2014 saw a spate of Hindi films that explored uncomfortable realities like never before. Neeraj Pandey's 'Baby' continues the trend with its anti-terror theme...
Four years ago, Vidya Balan's character in 'The Dirty Picture' repeated the word 'entertainment' thrice to make a point. She might have been right given the high grab-as-many-eyeballs-as-possible quotient Hindi film industry mostly adheres to, but movies aren't just about entertainment.
Akshay Kumar plays an counter-intelligence agent in Baby
More often than not, they are trying to say something new. And it would be unfair to state that Bollywood hasn't tried to contribute to meaningful cinema. In fact, as a recent trend, we are witnessing a rise of scripts that aren't afraid to tackle sensitive issues, without any hint of hypocrisy. As a resulting course of action, some cringeworthy facts pertaining to our society — and by extension, country — are being highlighted by movies too.
In Imtiaz Ali's 'Highway', Alia Bhatt played a teenager who seeks freedom from her past by not giving in to her future. The road journey tackled several issues without confronting the perpetrators
Neeraj Pandey's 'Baby' read review, which hits the marquee today, has set the tone for similar films in 2015. The director, who has sharply-cut films like 'A Wednesday' (2008) and 'Special 26' (2013) to his credit, takes his unique reputation a notch higher with the Akshay Kumar-starrer throwing diplomacy out of the window and grabbing terrorism by its neck, once again — and successfully so. hitlist points out some of the 2014 releases that didn't hesitate to call a spade a spade.
Director: Imtiaz Ali
Lowdown: When Alia Bhatt's juvenile Veera hugs Randeep Hooda's thuggish Mahabir, who happens to be her kidnapper, the storyline attains an emotional peak. Before that happens, she reveals to him — devoid of the obligatory background score — a childhood marked by constant sexual abuse by her uncle. With this scene, the otherwise unspoken dirty secrets of an affluent family received an outlet.
Director: Anurag Kashyap
Lowdown: One can't take away the credit Mumbai Police has earned for their effectiveness over the years, but at the same time, anybody who has been to a police station in the city would know how unfriendly cops can be. The 17-minute long scene in this film — featuring Girish Kulkarni, Rahul Bhat and Vineet Kumar — portrayed the harassment that the aam janta suffers in the name of bureaucracy.
Director: Rajkumar Hirani
Lowdown: Many critics pointed out this film's resemblance with 'OMG! Oh my God' (2012) in terms of structure, but what this blockbuster managed to do was stitch social norms with religious obscurantism. It showed how people were willing to do anything in the name of faith — even fellow humans — just because they couldn't come to terms with the commercial realities of a given godman.
Director: Ashim Ahluwalia
Lowdown: Somewhere much beyond the glitzy glam world of Bollywood lies a not-so-wanted world of C-grade movies. It doesn't spend much on P&A — even today. And it took an independent effort to throw light on its rise. Besides, the film has resonance with the past when sleazy films disguised as horror films were an underbelly fad in 'Bombay' of the '80s.
Director: Sandeep A. Varma
Lowdown: Since the turn of the 21st century, Hindi films have consciously attempted to show bureaucratic corruption prevalent in the country. However, this film, based on a true story about an officer's fight against wrongdoings gave us a peek into what really goes on. And in doing so, the film also raised several uncomfortable questions about inequality and disparity.
Director: Vishal Bhardwaj
Lowdown: Kashmir, for poetic reasons, remains a land of beauty as well as grief as far as Hindi films are concerned. But never before did a mainstream movie manage to strike a chord with the uncomfortable events of the '90s. And while it was at it, it also subtly conveyed the iniquities that the Army is responsible for and how misguided youths can harm their loved ones.
'Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain'
Director: Ravi Kumar
Lowdown: The fact that the worst industrial disaster of all time took about three decades to inspire a hard-hitting mainstream film is a matter of subdued shame but it's always better late than never. This international film featuring seasonsed actors from India as well as the USA asks tough questions while throwing light on — and bricks at, if you may — matters related to the chemical tragedy.
Director: Pradeep Sarkar
Lowdown: 2014 witnessed femme power at the box office with quite a few women-centric releases. And this one starring Rani Mukerji delved into the dark world of flesh trade wherein young girls are kidnapped and sold to their bidders. The violent karmic climax notwithstanding, the main plot pointed towards dynamics relating more to economics than to moral codes.
'Ekkees Toppon Ki Salaami'
Director: Ravindra Gautam
Lowdown: Satires mostly are a blink-and-miss genre but this one wasn't that. One of the main reasons why it managed to remain memorable is because it took on an unjust system without a vendetta. In the meantime, it showed how even the sincerest of government officials can err at times, while the vilest of politicians can be mindnumbingly stupid. The discomfort a common citizen has to face to win justice was the highlight of this film.