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Best of 2020: Hindi films and series

The year has proven to be a rather interesting year for the Hindi entertainment industry. At a time when Covid-19 forced the human population at large to spend the majority of its time indoors, the different OTT platforms came to the rescue. Here are some of the most outstanding Hindi films/series along with the best acting performances this year.

Murtaza Ali Khan

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BEST FILMS

1. EEB ALLAY OOO

This atmospheric satire by Prateek Vats highlights the problem of monkey menace in Delhi. The film is superbly crafted, wonderfully shot, and cleverly edited, oozing with cinematic flair and powerful socio-political commentary.

2. BHONSLE

Bhonsle, directed by Devashish Makhija, tells the story of a retired Marathi sub-inspector named Ganpath Bhonsle (essayed by Manoj Bajpayee) who becomes a witness to the atrocities that the Bihari migrants living in a locality are subjected to. Makhija’s gritty direction and Bajpayee’s tour de force performance make Bhonsle an unforgettable experience.

3. TAISH

Set in the UK, Taish (film) revolves around a family of gangsters and a family of doctors. It’s essentially a tale of friendship, betrayal, love, and revenge. People look up to Hollywood when it comes to the depiction of raw and gritty action. But what Bejoy Nambiar achieves in Taish is no mean feat.

4. DOOR KE DARSHAN

Directed by Gagan Puri, Door Ke Darshan is a laugh riot. But it is also a sensitive film about the complexity of relationships. It revolves around an elderly lady (played by Dolly Ahluwalia) who has been in a coma for the last 30 years. When she suddenly regains consciousness her family must do everything to avoid giving her any shock.

5. CLASS OF ‘83

Class of ’83, directed by Atul Sabharwal, follows the heroics and follies of encounter specialists who have been credited with bringing back the rule of law in Mumbai. Sabharwal’s direction along with his research work makes Class of ’83 a gritty cop thriller with immaculate period detail.

Honourable Mentions: Thappad, Serious Men, Chintu Ka Birthday, Nirvana Inn, and Yeh Ballet

BEST PERFORMANCES

BEST ACTORS: FEMALE

1. TAAPSEE PANNU (THAPPAD)

Taapsee Pannu is known for her earnest performances but what she achieves in Anubhav Sinha’s Thappad is truly remarkable. Her facial expressions, body movements, and the inner pain and resolve emoted through her eyes make it a truly memorable performance.

2. MANISHA KOIRALA (MASKA)

Manisha Koirala’s portrayal of a Parsi mother is easily the best thing about Neeraj Udhwani’s Maska. But, it’s no surprise to see her essay the character of a Parsi so well. For, she has excelled at playing an array of diverse characters in the past as well.

3. SANJEEDA SHEIKH (TAISH)

Sanjeeda Sheikh delivers a mesmerising performance in Taish. The chemistry she shares with Harshvardhan Rane is electrifying. It’s difficult to take one’s eyes off her every time she appears on the screen.

4. SAIYAMI KHER (CHOKED)

While Choked may not be an exceptional film, Saiyami Kher is superb in the role of a singer who is forced to take a job at a bank after she fails to win a reality shown. While she deserves a lot of credit for making the character so believable, Anurag Kashyap also needs to be commended for his ability to get the best out of his actors.

5. YAMI GAUTAM (GINNY WEDS SUNNY)

While Ginny Weds Sunny is a forgettable film, Yami Gautam’s performance in it is like a breath of fresh air. It’s heartening to see her trying hard to break out of her girl next door image.

Honourable Mentions: Vidya Balan (Shakuntala Devi), Female cast members of Door Ke Darshan, and Janhavi Kapoor (Gunjan Saxena).

BEST ACTORS: MALE (FILM)

1. MANOJ BAJPAYEE (BHONSLE)

Over the years we have seen Manoj Bajpayee deliver several memorable performances but his aforementioned performance in Bhonsle which ends with him exploding like only he can is easily one of his finest. It’s deeply nuanced and power-packed at the same time.

2. ADIL HUSSAIN (NIRVANA INN)

Adil Hussain’s portrayal of a man caught in a Kafkaesque nightmare is so well measured that he doesn’t miss a note despite the challenges posed by the narrative’s constant tonal shifts. 

