Being different is a taboo in the Hindi film industry. There are only two ways of making a film in Bollywood: Either you remake Dabangg or you make Dabangg 2. Basically, the industry is very quick in repeating the formula. What is even more surprising is that this is one fail-safe formula that keeps minting money again and again, and again! Still, Bollywood does spring a surprise, however few and far in between they may be, to poke a hole in the much-vaunted trend balloon.
Here are five 'different' films... different in their theme and presentation, different in every way we've come to expect from Bollywood.
Aankhon Dekhi: Rajat Kapoor's Aankhon Dehi is a great example of how a film gives you an insight into a common man’s life through a story. Sanjay Mishra plays Bauji, an old man disturbed at the fact that his daughter is in love with a man of bad reputation. Bauji, however, refuses to buckle under pressure, and decides to believe only things that he sees. This begins a whimsical inward journey for him which leads to a situation where Bauji's branded a mentally unstable guy. Aankhon Dekhi is funny, semi-dark and even unpredictable...qualities we generally don’t associate with most of the stuff Bollywood dishes every Friday. It's biggest plus? Aankhon Dekhi is for the middle class, about middle class India.
Revolver Rani: You may call it a regular Hindi film, but how many times do you see such a powerful woman character calling the shots in a Bollywood film? More than its bold approach, Revolver Rani tried to break the stereotypes imposed by the patriarchal society. This Sai Kabir may have failed to leave any impression at the box-office, but it left an impact for some of the emotions it evoked. Also, it’s probably the closest film to Tarantino brand of cinema after Kaante in 2002. Wish Kabir didn't rest Revolver Rani so heavily on a formula. Probably the fear of commercial failure restricted it from becoming a really memorable film.
Kuku Mathur Ki Jhand Ho Gayi: Not many of you would have seen this film when it was released. But don't worry: It's a regular fare on some TV channel or the other these days. Kuku Mathur... is about that cheeky Delhi which remains untouched in most of the films based in the National Capital. The essence of being in Delhi comes across so easily in this film that you start feeling sympathetic for its protagonist Kuku (Siddharth Gupta). Dil Dosti Etc also captured the same phenomenon about Delhi, but that was more of a love story while this film is about Delhi with all its enigma. Yes, it got bad reviews, but watch it and you’ll realise that it’s actually an insider’s perspective.
Jal: Forget the beautiful landscapes of the Rann of Kutch. Forget the surprising climax. Even ignore the amazingly planned and executed visual effects. Just remember one thing: The ‘feel’ of being in the middle of a desert where water is more valuable than blood. Girish Malik’s film might have used a drama-like language and hindering visual punctuations, but the surrealist notion with which it was shot is definitely a new thing for Hindi films. And, yes, this film is fighting in two categories at Oscars this year.
Sulemani Keeda: There are two strugglers in Mumbai who go about their lives without much fuss and idiotic planning. They want to make it big as writers as they believe the writer is the most important person on a film’s set. Of course, they realise the bitter truth after stumbling a few times. Sulemani Keeda is a beautiful amalgamation of dreams and reality that you’ll fall for the characters. However, this is not the most important thing about Amit Masurkar’s film. We've included Sulemani Keeda in this list because it showcased the struggling underbelly of Mumbai without focusing on famous landmarks.
Om Dar-B-Dar: There is hardly a so called talented, futuristic Bollywood director who hasn’t copied at least a single scene from Kamal Swaroop’s Om Dar-B-Dar, knowingly or unknowingly. Probably the most avant-garde film India has ever produced, this film was finally released in 2014 despite being completed in 1988. In these intervening years, people and critics kept talking about Om Dar-B-Dar which they have seen at different film festivals and from other illegal sources, but the common masses saw it for the first time on big screen this year. We are including this film just because it is still way ahead of its contemporaries.
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