Bollywood Quarterly: Jan-Mar 2014

Overview

Perhaps those of us in the industry who are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films with women at the centre are niche experiences. They are not. Audiences want to see them and, in fact, they earn money. The world is round, people.

Cate Blanchett, Best Actress Oscar acceptance speech, March 2014.

It is weird that Cate behen was talking about Hollywood when she could easily have been talking about Hindi cinema which seems to be in the grip of a similarly regressive mind set. Those naysayers would do well to observe the happenings of the first quarter of 2014  – our talented ladies are changing the same ol’ same ol’ For-Mula with a chutzpah and class that looks set to write the next chapter of Hindi cinema. Following the era of the rise and fall of Heroine No 1 (thankfully not a Madhur Bhandarkar film – oh wait), get ready for the Premiere League (Humblebrag alert: I predicted this years ago!) where we have not one but an actual group of actresses, all of differing abilities able to command critical acclaim and box office openings plus endorsements and other swag.

 

What the Premiere League AGM might look like. Courtesy of: www.glamsham.com

What the Premiere League AGM might look like. Courtesy of: http://www.glamsham.com

 

The first quarter hosted some interesting examples of the Premiere League in action. Pleasingly, one doesn’t need a 100 crore to enter this league – instead talent, spirit and a desire to challenge norms are all that are needed. This is why a Sonam Kapoor who feels Kangana Ranut needs English lessons has yet to gain entry (nepotism will only get you so far) whilst Kangana runs things like a queen (and is better dressed in my opinion). But I digress! If there is posturing and bitching in this club, then it is on the downlow – the Premiere League of heroines keeps the cattiness to after school as this is all about the sisterhood supporting one another (see how DPad praised Kangana for Queen or Parineeti commended Alia for Highway – for those under 25, this is called camaraderie) and promoting a new and exciting brand of film.

Raise your right hand if you are in the Premiere League! Courtesy of: www.glamsham.com

Raise your right hand if you are in the Premiere League! Courtesy of: http://www.glamsham.com

So what next for the Premiere League?  Here’s a few pointers from an ardent well wisher:

Take a creative risk: Push the boundaries further for the quintessential Hindi film heroine – she doesn’t need the hero to get shit done, the hero needs her and that’s exactly how we like it.

- Bring money to the kitty: Once those sexist producers see how much money a good female centric film makes, this should see a seismic shift of sorts where the budget set aside for yet ANOTHER 100 crore debacle with a willy waving bracelet wearing laconic macho man actually goes to an intelligent and entertaining film with a strong woman at its heart.

Dedication to the cause – No turning back to how things were please; what worked back then was of its time but the world has changed and so should what we see on screen. If anyone can bring about this long overdue change, it is our current crop of actresses – good night and good luck ladies!

Catch Up

So here are the films of the first quarter that you should have seen – and no, you can’t be in the cool kids club until you have seen them!

Dedh Ishqiya – Sisters are doing it for themselves! No literally, Mads and Huma brought sass and class (say class to rhyme with glass to get the full effect) to the follow up to Ishqiya and in doing so, set the agenda for 2014: Sisterhood > Bromance. Plus Madhuri’s dancing was worth the admission price alone. See here for my review.

Gunday – Yes, Ranveer and Arjun need to get a room. Yes, there are historical abominations galore and a script that took Throwback Thursday far too seriously. And yet this was a fun watch with a wicked soundtrack plus Priyanka Chopra was rather good. See here for my review.

Hasee Toh Phasee – Stupid title, brilliant film. I almost avoided this because of the cucking frazy marketing spiel but the Universe knew otherwise and I’m glad I saw this delightfully offbeat offering. A smart film wandering around in designer clothes with a bitching soundtrack, we saw Parineeti steal the show and the strongest case yet for Siddharth to not wear a shirt ever and  not to dance in his films. See here for my review.

Highway – This had more expectation heaped on it than an exam results day but Imtiaz stuck to his guns and gave us a beautiful film to look at and to think about. Randeep Hooda was superb and gave an earthy gravitas but the real revelation here was Alia Bhatt who seemed to undergo a metamorphosis of sorts in front of us – already one of my favourites of the year. See here for my review.

Gulaab Gang – Two screen legends brought together was always going to be a must watch despite a weak script. Mads also seemed disconnected but came to life when face to face with Juhi who gave one of the best performances of her career as the ruthless politician. In fact, watch this just to see Juhi as you have never seen her before. See here for my review.

Queen – The must see film of 2014 which demonstrates why heroines are awesome and deserve far more than the eye candy roles they are assigned. A powerhouse performance, fabulous script and a desire to watch endlessly – do not miss! See here for my review.

The Taz Adarsh Star System

For those who don’t know, in a secret building in Bombay, one powerful man sits alone in an oversized butterfly chair, munching thoughtfully on a jelabi as he thinks about how to use his power to make and break careers overnight. His power is absolute, his desire knows of no boundaries and his side parted hair needs its own Twitter handle – can anyone stop him?

