Looking Forward To A Great Year Ahead
Every year, there are new and interesting voices that make an impression on the audience. Sometimes these voices are so bold and assertive that you know they are here to stay. They leave you speechless and craving for more. In our quest to find these kinds of voices from all fields and languages in India, we found this group of illustrious artists who ticked all the right boxes.
Vidyasagar Chinta – Amardeep Guttula (Raja Vaaru Rani Gaaru)
Raja Vaaru Rani Gaaru is a mood-piece. It asks you to sit with the three friends on a half-green canal slope and soak in their simplistic rituals, it calls you to run through the knee-soaking paddy fields puffing out care for the world, it makes you lazily gaze at the night skies and wonderfully exchange made-up stories, and begs you to stay to see a love story in the midst of a shy boy and an even shier girl. The dreamy places captured under the summer skies, and the mist-laden air of the wintery nights, have so much to say about the sweet nothings exchanged between the leads. And thus, the place and atmosphere play a vital part in telling this straight-forward story. In capturing their essence, the cinematographer duo, Vidyasagar Chinta, and Amardeep Guttula use extended shots to bring the level of calmness and timelessness to the framings. The vibrantly painted walls contradict the otherwise mundanely sitting life existing within the village. Thus, making it one of the most beautiful looking films of the year and the credit lies on the capable shoulders of the young and talented cinematographer duo.
Ivan Ayr (Soni)
Ivan Ayr is one of those film-makers that when you see his first film, you know he is going places. His film Soni chronicles the lives of two Delhi cops, while they are dealing with a case regarding sexual violence against women. He chooses to shoot most of the scenes in long takes without cuts, which puts you in the moment with the characters. This was a brave decision that could very easily fall flat if the right care wasn’t taken in getting all the technical aspects spot on. Due to the lack of cuts the camera needs to work in tandem with all the characters on screen to make it seem almost like a balletic impeccably choreographed dance. Somehow, he and his team pull of this tightrope walk without missing a beat. That is the reason I can not wait for what he does next.
Yazurved Gurram – Rajkumar Kasireddy (Raja Vaaru Rani Gaaru)
Two of my favorite comedic performances come from the comedic duo of Yazurved Gurram Rajkumar Kasireddy in the criminally underrated Telugu film Raja Vaaru Rani Gaaru. Rajkumar Kasireddy’s Choudary is a snappy motor-mouthed high dreaming fellow, with an innocent smile to cover up his extraordinary antics. He exudes an all-knowing buildup which is tough not to like, as he speaks with a razor-sharp dialect that delivers punches in rapid successions. He is ably supported by Yazurved Gurram’s Naidu, the calmer yin to Choudary’s eccentric yang. Yazurved uses his boyish charm to great effect when he is in situations that require him only to be vulnerable and subjugated. Both of them represent the simplistic yet celebratory lifestyle often forgotten by urban migrants. With properly fleshed-out character arches, Choudary and Naidu together deliver performances that will be remembered for years.
Saloni Batra – Geetika Vidya (Soni)
On the other end of the spectrum, when you look at dramatic performances. I can’t think of anyone other than the dynamic duo of Geetika Vidya Ohlyan as Soni and Saloni Batra as Kalpana from Soni. Both the leads look and feel like they are fully immersed in the milieu that the director wants to put the audience in. Geetika brings a kind of immediacy to her role where it feels like she can pounce at you in any moment while trying to hold back her instincts. Saloni Batra brings in the restraint and composure that becomes a part of anyone with enough experience in a system like the Delhi Police Force. Hence making the proceedings feel all the more immediate and giving the whole piece more gravitas.
Lima Das (Aamis)
Aamis is a very emotionally dense and authentic film with a lot of hidden layers. This kind of result can only be achieved only when you can get absolutely knockout performances from your cast. So, I was surprised when I learned that both the leads of the film were debutants. But the real star here was definitely Lima Das, who plays Nirmali. Niramli is a tough nut to crack, you never really know what she is thinking, and that is how Lima Das plays her. She is enigmatic and distant, but at the same time irresistible when she opens up. Just like Sumon (played by Arghadeep Baruah) you are waiting for the moment that her eyes light up with joy, just to witness it. Hope she does a lot more work in 2020.
Harshavardhan Rameshwar (George Reddy/Kabir Singh)
Harshvardhan Rameshwar is not a name you might be familiar with, but you have definitely heard his music. Whatever you think of the gender politics of Arjun Reddy or Kabir Singh, one thing you cannot dismiss is the insanely electrifying score of the film. Harshvardhan is the man behind that madness. He elevates and maximizes the impact of every scene with his thumping guitar sounds and makes every punch register and every emotion matter. He does the same with his other George Reddy. He takes the story of the student leader and with his music makes him a hero. I really want to see him score for a proper commercial film and see what he can do in that genre.
Abhimanyu Dassani (Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota)
There have been a lot of debuts from star-kids over the years but none have been as modest or interesting as Abhimanyu’s in Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota. In the film, he plays a character that has a medical problem that does not allow him to feel pain. Hence, he is homeschooled and kept away from society, making him a man child. Mr. Dasani takes this idea and runs with it. He not only learned martial arts for the role so that he could do his own stunts, but he also went full method by choosing not to speak to anyone for months before the shoot to create a loner kind of body language. He changes everything about himself from the posture to walking style to voice to the way he smiles to embody this Deadpoolesque man-child and it pays off, making it one of the best performances of the year. He is already working on his next project and we cannot wait to see what he does with that.