3. HARSHVARDHAN RANE (TAISH)

The raging gangster Pali Brar in Bejoy Nambiar’s Taish is a powerhouse role and Harshvardhan Rane immortalises it by delivering the best performance of his career thus far. Rane brilliantly channelises Brar’s self-destructive drives.

4. SAIF ALI KHAN (TANHAJI)

Om Raut’s Tanhaji  has a very dark character pitted against its hero Tanhaji. The character is essayed with menacing brilliance by Saif Ali Khan who is always at home playing these villainous characters.

5. BOBBY DEOL (CLASS OF ‘83)

In Atul Sabharwal’s Class of ’83, Bobby Deol packs a strong punch playing a no-nonsense cop who decides to take revenge against the corrupt bureaucracy and its criminal allies by training five encounter specialists. It’s easily the finest performance of Bobby Deol.

Honourable Mentions: Amitabh Bachchan (Gulabo Sitabo), Nawazuddin Siddiqui (Serious Men), and Vinay Pathak (Chintu Ka Birthday),

BEST SERIES

1. SCAM 1992: THE HARSHAD MEHTA STORY

Helmed by Hansal Mehta, it tells the story of the rise and fall of Harshad Mehta. Hansal Mehta’s has been a rare voice in the country that seems to have taken interest in documenting real-life characters, and actual events through his films. With the series, Mehta has further boosted his reputation as a cinematic storyteller working in the vein of Oliver Stone.

2. SPECIAL OPS AND PATAAL LOK

Created by Neeraj Pandey, Special OPS is made in the vein of slow-burning espionage thrillers made famous by the works of John le Carré. The series has a vast panoply of characters, including bureaucrats, politicians, cops, soldiers, spies, terrorists, brokers, hackers, and terrorists, with many subplots spread across two decades.  The series Pataal Lok is marked by constant tonal changes. It revolves around a washed-out cop Hathiram Chaudhary (essayed by Jaideep Ahlawat).

3. CHURAILS

Churails has been one of the biggest surprises of the year. Written and directed by Asim Abbas, a British-Pakistani filmmaker, the series features a Pakistani ensemble cast. Churails follows a group of women from Karachi who run a detective agency to expose the city’s unfaithful, elite husbands.

4. FLESH AND PANCHAYAT

This Danish Aslam-directed series stars Swara Bhaskar in the role of a female police officer. While it is certainly not easy to watch for the faint-hearted, there is no denying that Flesh is an earnest attempt to portray the stark reality of human trafficking.

Panchayat offers an alluring sneak-peek into rural India. The simplicity of village folk and how it ends up creating unnecessary complications in the life of the protagonist is a recurring motif in the series. The light-hearted show benefits from some clever writing and brilliant performances.

5. Aashram (Chapter 1&2)

Helmed by Prakash Jha, this series follows a self-styled god-man named Nirmal Baba, essayed by Bobby Deol. It is a great return to form for the director. Jha, who has tried to tackle the issue of casteism throughout his career, uses Aashram to take us to the very heart of discrimination.

Honourable Mentions: Asur, Bandish Bandits, Mirzapur 2, JL 50, and Afsos.

BEST PERFORMANCES (SERIES)

BEST ACTORS: FEMALE (SERIES)

1. SWARA BHASKAR (FLESH)

Swara Bhaskar portrays the part of ACP Radha Nautiyal in Flesh with scalpel-like precision. Nautiyal is an insomniac and a hard-drinking police officer with a troubled past. As part of her job, she gets pitted against the basest criminals, day in and day out, as she tries to unravel a web of immorality, cruelty, and corruption.

2. SUSHMITA SEN (AARYA)

Sushimta Sen has impressed everyone with her performance in Aarya and there is no denying that she is brilliant in the titular role. It’s heartening to see her essay such a gritty part in a web series.

3. SHWETA TRIPATHI (MIRZAPUR 2)

Shweta Tripathi’s complex portrayal of Gajgamini “Golu” Gupta in Mirzapur 2 is a major highlight of the season. It’s amazing to see her transformation from the first season.

4. AADITI POHANKAR (AASHRAM CHAPTER 1 & 2)

Aaditi Pohankar’s portrayal of Pammi, a girl belonging to a backward caste, who aspires to be a wrestler, is one of the highlights of the show. It’s a demanding part but Pohankar matches it with a courageous and meaty performance.

