Monday, December 26, 2011

2011 - HITLIST

This was not exactly a great year for cinema as one turkey after the other was unleashed on the unsuspecting cinema-goer. Monstrosities like ‘Bodyguard, Ra-One, 7 Am Arivu, Kaavalan, Ready’ all backed by huge stars made money but left a lot to be desired. With the increased penetration of TV channels like NDTV Lumiere, UTV World Movies, etc. one can no longer say that the middle class Indian is not aware of the scenario prevailing in cinema being made abroad. Shameless rip-offs with cosmetic changes, mindless item-numbers and inane comedy tracks dished out as adaptations will no longer be accepted by the intelligent film-goer.


Yudham Sei
Cheran playing the cop uncovering a trail of chopped body-parts, while also searching for his missing sister. Myshkin’s taut screenplay, excellent background score and good all-round performances by all actors ensured that this was a must-watch.

Rip-off of numerous heist movies, pathetic songs but a zestful performance by Ajith in his fiftieth knock on the silver-screen, Premji Amaren playing the hacker and Arjun as a suave cop. More than the movie - the out-take montage in Jackie Chan style that showed the cast and crew having fun was excellent.

Aranya Kandam
Quentin Tarantino and Guy Ritchie land in Kollywood – that sums up Aranya kandam, a mind-blowing script, great performance by Jackie Shroff as the ageing don, Ravikrishna as Sappai, the Chennai underworld in its raw energy!

Directed by a debutante set again in Chennai’s underworld amidst drugs and human trafficking a decent effort with good performances by all.

Mayakkam Enna
Selvaraghavan reserves the best for his kid brother Dhanush as is evident by the script and the direction. Following the travails of a wannabe wildlife photographer, the movie truly belongs to Richa and her dubbing artiste.

I am yet to catch this movie; but every single friend who has seen this movie has just praise for the director and the cast, especially Uma Riyaz Khan playing a pregnant cop.


Unconventional scripts, debutante directors, new faces and melodious music held sway over the masses. The ageing superstars delivered turkeys but also a couple of stand-out performances.

Mohanlal as a paraplegic, Anupam Kher as a heart patient and Jayapradha as the lady who is now married to the former but was first married to the latter. A movie that tugs at one’s heart and is sure to bring a tear to anyone who has loved and lost. Melodious music, lovely performances and excellent direction by Blessy.

Salt’n Pepper
A love story that starts with an order for dosa and garlic chutney! Sounds implausible? Watch this delightful movie with nice performances by Lal, Shweta Menon, Meenakshi and Abu Asif. ‘Premikkumbol neeyum njanum’ became the rage of Kerala.

Chappa Kurishu
Inspired by the Korean movie ‘Handphone,’ this became a surprise hit not just due to a steamy lip-lock by Ramya Nembisan but because of a brilliant role by Vineeth Sreenivasan as the loser department store cleaner who gets an iphone belonging to a rich spoilt engineer. Great performances and some realistic punches and kicks in the movie.

Indian Rupee
Thilakan as the wise old real estate agent shows why he is the best living actor in Malayalam cinema. Prithviraj in a realistic role and mimic Tiny Tom gets a lovely role in Ranjit’s masterpiece on the current state of the youth in Kerala. Ee puzhayum was a well-tuned melody!

Anoop Menon’s script and lyrics – powerful performances by Jayasurya as a wheelchair bound millionaire and Annop as a struggling singer. Comparisons to Guzaarish were inevitable but Beautiful was indeed beautiful. Mazhaineer thuliggal was one of the stand-out melodies of the year.

Based on a Malayalam play, which was inspired by a Hindi play – Melvilassom is a courtroom drama shot in real time albeit a military court-martial. There are no gimmicks as Suresh Gopi the defendant unravels why the accused Parthiban shot at two of his superior officers. With the accused pleading guilty and the viewer knowing that the accused will be hanged for sure the interest is held as we learn why the army-man shot the superior officers. In an era of dumb Hindi / Tamil / Telugu-inspired clones this movie was indeed a refreshing experience and I was immediately reminded of 12 Angry Men an all-time classic.

Best Actor
Mammooty in a power-packed role of a teacher aspiring to be an actor, with a film within a film set-up a nice tale told with conviction.


I said this last year and say this again Ranbir Kapoor is the one who has the acting chops to take on the Khan trinity. Akshay Kumar has steadily gone downhill from Chandini Chowk to China without being able to deliver a solo hit. Saif cannot play the dalit - an absolute disaster of casting in Aarakshan, Abhishek Bachchan needs a hit and should get it with the official remake of The Italian Job – Players releasing next year.

