Queen, Haider, Highway, Finding Fanny, Happy New Year and Bang Bang — 2014 has been a good mix of drama, thrill, horror, science, emotions and romance. Sangeeta Yadav speak with Bollywood’s big ticket filmmakers who list out their top favourites of this year and why they picked them. Most of these mavericks believe that the year’s trend was empowerment of women with tribute films like MC Mary Kom, Queen and Finding Fanny featuring as top releases of 2014. The other trend was English films from Bollywood
Dominance of actresses
From making offbeat films like Being Cyrus and Cocktail to quirky films like Finding Fanny, Homi Adajania has been known for creating films in unconventional moulds. No matter how big or small the budget is, this maverick director has always created a standout film that leaves a lasting impression on the audience.
An adventurer and storyteller by heart, Adajania’s take on life and love in a very thoughtful and comic manner was well perceived in Finding Fanny, which got him a lot of praise across the world this year. Though it didn’t garner the highest box office collection, Adajania says this film was never expected to break through on the mass level. Yet it got the respect and adulation from the audience that had the sensibility for a specific kind of cinema.
“I’m very happy with the way Finding Fanny turned out and I consider it up there with the 2014 releases. It did the business it was expected to do. Ours is a country of contradictions and a complex demography. Finding Fanny got the respect and adulation from the audience that had the sensibility for a specific kind of cinema. The idea was to do the international festivals and to see how far off-kilter style would be accepted in the domestic market,” Adajania says.
Apart from Finding Fanny, Adajania considers Queen and Haider the most remarkable films of 2014.
“If I would have to rank the best three Bollywood and Hollywood films, it would be Queen, Haider and Finding Fanny and Hollywood films Lucy and The Grand Budapest Hotel. The biggest trend that is ruling the roost in Bollywood is the dominance of the actress, good content being appropriately recognised and top stars wanting to step out of the box,” Adajania says.
The to-do list of the director for 2015 has a couple of diving expeditions, snowboarding and plans to make a film in between. Grapevine has it that Sushant Singh Rajput and Alia Bhatt have been roped in for his upcoming film which is going to be an adaptation of the global blockbuster The Fault In Our Stars. The movie is going to going to go to the floors soon enough.
Holiday weekend releases picking up
He calls himself a student of cinema. Known as the action master of Bollywood who gave us hits like Force and Commando, TV producer- turned-filmmaker Vipul Amrutlal Shah has always tried to experiment with his style of filmmaking and create something new and unusual. This year too, action thriller Holiday: A Soldier Is Never Off Duty, turned out to be a complete dhamakedaar masala film with jaw dropping stunts weaved creatively amidst storytelling.
Be it Highway,Queen or Holiday, Shah feels that these films have beautifully captured life on the celluloid and were high on entertainment quotient.
“Queen was exceptional and broke new grounds. The story started from nowhere and reached the pinnacle of drama. The good thing is that it reached out to so many people who loved it and empowered women even more. Even Highway, was a good film. It was very experimental by nature and yet it come across beautifully. The performances by the actors were fantastic and music was out of this world,” Shah tells you.
With the success of Holiday…, Shah feels that unlike other big budget films that lack quality content, his film had everything to make it a super hit.
“Holiday is one of the the best big budget big ticket movie of the year. It was a film with superb content and extremely entertaining and commercial in nature with fantastic moments which I’ve never seen before. My endeavour to experiment and invent something new in my films will continue in two sequels of my films that will come up in 2015,” Shah proclaims.
From going away from South Indian style of filmmaking to giving importance to releasing films on a holiday weekend, Shah feels that this year, these three trends were much talked about in B-town.
“The importance of the release date on a holiday or festive weekend is an upcoming trend and a good one at that,” Shah says.
But it’s the quality content which has gone for a toss this year and has become the biggest concern.
“The most important craze that I noticed is the inability of all the studios and production houses to back quality content. After all the experiences the studios have where they lose big money on big films and earn good money on the content, but they still don’t have the vision to back quality content. On one end, they keep talking about actors and directors getting huge money and that is resulting in big loses. When it comes to really backing good content, 9 out of 10 times they have failed cinema makers. Maybe there is a lack of understanding on their part or they still don’t value the content.
They still feel that star and big holiday weekend is going to be their route to success. This trend has consolidated. Their weakness to back the content is bigger and that’s pretty worrying,” Shah concerns. The audience, according to Shah are looking for something more meaningful and entertaining at the same time. “The trend of films festivals is a great way to showcase the best of world cinema under one roof.
“The film festivals should provide a window to all new talent who get sidelined in Bollywood. Apart from the entertainment, it’s the need of the hour to create awareness about world cinema and take it to the larger audience so that they can experience it. That needs a lot more focus. If we do that, it will create a fantastic balance of commercial and art film,” Shah suggests.
Need films with impact
Being an ardent follower of politics, filmmaker Subhash Kapoor believes in using this medium to the fullest by creating social satire. Be it Phas Gaye Re Obama (2010) or Jolly LLB (2013), Kapoor gave a glimpse into the bitter reality on various societal issues.
“Films are the catalyst of change in the society. I like films that have an impact. Vikas Bahl’s Queen inspired me a lot. The film talked about middle class women and their empowerment. Another movie that created a lot of ripple in the industry was Imtiaz Ali’s Highway which delved into discovering yourself while travelling,” Kapoor says.
2014 didn’t just belong to big budget releases, there were a lot of emerging cinema directors like Shonali Bose (Margarita With A Straw) who made their presence felt. For Kapoor, Citylights too was a very different movie. Although it was a low budget film, Kapoor feels that Citylight touched the heart of the people with it’s simple story told in an unconventional manner. The film which is the adaptation of BAFTA nominated British film Metro Manila have been beautifully narrated for the Indian audience.
“Citylights did wonders at the film festival and at the box office. There are thousands of people who leave their village in search of a better life. They end up facing a lot of struggle for the rest of their life. I also liked Ankhon Dekhi and Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhaniya,” Kapoor tells you adding that he is looking forward for the release of his next Guddu Rangeela in February and will start shooting for Jolly LLB part 2 from March onwards.
(The article was published in The Pioneer Newspaper- http://www.dailypioneer.com/sunday-edition/sunday-pioneer/backpack/directors-best-cut.html)