A candid shot from inside the lair.

A candid shot from inside the lair.

You can, dear reader, you can. After risking life and limb to bring you the true meaning of Taz’s box office terminology glossary last year, this franchise now has a sequel as we look to what Taz Uncle’s star ratings given to a film actually mean. That’s right – where a five star review can be a kiss of death and a no star could be a cruel barb against one of the greatest films of our time, Taz plays a wicked game with us all Chris Isaak style – until now. Read on for the truth…

* SoBa – South Bandra, the Beverly Hills of Bombay.

No star – Two things  could have happened here. First, the producers in all their excitement about making a film forgot to pay for a review (rate card available on request) and therefore, they must be punished. So whilst the hapless producer will find his first genuinely-deserving-of praise film will receive a no star review, when he sells his grandmother to pay for a review for a second film, suddenly, there is “buzz” around the project and the unnecessary item song/soujourn to Europe is praised as box office savvy . The rule here? Pay up or shut up.

For the second reason, we must go back in time to when Taz was a 15 year old teenager with a centre parting who wrote his weekly magazine (endearingly titled Trade Guide). Taz wanted to hang around with the boho crowd in school but those cool SoBa kids cruelly rejected his Normcore style (all the rage now FYI) his magazine and sadly, him. Fast forward to present times, anyone from SoBa taking a creative risk and committing to their vision gets their comeuppance with a no star review. That’s right, Taz IS Snape from Harry Potter.

One Star – All these star ratings have two meanings. With a one star, the first is, Taz wanted to HATE this film – he really did. It has unnecessary clutter like a strong script, well written roles and a powerhouse female performance. But gosh golly darnit, Taz was won over by the box of jellabis production sent charm of the film and kind of wants people to see this but not love it as this would mean Taz would actually have to watch decent films ALL THE TIME.

The other meaning? This is a good film. And inside Taz lurks a tortured artistic soul who is locked away with the ALL TIME RECORDS box. But every now and then (approx every Full moon), this side surfaces – and gives out a one star review. If Taz gives it one star, remember, this isn’t Taz but the artist trapped within calling for help…

Two Stars – Here come the crores! Two stars is serious business and is only given after full and final payment is received. It allows Taz to pretend to have credibility and pocket a nice little commission to get some hair gel and jellabis. Also, two stars is a film FOR THE PEOPLE. This means the fate of the film has nothing to do with the the review and for Taz, this is win-win – if the film flops, well he told you it was for the people  and if it does well, he told you it was for the people. Told you so.

Three Stars – No one likes to be ignored at parties, especially by a celebrity. So even though it hasn’t been paid for (don’t worry, Taz will recover lost profit through his TV work – phew!) Taz chucks in an extra star – this means said celebrity will retweet Taz’s tweet on Twitter, say hello to him at Soo-Ciety parties and make him feel included and even praise that avant-garde Govinda reject three piece suit he picked up from a Film City Wardrobe Clearance sale.

Even those SoBa snobs will throw a “whassup?” his way with a three star review. Best of all, Taz secretly hated the film but you wouldn’t know it and think he isn’t such a loser after all – more likes for his Facebook page then. Meanwhile you filmi types just got played.

Four Stars – This is the end of the road for the star system – Taz may have loathed with a passion the film being reviewed from the First Look he tweeted about a nano second before the stalkers fan-clubs but has to say nice things about it thanks to a significant remuneration package by the production powerhouse. Plus he got an invite to the premiere but has two outfit options he can’t decide between – what’s a girl to do? Easy – wear one to premiere and then one to the success party where he will also get the red carpet treatment for a generous review. Plus in true uncle style, he can claim he “helped” the film become successful. Wah Taz Uncle, tussi great ho.

Four stars could also mean he really loved the film. But if you believe that, you probably got paid to like the film too.

Five Stars – Taz rarely gives out five stars. First, it costs a s***load to purchase (price by consultation only) and isn’t really that much different to the four star review package. Secondly, it is rare for Taz to wholly like a film – if it satisfies the box office, then it isn’t creative enough. And if it is a creative masterpiece, it won’t satisfy the box office. And Taz needs to tell those SoBa mean girls they can’t have it all so the five star review will always point out a lack of something.

So the next time you read a Taz uncle review, remember, the rating he has given it has f*** all to do with the actual content of the film.

Watch your back Bogey... #ghettotaz. Courtesy of: www.glamsham.com

Watch your back Bogey… #ghettotaz. Courtesy of: http://www.glamsham.com

My advice? Go see the film yourself and make up your own mind – if a film is worth seeing, you’ll know it.