Ranbir as Janardhan – Jordan is on-track to receive the Filmfare Award for Best Actor in a leading role – need I say more. A.R. Rahman’s mind-blowing tracks and Sada Haq and Faya Kun on track for best songs of the year. Narghis Fakhri cannot emote but looks like a million bucks. The ending was lame but Imtiaz Ali take a bow!

Chillar Party
Salman’s maiden production was a movie for kids with lots of - kids a nice tale clean no vulgarity with a cute little dog.

Delhi Belly
Swear words in multiple languages, D.K. Bose, drugs, stool samples, underworld, Imran Khan and Vijay Raaz. Quirky, fun and a song that became an anthem till Sada Haq came in to the picture.

Stanley ka Dabba
Amole Gupte and his son Partho in a nice little movie about kids which ended up a bit preachy at the end. A lovely performance by Partho!


This is a very tough list to chart as many movies on this list are yet to officially release in India. It is the Internet and Torrents that help lovers of world cinema and Hollywood to satisfy the cineaste in me.

The Devil’s Double
I love Iraq, I love God, I love my Dad but above all I like cunt and I get what I love!

How’s that for a line to define a person, based on the alleged life of Latif Fahia the fidai-body double of Saddam Hussein’s younger son Uday this is one performance of a life-time by Dominic Cooper an actor whom I have never ever heard of before. Boy was I awe-struck by the double-role - one as the psychotic Uday and the other as the troubled fidai Latif. Raw energy and an intensity in his eyes, he reminded me of Al Pacino in Scarface – perhaps because of the coke-snorting scene. Must-watch – alert - Nudity and Profanity in generous doses.

Margin Call
A starcast that includes Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Demi Moore, Stanley Tucci and Jeremy Irons this movie is set in an investment firm that’s 107 years old and starts on a day when many senior employees are handed the pink slip. Stanley Tucci hands a file to a member of his team and asks him to complete the risk-analysis that he had initiated. Peter Sullivan is the whiz-kid who enters the right variables and discovers that the ‘party is over’ and the company’s assets are much less than their liabilities. As a hurried board meeting is initiated late into the night – the big boss Tuld played by Jeremy Irons flies in and in a series of tense meetings the firm decides to liquidate all its stock to tide over the crisis. This is a real-time presentation of the crisis that initiated the economic recession in the USA three years ago. No special-effects, no explosions and high-speed car chases or star-crossed lovers making out on the couch. This is a serious movie about how the cookie crumbled and how billions of dollars belonging to gullible citizens were lost. Excellent acting, taut screenplay and powerful dialogue.

Tree of Life
Terrence Malik in a movie that many awaited - but very few had the patience to sit through fully. Brad Pitt and Sean Penn and all about life - a movie made for the awards-circuit - will never be a hit in India. The scene depicting the origin of life was well executed.

JJ Abrams’ homage to Steven Spielberg – set in the 70s the movie is about a bunch of kids who plan to shoot a movie and end up filming a horrible train derailment. As news spreads the army comes in and cordons the area the movie-clip shows a strange creature. What creature is this? Why did the science teacher drive his car onto the tracks and cause the derailment? Watch the movie for answers.

The Adventures of Tintin
After years of waiting to see my boy-hood hero and Snowy on big-screen the experience of the movie in 3D with more blokes in the thirties than 10-year olds, I was slightly disappointed. But I realized that the current generation of kids with their Harry Potters and vampires and werewolves are just not into Tintin anymore. Coming back to the movie shot in motion-capture animation, the frames are surreal there are fantastic chase sequences, there is Captain Haddock and the bumbling Thompson twins but sadly no Professor Calculus. Spielberg and Peter Jackson have invested a considerable amount of money, time and energy into this but I really wonder if the box-office receipts will merit a sequel to this effort. All I can say is that with the greenbacks that you have spent on this effort could we not have a live-action motion picture – please! Perhaps Tintin in America or Tintin in Tibet!

1 comment:

Karen Xavier said...

Out of all the movie's mentioned here, I've only seen the Devil's Double and Super 8, and I must say both are intriguing. Devil's Double was disturbing to say the least, it was nice to know the way they lived by employing a look alike double... but their values are shocking, made me gasp. I've started using his name as a swear word these days, 'What are you, uday hessein!' Gosh, he is one sick creature, that part bout the wedding bride was the worst... it was gratifying to know that the double finally did something terrible enough to uday. Super 8 was pretty good, I liked that they made the alien a good character.

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