Cinema

Films to Watch out for in 2017: Dramatic Tension

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From biopics to coming-of-age tales, musicals to period dramas, Indian films to watch out for this year

BAAHUBALI: THE CONCLUSION
Genre Action/Adventure/Drama
Director S S Rajamouli
Cast Rana Daggubati, Anushka Shetty

Baahubali, which released in 2015, can easily be termed the best live-action film to have been made in India to date. It not only broke records in terms of box-office success, but also displayed international standards of live action in its story. Budgeted at over Rs 100 crore, it’ll be interesting to see if the makers will surpass themselves in the upcoming sequel.

NEWTON

Genre Political drama
Director Amit Masurkar
Cast Rajkummar Rao, Anjali Patil

NewtonHere’s a complete shift of genre for director Amit Masurkar whose debut film Sulemani Keeda was among the most popular recent indie films. From that slice-of-life drama, Masurkar now tells the story of Newton, a rookie government clerk who is entrusted with the task of conducting elections in a remote village in the jungles of Central India. He is not only challenged by the way of life, but also by communist guerrillas who have been waging war against the state for over a decade. Newton’s ideas of conducting a free and fair election take a backseat among the obvious problems of the indigenous tribes in the village, giving him a taste of reality. The film appeals purely because of the space that it is set in, and its scope to take a social and political stance, or at least put forth an opinion. After Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi, there have been few films on the subject and it’ll be interesting to see how Masurkar tackles it. “We are not trying to preach, but simply show two perspectives of an existing tension-driven situation,” says Masurkar.

HINDI MEDIUM

Genre Drama/Comedy
Director Saket Choudhary
Cast Irrfan Khan, Saba Qamar

Hindi MediumA married couple from a modest household in Old Delhi strives to fulfil their one and only dream—to admit their six-year-old daughter in an English-medium school. The father and mother (who can only speak Hindi), live in a basti, put on their best face, gather every bit of English they know and travel from convent to convent trying to secure a spot for their child. In the process they get embroiled in a battle between setting an honest example for the child and securing her future. Now that’s a plot interesting enough to hold anyone’s attention, and that the film starts Irrfan Khan as the simple, dreamy dad makes it even better. The middle class Indian dream has always been a fantastic plot to play upon and setting it in a thriving cultural space like Delhi makes it even more inviting. “We barely talk about the common man of India and the little dreams he carries on his shoulders. This one will really put a mirror to that reality,” says Khan.

VELAI ILLA PATTADHARI

Genre Comedy/Drama
Director Soundarya Rajinikanth
Cast Dhanush, Kajol

Velai Illa PattadhariThis one marks Kajol’s return to Tamil cinema after two decades since her last film Minsara Kanavu. This time, she’s going to battle it out against Dhanush by playing the leader of a corporate giant who refuses to yield to the demands of a salaried employee. Both natural performers, Kajol and Dhanush will doubtlessly play off each other’s varied styles of acting. This is a sequel of the first film by the same name which worked primarily because the film not only highlighted the travails of unemployment among the educated in Chennai, but also became a voice for that young man on the street who refuses to cough up a bribe to get the job he deserves.

BEGUM JAAN

Genre Period drama
Director Srijit Mukherji
Cast Vidya Balan, Naseeruddin Shah

Begum JaanThis film about 11 prostitutes in 1947 who strive to keep their home on the Indo-Pak border was widely acclaimed in its original Bengali version with Rituparna Sengupta. The Hindi one has Vidya Balan playing Begum Jaan, the brutal and very intimidating memsaab of the brothel, who eventually leads the girls to freedom. This is one film that perhaps bases itself entirely on the performances of the 11 women to make the conflict so believable. It also delves into the individual lives of these women with their own struggles. “I haven’t ever played such a complex part. She is torn between loyalty to her customers and protecting the girls. Eventually, she realises the brothel means more to her than she could have imagined,” says Balan.

