@vicramb on Twitter) for reminding me that this blog has been alive for fourteen years.
Read a lot of books, watched a lot of movies, listened to a fair bit of music, (*sunglass swag emoji*) didn’t write too many blogs (*shamefaced emoji*). But also realised that my “media consumption” (a 2010s phrase) is so much in a defined boundary that I didn’t know who Prateek Kuhad is. (After Rituparna pointed him out for me, I wished she hadn’t. Totally messed up my YouTube algorithm.)
Despite making brave pronouncements, I didn’t end up watching too many regional language films and probably for the first time in my life, I haven’t watched enough Bengali films to make a Top 10 that would be representative enough.
I also didn’t end up reading a wide variety of books, but the numbers were large enough to hazard a Top 10 in cinema books and ten more in ‘Others’.
So here come my favourites of the decade. Favourite obviously means what *I* liked. It’s subjective. It changes over time. Don’t @ me (another 2010s phrase).
I usually do a top 5/10 my favourite films every year but when I leafed through them now, I realised I liked some of the lower ranked films of the years more. Yes, that subjectivity thing again! These are not the greatest films of the decade. They are merely the films I would go back to most often as I grow old.
Gully Boy: I suspect that I will love this film a lot more in 2029 than I do now. Zoya Akhtar’s Luck By Chance is now one of my favourite films, which I fell in love with over multiple viewings.
Bareilly Ki Barfi: This is one more of those creeping likes. The father-daughter, the girl-friend, the friend-friend, the author-reader… all are relationships we have. Or want to have.
The Lunchbox: I have a soft corner for films that play 1990s music in their soundtrack. And for films that have great acting. And for films that have Nimrat Kaur.
Bombay Talkies: The second film ever to have Satyajit Ray and Amitabh Bachchan in the credits. What’s not to love?
Do Dooni Chaar: I am a sucker for sincere maths teachers and smartass kids. I have seen too many of them in my life.
And my ten favourites, in reverse chronological order are…
Andhadhun had that delicious mix of Easter eggs, hat-tips, tributes that I can’t get enough of. It had plot twists that seemed like plot holes. It had a Lady Macbeth who seemed like Ophelia. It had a Raghavan who seemed to be looking for his Raman. You have to be blind to not love it.
Death in the Gunj: Many years back, a debutant director explored the bygone world of Anglo Indians. Her frames eked out the loneliness and neglect her protagonist faced, the bullying that went unnoticed in real life hitting us in the face when a camera was placed in front of it. Thirty years later, her daughter did the same. And probably did it better.
Kapoor & Sons: The hero of this film was the writing. Written by Ayesha Devitre (and director Shakun Batra), this was a mesmerising screenplay as a dysfunctional family going about plugging leaks and planning surprise birthday parties. It was a masterclass of working with an ensemble cast (of some actors and some merely superstars).
Dangal: A father and a child disagrees. He is from the old school, she has seen better. Their disagreement becomes virulent. Eventually, the child wins. If Nitesh Tiwari had ended the movie at this point, the father in me would have loved it a lot. But the father was later proven right, which brought a smug smile to my face. What won it for me totally was when the child went on to win greater things, without the father’s help.
Masaan: When I first watched it, I wrote, “A searingly real portrayal of small-town India - the loves, the fears, the ambitions, the insecurities, the honesty, the corruption, the trains, the bridges, the lives, the deaths... If you haven't watched it, I'd say you have not experienced India to the fullest, not seen Indian cinema at its best.” I stand by every word.
Dum Lagake Haisha: At a time when film albums are not sold as albums, DLKH did that incredible thing of putting together a stunning ‘album’ while following a hero who sold ‘albums’ (though we knew them as cassettes then). Bhumi Pendnekar made a weighty debut, Ayushmann did a role that only he seems to do nowadays, and Varun Grover suddenly made lyrics very interesting. (Did I mention I love films with 1990s songs?)
Kai Po Che: If we thought Kai Po Che was about the worst communal polarisation in India’s history, we hadn’t seen anything yet. But in today’s times, how can you forget a film in which a Hindu fundamentalist has a change of heart and eventually saves a Muslim child from rioters? How can you forget a film which immortalised India’s 2001 win over Australia on celluloid?
Kahaani: A South Indian woman looks for her missing husband in what I feel is the best tourism video for Calcutta. The people, the places, the colours, the darkness, the words, the sounds, the smells, the texture of the city just came alive in this murder mystery. And if that was not all, Amitabh Bachchan sang for us at the end.
Rockstar: I love illogical love stories. I love crazy characters doing crazy shit in the name of crazy love, things that I would tag as #smh #irl. Rockstar was all that and more. AR Rahman and Irshad Kamil’s partnership was one made in heaven and Ranbir Kapoor belonged in the field that Rumi told us about.
Love Sex Aur Dhokha: There are so many things in LSD. But what I think of first is the taveez visible under the sleeve of the supermarket uniform that Rashmi (protagonist of the second story) wears. And when she tells her boyfriend of her friend’s honour killing, he unwittingly shrinks away from her. A sharper sketch of the modern Indian middle-class hasn’t been made yet.
Breaking up the post in two. The next one has my favourite books of the decade.