Fashion Round Up

Fashionista of Quarter 1: 2014 – Sushmita Sen

I would wear those.Just not together... Courtesy of: www.highheelconfidential.com

I would wear those.Just not together… Courtesy of: http://www.highheelconfidential.com

Now before you call the Fashion Police on my ass and accuse me of favouritism, stop and read this first, THEN overreact or I’ll taser gun you. Yes, Sush does not always get it right with her fashion choices. Sometimes, the woman has left me huddled in a corner shaking with horror as I wonder which stylist needs a slap and a Kool Aid for allowing her to wear that unflattering cowl neck high hemline jersey mesh thingy.

BUT.

 

You were saying Bogey...? Courtesy of: www.dnaindia.com

You were saying Bogey…? Courtesy of: http://www.dnaindia.com

That poise. That grace. That confidence. That I don’t care  what you think of what I am wearing attitude. Can you imagine being the centre of attention, all eyes on you, critiquing you, demanding you behave in a certain way to appease a certain way of thinking? Be honest, it is not easy and  it takes industrial strength guts to be true to yourself and be strong in such circumstances. Yet this is the vibe Sush gives us time and time again and it is a wonderful quality to behold.

And when she does get it right, you better put a cushion under your jaw because yowzah!

 

Can't type, jaw hurts from when it hit the floor. Courtesy of: www.glamsham.com

Can’t type, jaw hurts from when it hit the floor. Courtesy of: http://www.glamsham.com

BTW – I am now going to watch this video from 0.16 onwards before a night out on the tiles or an important meeting or just everyday. See also Angrezi Beat from Cocktail.

Fabulous.

Others of note this quarter include:

Amazebombs. Courtesy of: www.indiaopines.com

Amazebombs. That Vijay STILL hanging on yo… Courtesy of: http://www.indiaopines.com

 

Kangana Ranut – These Herve Leger dresses are soooooo over (I use mine as a headband in the gym since you ask) but K-Ran makes me want to wear it for evening once more as she looks gorgeous with fine fresh fierce on lock. Lovely colour, worn with the correct attitude and event appropriate. LIKE.

We can all pull that off, na? Nope. Courtesy of: www.pinterest.com

We can all pull that off, na? Nope. Courtesy of: http://www.pinterest.com

 

Deepika Padukone – Holy headpiece Batman, as if we need another excuse to gaze upon that beautiful mukhda, now we have head piece envy.

 

Hand on hip awesomeness. Courtesy of: www.fashioncirqle.com

Hand on hip awesomeness. Courtesy of: http://www.fashioncirqle.com

Sonakshi Sinha – Oh girl, why you so pretty?

 

Outlook on Quarter 2

So as we go on to Quarter 2, here is what to watch out for – sync those diaries up now yo….

2 States – Yes, I know – Chetan Bhagat is a chump etc. But I read this when on vacay in India in 2010 and thought it would make a good film (shut up, that is a valid reason to watch it). Plus Alia and Arjun were both good respectively in Highway and Gunday. Plus it’s a Dharma production and I need ideas for wedding season so I’ll be watching this.

Revolver Rani – K-Ran with a gun and queen in the title. Anyone who is not planning on watching this should just go live with Taz Uncle in his lair  paid for by his reviews of dhoom of doom and make his jelabis and tea for him. Cannot. Wait. For. This.

Dawaat-E-Ishq – This looks like it will have silly marketing phrases  but the cast are likeable and I love Urdu titles so I’m going to commit to this one.

Ungli – Great cast, this is either going to be a hot mess or a damn good film – here’s hoping for the latter.

The Villain/ Creature 3D – Ridiculous titles and ridiculously hot cast members. Let’s hope Sid doesn’t dance in Villain and gives washboard stomach inspiration once more instead. We’ll pretend Ritesh isn’t there (get chopping Censor Board!)

No Villain image available so guess I'll have to use this placeholder... Courtesy: www.ibnlive.in.com

No Villain image available so guess I’ll have to use this placeholder… Courtesy: http://www.ibnlive.in.com

Meanwhile, Creature has Bipasha Basu in 3D  and is from the Bhatts (so awesome soundtrack/minimal wardrobe assured)- that’s all anyone needs to know and quite frankly, I would have funded this film myself had I been aware of the Kickstarter campaign for it.

And that’s your lot for this quarterly – feel free to chime in with your thoughts below!

Queen

Sometimes, you’ll read about people saying that their creative efforts take on a life of their own after they leave the production process and enter the general realm of consciousness . Queen is one of those magical films. It was a struggle trying to find a legitimate means of watching this film thanks to an unexplained limited release but I am very glad I made the effort to see it for Queen is one of those films that has turned up at the right place at the right time for me. Both entertaining and inspiring, the journey Rani undertakes in the film had me laughing, cringing and rooting for her throughout and very satisfied when we are left wanting to know more not just about what happens to Rani next but all the other characters too.

