Here are Indian Express film critic Shubhra Gupta’s top 12 films of 2015, in no particular order.
Qissa. About a ‘lonely’ ghost, the birth of a nation, and the corrosive power of love, superbly directed by Anup Singh. Top-notch peformances by Irrfan, Rasika Duggal and Tillotama Shome.
Dum Laga Ke Haisha : A girl with weight issues. A ‘boy’ taking surly steps towards manhood. Director Sharat Katariya nails it. And both Ayushmann Khurrana as the reluctant groom, and Bhumi Pednekar as the ‘fat’ girl’, make this thing sing.
Court. First timer Chaitanya Tamhane’s searing exposition of what happens in our courts, and in our public spaces, is a state-of-the-nation film which may not have made it to the final leg at the Oscars. But it’s already got our prize.
Margarita With A Sraw. That people with disabilities are also people—with needs and wants—just like the rest of us, is a fact that stays shamefully unacknowledged. Under Shonali Bose’s astute baton, Kalki Koechlin does a great job of her wheel-chair bound protagonist who wants everything—bed bits and all– and leaves us smiling.
Bahubali. SS Rajamouli is a director who thinks not just big, but humungous. ‘Bahubali’ is an epic adventure, of the sort of scale and ambition Indian cinema has never witnessed. Can’t wait for part 2.
Killa: a beautifully-acted tale of growing pains, captivatingly shot by first time director Avinash Arun, Killa takes us back to the time when being a child was both pleasure and pain, and the first glimpses of what life on the other side could be.
Kaaka Muttai: Another heartwarming story of a couple of slum-dwelling urchins, desperately trying to keep their spirits up in the face of grinding poverty. Director M Manikandan’s first feature brings up liberalistion and the huge economic disparity people have to live with, but with a light, thought-provoking touch.
Masaan: Banaras is a pulsating character in Neeraj Ghaywan’s debut feature, which touches upon such weighty matters as life and death, society and repression, caste and class, grieving and healing. Deftly directed, from a sharp, mapping-the-terrain script by Varun Grover. And Vicky Kaushal is a find.
Titli. Not all families love and live happily ever after. Another powerful debut, written and directed by Kanu Behl, it transports us to a grungy part of a new, new Delhi coming up on its outskirts. It is needy, brutal and wants in. Great ensemble acting, and Ranvir Shorey is a stand-out.
Talvar. Police procedurals are not usually grist to Bollywood’s mill. Directed by Meghna Gulzar and written by Vishal Bharadwaj, ‘Talvar’ is the lightly fictionalized account of the Arushi murder. The film goes into uncomfortable territory, and lays bare the heart of our collective darkness. As the sleuth searching for the truth, Irrfan shines.
Bajrangi Bhaijaan: Kabir Khan cobbles together an adorable little girl, Salman Khan as Being Hanuman, Nawazuddin as a bumbling TV reporter across the border, and rousing Indo-Pak bhaichara, and the subversive frisson created by a Muslim superstar playing a Ram bhakt in our time of ‘intolerance’. Mainstream cinema with smarts.
Piku. Shoojit Sircar presents a completely new situation in Hindi cinema—an irascible old man, played by Amitabh Bachchan, with twin obsessions : his bowel movements, and his unmarried daughter. Time for ‘filmi romance’ (between the lissome Deepika Padukone and Irrfan) to turn unconventional. And feel right.
Onwards, to 2016