2014: THE YEAR IN REVIEW

Yet another year nears its end where Bollywood gave us a few reasons to retain our faith in quality Hindi cinema. How much of this quality was actually geared towards making the movie-going experience a memorable time for the entire family, remains an endless topic of discussion.

On one hand, films like Mary Kom, Hawaa Hawaai and Bhoothnath Returns not only provided some wholesome entertainment for the entire family but also delivered positive messages for kids of different ages. On the other hand, 2014 also gave us disasters of massive proportions, like Humshakals, Happy Ending, Kill Dil, Gunday and The Shaukeens, which unfortunately upheld the saying that for every step Bollywood takes forward towards churning out good family entertainers, it also takes two steps backwards.

As we usher in the New Year with renewed hope, ending 2014 on a positive note with Aamir Khan’s PK, BollySitter is proud to present its Annual Year in Review. We list the top Bollywood films of the year (in no particular order) that parents can use as a guide to spend some guilt-free time together as a family.

PS: You may not find some of your personal favorites of the year on this list simply due to the fact that they did not qualify in accordance with BollySitter’s core Mission Statement.

 

HAWAA HAWAAI (Age: 12+, Family GO Factor: 4.0/5.0)

One of the two prominent films of the year that featured a story about kids and taught children how to never give up on their dreams. After “Taare Zameen Par” and “Stanley Ka Dabba”, this was Amol Gupte’s third outing as a writer and starred his own son as the lead.

BHOOTHNATH RETURNS (Age: 10+, Family GO Factor: 3.5/5.0)

Despite a flawed second-half, Bhoothnath Returns offered enough fun moments for kids to laugh at…and learn from…with Superstar Amitabh Bachchan and Boman Irani. The second mainstream film to feature a child in a major role.

PK (Age: 10+, Family GO Factor: 4.0/5.0)

An Aamir Khan outing with a social message and Raju Hirani’s deft direction. What more can parents look for, when it comes to treating their kids with some quality cinema?

KICK (Age: 10+, Family GO Factor: 3.5/5.0)

Finally Salman Khan gave us something that the entire family could enjoy, whistle at and go home rooting for the DeVil himself. This was the most fun parents could have, with their children beside them, watching a Sallu movie, after a long time.

MARY KOM (Age: 10+, Family GO Factor: 3.5/5.0)

The “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag” of 2014, Mary Kom was a perfect example of how to overcome the odds and come out on top, despite your humble upbringing and your own personal shortcomings. Mary Kom had a message for everyone, adults and kids alike.

HASEE TOH PHASEE (Age: 7+, Family GO Factor: 3.0/5.0)

No message. No histrionics. Just pure, simple fun, some poignant moments to tug your hearts and a great acting turn by Parineeti Chopra. Hasee Toh Phasee is a highly recommended watch for the entire family by BollySitter.

KHOOBSURAT (Age: 10+, Family GO Factor: 3.0/5.0)

Obviously Sonam Kapoor is no match for Rekha and neither was her official remake of the classic film. However, this Khoobsurat still offered some clean entertainment for today’s generation and was a relatively safe bet for parents to sit and watch with their children.

HAPPY NEW YEAR (Age: 10+, Family GO Factor: 3.0/5.0)

We picked the SRK-Farah Khan caper over Hrithik Roshan’s “Bang Bang” for the marginal edge it had over the latter in terms of providing masala entertainment. Good music, good locations and a decent ensemble cast made this a watchable family year of 2014.

DAAWAT-E-ISHQ (Age: 7+, Family GO Factor: 3.0/5.0)

A small film with a big social message on the antiquated and yet still prevalent dowry system within India, Daawat-E-Ishq told a simple story in a simple fashion. With Hyderabad and its culinary delights as its backdrop, this film gave parents a lot of topics to have some meaningful discussions on, with their kids.

QUEEN (Age: 15+, Family GO Factor: 3.0/5.0)

Finally, the only 15+ film that is on BollySitter’s Top Films of the Year, Queen was a classic example of quality cinema from BollyWood. It had everything working in its favor – a heart-warming story, catchy music, wonderful locations, great comedy, characters we could all relate to and a superb acting gig by Kangna Ranaut. The film had certain adult situations/language but this was essential movie-watching for kids who fall into the appropriate age-bracket.

PK (2014)

BollySitter Recommended Age:         10+ (For adult language and sexuality)

BollySitter Family GO Factor:           4.0/5.0

The Review Monk TRM Score:          7.9/10.0

 

Directed by:     Rajkumar Hirani

Produced by:   Rajkumar Hirani, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Siddharth Roy Kapur

Screenplay by: Abhijat Joshi, Rajkumar Hirani

Starring:           Aamir Khan, Anushka Sharma, Sushant Singh Rajput, Boman Irani, Saurabh Shukla, Sanjay Dutt

Music by:         Ajay Atul, Shantanu Moitra, Ankit Tiwari

Lyrics by:        Swanand Kirkire

Language:       Hindi

Running time: 153 minutes

Genre(s):         Comedy, Social Drama

 

PK_Theatrical_Poster

 

BollySitter says

Aamir Khan’s PK is a no waste of time. It’s a complete entertainer and can be enjoyed with the whole family. Apart from a mild reference to implied sex (which are already shown in the trailers) there isn’t anything to be worried about. The film’s director Rajukumar Hirani has already proved himself to be a master storyteller who portrays society’s problems in a light- hearted manner. PK also deals with complex stereotypes, philosophies, and orthodox beliefs in a very humane way without getting heavy-handed.