It is rather impressive how Bahl creates a likeable ensemble and allows everyone to shine without letting one element overwhelm the whole film. Furthermore, I liked how Queen works on lots of different levels – whether it is a small moment captured here and there or the bigger picture where Rani learns something new about herself, this is one film with plenty of repeat viewing value. Writing this a few days after seeing it, I had initially thought there were a few wobbly moments but on reflection, none immediately come to mind as in my mind, the good ultimately overpowers any perceived flaws.

Without a doubt, this is a career best from Kangana – whilst we know she can play the small town girl well, the mark of a great performer is the ability to play a character similar to one that is closely associated with their persona but to reinvent it so that the portrayal is at once fresh and immediate – something Kangana pulls off with elaan. Also to be commended are Lisa Haydon’s delightfully bohemian Vijaylaxmi (who steals the show at times) and the trio of non-Indian actors in the Amsterdam portion who are understated but stand out for all the right reasons.

Without a doubt, Queen is a must see film and very deserving of the love and support it has received upon release. Indeed, the success of the film both critically and commercially bodes well for everyone as this is the kind of film I would like to see more of – a film that can challenge conventions of the genre, allow its audience to get emotionally involved (and keep them connected to proceedings) and above all, be entertaining. It takes a special kind of film to make multitasking seem easy but as I previously mentioned, Queen has a individual spirit of its own that permeates every frame and encourages the viewer to join in. One of the best of 2014 so far and certainly my favourite by a long way too.

Gulaab Gang

images

There is always a guaranteed frisson of excitement anytime two talented female actors are on screen and Gulaab Gang (GG) does not fail in this respect. Just take the first time Madhuri and Juhi meet on screen to see the power this film has in its hands; carefully creating a delightful cat and mouse power play which is steered carefully and is satisfying to watch. Sadly, it seems power corrupts or in this case overwhelms the weak screenplay so that what should have been an edge of the seat political thriller becomes an everything to everyone vehicle which ultimately ends up pleasing no one.

This is a shame as GG could have been so much more – from illiteracy to corruption, there is a huge range of subjects that are skimmed over and one wishes the screenplay had either picked one area and explored it fully or better still,  entirely focused on Rajjo and Sumitra’s respective journeys as these are two formidable characters who are at once similar and different. It has to be said, the better parts of the film are when out of nowhere, everything comes together and hits the right chord. Sadly, the songs and action seem out of place with the former jarring the momentum and the latter more a concession to what the screenplay supposes the box office wants.

In terms of performance, I felt Madhuri was disconnected from Rajjo – though she is perfunctory and gives great dialogue delivery, it is only in the physical scenes like dancing and fighting where Madhuri really becomes at one with Rajjo. Meanwhile, Juhi delivers a career best as the politician who has nothing to redeem her heartless actions but thanks to Juhi’s controlled account, is very watchable and even adds an element of likeability with a determined and rather persuasive effort. Both also excel in joint scenes where the energy is off the charts – if only the director had been able to contain and channel this, GG would have been a classic.

Even though GG misses the mark, it has a spirit and intent that is to be applauded and encouraged – we need more films like this with interesting female protagonists who do not need a hero in the film to validate their intentions or journeys and give scope for entertainment and inspiration. Furthermore, bringing Madhuri and Juhi together in one film is one pairing which still needs plenty more exploring and hopefully will pave the way for lots more actress collaborations which in turn will lead to some very watchable films being made. Not to be dismissed outright, give GG a watch in support of the tide turning for a new and interesting chapter in Hindi cinema.

Highway

I’ll admit that when it comes to an Imtiaz Ali film, I find it hard to be objective. Because to me, all of his work seems to make perfect sense in terms of what he wants to say, satisfies the critic and film fan within and always turns out to be more than a one time watch. And pleasingly, Highway is no exception to this rule; now that we are familiar with Ali’s visual vocabulary and aware of what he is capable of, it only seems fair that he is able to experiment and let his creativity run wild, creating an accomplished piece of work in the process.

Yes, there are flaws but there is too much good to see here to dwell on the negative – whether  it is the story of Veera and Mahabir, the beautiful cinematography that makes the viewer feel like they are on a road trip or even the sound design which has a narrative of its own – each layer is rich and thoughtfully crafted and certainly merits a few viewings to get the intended effect. Rahman’s spellbinding music is the perfect companion on the journey which takes the audience to a different world, especially in the second half.

I was also wowed by the two lead performances – Hooda is superb as Mahabir, with every growl and grimace pitch perfect. Even in the more emotional scenes, Hooda is firmly entrenched in character and never once drops the energy nor demeanor he carefully builds up – certainly a career best. Similarly, Bhatt is a revelation as Veera, giving her a rawness and fragility but also a likeability – I didn’t find her annoying and have to commend her for putting herself out of her comfort zone and largely succeeding in the risk she takes with such an interesting role.

Needless to say, Highway is one of those wonderful films that only come once every often and does not really allow indifference as a reaction – you will either love it or hate it. I obviously loved it and cannot wait to watch it again which I rarely want to do with most films. Highway also cements Ali’s reputation as one of the finest directors working in Hindi cinema today – this is a film I would be proud to show to any film lover and sincerely hope it finds the appreciative and encouraging audience that it truly deserves.

