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No longer caste in stone

In Bollywood,small towns are big

The message from our filmmakers: if we don’t tell our stories,who will?

It has been an eventful six months at the movies so far. Here are some random observations of the trends,the lessons,the moments,the men and women who made an impact.

* “Statistics are like mini skirts,they reveal more than what they hide.” So speaketh Navjot Singh Sidhu. I can’t believe I’m quoting Sidhu,but well,since badtameezi aka irreverence has been Bollywood’s slogan so far this year,maybe I can get away with it. In this case,statistics actually do reveal the biggest story of the season. With a massive booty of Rs 187 crore,Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (YJHD) has registered its place in the history books as the third biggest all-time hit. (3 Idiots with Rs 202 crore and Ek Tha Tiger with Rs 197.5 crore lead the pack.) This statistic is a game changer. First,this announces the entry of Ranbir Kapoor in the Khan bastion with a big bang. Secondly,it gives youngistan its new loverboy in the shape and size of Kapoor.

* It’s love-all at the box office. Loverboys created more frenzy than item girls. For a change,we got a whole range of the loverboy species,from the doomed alcoholic (Aditya Roy Kapur in Aashiqui 2) to the wanderlust-ful (Kapoor in YJHD) and the one-sided-obsessive-love-specialist of Raanjhanaa (Dhanush),the audience fell in love with men in love.

* Not all stories end on a happy note,however. Ishaan died in Kai Po Che. So did Aashiqui 2’s loverboy,and Kundan in Raanjhanaa. Incidentally,all three films were box office hits.

* Don’t underestimate the power of the small film. The success of Fukrey,Kai Po Che,Jolly LLB,ABCD: Any Body Can Dance and Chashme Baddoor illustrated yet again that small can translate into big collections.

* While Deepika Padukone is the flavour of the season,the biggest killing of the year was made by her Race 2 co-star,Jacqueline Fernandes. She grooved on “Lat Lag Gayee” and ended up signing Kick with Salman Khan.

* Our films are getting more animal friendly. Let’s do a checklist: There was a tiger in Himmatwala,an orangutan in Yamla Pagla Deewana 2,a lizard in Ek Thi Daayan and of course,the gulaabi bhains of Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola. The standout performance was by the cow in Raanjhanaa,who is fed and feted by Bindiya just so that she can answer the question: “Zoya maregi ya nahin?” Waiting for the day they make a film with a porcupine,my favourite.

* Dialogue writers came up with some crackling lines. Some of my favourites: “Asli power dil mein hota hai (Real power is in the heart)” (Special 26),“Prosecution ko prostitution likh rakha hai aapne,appeal ko apple (You’ve written prosecution as prostitution and appeal as apple)” (Jolly LLB),“Tumhara pyaar na ho gaya,UPSC ka exam ho gaya,10 saal se paas hi nahin ho raha hai (Your love is like the UPSC exam,its been trying for 10 years and still haven’t passed)” (Raanjhanaa),“Tumse pyaar karna mera talent hai,iss mein tumhara koi haath nahin (Loving you is my talent,you have nothing to do with it)” (Raanjhanaa),“Tum sahi nahi ho,bas mujhse alag ho (You’re not right,just different)” (Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani). New writers,new voices. Encore.

* Neil Nitin Mukesh. David,3G,Shortcut Romeo. Why? How many more? And,again,why?

w 100 years of Indian cinema. Bombay Talkies. Four good films in one film,but the most forgettable song of the year. Here’s the math: 20 actors,21 singers,80 NOCs from producers,a 200-member crew,3500 vfx frames,15 minutes given by every actor to shoot,22 days of shooting,4 months to create the track,7 minutes 55 seconds duration of the song. Amit Trivedi,the composer. Vaibhavi Merchant,the choreographer.

* Small-town India continues to be a state of mind. Raanjhanaa’s Benaras,Kai Po Che’s Gujarat,Jolly LLB’s Uttar Pradesh,Matru’s fictional Mandola village proved to be important characters in the narrative. The message from our filmmakers is clear: if we don’t tell our stories,who will?

* Filmmakers attempting to write Muslim girl characters can maybe look beyond the name “Zoya”. There’s been a bit of overkill recently with Parineeti Chopra (Ishaqzaade) and now Raanjhanaa.

* The best of the lot: Dibakar Banerjee’s short film,Star,in Bombay Talkies. Konkana Sen Sharma as the deliciously evil daayan-step mom in Ek Thi Daayan. Dhanush in Raanjhanaa. He’s charming,playful,intense,unselfconscious. He’s refreshing. The big take home of the season.

harneet.singh@expressindia.com

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