Content

PK is a story about a stranger named PK in the city, who asks questions that no one has asked before. They are innocent, childlike questions, but they bring about catastrophic answers. People who are set in their ways for generations, are forced to reappraise their world when they see it from PK’s innocent eyes. In the process PK makes loyal friends and powerful foes, mends broken lives and angers the establishment. PK’s childlike curiosity transforms into a spiritual odyssey for him and millions of others. The film is an ambitious and explores the complex philosophies and beliefs. It is also a simple and humane tale of love, laughter and letting-go.

Violence 

Apart from some slapstick violence and chases there is no physical violence shown. There is a scene of bomb blast in which few dead bodies are shown.

Sexuality

There are a few scenes where moving cars are shown implying couples having sex in them, no nudity is shown, faded moaning can be heard. In the opening scene PK is shown to be naked but nothing explicit is shown. Those scenes are also shown in the trailers. In one scene a character visits a prostitute. Age appropriate romance and one lip kiss is shown.

Language 

Language is mild with only minor cuss words like “tharki”, “harami” and “kamina” are used. In one sequence where two characters talk about a condom and its purpose, the discussion is humorous.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

None

Discussion points

*SPOILER ALERT* (Only because the main plot of the film is not revealed in the trailers)

PK is an important film because it provides a lot of talking points for parents and other moviegoers. The main character, who is shown to be ignorant of the societies’ beliefs and other stereotypes, asks a lot of innocent questions which leave people tongue tied. The film questions fundamentalism and organizations of all the religions and how Godmen and priests are taking advantage of innocent people’s fear of God. PK asks some very smart questions which can be a good discussion points for the parents, and what kids think about the place of religion in life.

Apart from religion, the movie also questions how politics of the two neighboring countries has created a pre-conceived bias in the minds of their citizens who form views of other country’s citizens without fully knowing or understanding them. PK also brings up the taboo Indian topic of sex as a topic of discussion.

PK touches upon the current model of 24/7 news channels who feed news not to educate people about important current affairs and worthy stories, but to simply raise viewership to increase revenues. PK the film itself, however, doesn’t feel shy about product placements which are thrown in throughout the film.

Bechdel Test = 0/3

PK has only one main female character.

 

For the quality of the film, check out the reviews on http://thereviewmonk.com/movie/pk/

BollySitter Recommends: SHOLAY (1975)

BollySitter Recommended Age:         10+

BollySitter Family GO Factor:           4.0/5.0

 

Directed by:    Ramesh Sippy

Starring:          Dharmendra, Sanjeev Kumar, Hema Malini, Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bhaduri, Amjad Khan

Written By:    Salim-Javed

Language:       Hindi

Music by:        RD Burman

Produced by:   GP Sippy

Lyrics by:        Anand Bakshi

Running time: 204 mins

Genre(s):         Drama, Action, Adventure

 

Sholay

 

 

SYNOPSIS

An all-time classic, Sholay is an amazingly well-crafted saga that is forever etched in memories of fans of Indian cinema. It demonstrates the highest level of skill in both the art and technical craft and ultimately is complete entertainer of a film that can be enjoyed by the entire family.

The story is essentially a revenge drama full of action, thrills and emotions! In the small village of Ramgarh, a retired policeman summons a pair of small-time thieves that he had once arrested, to help him capture a notorious dacoit wanted by the authorities.

 

WHY RECOMMENDED

The film is a master class in techniques of filmmaking. It’s primarily a triumph of incredible writing with many unforgettable characters, dialogues and sequences penned by Salim-Javed (even as they drew some very high level inspirations from other sources). The film also serves as an amazing vehicle for director Ramesh Sippy to show his talent with unforgettable set pieces. The film is a sheer explosion on the screen that includes top-notch contributions by the who’s who of top stars of Hindi Cinema. The background music by RD Burman is a huge bonanza!

The film isn’t just sheer entertainment and thrills but has some takeaway messages as well, in terms of friendship between the two protagonists. It shows that one of them lies to save other’s life or helps the other person make the right choices. The film also somewhat positively shows the possibility of a widow starting another relationship, which was taboo in India.

A lesser known fact about Sholay is the role played by the Indian Film Censor Board in those days. Originally, Sholay was filmed with an ending sequence which is gory and shows the policeman taking the law in his own hands. The Censor Board had objected to this ending and asked the director to film a milder alternate ending. This is a great fodder for discussion – how much power should the censor have? Should they just provide an objective rating assessment and suggest appropriate cuts?  To what extent should they actually influence filmmaking? (Readers can view the “original” ending here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6p-_OIDp_g)

 

CAUTION ZONE

The film is clean in terms of sexuality. There is very minor use bad language, e.g., words like Kameena, Haramzada, Kutta are used. There are only a couple of smoking scenes and other than one long drunk (& funny) sequence there isn’t much drinking shown either.