Destined to be one of the best films of 2014 and perhaps beyond – unmissable.

Gunday

So, at some point in time, the 80′s popped round to the YRF office for some macaroons and a latte (samosa and chai?Bitch, please) and Gunday was conceived. But it has to be said, this bursting at the seams homo-erotic homage to bromance and masala cinema entertains with a cracking chemistry, a devil may care drive and some very confused references all round. Best watched without applying too much logic (until instructed – a helpful guide is when shirts are buttoned up to hide oiled up heaving torsos), Gunday really takes its steam train motif powered by coal to the end of the line, with more concern for its destination than the journey itself.

Having said that, there is something very watchable about Gunday and this is largely down to the bromance between Singh and Kapoor which has a magnetism and intensity but seeks to include the audience rather than exclude. Whilst there are some clumsy stumbles  and silly twists in the screenplay and characterisation, these are soon forgotten as the next station of action/song/man bonding quickly takes centre stage and engulfs the viewer so that the moment might be lost but the momentum never is. I also have to praise the costume design which is incredibly distracting in a good way – that large canvas has to be filled somehow!

Performance wise, Kapoor and Singh play off each other’s energies very well with Singh’s physical posturing neatly synced with Kapoor’s more deranged and calculated composure. Both embrace their roles with attack and have a bloody good time mouthing quotable dialogues and grappling one another at regular intervals. Chopra is very watchable and shines in the songs and the few scenes she is allotted. I did feel that Khan and Chopra were under utilised and both sensibly underplay their roles, aware that they are but second fiddle to the true star of the show – the bromance.

Whilst I would have liked more grit and darkness in Gunday (yup, all those coal mine set ups were not enough for me), it is still a very enjoyable watch and manages to avoid melting into a hot mess. With the bromantic genre heavily oversubscribed to, Gunday needed to bring something to differentiate itself and it does in form of making the central relationship feel modern and approachable. When viewed as an affectionate tribute to the masala cinema that burned with anger at injustice and acted as an extended escape from misery, Gunday does no harm with anyone and is probably best watched with that mindset. Not exactly unmissable but not one to avoid or ignore either.

Hasee Toh Phasee

Well, wrap me up in an ombre chiffon sequin sari designed by Manish and call me Anjali; I was all ready to rip Hasee Toh Phasee (HTP) to pieces of sushi and bitch it down to Bitch Town. Then, like most of the best laid plans, I actually went to the cinema, laughed and was ensnared by the charm the film exudes. Ignore the misleading marketing (even though that is what drove me to see HTP in the first place – oops) and give this indie-sensibilities-masquerading-as-mulitplex-fodder-rom-com a chance. For it is not all soft lighting and thumping soundtrack as one would expect but some rather deep themes like coping with depression, not fitting in with the world and escaping reality.

Of course there are some unnecessary wobbles where the screenplay could be rewritten or refined to help rather than hamper the flow that is built up but in some cases, I actually liked that HTP goes to a dark place and then returns to the vicinity of its comfort zone – the flaws are more a matter of curation rather than a lack of creativity which is not a bad problem to have. The film does manage to be a successful marriage between Dharma and Phantom – there is definitely a raw and unpolished element amongst all the shiny modern iPhones and Puma endorsement deal palooza that is very watchable.

Performance wise, I was incredibly surprised at Siddharth’s performance – at first it does seem stilted and uncertain but soon gets more likeable and one can see how his acting improves as his confidence does (though let’s stop making him dance). I really liked Parineeti’s performance too which is just the right side of kooky – she really does forge a lovely connection with misfit Meeta and gives her an intelligence and likeability that endears Nikhil and the audience to root for her. The supporting cast are marvellous too with the Indian Idol reject stealing every scene he is in.

Courtesy: www.ibnlive.in.com

Courtesy: http://www.ibnlive.in.com – Because no rom-com is complete without pecs and a six pack.

It is interesting how many Hindi rom coms try to claim they are different from the usual glut of nonsense we receive but HTP certainly does have something to it – whether it is the fact that it does not try to imitate what it thinks the rom com genre is but just goes with the flow and creates its own niche seemingly effortlessly or just that it managed to confound my expectation in a, er, unexpected way, I would recommend HTP.  Whilst I understand the film was pitched to us all as being another Ek Main Aur Ek Tuu or Gori Tere Pyaar Mein, it is something that neither of these films were – rather good and successful in its mission. Definitely worth a watch, though remember (and a potential *SPOILER ALERT* – once you laugh, you are ensnared…

59th Filmfare Awards – Snarkado 2014!

