I think the year 2013 was never anticipated to be as special for Indian movies as it ended up being. I was certainly surprised, after 2012's batch of both good and bad films, for 2013 to be filled with such incredible and incredibly bizarre films! So it's good to recap, isn't it?
First off, I know I am not backed by many people on this, but I think the DDLJ sequel Dilwale Dulhania Phir Le Jayenge was actually one of the most brave, unconventional films of recent years. This is no RGV ka Aag, but nearly as classic as the original. Aditya Chopra's idea to have Raj and Simran (same names, nothing to do with the original characters) to be stuck together at the US border for days on end was a fascinating portrayal of the NRI community dealing with racism in the US. Kajol's performance as the tough-as-nails FBI agent just doing her job was absolutely something to witness, and her interactions with Raj, the journalist suspected of being a terrorist under a fake identity, painted a very complex picture of what it means to be a person of Indian descent in today's North America. The guest appearance by the famous cowbell was a special touch, but what really gets to you is the post-interval plot - where Raj discovers Simran's arranged marriage to a Hindu nationalist, set up by her US politician father, and decides to crash the wedding - for justice. How about that shoot-up on the mustard field? Brilliant.
A lot of people harped on this movie for its mutilation of the classic original, but to me this was the perfect case of something new, something borrowed, and something blue. Shahrukh and Kajol shine in these drastically re-written roles, and Aditya Chopra peels back the harmony of both the NRI experience and his idealistic Punjab imagery for a chance to really talk about something real. The romance takes the backseat, but I was in tears by the end all the same; the ending gave enough promise that these two might find happiness together. For that, DDPLJ is my movie of the year.
What didn't work as well was Dhoom 3. I was all set for a goofy good time and some action scenes, with Aamir as the villain, but some of the turns the story took were just too out there. While I appreciated holographic Guru Dutt for making an appearance, SPOILER - Katrina turning out to be just a clone of Aamir's villain character was a little disturbing to say the least. So what, was he romancing HIMSELF in the sexy picturization of The Thong Geet? Are you kidding me? Of course, some people claim that post-credits we get a clip where it turns out Aamir's clone was actually Salman's character, leading up to the next film in the series, but I won't believe it until I see it on the DVD!
Still, I've heard people praise Aamir's performance in this film, so maybe I just need to rewatch it. Another praised performance was of course Abhay Deol in the much discussed but not that widely seen dialogue-free art film Mere Ankhon / Me, also known as the "Abhay Deol stares at the camera for 4 hours" film. A lot of reviews just asked "why was this film made?" while I have a feeling I'll like it, so I'll ask - why wasn't this film made earlier?
On the Southie side, I hear good things about the Tamil Sridevi-Siddharth "switcharound" film Nee. Maybe it'll start a trend of older heroines with young heroes? I have some serious catching up to do..
My favourite comedy was definitely Akshay Kumar's Tere Liye Kuchh Bhi (I enjoy Akki's brainless comedies every now and then but this film was positively brainful!), but I really appreciated Sriram Raghavan's puzzlingly quickly-made tribute to modern cinema, the absolutely stellar, clever breaking-the-fourth-wall comedy, I Hate Imran Khan Luv Stories, in which Imran Khan meets himself from the future, chewing over his past and future career, its mistakes and how to fix them. Who would have guessed that Sonam Kapoor was so good at playing Imran Khan from the future? Some people thought this film was trying too hard, but I loved it.
Then there were some bad films, like Gooli Gooli Maar (why Abhishek, why?) and Emraan Hashmi's Teeen!!! (yes, three exclamation marks), which had the actor play three generations of characters, much like his character in The Dirty Picture. Whoever thought that was a genuinely good idea? And just when I was beginning to like Emraan! Vidya did great in her films this year, but that much is to be expected. Her and Madhavan teaming up again in Vishal Bhardwaj's short film Skirt about gender discrimination in the urban workplace was not flawless, but a good effort nonetheless.
As you can tell, I've still lots of films to watch, but out of this year's batch I'd recommend all of the films I've discussed - even the bad ones are special for the WTF factor! What did you love and hate in 2013? Is there anything I missed?