For Bollywood, it was the year of RDB, Kangana

Dec 25, 2006 Subhash K. Jha

Mumbai, Dec 25 (IANS) If I've to look back at 2006, I'd remember it as the year of "Rang De Basanti" (RDB) and Kangana Ranaut. Both startled the hell out of me.

When I saw Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra's RDB, I couldn't move. I had to force my hand to punch his numbers, and then I blabbered like a schoolboy. Mehra was no stranger to me.

Kangana was. I had never heard of her, didn't know what she looked like. I went to see "Gangster - A Love Story" with zero expectations. The girl stunned me senseless. Lucky are those who sat on that decisive Friday watching this natural-born actress dip all her senses into every crevice of the human heart.

Like Shabana Azmi, I wanted to ask Kangana: "Where have you come from?"

Amrita Rao in "Vivah" and Ayesha Takia in "Dor" also took me by surprise.

Whereas Shahid Kapur had prepared me for his performance in "Vivah" as he was extremely accomplished in all his releases so far except "Deewane Huye Paagal", where no one was allowed to be accomplished. But it was Amrita's fragile elegance that stunned me.

Silly girl, she turned down a plum and powerful role in Govind Nihalani's film that he offered her after "Vivah". I just hope she goes into 2007 with hope on her plate.

Three new directors also stumped me this year. Dibakar Banerjee, Saket Chowdhary and, most of all, Nishikant Kamat blew my brains with their first films.

Banerjee, I'm told, is very lazy. He took years to complete "Khosla Ka Ghosla". But it doesn't show.

Chowdhary is spunky. He had the guts to not use Mallika Sherawat's sex appeal as a pivotal character in "Pyaar Ke Side Effects". Weeks before the release of this romantic comedy, distributors were in two minds - Mallika in clothes? Will not work!

Both 'lazy' Banejree and 'spunky' Chowdhary are now planning sequels to their surprise hits.

I wish there would be a sequel to Marathi director Kamat's "Dombivli Fast". I want to know what happens to the wife and children of a working class man who gets shot after creating a moral havoc on the streets of Mumbai.

In his small, Rs.20 million Marathi film, the humble Kamat threw forward several statements. You don't need a fortune to create a phenomenal film. Shooting on authentic locations with authentic actors does the act.

Hats off to actor Sandeep Kulkarni who simply merged into the role of the man who goes berserk after suffering the hefty wages of the humdrum life for years.

Regional cinema remains so neglected that you wonder what would've happened to biggies like "Don" and "Baabul" if they had been made in Telugu or Marathi.

The return of Sooraj Barjatya in "Vivah" and Mallika in "Pyaar Ke Side Effects", and the advent of a phenomenal new talent called Kangana made my heart crave for more surprises in 2006.

That delight of falling off my seat came to me when I saw little boy Ali Haji, who played Aamir Khan and Kajol's son in "Fanaa"; when I saw Hrithik Roshan glide across the dance floor as though it was the ocean in "Dhoom 2"; When I heard Konkona Sen Sharma's conversational voice as she grappled with the garbled grammar of a schizophrenic mind in "15 Park Avenue"; when I saw Lisa Ray's limpid eyes stare in the placid water in Deepa Mehta's "Water"; when I saw Sushmita Sen rip the screen apart with her monstrous monologues in "Chingaari"; when I heard Kavita Seth sing "Mujhe mat roko mujhe yaar ke ghar jaane do" for Kangana as she plummeted to a welcome death in "Gangster"; when I heard Richa Sharma tear the soundtrack into sublime smithereens with "Baabul mora" in the disappointing film of that name.

When Aamir broke down in Alice Patten's kitchen in "Rang De Basanti", I cried too. I knew this guy once. Now he's a different person.

Everything changes. The world around us is a cauldron of simmering discontent. The movies and performances we enjoyed last year were very different from the films this year. And 2007 will be even more different.

And if there's a contradiction to Sanjay Dutt playing Munnabhai and standing in a courtroom facing serious charges, then I guess we need to realise characters outlive the actors who play them.

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Rang De Basanti

Kangana Ranaut Pictures


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