Before I begin the annual snarkado, let’s all gather round the fireplace and take a moment to remember when awards actually meant something – when the Best Film was not the one with the biggest marketing budget, when the Best Actor was not the one who had thrown the biggest diva strop backstage and when nominees for Best Director actually rolled up to a formal awards function in something smarter than ill-fitting jeans and chappals whilst their wives/girlfriends stood beside them looking all dressed up with nowhere to go.

Your wife looks amazing...while you phone it in.

Your wife looks amazing…while you phone it in. (Courtesy: http://www.oneindia.in)

Remember those days? No, nor do I.

For it seems awards have lost their value and any real joy comes from watching someone like Salman Khan or Suresh Grover being let loose and rustling an ego or two in the audience or just the awkwardness central when two people who mutually loathe one another are “accidentally” seated together. So why even bother with a snark fest over the Filmfare Awards this year I hear you ask?  (Yes, I can read your mind dear reader).

That's Suresh Grover, also known as Gutthi. (Courtesy: www.newindianexpress.com

BTW -this is Suresh Grover, also known as Gutthi. (Courtesy: http://www.newindianexpress.com)

Well, the Filmfare Awards were the ONE award function that I always looked forward to the most. Getting that awards issue magazine was a treat and in later years, getting hold of a recording of the ceremony was an interesting exercise of calling in favours. Fast forward to aaj kal (nowadays) and pictures, tweets declaring the winners and pointless gossip (“International standards yo – everyone turned up on time!” – shouldn’t they all be punctual anyway?) are available online before the ceremony has even ended.

It also seems a foregone conclusion as to who will win – if it made 100 crore at the box office, however tenuous the link may be, it will win at least one award so that marketing teams  can assure themselves that they are far more important than any content. (Horror of horror breaking news – this could even include Grand Masti – gulp!)

Best door stopper EVER. (Courtesy: www.pinkvilla.com)

Best door stopper EVER. (Courtesy: http://www.pinkvilla.com)

But Filmfare have promised a different kind of ceremony this year (no doubt inspired by the Oscars and Golden Globes) with a 3D award (WTF) and Priyanka Chopra and Ranbir Kapoor hosting the event. At this stage, where I can only differentiate award ceremonies by what international standard holy-backless-awesomeness ensemble Deepika Padukone is wearing (not to mention smacking my forehead repeatedly at Ameesha Patel’s inevitable too tight too short combo), any sort of change is welcome, but as I am rather picky, here is my wish list of what I would like popular Hindi film award ceremonies in India to prominently stand for:

(a) To bring back some sort of value and credibility to the awards – reward the talent yo!

(b) A drastic improvement in the numbers enacted by the stars in the ceremony – lip synching and shuffling about to hit songs is all well and good but we want innovative and inspiring LIVE performances, not dancing karaoke sponsored by household cleaning products

(c) Instead of a truncated sequence for telecast, actually show the technical awards being awarded by prominent and popular stars (for instance SRK + DPad gifting Best Sound Design perhaps?), and give due respect by allowing those who may not have 1 million followers on Twitter having their acceptance speeches heard in full

(d) Cut down on bullshitting and jokes that no one outside the sub continent gets for a straight up 90 minute (max 2 hour) ceremony

(e) Everyone making an effort from head to toe –MEN and women, dressed properly. Plus we want an E! style Mani-cam and we want it now so palmologists can also join the fray.

More than a bit puritan I know but I certainly feel these measures would help the awards rediscover that lost fierce (are you listening Filmfare? I am crying. #sunrahoonmain)

Anyway, staying on the soapbox, here are the nominees for the 59th Filmfare Awards with a short summary on who I want to win and who I think will probably win.

 

BEST FILM
Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
Chennai Express
Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-leela
Raanjhanaa
Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani

Worth leaving the acrobat for I’d say. (Courtesy: http://www.glamsham.com)

Who I Want To Win: Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani. For those creating a commotion at the back, pipe down bitches. The reason I picked YHJD is that in my not so humble opinion, it doesn’t suffer the curse of the second half (or just the curse of being crap which “expressly” applies to one of the nominees) and as a film, as a whole entire being, worked well for me. The others all had good elements but overall were not consistent throughout and their weaknesses were more pronounced.

Who Will Win: YHJD had a massive marketing budget and the Best Film award might be part of a package deal (yeah I said it) but with Chennai Express making the most money in this category, YJHD might be sobbing into its sequins. But no surprise if poor Milkha is pipped to the post by the fast train whilst Ram Leela and Raanjhanaa go play holi to absolve their sorrows.

BEST DIRECTOR
Aanand L Rai – Raanjhanaa
Abhishek Kapoor – Kai Po Che
Ayan Mukerji – Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani
Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra – Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
Rohit Shetty – Chennai Express
Sanjay Leela Bhansali – Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-leela

Even in a still, Dhanush brings motion. Props. (Courtesy of http://www.glamsham.com)

Who I Want To Win: I would like Aanand L Rai to win as I liked the way he, er, directed his film. For me, the proof is how it stands up to repeat viewings and seems to realise its creative vision quite fully. Plus his ability to present the delightful Dhanush so wonderfully also bodes well in my circles. I won’t hate any on any of the others if they get it though – yes, Rohit Shetty, I will not rain dance on your hot mess parade.

