It's that retrospective time of year, and over the next week or so I hope to review my favorite music, books, movies and television from 2011. In my Favorites of 2010 my Bollywood choices dated from 1972, 1958 and 1960. But oddly enough, my two favorite Bollywood films seen in 2011 were actually released in the last twelve months. In alphabetical order:
Band Baaja Baaraat (Bands, horns and revelry, 2010)
I wrote about Band Baaja Baaraat in an earlier post. Since then we've seen it a second time, and enjoyed it even more. I'm still disappointed by the final speech of Bittoo (Ranveer Singh), which, if the subtitles are reliable, seems too self-involved. But up until that moment the film offers the compelling story of two wedding planners, Bittoo and Shruti (the excellent Anushka Sharma), who don't recognize until it's almost too late how much better they are together than apart. Plus BBB has some good Salim-Sulaiman songs; click on the link to the earlier post to see the charming "Ainvayi Ainvayi."
Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (You don't get a second chance at life, 2011)
In Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, three college friends who have grown apart over the years are drawn back together when one of them becomes engaged. The engagement pushes them to finally take a long-delayed road trip through Spain. On that trip each of them must face his greatest fears and make a life-altering choice.
Initially I thought that the friends-learn-life-lessons-on-road-trip plot seemed too well-worn. But an excellent script (by director Zoya Akhtar, actor Farhan Akhtar, and Reema Kagti) and strong performances, particularly from Farhan Akhtar, Abhay Deol and Hrithik Roshan as the three friends, made this one of the most memorable films I saw in the past year. And while Shankar-Eshaan-Loy's songs didn't impress me tremendously when I heard them before seeing the movie, they work beautifully in the context of the film. "Khaabon ke Parinday" is a good example of a low-key ZNMD song that's grown on me, in part due to the spectacular Spanish scenery:
I have to confess that another reason I was reluctant to see ZNMD at first was the presence of Katrina Kaif in the cast. The few times we've seen her we've found her acting to be self-conscious, her dancing to be graceless, and her collagen-enhanced lips to be distracting (and not in a good way). But here she does a wonderful job as a free-spirited scuba instructor who helps the stressed-out workaholic Arjun (Hrithik) re-examine his priorities. A lovely movie that I look forward to re-watching soon.
More Favorites of 2011: Books, Movies, Music, and Television