However, there are many violent scenes that may often be intense & frightening. A train robbery is shown in the opening sequence, followed by visuals of a bloody dead body. There are many chase sequences involving horses and intense background music. One female character is shown to dance on broken glass with blood shown. There are sequences of escape from jail and scenes showing stealing. One gun sequence involves a game of Russian Roulette in a memorable but scary sequence where the dacoit’s henchmen are initially spared but eventually shot dead. There are plenty of scenes of arson, looting, stampede at the village and some gruesome sequences involving the cop and the dacoit.

Please note, however, that since the film is set as an action-adventure-drama, the seemingly chilling and violent scenes in fact come off milder than the description above suggests, when viewed on screen. The film is more focused on thrills and advancing the plot than the dwelling much on the action scenes.

The main protagonists are also shown as petty thieves and swindlers who, at one point, are willing to cheat their own employer. Parents might want to discuss aspects about criminal reform and grey characterization of the main characters with children.

 

FINAL WORD

Sholay is a must watch film, one that frequently finds an entry in Top 5 or Top 10 lists of all-time greats of Indian Cinema. Every aspect of the film is crafted with care and immense mastery, be it dialogues, characterizations, background music, photogrpahy, screenwriting or acting!

The film is appropriate for viewing with kids in the 10+ age group due to the frequent and long violent sequences. BollySitter gives Sholay a “GO” rating of 4.0/5.0.

ACTION JACKSON (2014)

Directed by:     Prabhu Deva

Starring:           Ajay Devgan, Sonakshi Sinha, Yami Gautam, Kunaal Roy Kapur, Manasvi Mamgai

Written By:      Prabhudeva, Shiraz Ahmed. A. C. Mughil

Language:        Hindi

Music by:         Himesh Reshammiya

Produced by:   Gordhan P TanwaniSunil Lulla

Running time:  146 minutes

BollySitter Recommended Age: 12+

BollySitter Family GO Factor: 1.0/5.0

BollySitter Says

If you must insist, the film can be watched by 12+ year-olds but is full of stylized violence, gore and includes some scenes brimming with sexual energy too. Adults could watch it if they leave their brains (& kids) at home and don’t mind masala escapist cinema at its best (or worst for some!)

action jackson seal

Content

Action Jackson is an absurd action comedy that is mainly a star vehicle for Ajay Devgan, and for Prabhu Deva who goes all out to show off the latest borrowed-from-Hollywood special FX for the action sequences.  The film is essentially action scenes and songs put together in random order to fill up a feature length film. The film is a revenge action drama in which the main lead, who worked for underworld don eventually turns tables against him.

Violence 

The film is full of violent scenes including endless killings & shootings with guns; plenty of blood and dead bodies are shown. Some of it is highly stylized, however, other sequences border on gore. There are realistic fight sequences shown with knives and swords ala Tarantino and Rodriguez. Bottles are broken on people’s head, plenty of people get stabbed & sliced and take this, toothpicks are used as a weapon for mass destruction, no less.  Two friends are even shown slapping each other often, just for you know, fun! It doubles as a “slap”-stick comedy too!

Intense & Frightening scenes

There are numerous frightening scenes involving chases, screams & loud background music. There are scenes involving car blasts & fire that are intense.  The film is basically a feature length intense action sequences broken by random comic (apparently) sequences and foot-tapping (seemingly) numbers to give some respite to the audience from the high kinetic energy.

Sexuality 

There is some crass sexual behavior shown where one of the girls thinks her luck changes for better if she sees her man naked. The villain’s sister lives a heavily sexualized existence and wants a man desperately. There are many scenes of seduction and making out though no kissing or sex is shown. One of the female characters is shown backless in one of the scenes and wearing a skimpy two piece bikini in some others.

Language 

Language is surprisingly mild with only minor cuss words like Harami and Kutta being used.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

There are many scenes of drinking and smoking shown throughout the film. In one scene a serving of coffee is drugged and consumed.

Discussion Points

One of the leads is shown in a Robinhood-esque role of a large hearted goon! Other than this, the film is just an escapist cinema which leaves your mind as soon you leave the cinema hall!  Parents, if you do end up watching the film, how about using this film as a way to teach kids and your other friends about lack of quality is a masala film like this.  Such mindless films are made all too often in Indian cinema and lapped up by audience who make it a blockbuster. You can discuss the lack of any message, cinematic quality or art in a film like this and suggest alternate films that should get more attention and recognition. If educated audience such as ourselves don’t reject such films, these films will continue to get made. There are many other films that are also escapist, masala & offer wholesome family entertainment which are well made with a lot of effort put in the art & craft of cinematic storytelling.

Bechdel test 0/3

Movie does have three main female characters but they don’t interact with each other at all.

For the quality of the film, check out the reviews on http://thereviewmonk.com/movie/action-jackson/