Who Will Win: Rohit Shetty – money talks yo unless everyone feels snobby in which case Mehra will run past the finish line first (on an unrelated tangent, nice to see how this group of nominees has infinite pun/extended metaphor potential – a “silver lining” of sorts…[smirks])

BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE (MALE)
Dhanush – Raanjhanaa
Farhan Akhtar – Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
Hrithik Roshan – Krrish 3
Ranbir Kapoor – Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani
Ranveer Singh – Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-leela
Shah Rukh Khan – Chennai Express

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That’s right Dhanush, take a load off and smile, you deserve to win! (Courtesy: http://www.glamsham.com)

Who I Want To Win: Right, grievances first. Why didn’t Ranveer get a nomination for Lootera instead? He can do the whole ADD Romeo with a dandruff problem act in his sleep but doing a tribute to Valium as a smartie pants with tamed hair was harder for him. And even though he can do it in his sleep, Irrfaan should be in there for The Lunchbox (haters can go eat some food from a tiffin, it WAS one of the best films of last year, deal with it).

Praise also be to his staunch principles (stay awake now!)  that Aamir wasn’t included (and to think he wouldn’t even have to pay for the award – Dhoom 3 made so much money even that American cop girl could have had an award if her agent took YRF off Call Blocker). Anyway, I say Dhanush deserves this for a  marvellous performance and to cause a major upset at office sweepstakes everywhere. Failing that, Ranveer over Farhan – Naseeruddin Shah has a point.

Who Will Win: This is has got Farhan’s name perspiring all over it – the man must have avoided chocolate and cake for a year to get that body. In the game of Abs, Crores and Item Numbers (the filmi Rock Paper and Scissors – do you lot know anything?), Abs beat Crores but combined, they beat everything – even the fast money train.

BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE (FEMALE)
Deepika Padukone – Chennai Express
Deepika Padukone – Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-leela
Parineeti Chopra – Shuddh Desi Romance
Shraddha Kapoor – Aashiqui 2
Sonakshi Sinha- Lootera
Sonam Kapoor – Raanjhanaa

Yes, this is a still from her worst film this year but she still rocked. BEST. (Courtesy: http://www.glamsham.com)

Who I Want To Win: First off, props for not giving Kareena, Priyanka  or Katrina a look in here – that’s more like it. But then there is Sonam [smacks head with oversized designer bag du jour]. But at time of writing, Sonam may not be attending (because she won’t win).. Only one winner here – Deepika, Deepika and Deepika. Oh and Deepika and Deepika.  Honourable mentions go to Parineeti Chopra (wait, did the selectors think she was Priyanka? Major besharam if so!) and Sonakshi who both deserved nods for their efforts.

Who Will Win: Deepika – a rare confluence of critics, popular opinion and the industry all singing in Lata Mangeshkar nightingale harmony on this one. Also how superstars are born. Take note those who turn up late for an audition to join the circus!

BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE (MALE )
Aditya Roy Kapur – Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani
Anupam Kher – Special 26
Nawazuddin Siddiqui – The Lunchbox
Pankaj Kapur – Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola
Rajkumar Rao – Kai Po Che
Vivek Oberoi – Krrish 3

Yes, it is Bombay Talkies in the picture but same person - duh!

Yes, it is Bombay Talkies in the picture but same person – duh! (Courtesy: http://www.glamsham.com)

Who I Want To Win: First off, was Vivek Oberoi acting in Krrish 3? I thought that was upscaled footage from a reality show (Oscillating With The Oberois anyone?). Damn.  Otherwise, this is a stellar category and esteemed company to be in. I would give it to Nawazuddin because he was superb and was more a parallel lead than supporting act in my opinion.

Who Will Win: Anupam Kher might get this which wouldn’t be a bad thing or otherwise it is Aditya Roy Kapur as no doubt Filmfare need to pop him on the cover every two weeks and “supporting” him at this stage is a smart move and will keep the Dharma refund qualms at bay.

BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE (FEMALE )
Divya Dutta – Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
Kalki Koechlin – Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani
Konkona Sen Sharma – Ek Thi Daayan
Supriya Pathak Kapur – Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-leela
Swara Bhaskar  – Raanjhanaa

I should KoKo... (Courtesy: www.glamsham.com)

I should KoKo… (Courtesy: http://www.glamsham.com)

Who I Want To Win: This is the only category where I like all the nominees without exception. The only problem I have is the exclusion Kangana Ranut for Krrish 3 which seems pretty obvious, (Krrish 3 probs “forgot” to contribute to the Filmfare shareholder kitty party – with 500 crore comes a lot of responsibility). For me, it would be Konkona or Swara who should take this home as both went beyond their remit and created characters that were real and conspicuous by their absence when not featured in the film. But in all honesty, for my money, this is the most credible category this year.