HARAAMKHOR

Genre Drama
Director Shlok Sharma
Cast Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Shweta Thripathi

HaraamkhorAfter battling countless bans by the Central Bureau of Film Certification, this film is finally set to release in January. Haraamkhor portrays a romantic relationship between a student and a teacher in small-town India and is the story of love, betrayal and complexities of the human mind. “We know of films like An Education where a young woman falls in love with a much older man. But when we try to explore a story of the same language, there are a thousand people to judge and raise a flag against it. I’m glad we are able to release the film the way we wanted it,” says director Sharma.

SIMRAN

Genre Drama
Director Hansal Mehta
Cast Kangana Ranaut, Sohum Shah

SimranKangana has two big releases this year, Hansal Mehta’s Simran and Vishaal Bharadwaj’s Rangoon. Simran is a bit more intriguing, considering it’s a female-role led film, like Queen, and it’ll be a riot to see Kangana on screen as an NRI Gujarati divorcee. Mehta, with films like Shahid and Aligarh, is known for choosing unconventional subjects to tell his stories, and it will be interesting to see how he exploits Kangana’s acting skills to make his point. The film that has been shot almost entirely in America apparently puts the protagonist in highly demanding situations within a scenario of crime there, and is a story of ambition, moralistic clashes and a final triumph. “My stories have always been very [closely] connected to Indian roots and [are] about basic issues within our country. This is a new space for me and it’s a challenge to see if I can make my point despite a larger canvas like USA,” says Mehta.

TIKLI AND LAXMI BOMB

Genre Drama
Director Aditya Kriplani
Cast Swara Bhaskar, Vibhavari Deshpande

Tikli and Laxmi BombThis is the story of six sex workers living in Mumbai who take on the mantle to attain autonomy in their profession. They fight cops, politicians, pimps and sometimes even their own co-workers so that they can live a life of dignity and fearlessness. Written and directed by FTII graduate Aditya Kriplani, this film aspires to show prostitution as just another profession, instead of portraying those in it as victims. “It speaks of a revolution that may seem too far-fetched in reality, but it hopes to at least plant the seed in the minds of people,” says Kriplani. Adapted from a book with the same name, the film is to be shot mostly in the dimness of night and grime of the city. Tikli and Laxmi Bomb is trying to say what no other film has tried so far.

SONG OF THE SCORPIONS

Genre Musical Drama
Director Anup Singh
Cast Irrfan Khan, Golshifteh Farahani

Songs of ScorpiansHaving worked in Hollywood superhits like The Pirates of the Caribbean and Body of Lies, to see Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani play a shaman woman in the Thar desert who can heal scorpion bites with a song, seems almost surreal. She is the wife of a camel trader (Irrfan Khan) from Rajasthan. The film major curiosity, not just in India, but also the Middle East and western film markets. Shot entirely in and around Rajasthan, this one promises to be a musical we’d remember for good.

NIMMO

Genre Drama/Comedy
Director Rahul Shanklya
Cast Anjali Patil

NimmoSet in a village in northern India, this is a film about an eight- year-old boy who discovers the meaning of love. No one takes him seriously at first, but he knows he needs to protect it. Playing his love interest is a 22-year-old who sees him no more than a younger brother. Within this seemingly breezy plot, the film deals with issues of dowry and young girls being married off to much older men for money. “Essentially love has no boundaries, of age, caste, gender. This is what the film tries to explore, through the eyes of a young boy whose love is probably of the purest form,” says director Rahul Shanklya.

PADMAVATI

Genre Historical drama
Director Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Cast Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s next film Padmavati will see Deepika Padukone playing Rani Padmavati of Chittor, not just among the most beautiful Rajput princesses, but equally popular for her bravery and utter commitment to her kingdom. She reportedly immolated herself after her husband was killed in war. “Playing a queen from the 14th century is a challenge because I barely have any references to go back to. It has to be drawn from what was written or perhaps drawn. That’s what I am most keen on with this part,” says Padukone.

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