5. NEHA SHARMA (ILLEGAL)

The legal drama series Illegal by Sahir Raza follows a young lawyer who is tricked by the big shot lawyer heading her firm into defending a rapist. Neha Sharma shows just the right amount of vulnerability that the part requires.

Honourable Mentions: Sheeba Chaddha (Bandish Bandits), Female cast members of Churails and Female cast of Four More Shot Please (Season 2).

BEST ACTORS: MALE (SERIES)

1. KAY KAY MENON (SPECIAL OPS)

In Special OPS, Kay Kay Menon essays Himmat Singh to a T. He may remind some of John le Carré’s iconic George Smiley. Like Smiley, Singh first comes across as innocuously polite, unassuming, and someone you don’t easily feel threatened by. Menon’s multilayered performance is a reminder of his remarkable range as an actor.

2. JAIDEEP AHALAWAT (PATAAL LOK)

Jaideep Ahalawat who has been on a roll since Raazi delivers a definitive performance of his acting career in Pataal Lok. As the washed-out cop Hathiram Chaudhary, Ahalawat is an absolute treat to watch. It’s raw and gritty with him going through an entire gamut of emotions.

3. PRATIK GANDHI (SCAM 1992)

Scam 1992 stars Pratik Gandhi in the central role of Harshad Mehta. It’s a breakthrough role for Gandhi following a long struggle but the 40-year-old actor has finally announced himself with a knockout performance.

4. JITENDRA KUMAR (PANCHAYAT)

Jitendra Kumar’s brilliant portrayal of an engineering graduate who reluctantly takes up the job of a secretary at a village panchayat is the USP of Panchayat. The actor is certainly proving himself with each new performance.

5. SUMEET VYAS (DARK 7 WHITE)

Sumeet Vyas’ menacing performance of a young and power-hungry politician for whom losing is not an option in Dark 7 White is easily one of the biggest surprises of the year in the Indian webspace.

Honourable Mentions: Atul Kulkarni (Bandish Bandits), Arshad Warsi (Asur), and Akshay Oberoi (Flesh).

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ADITYA TREATS FANS WITH AN IMPROMPTU MUSIC PERFORMANCE

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NEW DELHI: Aditya Roy Kapur made impressed his fans with his solo guitar performance.

Well, there’s not an ounce of doubt that Aditya happens to be one of the most loved stars. Now that the actor is shooting for his upcoming actioner ‘Thadam’ remake in Delhi, fans are thronging to catch a glimpse of him. Much to their excitement, the handsome and endearing actor decided to treat them with his magical voice.

Aditya’s impromptu show has elevated the excitement for his upcoming music album. For the unversed, just recently, the speculation around his music venture did rounds on social media. Meanwhile, the action hero is making noise for headlining the much anticipated ‘Thadam’ remake and essaying a double role for the first time. Aditya will also star in another out-and-out action drama ‘OM’.

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TAMANNAAHA MONG TOP 10 INFLUENTIAL SOCIAL MEDIA STARS IN SOUTH

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MUMBAI: The lines between regional cinema and mainstream films are blurring day by day. With the influx of more regional content pan-India, South Indian actors boast a massive fan following across the nation. Calculating their Instagram Influence using various metrics, Forbes India has released the Top 30 Most Influential South Actors on social media.

Touted as the rare combination of a superstar and a fine artist, Tamannaah has bagged the 10th spot on the list. With more than nine million followers on Instagram, the superstar is easily the most influential celebrity on the internet.

While talking about the same, Tamannaah said, “social media has become an integral part of all our lives, and it is a great platform to have an interaction with all my fans who have supported me in my journey. It is a special feeling to be listed as the Most Influential Social Media Star because it is a space that I share with my fans and followers.”

The top ten list also features Rashmika Mandanna, Vijay Deverakonda, Yash, Samantha, Allu Arjun, Dulquer Salmaan, Pooja Hegde, Prabhas, and Suriya.

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AYUSHMANN’SSOCIO-POLITICAL THRILLER ‘ANEK’S’ RELEASE DATE ANNOUNCED

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MUMBAI: 31 March 2022 has been locked as the release date for Ayushmann Khurrana’s film ‘Anek’.

Directed by Anubhav Sinha, ‘Anek’ is set against the geopolitical backdrop of Northeast India. It’s the second collaboration of Ayushmann with Sinha after ‘Article 15’. Giving a few details about his movie, Ayushmann said, “It’s only once in a while that an actor comes across a story that makes him jump out of his comfort zone. While I have always backed novel stories, Anek pushed me to perform with a renewed zest.”

