2013 was kind of a very strange year for me, in terms of following Indian cinema. I started the year in a frenzy, watching and enjoying a lot of films, then the interest fizzling, but keeping up with films somewhat, and managing to catch a fair few films at a festival in early autumn. Most of the year was spent planning for the eventual epic India trip, that would commence in December and go through to mid-January, when I would finally return home, happy and sated, with tons of movies with me.
There are notable exceptions to the 2013 films I saw - I couldn't find the time, effort or interest to catch Chennai Express, the big SRK blockbuster. I saw bits of it on TV in India, but Indian TV drove me up the walls with the commercial breaks, so I just couldn't focus on it. I think I saw most films, though, most films that I intended to see, anyway.
So, here's my takeaway from last year.
Why The Hell Did I Do This To Myself Film of the Year: Race 2
We all have regrets, and I'm surprised watching Race 2 wasn't followed by a year-long chronic hangover in which everything and anything would be a plot twist and nothing would make any goddamn sense. But thankfully, the end result of watching Race 2 is merely that you've wasted your time watching Race 2. If your life is irrevocably ruined afterwards, that's on you.
Disappointment of the Year: Go Goa Gone
Gosh, oh gosh. I so wanted to like you, movie. Why didn't you let me.
I'm A Special Snowflake For Getting to See This Gem of the Year: Monsoon Shootout
It's an interesting little indie flavored flick, it's got Nawazuddin Siddiqui (ie perfection), it's just a really intriguing watch and I want everybody to see and I hate festival slow-burn releases, except when I don't, because I got to see this ahead of most other people. But when it hits theaters, do check it out, I implore you.
Best Used Formula of the Year: AnyBody Can Dance
All the delightful underdog team tropes are in use here, and it just works so well. This was my delight of the year, and I can't wait to rewatch it once more.
The Most Puzzling Film of the Year: Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola
I loved it. It was weird. It was gorgeous. It was ..pink water buffaloes? I don't know what to make of this movie, but I do know I own the damn thing on DVD, so I suppose I'll have to give it another look. There was so much good, and such good satire amidst all the strangeness, but I don't know if Matru is, at the end of the day, just an okay oddball movie, or a splendid underappreciated masterpiece.
The Biggest Causes of Worry: the various struggles of the young generation
I'm talking questionable movie picks (I know they can't all be winners but I'd want to see Parineeti Chopra in something good, and Shuddh Desi Romance was not it), weird appearance changes (Anushka Sharma's face) and careers generally headed towards the toilet (Abhay Deol, Imran Khan). I like some of these people. I may not love all of them, but I do wish them all the best, and it saddens me to see these young stars take significant missteps. Don't Saif Ali Khan your career, guys, let's pull it together.
A Thing That Happened That I Didn't Think I Could Type In 2014: Karan Johar directed a kiss scene between two men
No, seriously, I did not think that would happen. As for the short film itself, well, I like Karan Johar sometimes, flaws and all. And believe me, there were flaws. (I also need to rewatch Bombay Talkies, I don't believe I ever reviewed it in full.)
The Top Five Most Epic Film Experiences I Had in India (because I must gloat)
- DDLJ at Maratha Mandir. Enough said.
- Sholay 3D in Juhu, amongst people who loved it and who could quote it by heart. I am the luckiest son of a gun.
- Dhoom 3. Because Dhoom 3. And also, Dhoom 3, which stars Aamir Khan and Aamir Khan, and I am happy that was a thing that was.
- The Tamil film Kumki, viewed at night, in a village setting. Magical.
- Dancing so enthusiastically to Badtameez Dil from Yeh Jawaani Hai Dewaani at a Chennai New Year's Eve event that some random folks came to tell me I rock out harder to Bollywood music than most Indians. I was flattered, but it was only because I never get to dance to Bollywood music outside my bedroom that I was so into it. That, and...
My Film of the Year: Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani
Because as much as I appreciated other films last year, YJHD was the only one that hit home on all fronts - it was funny, charming, had a cute romance, a rocking soundtrack, a beautiful depiction of female friendship and inspired me to think about some of my choices in life. For a guy I am not a fan of, Ranbir Kapoor keeps performing in a manner that is hard not to like, and Deepika Padukone continues to impress. It's a movie I saw, and then went back to, and have gone back to twice or three times after first seeing it. I love it. I just love it.