Who Will Win: Diyva Dutta for BMB as that was a superb performance and in general, her body of work is always varied and engaging so she deserves a boost in her asking price that such an award can command.

BEST MUSIC
Amit Trivedi – Lootera
Ankit Tiwari, Mithoon and Jeet Ganguly – Aashiqui 2
AR Rahman – Raanjhanaa
Pritam – Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani
Sanjay Leela Bhansali – Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-leela
Vishal-Shekhar – Chennai Express

Old wine in a new bottle…we’ll take a crate. (Courtesy: http://www.glamsham.com)

Who I Want To Win: Tough category with so many excellent soundtracks. Personally, the multiplex ho in me says YJHD, the snob says Ranjhanaa and the bank manager of the ceremony says Chennai Express. I’ll go with YJHD because that soundtrack has been rinsed more than sheet at a dhobi and still sounds good. Plus it gave good range y’all.

Who Will Win: Chennai Express if it hasn’t won anything else by this point. Otherwise Aashiqui 2 to prove Uncle Filmfare is relevant to Youngistan and super hip and not remotely being pushed by a music producer behemoth who won’t pay the balance unless awards are awarded as kindly stated in legal notice.

BEST LYRICS
Amitabh Bhattacharya – Shikayatein – Lootera
Amitabh Bhattacharya  – Kabira – Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani
Mithoon – Tum hi ho – Aashiqui 2
Prasoon Joshi  – Zinda – Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
Swanand Kirkire – Manja – Kai Po Che

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Sorry D-Pad, you won’t get to take this one home as it goes to the Dharma office cabinet but plenty more coming your way! (Courtesy: http://www.glamsham.com)

Who I Want To Win: Straight up jugal bandi between Kabira and Tum Hi Ho for me with the former having had more air time on my iPod than the latter. Tum Hi Ho is a fab track but Kabira has more sing-a-long verses and for this reason alone, in my book, should win.

Who Will Win: Kabira or Tum Hi Ho with Zinda in the outside lane.

BEST PLAYBACK SINGER (MALE)
Amit Trivedi – Manja-  Kai Po Che
Ankit Tiwari – Sunn raha hai na tu – Aashiqui 2
Arijit Singh – Tum hi ho – Aashiqui 2
Benny Dayal – Badtameez dil – Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani
Siddharth Mahadevan – Zinda – Bhaag Milkha Bhaag

Because an umbrella would kill the mood. (Courtesy: www.wikipedia.org)

Because an umbrella would kill the mood. (Courtesy: http://www.wikipedia.org)

Who I Want To Win: Aashiqui 2 has this in the bag as both renditions  of both songs were superb – I’m going to dodge this like an awkward Rapid Fire round question and give both Singh and Tiwari a joint award as I can’t decide between the two.

Who Will Win: Siddharth Mahadevan as everyone tries to make out they are so hipster and all listening to the alternative option in hot pants rather than grooving in a tracksuit to the chartbusters. Yawn (at the pretenders that is – Mahadevan sang quite well).

BEST PLAYBACK SINGER (FEMALE)
Chinmayi – Titli – Chennai Express
Monali Thakur – Sawar loon – Lootera
Shalmali Kholgade – Balam pichkari – Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani
Shreya Ghoshal – Sunn raha hai – Aashiqui 2
Shreya Ghoshal -  Nagada – Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-leela

Wrong song image, right movie. (Courtesy: www.glamsham.com)

Wrong song image, right movie. (Courtesy: http://www.glamsham.com)

Who I Want To Win: Is Shreya Ghoshal the new Alka Yagnik? Just putting it out there. In any case, she didn’t do it for me in those songs, the picturisation and other paraphernalia did instead. Chinmayi sounded beautiful in Titli (the only high point for me in the train film) and Thakur in Lootera was also a joy. But I got to give this to the husky Kholgade who made last year’s earworm so likeable and throwing in that touch of throatiness in what should have been smooth as silk with a sequin border autocue heaven – I do love a rebel.

Who Will Win: Shreya Ghoshal for Ram Leela or Aashiqui 2 – Uncle Filmfare tends to treat this category as an afterthought (yup, I am still butt hurting for Harshdeep Kaur not being included for Heer from Jab Tak Hai Jaan last year) and this award is a  diplomacy masterstroke way of mollifying big films that did pay up on time and didn’t get the award they wanted. At least they didn’t go home empty handed, na? #desietiquette

So, do you agree or disagree?

You can comment (for free I hasten to add!) or join in the debate on Twitter using the hashtag #snarkado2014

I’m off to hide in Uncle Taz’s lair (see here and here to get the joke), don’t forget you’ll be able to watch the awards on telecast and follow the action on Filmfare’s social media platforms. See you on the front row!