A Bud Of Time – Looking back at the Cinema of 2016
Ever since man was born and began to cohabit as a community, storytelling has been a reflection of time. Widespread folktales grew into art, music, paintings and what not. What remained constant throughout this while is the intrinsic need to look back and introspect upon progress. Not just to sway proud in achievements or sulk deep with failures; but to get a sense of the journey we are on, as people, and as a society. And nothing holds nostalgia better than images.
As time threatens to flee away moment by moment and we stand at the beginning of another year full of activity, it is important to gather these bits to carry forward.
Let’s take a look at the many lessons 2016 has given us, to know the medium, to master the craft, and eventually decipher the art.
- Size does not matter – 2016 was a boon for the web. Short films, web talkies and famous web series took away the limelight with new and fascinating concepts coming to life in reasonable and all-available mediums. And they weren’t just accepted but devoured by the audience quite happily. This only says a lot about the times to come where the cyber space will become the go-to medium.
- Content is King: I am glad that this is a point, and an effective one at that, in this list of counters. What I am more glad about is that, in the past decade Bollywood has been increasingly welcoming to films that are fresh, different and more authentic. When films like Pink, Waiting and Island City come forward and are appreciated just for the story they have to say, it is evident that the times to come are going to make way for good content, despite the loopholes this giant system seems to sport.
- Less is More: As the movies considerably reduce their run times and find ways to say more through less, it is indeed commendable to notice the good this process is doing to the traditional Bollywood format. Movies have become crisper and cut straight to the point, with even commercial movies letting the story dictate its narrative time. The criticism overtly long films like Mohenjo Daro and Shivaay have received only reaffirms this point.
- Freshly Mixed is Freshly Brewed: At the crux of what we are, as people and as a society has essentially been the same all through our existence. The way we love, hate, like, dislike, live and die, is essentially the same. To expect each story to be starkly different and absolutely unrelated to each other, is rather impractical. And yet, the audience is not to be blamed if on each Friday, their taste buds desire something new. Filmmakers creatively managed to handle this dichotomy in 2016. Films like Dangal and Kapoor & Sons showed how a new package and interesting characters can easily foray a fresh perspective into the age-old genres.
- Authentic is Attractive: With a lot of our films, this year was about distinct perspectives of a pre-held vision, there was a whole lot of films that broke ice into a world that was completely new. Films like Udta Punjab or even Madaari presented interesting milieus that were new, enticing and cinematic indeed. They showed how the raw and gritty feel of a film, and the uncomfortable questions it raises are an essential responsibility of cinema.
- Character is the New Hero: 2016, very much like 2015, has been a year of biopics. From commercial blockbusters like Sarbjit and MS Dhoni – The Untold Story to quiet masterpieces like Neerja, the year visibly told us how heroes reside in regular people like us. It was enticing indeed to see real people become immortal on screen, and deservingly so, as genre-varied tributes kept rolling up the screens, all through this year.
- Independent is not small anymore: Let’s admit it. Making it to the big screen, in itself, is a big deal. It is a platform for a film to test its merit, and also an encouraging push not just to the filmmaker of a particular film but the whole industry that is starving to say stories. Dhanak and Parched are just examples of how simple endearing stories got to see the light of day because of the faith and trust imbibed by the makers.
- Rejection is also an evidence of taste: When a film works, there is a whole team responsible for it. When it doesn’t, the team still remains responsible. But what truly make or breaks a film is the audience. And 2016 has been an evidence of the fact that the audience will not take in dishonesty anymore. It is important to note that films like Fan or Befikre did not create a buzz, or talk, and were not embraced with their limitations. In fact, they were held out to remind the filmmakers that a big production house, a namely director or even the biggest of stars cannot save a film that does not do justice to its story. I agree that this has been true for the medium ever since it began, but it is heartening to see that the audience that loves its cinema so much is probing its filmmakers and pushing them out of their comfort zones.
- Language of Cinema: Last but not the least, it is great to know that in a country that has close to 30 languages and dialects that change every hundred kilometers, we are embracing cinema at its core form. When films like Sairat and Chauthi Koot, rise up to national fame despite the regional barriers they were initially made with, a good time for cinema can be safely envisioned.
It is important to not look at these as generalizations or a cohesive parameter to measure the success or failure of the industry; but look as this as a mirror, to cherish, celebrate, and hopefully outperform in the times to come. Cheers, to the movies!
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