Monday, December 31, 2012

2012: My Favourites

Wogay, enough of being depressed about life. I realised if I didn't start feeling happy, I will probably die of an imploded brain. And what better way to feel happy than to recap what is easily the second best year of movies in my lifetime. (The best year was 1975  but I don't recall seeing any movies that year.)
And not only did I recap my favourite movies this year, I went through my favourite songs, books and - for good measure - my favourite blog posts as well.

So, here are my 5 favourites in each category.

Obituaries
Don't think I am being morbid. These are some of my (and your) favourite people. When you read the obituaries of these cool people who moved on, you will realise they have left behind enough memories to last us a lifetime.

Sharmila Tagore wrote an affectionate tribute to her most successful co-star in Hindustan Times. Reminiscing about their famed pairing, she ended with a wonderfully apt allusion to his most iconic role. 
Read it here.  

My friend Abhishek (Mukherjee) wrote a beautiful tribute to Sunil Gangopadhyay, Bengali literature's enfant terrible (when he started off) and kind-of-Godfather (when he passed away). More than his literary output, it captured the emotions around Sunil really well. 
Read it here

Noted film critic Sukanya Verma wrote about the King of Romance, with a few deft personal touches. Lovely, it was. 
Read it here
While you are it, you might as well see this clip. If the world ended in 2012, this is how I would have liked to spend the last 2:25 minutes. 

Gursimranjit Khamba - a stand-up comic - remembered 'Bhatti-sir', a man whose humour inspired him. Most of us are all still able to sing the title song of Flop Show. That, I think, is our tribute to Jaspal Bhatti.
Read it here.

The last one is not a death in the literal sense. And yet for me, something died.
Yesterday when I saw India 20/4 on the TV screen, I squinted - out of reflex -to see if it was Sachin on the non-striker's end. Sachin Tendulkar retired from one-day cricket and my childhood died with that.
Two great tributes marked this end.
Arnab Ray (a.k.a. Greatbong) wrote "Sachin was us and we were Sachin", which pretty much summed up the emotions. (Here)
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan (a.k.a. Sidvee) wrote "He was, and will remain, your Model T", which pretty much summed up the memories. (Here)

Posts (Blogs et al)
Not all posts in this list - the most difficult to compile and most susceptible to misses - are on 'blogs'. They are on a variety of places and that makes them even more fun. Once you get to the blogs, do read everything else on offer there.

Jai Arjun Singh wrote about the Ten Trailblazers of Indian Cinema (for Vogue India) and to my mind, he did not include that one person who he couldn't have - himself.
Read it here.

Beth Watkins (who LovesBollywood) discovered Soumitra, Satyajit and Bengali cinema this year (though not necessarily in that order). Her review of Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne is representative of her 'study' this year.
Read it here.

Abhishek attempted to take The Legend to a larger audience. He. Started. Translating. The. Dialogues. Of. Gunda.
*Dramatic Pause*
Read. It. Here.

When The Best Hindi Movie is here, can the Best Hindi Movie Songs be far behind? Vaibhav Vishal selected ten of the best and the post went - what marketers call - viral.
Read it here.

At a time when Delhi was the most maligned city in the country, Diligent Candy declared herself to be a diwani and bared her soul about this magnificent yet maligned city. 
It was not a blogpost but a collection of tweets, storified here

Honourable Mention: I first thought I will not include her blog because she is my cousin. But then, I realised that neither am I Macmohan and nor is she Raveena Tandon vying for National Awards that I will do all this faux-objectivity. If you want to know what makes Bengalis tick, you have to have to HAVE TO read Parama's post on Bong-ness.

Movies
I had to spend several agonising hours to make this list of 5. I could have taken the easy way out and done top ten but that would have taken the fun out of it. What's the fun of making lists if you don't have to keep some good ones out? 

5. English Vinglish
Sridevi's comeback film beat Shanghai to reach the fifth spot because of one deft touch. (Yes, that's how close it was.) When Sridevi walked out of the movie hall, she passed by a poster of a Clark Gable-Ava Gardner movie. The movie was Mogambo. 

4. Vicky Donor
"Yeh tera Pishi jo hai... yeh cat hain ya dog?" 
Ayushman Khurana brought Lajpat Nagar right into my CR Park sensibilities and made me feel overly protective of Yami Gautam. But then, his uncle charmed me with the light-bulb dance at the Punju-Bong wedding. And his mother floored me with her evening drinking sessions.

3. Gangs of Wasseypur I & II
When Gangs of Wasseypur comes in at No. 3, it is indicative of the quality of the year's cinematic output. Juxtaposing the cultural icons of our childhood with a Godfather-like tale of passion and retribution,  Anurag Kashyap created the benchmark of 'cult' in Bollywood. As a trivia-buff, I can only smack my lips at the many nuggets that are sure to be unearthed during multiple viewings.
Easy Peasy Trivia Quiz: What connects Dil To Paagal Hai, Kasam Paida Karne Wale Ki and Kahaani Sharabi Aurat Ki? 

2. Bhooter Bhabishyat
After watching the film, my first reaction was "If Parasuram had written the script for Khosla Ka Ghosla, and Satyajit Ray had directed it, it would have been Bhooter Bhabishyat."
I stand by that.

1. Kahaani
I know it is probably not the best film of the year but this is not the National Awards. It is my list of favourites and I did not like anything this year more than the South Indian wife of a Bengali man who was lost in the most beautiful city in the world. If people can go through life without dining at Mocambo, I am sure they can get by without liking Kahaani also. Though, I can't do that.

Books
I planned to read 52 books in 2012. I ended up with about 30ish - which was not bad since I wasted inordinately large amounts of time on Twitter and Temple Run. The 2013 resolution is to reach very close to 52.

5. Dongri to Dubai: Six Decades of Mumbai Mafia (S Hussain Zaidi)
A brilliant retelling of the history of crime in Bombay from the 'honorable' days to the 1990s bloodbath to the present uneasy calm, told from the vantage point of the city's best-known crime journalist. Unputdownable.

4. Would You Like Some Bread With That Book? (Veena Venugopal)
I love books. I love people who love books. I love books by people who love books. I love stories about books in books by people who love books. This was a series of delightful anecdotes/observations about the author's reading life and has got to be the least known, most underrated book of the year.

3. The Mine (Arnab Ray)
I don't think I will be able to read this book again. The raw material with which the author created the horror was from our daily lives, giving it a jaggedness that was just too much for me to bear once more. I remember sitting in my dark bedroom after finishing the book and have a feeling of doom engulf me. I only came out of that abyss when I reminded myself I went to the same college as the author.

2. Deep Focus: Reflections on Cinema (Satyajit Ray)
Translations of Satyajit Ray's thoughts/writings/reflections on cinema makes for wonderful reading, even if you are not a cine-enthusiast. The man writes so lucidly and thinks so clearly that you can read them as lesson in English, if not lessons in cinema.

1. Kitnay Aadmi Thay: Completely Useless Bollywood Trivia
For obvious - and blatantly shameless - reasons, this has got to be my most favourite book of 2012. In fact, this is my most favourite book ever.
Known people, unknown people, relatives, friends, colleagues, critics just adopted this book - making it my happiest memory of 2012. I read somewhere "It's hard to do a really good job on anything you don't think about in the shower". Thank you all, for making me think about KAT again and again in the shower.

Have a great 2013.
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