He added, “It’s the kind of script that drives a person to give it your all. I am so proud that we’ve made a film like this and even more fortunate that I got the chance to headline it. It’s the kind of new-age cinema that I believe in and I am thankful to Anubhav Sir for choosing me to tell this special story.”

According to Sinha, it’s quite a challenge to make ‘Anek’. “It was a challenging film to write and a difficult one to make. We shot it in rough terrain but what makes it special is that the takeaway was so gratifying. It was a delight to work with Ayushmann again who with his depiction of Joshua breathed life into the story,” he said.

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NEW FILTER UNVEILED ON PRABHAS’ BIRTHDAY

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MUMBAI: Prabhas’ fandom knows no boundaries. The star is a global icon and enjoys a massive fan base. It’s that time of the year when the craze and love for him exceed any and every parameter, it’s Prabhas’ birthday. His fans do all sorts of surprising stuff to celebrate him and this year is no different. Ahead of his birthday, a new filter on Instagram has been unveiled. The filter has the words, ‘Global Prabhas Day’ written and plays a piece of soft and mellow music which is from the teaser of ‘Radhe Shyam’, as a portrait design comes on the screen and a little snowfall accompanies the same.

From Baahubali thalis to gigantic posters, to getting tattoos of Prabhas and more, his fans have always shown their love for the star. His Vikram Aditya from ‘Radhe Shyam’ got a new poster unveiled recently and a teaser of his character intro is all set to be released on his birthday. He will star in ‘AdiPurush’, ‘Salaar’, and Deepika Padukone starrer ‘K’.

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A CURTAIN RAISER TO ITALIAN EMBASSY CULTURAL CENTRE’S FELLINI RETROSPECTIVE

Murtaza Ali Khan

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Italian Embassy Cultural Centre is hosting a week-long Federico Fellini retrospective in collaboration with the India Habitat Centre. As part of the retrospective, eight of Fellini’s best-known films will be screened starting with his 1973 Academy Award-winning masterpiece ‘Amarcord’ on 23 October 2021. Along with introducing each of the eight films ahead of their respective screenings at the India Habitat Centre, I will also be introducing Fellini to the audiences while touching upon the importance of his films in India.

The legendary master Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini is not just recognised as one of the greatest and most influential filmmakers of all time but also as a great humanist whose lifelong work stands as a testament to his love for telling universally relevant stories about common people and life in Italy. Despite his origins in Italian Neorealism as a screenwriter for the luminary Italian director Roberto Rossellini, Fellini gradually emerged out of his shadows to carve a niche for herself with films like ‘The White Sheik’ (1952), ‘I Vitelloni’ (1953), ‘La Strada’ (1954), ‘Il Bidone’ (1955), and ‘Nights of Cabiria’ (1957). And then he took a huge leap with ‘La Dolce Vita’ (1960). Not many filmmakers in the world have succeeded in taking such a gigantic leap between films like the one Fellini took with ‘La Dolce Vita’.

But what did he do after it? He made ‘8½’ which is another major leap (it’s something that is unheard of except when maybe Ingmar Bergman made Persona). With ‘8½’, Fellini catapulted himself to an entirely different level of stardom altogether. The film in many ways also perpetuated the wide usage of the term ‘Felliniesque’ which would become synonymous with any kind of extravagant, fanciful, even baroque imagery in cinema—a sort of a superimposed dreamlike or hallucinatory imagery upon ordinary situations. Contemporary filmmakers like Tim Burton, Terry Gilliam, Emir Kusturica, and David Lynch have cited Fellini’s influence on their work. Fellini’s influence on Indian cinema is most evident in the works of Indian filmmakers like Mani Kaul (director of films like ‘Duvidha’, ‘Uski Roti’, ‘Nazar’, ‘The Cloud Door’, etc) and Kumar Shahani (the director of films like ‘Maya Darpan’, ‘Tarang’, and other movies)

