It was in the third week of March of this eventful year that I watched Angrezi Medium in a packed theatre, not realising that it will be the last film that I will be watching with my fellow critics for the whole of the year. Angrezi Medium is remembered for another terrible reason. We lost the most cherished actor of our times, Irrfan Khan, soon after.
Angrezi Medium was not the only film that one remembers with a heavy heart. The untimely and shocking demise of a young talented actor Sushant Singh Rajput and the film Dil Bechara starring him releasing after his death, reflected on the surreal times we are living in.
Anubhav Sinha’s powerful film, Thappad was lucky enough to be released in the theatres before the pandemic hit us. A film that spoke about how everyday violence, under whatever condition should not be tolerated. Taapsee Pannu played the key role pretty efficiently bringing in a lot of critical acclaim for her and the film.
Despite different conditions, we had the pleasure of watching some lovely films (thanks to the OTT platforms). Here are the few films that stood out.
One film that has been garnering appreciation in festivals and managed to finally get released is Eeb Allay Ooo!. This delightful satire has a monkey as its central character was irreverent and impactful.
Sudhir Mishra’s Serious Men, based on the novel by same name by Manu Joseph has Nawazuddin Siddiqui in the central character. Nawazuddin, as a man who tries to live his ambitions through his son, gives a brilliant performance in a film that is surely worth watching.
Anurag Basu’s Ludo where four stories collide with each other is yet another gem that talks about human foibles and emotions in a quirky fun manner. Bulbbul, directed by debut director Anvita Dutt, is a period drama and one took notice because of its captivating storyline, good performances and the attention to detailing.
Sooni Taraporevala’s Yeh Ballet, which happened to release before the lockdown, is yet again a lovely little film which talks af a bunch of underprivileged kids in the city who managed to find themselves through the dance form.
In what can be easily called her best performance Tillotama Shome plays a pivotal role in Sir. A sensitive film that deals with loneliness and how one finds connections at the oddest places. Raat Akeli Hai is a thriller that keeps you on your toes and is a very stylish murder mystery. Honey Trehan directed Raat Akeli Hai has yet again a sensitive performance by Nawazuddin aptly supported by Radhika Apte. Dolly Kitty aur Chamakte Sitare has Konkona Sen Gupta and Bhumi Pednekar playing the lead characters who are a far cry from the typical Bollywood heroines you see.
And then there were some films which disappointed you big time…
Akshay Kumar’s Laxmii got a lot of hype before its release because of the actor playing a transgender, but turned out to be a damp squib. Vidya Balan’s Shakuntala Devi didn’t really make any impact because of poor execution and not so great writing.
Gulabo Sitabo was touted to be a big ticket film because of the star cast. For the first time, Amitabh Bachchan and Ayushmann Khurrana were sharing the screen. But this film got mixed reviews and didn’t really live up to the hype.
(Shubha Shetty is Director — Quest Films/Quest Digital)