I thought over all this was a good year for Indian cinema. Here is my top 10 of 2009.
#1. Dev.D – Anurag Kashyap’s Dev.D a subversive take on Sarat Chandra’s iconic Devdas is the best film of the year 2009 with my favorite Abhay Deol who like the director takes chances. Kashyap imagined, co-scripted and directed this insanely maverick version tells the story of celebrated loser figure set to destroy his own life suffering from guilt, ego n longing and about two feisty women in his life. Kashyap is not a shy filmmaker who gives movie bold dialog and simmering sexuality notably with women especially. Conversations sing and I can literally listen to the audio version of the film. Movie enters the mind of addicts chaotic and equally regressive world but it’s really about these three characters who are fully realized people and their relationship and redemption eventually. What makes Dev.D even more complete is like Fatih Akin’s Head-On in spite of all booze, drugs, psychological violence, pain and souls gone ashtray is its end is on hopeful note. It furiously preaches self-pity and talks about second chances. This is a dazzling film and deserved to be seen again and again.
#2. Luck By Chance – Zoya Akhtar’s fascinating debut film on the film industry where two protagonists trying to make a mark in here. Farhan Akhtar’s low key understated performance is the kind of screen acting I yearn for and this is film depicts the Bollywood close to truth or we feel it so and honestly my kind of movie.
#3. Gulaal- This has been a great year for Anurag Kashyap and his second release Gulaal is flawed yet gritty and hard hitting cinema about power struggle and all that comes with it. Directing naturalistic cast and extracting some terrific performances from his entire crew especially Piyush Mishra who plays film’s conscience is memorable along with ever dependable Kay Kay.
#4. Love Aaj Kal – I grew fond of this entry with time. Some films simply gain the favorite status as you identify with the characters or philosophy. Love Aaj Kal is that movie for me. Deepika makes such an interesting character and delectable screen presence you fall for her from scene one where Saif winningly makes you laugh with his comic timing. Here refreshing dialog and truly witty screenplay with its rom com flavor is something you should savor.
#5. Kaminey – Auteur filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj did his first commercial project and delivered pure entertainment as well crafted feature that you should not miss. Again writing is strong with career best performances from Shahid and Priyanka (“jaau de na”) and entire ensemble including Taare Zameen Par writer Amol Gupte as Bhope and Chandan Roy Sanyal as Mikhaail you will not get enough. A native pulp fiction which is cult favorite for sure.
#6. 3 Idiots- Aamir Khan makes me wonder he can pull off anything and he does in Raju Hirani’s 3 Idiots. Playing 22 year college student, his Rancho who constantly challenges the education system, becomes Munnabhai sort guru and pal, wins heart of prof’s daughter and ours. It’s first half simply sends you on laugh riot along with some food for thought. Second half was too sensitive and over the top for my taste but nevertheless this is Raju Hirani’s fine works along with Munaabhai original.
#7. Wake Up Sid- Coming of the age story showcasing Ranbeer at first looks predictable but as it unfolds it becomes the subtle love story between him and Konkana.
#8. Firaaq – Nandita Das’s bold art house release went unnoticed but this is something you should seek on DVD which tells story of Gujraat riots aftermath story from four to five different character groups which is sad, harrowing and heart-breaking.
#9. Sankat City – Pankaj Advani’s Sankat City is those low-budget indie circular caper movies get it right and made right. Check on DVDs and you will not regret this escapism.
#10. DilKabaddi– A piece of plagiarism that I enjoyed shamelessly. A rip-off of Woody Allen’s Husbands and Wives here performances and well adapted lines makes this comedy about marriages and divorces funny watch anytime.