day. I still have loads of great memories of the show, though - it was a real treat in so many ways...
My top 5 KWK shows are the one with the Kapoor siblings, the one with Rishi/Neetu, the one with the Deol brothers, the one with SRK and Kajol (the premiere), and the one with Azmi/Akhtar - but there were other good ones as well - I loved Bips/John, for example, Zeenat/Hema, Gurinder/Farah, Mira/Tabu and Bips/Lara... KWK was a good show, and although it got really tired towards the end, I enjoyed it very much.
Unlike the above 3 moments, some things never ever change - my love for certain things/people in Bollywood remains truly constant and consistent - if anything it only waxes stronger and gets better - here are my top 5 I-love-you-mores...
Dharmendra: Obviously! In 2007, I had many more reasons to love this man - he made his big comeback to the movies in '07, and it was lovely to see him in 'Metro' and 'Apne', and making a special appearance in 'Om Shanti Om' (I'm still looking forward to 'Johnny Gaddaar'. I also enjoyed catching a number of his oldies - and the love is stronger than ever. It's funny, but I feel kinda protective towards Dharam ji, and I wish him a wonderful 2008.
Shahrukh Khan: If there's any Bollywood actor that could possibly begin to compete with Dharam ji for my affections, it would have to be this guy. I started 2007 loving SRK and ended it loving him even more - and not just because I got to see his gorgeous house. I loved SRK to bits in his 2 big movies of the year - 'Chak De! India' and 'Om Shanti Om' - these movies are very different but I think he totally rocked in both of them.
And in addition to his new work, in '07 I caught up with some of his older stuff: 'Deewana' (his first feature - his is raw and earthy and a lovely shade of brown, with a speaking voice that's TOTALLY different from what it is now), 'Duplicate' (absolutely LOVED it), 'Baazigar' (a very disturbing but memorable performance)... and here's a prediction: this love is certain to only grow stronger in 2008.
Jaya Bhaduri: I adore this woman's acting and I just cannot get enough of her. I also can't get over how many people do not seem to recognise the sheer and utter brilliance of Jaya ji. Anyways, in 2007 I fell deeper and deeper in love with this woman's masterful yet minimalist acting. I saw and loved her in films like 'Chupke Chupke' and the recent 'Laaga Chunari Mein Daag', but the real treat for a Jaya fan like myself is to watch her sink her teeth into a formidable leading role... and in 2007 I had that pleasure with films like 'Guddi' and 'Kora Kagaz'.
There is this unforgettable visceral moment in 'Kora Kagaz' (which is a poorly-edited and generally quite flawed film in terms of production value - strangely, it even borrows a frame from 'Abhimaan', but anyway) in which Jaya expresses frustration in a restrained way that just slammed me in the heart with its impact. Love this woman's acting to bits.
Abhishek Bachchan: The Baby B, Jaya's beloved son, is a guy everyone loves to love. He's cute, he can act, he's funny - what's not to love? This past year he broke a million female hearts by marrying the gorgeous Aishwarya Rai, and he also wangled his way deeper into my heart with 'Guru', a film many regard as morally ambiguous (although, as I stated here, I think they totally missed the point). One point remains crystal-clear though, Baby B is building his own identity as an actor and developing a fine set of chops. I also (yonks after the rest of world), finally saw 'Dhoom' and 'Dhoom II' this year and loved him in both... and he was yummy in 'Laaga Chunari Mein Daag' and fun in 'Jhoom Barabar Jhoom'.
Konkona Sen Sharma: I am most definitely a fan. In 2007, she blew me away with her performances in 'Metro', 'Laaga Chunari Mein Daag' (she was totally the best thing in the movie - even better than Jaya ji), and 'Omkara'. And I can't wait to see her (and Madhuri, whom I love) in 'Aaja Nachle' (Update: Done! I've seen it).
And now, to round out the round-up, here are a few random 'awards' for '07. (There's no award for which film I liked the best in 2007, because that's just too hard!):
My most amazing filmi experience:
Nominees: Trip to India, Trip to India, Trip to India, Trip to India, Trip to India
Winner: Trip to India
My Bollywood tearjerker of the year:
Nominees: Mother India (oh Nargis!), Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (heart-wrenching), The Namesake (damn near broke my heart), Masoom (that child!), Deewaar (Shashi and Big B made me bawl!)