‘Amarcord’, the first film to be screened as part of the retrospective, tells the story about Titta, an adolescent boy growing up among an eccentric cast of characters in a village near the ancient walls of Rimini in 1930s Fascist Italy (Rimini was where Fellini was born and the political turmoil during the rule of the Fascist regime in Italy also had a profound influence on Fellini’s life and work). The title basically translates to “I Remember” and aptly so. For, like many films of Fellini’s, ‘Amarcord’ is autobiographical in nature at so many levels. In fact, the character of Titta is based on Fellini’s childhood friend from Rimini who went on to become a lawyer. The two remained good friends all their lives. It is perhaps the last of Fellini’s undisputed masterworks. Even though Fellini would continue to make important films but ‘Amarcord’ in many ways is the last of his films to receive universal acclaim. It is also the last Fellini film to win the Oscar for the Best Foreign Language Film. The film is particularly noted for its criticism of Fascism as well as the Catholic Church but its comical tone cuts Fellini the slack to unleash a strong critique.

The romantic comedy ‘The White Sheik’, which will be screened on 24 October, follows Ivan and Wanda who visit Rome for their honeymoon. However, when Wanda suddenly disappears to find the White Sheik, the hero of a soap opera, Ivan struggles to hide it from his family who wants to meet his missing bride.

The third film to be screened as part of the retrospective on 27 October is ‘I Vitelloni’ which presents a character study of five young men at crucial turning points in their lives in a small town in Italy. One of the Italian maestro’s most imitated films, ‘I Vitelloni’ is said to have inspired directors like Martin Scorsese, George Lucas, Phillip Kaufman, Barry Levinson, Joel Schumacher, Juan Antonio Bardem, Marco Ferreri, and Lina Wertmüller, among others.

The next film on the lineup is ‘Il Bidone’ which follows a group of swindlers who dress up as clerics and con poor farmers out of their savings. It will be screened on the 28 October followed by ‘Nights of Cabiria’ on 29 October and ‘La Dolce Vita’ on 30 October. On the final day of Retrospective, not one but two films will be screened: ‘8½’ and ‘Fellini Satyricon’.

The Federico Fellini retrospective was originally scheduled to take place last year, marking the centenary celebrations of the master filmmaker, who was born in Rimini, Italy in 1920. But, the retrospective had to be delayed by a year owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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NEW STRATEGIES TO AMP UP YOUR INTERIORS IN THE NEW NORMAL

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The Coronavirus pandemic has created a new normal which has merged work with the living space. In these times, adding that extra ‘oomph’ can provide that change of environment you were looking for within your walls! Kshitij Mirania of Mirania Luxury Living shares those eye-catching strategies to amp up your interior game:

KINDLE WITH KITCHEN

Kitchen interiors are full of possibilities from hardwood to those modern cabinets. Replace or refinish those worn-out ones for a simply a new look and if modernising is the goal, bring in those glass doors and show off the shelving your nicest pieces!

CHANGE OF CURTAINS

Curtains has been named the underdog by many designers and for all the right reasons! It has the power to change the tone of the room, from stopping that extra heat to enter the room while lighting it up with colour to providing it the quick and colour it was missing. Finding the right curtains which match with the aesthetics of the room will surely be the easiest way to create a new environment without changing much.

ASTOUND WITH CARPETING

Room seems bigger with added warmth and texture? Well, the secret ingredient is that new carpet. Warm ones for the winter while lightweight is summer, carpet is an all-year accessory which will lift up your area. Since it is easy to store, think of it as an investment while purchasing as it will be something which can last you for many years to come.

STYLE-UP SURFACES

Flat, vertical and organic: the unbeatable arrangement for your coffee table. Add a stack of books with those gorgeous vases or sculptures and give it the finishing touches with flowers and plants and the work is done! All you have to do now is simply watch as those three ingredients come together to give your table that extra zing!

LIVEN UP THOSE WALLS

It is time to take out those old family photos and introduce them to the empty spaces on your walls! It will take you down the memory lane of those good-old-days while also providing a new look for the entire space with much ease. A two for one deal!

REPAINT-RENEW

Sometimes all you need is a small bottle white lacquer paint to change the colour palette of your living space. It will do miracles for those shabby, chipped out furniture you don’t know what to do with. Add that with PU paint for metals and watch your interiors come to life!

OLD COUCH, NEW LOOK

Why buy a new sofa when you can give the old one a makeover! The intention to change the colour can simply be satisfied with a slipcover and if the desire is to give it that extra colour then look no further from pillows and some knit throws. These small things will give you the effect you have wanted without cutting a hole in your pocket.

Kshitij Mirania is Partner and Head of Mirania Luxury Living (MLL).

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