This is proving to be a special year for Bollywood. As a film enthusiast who follows movies very closely, I have personally witnessed a breath of fresh air in Hindi cinema of late, with our filmmakers trying to be more experimental, inventive and courageous than they have ever been. So, here is my pick of five unconventional movies from 2015 that you ought to check out - that is if you haven't already. I have considered various factors before closing-in on these films. First and foremost, considerable importance has been given to films that offer some food for thought and have cinematic flair in addition to being socially relevant. Apart from these, various other aspects like direction, screenplay, editing, cinematography, music, and the quality of acting have also been taken into consideration.
Gabbar Is Back
Gabbar Is Back, an action thriller directed by Telugu filmmaker Radha Krishna Jagarlamudi, starring Akshay Kumar, presents the tale of grief-stricken man who turns into a vigilante and decides to clean up the system from corruption by kidnapping and murdering corrupt public servants. Gabbar Is Back is a rare Hindi film that perfectly blends entertainment with some decent fodder to ruminate upon. It offers a nice blend of action, drama and suspense in equal parts. And while the relevance of its socio-political commentary cannot be overemphasized, barring a few high points, the movie can best be described as average. Like most Akshay Kumar films, Gabbar Is Back is a one-man-show and is marred by its weak supporting characters, predictable plot twists, weak romance quotient, and over-the-top action sequences, but Akshay's intensity and timing is impeccable. Despite its flaws and gimmicks, the film simultaneously entertains and makes us think.
Piku, directed by Shoojit Sircar, stars Amitabh Bachchan, Deepika Padukone, and Irrfan Khan in the major roles. The movie revolves around a Bengali father-daughter duo: Bhaskor Banerjee who is a 70-year-old widower suffering from chronic constipation and his caring 30-year-old unmarried daughter Piku who is an architect by profession. Part family drama, part road movie, Piku is a unique cocktail of human emotions that tugs at our heartstrings, making us laugh and cry at the same time. It teaches us about the meaningfulness of life while depicting how most of us fail to savor its true pleasures while we still can. The strongest point of Piku is the performance by the leading cast. It makes for a great family viewing and can be enjoyed by anyone and everyone.
Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!
Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! is a suspense thriller directed by the Dibakar Banerjee based on the popular sleuth character created by Bengali writer Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay. It stars Sushant Singh Rajput, Neeraj Kabi, and Swastika Mukherjee in major roles. Set in 1942-43 Calcutta with the carefully chosen World War II backdrop, Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! can best be described as a marriage of commercial and experimental filmmaking. Dibakar Banerjee needs to be congratulated for recreating the City of Joy and for eliciting worthy performances from his entire cast of actors. The movie has some pacing issues but despite the flaws it proves to be quite an enthralling experience. While the movie may disappoint the hardcore Byomkesh Bakshi enthusiasts, it has all the elements to satisfy the masses and classes alike.
Shamitabh, written and directed by R. Balki, stars Amitabh Bachchan, Dhanush and Akshara Hassan in the pivotal roles. Balki delivers yet another unconventional film in form of Shamitabh, which revolves around a highly talented but dumb aspiring actor who borrows another man's voice to shoot to fame in Bollywood. Shamitabh can be best described as an earnest expression of Balki's love for cinema. It is also aimed to be a satire on the lack of originality and creativity in Hindi cinema. While celebrating the power of cinema and its indelible impact on the masses, the movie simultaneously mocks the desperation people show to climb the ladders of fame. Balki doesn't back down from taking a swipe at the media either. Balki seems to be making a statement about the growing commercial opportunism as well the fast dipping standards of cinema. Shamitabh is part entertaining and part thought-provoking but there are also some glaring flaws and inconsistencies. The overall chemistry between the movie's three lead characters is nothing short of brilliant. The movie certainly isn't tailor-made for casual viewers but a true lover of cinema cannot afford to miss it.
Badlapur, directed by Sriram Raghavan and starring Varun Dhawan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, and Huma Qureshi in the major roles, presents the tale of a young man who seeks to avenge the coldblooded murder of his wife and kid committed by two bank robbers. The tragic loss of his wife and kid creates a void in his life and he believes that the only way to redemption is through revenge. Badlapur is part psychological thriller, part character study that entertains while simultaneously making the viewer think. The movie offers several spine-chilling sequences, a la Alfred Hitchcock. Ragahavan shows us how people change with time and adversities. How life can change at a moment's notice. That redemption can never be achieved by treading the path of destruction. There is a great moral dilemma at the core of Badlapur which makes it a more than a quintessential tale of revenge. The acting is solid all-around. The best way to enjoy Badlapur is to watch it with an open mind.