Winner: C'est tres difficile. I guess I have to say Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, just because I really wasn't expecting it to hurt so much. I thought it would just feel like typical formulaic romance fluff - and I knew how the film would end but it was still a surprising sucker-punch...
My favourite (Bollywood) experience of the year in an actual cinema (as opposed to watching at home - I have to say I had a lot of great cinema-seat experiences in 2007):
Nominees: Chak De! India (swoon), Just Married (made me feel all mushy inside), The Namesake (despite the best efforts of the mouthy teenage girls sitting beside me), Guru (made me want to go out and make someone else's life better), Apne (I just had so much fun!)
Winner: Chak De! India (SRK all lean and tortured and restrained and rangy! Girl power and lots of positive inspirational messages! Come on, what could really compete?)
My Bollywood 'aawww' moment of the year:
Nominees: Bobby Deol and Dharmendra at the IIFA Awards, SRK and his daughter in 'the picture' (love it so much),
the Kapoors on 'Koffee with Karan', 'Apne' (the entire thing), Nargis and Raj in 'Awaara'
Winner: There were SO many 'aawww' moments (it's Bollywood after all) in 2007, that even to pick out the above-mentioned 5 was tough, but I think I'll give it to Bobby and his father for the natural intensity of that emotional moment. Loved it!
My worst Bollywood movie of the year:
Nominees: Shakalaka Boom Boom (tripe!), Aap Mujhe Achche Lagne Lage (rubbage!), Mere Jeevan Sathi (the Akshay one - really really bad!), Dil Ne Phir Yaad Kiya (Govinda + Tabu in a weird story about fatal attraction = a really rubbish film), Bol Radha Bol (David Dhawan, tell me just one thing: why??)
Winner: Tough one - they were all just so so so bad! But I guess Shakalaka Boom Boom wins it, just because it was the only one I couldn't force myself to finish...
So... now that 2008 has commenced, all that remains is for me to talk about a few of my goals for the year - here are my top 5:
More diverse Indian cinema: I am hungry for some Tamil and Telugu movies; I've been very neglectful of non-Hindi films and I feel totally ignorant about work from the south - I've got some great recommendations and will dedicate time and effort to hunting them down.
More Nargis: Yes, I am greedy for more of Nargis - loads and loads more... and can you blame me? She's simply magnificent.
More great movie dates: I definitely took advantage of all the screenings of Hindi films over the past year - and I plan to continue doing so... it's a great way to relax and de-stress. Over at Silverbird, 'Welcome' is currently showing, and I'm definitely NOT at all interested in seeing that. But 'Taare Zameen Par' is showing at Nu Metro and it's gotten really great reviews plus I'm a fan of Aamir, so I definitely want to see it - and 'Aaja Nachle' just might still be on at City Mall - must find out... (Update: It is, and I've seen it).
More of the Kapoor men: Nobody ever seems to say this, but I love me some Rishi. I saw quite a bit of him in 2007, from 'Namastey London' (loved him), to 'Kabhi Kabhie', to 'Khel Khel Mein', to 'Deewana' (let's just say it was WAY past time to stop with the young-singer/loverboy roles), to 'Naseeb' (loved him in it), to many, many more. I've just acquired 'Karz' and 'Doosra Aadmi' and am looking forward to both (especially, after seeing the opening scene of 'Om Shanti Om', the former). I've only seen one Shammi Kapoor film, 'Junglee', and I really want to see more of him - so I just picked up 'Teesri Manzil' and will watch it soon. I've already mentioned that I've got a couple more Shashi movies which I'm really looking forward to. And I'm desperately hunting for more stuff by Raj...
More blogging about Bollywood!: I definitely plan to do better with keeping this spot updated this year. I'm changing jobs soon - leaving behind my current 15/16-hour-a-day one and taking on one with saner hours, so hopefully I will have more free time... I think I can make it work.
Up next I'll be doing my first 'Faces' post; and also in the works is a results post on the latest poll - please vote if you haven't done so yet!