Anna Ben (Kumbalangi Nights/Helen)
Malayalam cinema has had a great year in 2019. There have been a lot of great finds in terms of talent. But there is one person that has definitely made a great impression and that is Anna Ben. She debuted with her role as the assertive yet sweet girl next door in the smash hit Kumbalangi Nights. This is especially impressive because the film boasts of an illustrious cast such as Fahadh Faasil, Soubin Shahir, Shane Nigam, etc. but she manages to stand out and make an impression. She then followed this up with her titular role in Helen, where she plays a fast-food employee who gets stuck in a freezer. With just her second film, she scored a hit purely on her own merit. In this survival drama, she not only showcases her skills to do physically challenging roles but also shows a knack for choosing the right scripts and characters to chart herself a great career ahead.
Muhsin Parari – Sharafu – Suhas (Virus)
Virus, in my opinion, had the most accomplished and complex script of the year and it is all thanks to this trio of writers. Sharafu and Suhas have previously worked on the brilliant action thriller Varathan. They join hands with the writer of Sudani from Nigeria, Muhsin Parai to create a perfect script that is equal parts thrilling and equal parts full of heart. Virus is an investigative medical thriller that is set in the backdrop of the 2018 Nipah virus outbreak in Kerala. The plot is set in Kozhikode and follows the various stages of the epidemic from identification to its total eradication. This film is a masterclass in giving exposition in the most organic way possible. As the writers through the film lays out the arduous process that it took to eradicate the virus in painstaking detail, we learn about the various strangers who had to come together to save their community. While there are very emotional stories to be told here, the writers never let it become exploitative or melodramatic even with its tragic parts. Get me a ticket for anything this trio is working on in the future.
Ron Ethan Yohann (Game Over)
A horror movie lives or dies on the merit of its music. If the music works, only then do we feel the scares or the mood that the filmmaker intends to put us in. Without that, it can easily fall flat and come off as comical. This is exactly why Ron Ethan Yohann is on this list. He understands perfectly how to build a scene to its peak with just his music to complement the claustrophobic nature of the film. His score for the minimalist horror film Game Over is equal parts unsettling and equal parts melodic. The film has a very little number of characters and deals a lot in ambiguity and thus the music holds this horror piece together and Ron could be greatly credited for that.
Sachet-Parampara (Kabir Singh)
Most of us are still in the hangover of the amazing song ‘Bekhayali’ from Kabir Singh. It is one of the biggest songs of 2019 and has redefined the purest form of love in a simple yet relatable way. The people behind creating this masterpiece are the incredibly talented duo – Sachet Tandon and Parampara Thakur. The duo who has given music for movies like Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, Batti Gul Meter Chalu, Kabir Singh, Jabariya Jodi, Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas, Pati Patni Aur Woh, etc., has given quite a few hit tracks in their career so far. The duo, which composes the music, writes the lyrics and also sings, has been enjoying the success of ‘Bekhayali’ and ‘Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas’ songs. Sachet and Parampara were even honored with international accolades in an event in Dubai, for their record-smashing song ‘Bekhayali’, in September last year. This year the duo is set to enthrall the audience starting with the film Tanhaji. We can’t wait to see what they pull out of their musical bags in the years to come.
Karthik Rao-Simran Hora (Kota Factory)
Last year we got to see one of the most popular and critically acclaimed hit series, Kota Factory. TVF’s Kota Factory, a drama and comedy series and India’s first black and white web series, created by Saurabh Khanna, became an instant hit, given the relatable story, fleshed-out characters and an honest approach it had. The series gave us many talented artists among which two artists stand out for their incredible work. The brilliant music of the Kota Factory is composed by the talented duo of Karthik Rao and Simran Hora. The way their music elevates an amazing narrative and adds a lot of depth to the scenes was mesmerizing to watch. They uplift the emotions of the characters with their simple yet effective score and set the mood of the scene very well.
Both of them have showcased their incredible ability with series like Humorously Yours 2, F.A.T.H.E.R.S, Gullak, Cubicles, etc., over the years. Apart from composing music for these popular series, they have created and sang songs in various other hit web series like Hostel daze, PA-Gals, ImMature, etc. The kind of work they are doing, they are bound to stay here for a long time and create more and more hit music and popular soundtracks consistently.
Ravi Muppa-Niren Bhatt-Pavel Bhattacharjee (Bala)
One of the biggest hits of last year, Bala, was liked by everyone and became popular immediately given the various things it was packaged with. Starring Ayushmann Khurrana, Yami Gautam and Bhumi Pednekar in the lead roles, Bala is about a man who aspires to become a stand-up comedian while going bald every day which leads him to become insecure and constantly be afraid of societal judgment. Now, this is a very serious topic but was very well layered with comedy at the forefront. The writing team of this hit film consists of Niren Bhatt, Ravi Muppa and Pavel Bhattacharjee who have together created a masterpiece in Bala, which was praised highly by everyone. The pivotal characters of Bala, Latika and Pari were fleshed out very well, had properly defined character arcs, and raised many questions about the deeply rooted stereotypes of our society. All these elements were balanced well with some insane hilarious scenes, witty dialogues, and a pacy and engrossing screenplay.
All the writers have individually worked on various projects like Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah (Niren Bhatt), The Family Man (Ravi Muppa), Rosogolla (Pavel Bhattacharjee), etc., and have shown the incredible talent they possess. With the success of Bala, it is quite apparent that they are well aware of what the audience wants and they have cracked the formula of producing commercially viable content. These talented artists are bound to shine in the future and it will be interesting to see what they will have to offer next.