A year ends, another one begins. Life remains the same, except the date changes, and for us—the mortals—the time remaining on earth gets shortened by one year. However, a change of year gives a good opportunity to look back and reflect on the year gone by. The moments that deeply impacted us, the moments that gave us a sense of exhilaration, and the moments that stayed with us. After all, when the dust from the sepia-tinted memories will be wiped, it is these moments that we will remember as the story of that year. As the ever-so-wonderful MJ Akbar says, "History, sometimes, seems to be an accumulation of moments."
There is a quote attributed to Jerry Seinfeld. It says, "It's amazing that the amount of news that happens in the world every day always just exactly fits the newspaper." Any reader of a newspaper knows that the number of pages in a newspaper changes depending on the content availability. Likewise, we always find films to give awards to every year, whether good or bad. Making year end lists is a herculean task. If I was giving awards, I will give one to everybody, just for the effort. Nevertheless, I recollect the following moments from films released in the past year that have stayed with me (in no particular order).
- Dil Dhadhakne Do—Neelam Mehra eating a cake in front of the mirror. Her philandering husband keeps mocking her eating habits. At the onset, it feels that it was a usual taunt, but only after this scene, we realize, she is compensating the love that she craves from her husband with food. There is no dialogue in that scene, only Shefali Shah stuffing her mouth with cake, and the background tune plays, yet, that scene says so much. "Silence, I discover, is something you can actually hear," says Haruki Murakami. True words.
- Masaan—Deepak's breakdown after Shaalu's death. One moment, you are planning to spend your life with your lover; the next moment, you are crushing her bones to light her lifeless body in the pyre. Deepak breaks down at the ghaat, after screaming when does this grief ever end? And, we breakdown with him. The light of the fire, the blurb of the light from the windows of a train passing behind, the darkness of the night. His friends rush to comfort him. One tells him that he will hit him if he cries; the other offers him his motorcycle as if trying to placate a crying kid. How do you console a grieving friend? More than the death, it is the unpredictability of death that shocks us.
- Bajirao Mastani—Mastani's entry into Shaniwar Wada in Deewani Mastani. I can't get enough of this song. Each scene of the movie is like a painting, but this remains the most exquisite of the lot. Everything flows perfectly in the song. Not a single moment of imperfection. I want to be in that song, even if it is only to be a fly. Immortalized in the walls and the mirrors for posterity.
- Tamasha—Tara in Agar Tum Saath Ho. As I wrote earlier, in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, there is a charm called Expecto Patronum. The charm is used to fend off the happiness-sucking dementors, and one must muster the happiest memory they can think of, else the charm does not work. The happier the memory, the better the charm will work. Agar Tum Saath Ho casts a magical spell, but it is a reverse patronus. It will remind of a time of a devastating heartbreak, of a time of a wretched state, and of a time of a numbing hopelessness. The first fifteen seconds of the song are enough to bring back that flood of painful memories. Memories that one thought were purged, but in reality, they were buried somewhere deep in a small corner of the heart. Her inability to not let go of him; holding him tightly, caressing him on the table, to hold him for one more moment.
- Talvar—At one point, Ramshankar Pillai, the former chief of CDI, tells Ashwin that we all know that the Lady Justice is blind, but people often forget that the Lady also carries a sword in the other hand. Like he talked about looking at both the hands, the film tries to explore the case from all possible sides. The last 30-minutes again explore this theme, with shades of Ek Ruka Hua Faisla. The poetic moment, "Woh afsana jise anjaam tak lana na ho mumkin, use ek khubsurat mod dekar chhodna achchha," from Gumrah, teaches us a lot about the finding a path to closure when we go gumrah.
- Piku—I was really surprised by how much the film stayed with me throughout the year. I kept going back to listen to the film's sarod tune, which has a deep calming effect. The moment where there is a smile on Bhaskor in his death, as if he finally found the anand that he had forgotten, and the next scene where Piku goes to his room and sits on his bed is almost cathartic. At one point, Rana says, "Par apni roots unko agar ukhad do, toh kya bachega." And, as Piku says, if there were somebody else in her position, they would have done the same because we cannot judge parents. Because howsoever they are, we cannot judge our parents.
- Tanu Weds Manu Returns—I did not care at all about Tanu and Manu who are plain stupid, but Kumari Kusum Sangwan's poise is something that stood out from the silly shenanigans of the others. If only Tanu and Manu had some sense to learn something from the maturity and the grace of Datto. The scene where Datto runs from her wedding, not showing her tears to anyone, and cries all by herself is something that made us care for her. She deserved better than Manu; and, I am sure she will find happiness in the future. One of my other absolute favorite moments in which I laughed out so loud was when Datto goes to kidnap Komal, and tells the girls something in Haryanvi, "Kal ki mariyo, bahar Saa Rukh Khan aya se." All the girls run out like he actually came. It was hilarious. If this was not enough, the girls come back and one of them says there is no Shah Rukh Khan, people are only making a fool out of them. On seeing Payal unconscious, they say, "Arey yeh to neeche hi so gayi." One has to see to realize the absurdity of the scene.
- Badlapur—Elizabeth Kübler-Ross theorized five stages of grief—denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Raghu's inability to accept turns him into Joker from Batman. At one point, Raghu and Liak have a fight with each other, and then, Liak goes away, but comes back. He explains that that he lost his cool, and in the heat of moment, he killed Raghu's wife, but what about Raghu? He killed Harman and his wife in cold blood, even when they were innocent; so, essentially, what is the difference between him and Raghu? It is a moment which makes us wonder about the degrees of murder, and the purpose of vengeance. Life is lost in both the cases, but as Animal Farm taught us all murders are equal, but some murders are more equal than others.
- Bombay Velvet—I understand little about music, but Behrupia was a gem in this spectacular film. I liked it more than Dhadaam Dhadaam. There is something about Mohit Chauhan's lilting voice. Bujhi shama se na dil behla, haath mein aayega tere bas dhuaan.
- Dum Laga Ke Haisha—The animosity that Prem and Sandhya show towards each other by playing cassettes of the songs of the '90s is a cracker of a scene. It will bring back the nostalgia of growing up as a nineties kid—Kumar Sanu, Anu Malik, Alka Yagnik, Sadhana Sargam, Udit Narayan. Fascinating thing this nostalgia; it makes one feel young and old at the same time.
- Shaandaar—Notwithstanding the opprobrium the film received, I loved Shaandaar. If you loved Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, you will love Shaandaar. In his earlier film Queen, Vikas Bahl portrayed Rani who learns that she does not need a man to be happy in life. She goes to her honeymoon all alone, as if she is Alice In Wonderland (as Rani wears a sweatshirt showing Alice). In Shaandaar, we again see an anti-fairy-tale where a girl literally takes out her clothes in her wedding, because her fiancé keeps mocking her for her weight, and then, she flies away in a helicopter. A shaandaar moment.
I have not watched NH10, Margarita With A Straw, Titli, Phantom, and Jazbaa, films that I look forward to watching sometime in the near future. I know more sad moments than happy ones, but it is the emotional connect that matters, no?
Dialogue of the Day:
"Har naam pe nahi rukti, dhadkanon ke bhi usool hote hai."
—Humari Adhuri Kahani