By Pankaj Sachdeva

Another year ends. Another one is about to begin. It is time to look back and take stock of the year that went by. For some years, I used to compile a list of memorable scenes from the movies that were released in the last year. It is those moments that make me remember those movies. It could be a long conversational sequence, a fleeting shot, or a quote-worthy dialogue. In Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, there is a particular line where Ayan says, “Dil ke pet bhar gaya ho.” This year, in terms of Hindi movies, there have been few films that gave the satiated feeling to dil ka pet. So, trying to remember some moments that did give this feeling from the films of the last year.

1. My most favourite moment of the year is the car scene in Zoya Akhtar’s Gully Boy. It is New Year’s Eve. The outside world celebrates and starts the countdown to a new beginning of time, while Murad (Ranveer Singh) sits all by himself in his employer’s car and awaits the new year of his time. The car is parked under a canopy of lights in a square area. The reflection of the lights falls all over the car while Murad sits in darkness inside, having moments of self-reflection, that lead to his soliloquy, “Apna time aayega. Ye shabdon ka jwaala, meri bediyaan pighlaayega.” My time will come. The lava in my words will melt the shackles that hold me. He attains enlightenment at that moment under the lights and the stars. It is a terrific and rousing scene that motivates one to do better in their own life.

2. There is a stunning scene in Abhishek Chaubey’s Sonchiriya where Phuliya (Sampa Mandal) asks Indu (Bhumi Pednekar) to join her bandit gang but she refuses as she says that she does not belong to her caste. Phuliya laughs at her and tells her that she still does not get it. She adds that all these caste groups are for men. Women are a separate caste altogether where they lie at the bottom of this pyramid. It is a thought-provoking view that everyone knew it but never articulated it before with such lucidity.

3. In Ivan Ayr’s tale of sisterhood Soni, there is a sequence towards the end of the film where Kalpana (Saloni Batra) comes to visit Soni (Geetika Vidya Ohlyan) at her house and gives her Amrita Pritam’s autobiography Raseedi Ticket. On being asked the reason behind the title of the book, Kalpana explains that someone told Amrita Pritam that her life story is so inconsequential that she could simply write it at the back of a revenue stamp. During the same scene, Kalpana advises to not resign from the police force, to which Soni replies, “Mere force mein rehne se kya pharak padega?” Kalpana does not respond but starts narrating the story of her niece who wanted to shoot all the boys in her school. Kalpana tried to comfort and change her viewpoint. In the same vein, she is here to comfort and convince Soni to not think any less of herself or her ambitions. Soni can write her own Raseedi Ticket. One of the memorable scenes of the previous year was Amrita Pritam’s poem Main Tenu Phir Milangi in Anurag Kashyap’s Manmarziyaan.
4. In Anubhav Sinha’s Article 15, there is a scene where Ayan (Ayushmann Khurrana) walks through the fog and the mist and sees the bodies of the girls hanging on the tree.  Moments later, the policemen casually discuss the right way of pulling those bodies down. It is a chilling scene that becomes even more difficult to watch when one realizes that this brutality has happened in real life.

5. I was a tad disappointed by Shonali Bose’s The Sky Is Pink which I really wanted to like but could not as much as I wanted. There is an artificial vibe to it which prevents me from fully embracing it. But there is a beautiful moment in the film when the couple’s first daughter Tanya is suffering through a lot of pain in her last days. A dejected Aditi (Priyanka Chopra Jonas) takes her to the hospital church where an old lady (Mala Hashmi) consoles her by saying that Mother Mary understands her pain. Aditi replies that if she understands her pain, then why cannot she save her daughter. The lady responds that is because she understands the little one’s pain as well, which is why she wants to ease her of her suffering. It is at that moment, Aditi realizes that it is best that her daughter goes away from this world in peace. After this, Aditi gets baptized and embraces Christianity. The film told us about her religion in the beginning but now it becomes clear as to what her reasons were for embracing a new religion.
6. I will always remember Sandeep Vanga’s Kabir Singh by the moment where Kabir’s Dadi (Kamini Kaushal) refuses to meet him after he leaves the house. She is the only person who really understands the turmoil faced by Kabir (Shahid Kapoor). She says, in life, it is not easy to forget the people who leave us and the pain of leaving cannot be shared. It has to be only borne by the person experiencing the loss. “Suffering is very personal. Let him suffer“, she adds in her calm demeanour, giving a profound lesson on pain, loss, and grief.

7. In Siddharth Anand’s War, I really liked Naina (Vaani Kapoor) who plays a crucial role in awakening Kabir’s conscience. Her scenes with Kabir (Hrithik Roshan) were some of my favourite scenes from the film. When she sees Kabir in a tense mood, she knew something was wrong and asks him, “Mera dil tootne vala hai?” Naina teaches Kabir some timely lessons related to the discourse of nationalism which a lot of people need to distill as well. Not everyone has vowed to save India by being a soldier. For ordinary people, trying to live a decent life is a battle in itself. She also talks to him about the importance of relationships and that she cannot trust a loner like him who has chosen the path of martyrdom. She gives a painting of her daughter Roohi’s dream to remind him that she is not just a civilian asset. In the end, Kabir makes sure to fulfil that dream where he takes her surfing in Australia. Also, I loved the scene where Khaled (Tiger Shroff) says, “Can I get in line?

8. In Shelly Chopra Dhar’s Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga, there is a sequence where Sweety (Sonam Kapoor Ahuja) narrates her traumatic life from childhood where she was bullied and discriminated by her school mates because she did not fit in with them. She found a friend in a boy who also did not fit in. One day, she saw her own brother bullying her friend. The scenes are heartbreaking and moving. Anyone who has faced such violent trauma during school days would be able to relate to them. One remarkable thing about the film is its understanding of same-sex relationships. The childhood bits in the film make the point homosexuality is not a choice. In films, such as FireDedh Ishqiya, and even the recently released Dream Girl, women turn to same-sex relationships after they are ignored by the men in their life, reaffirming the stance that homosexuality is a choice. At best, the women in those films could be called queer or bisexual. It is, perhaps, not right to add labels but still, I would say that Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga truly did something different here.

9. Ritesh Batra’s Photograph ends with Miloni (Saanya Malhotra) and Rafi (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) chatting outside a cinema hall when they go for a movie. Rafi says that the stories of all the movies are usually the same; their life will soon turn into a movie as well, but we do not see that as the film only focused on building their unlikely relationship. It is a quiet scene that leaves us thinking about their future, just like we imagined the future of Ila (Nimrat Kaur) and Saajan (Irrfan Khan) in The Lunchbox. Whenever I think of this film, all the shots of feet in the film also come to my mind.

10. In Prakash Kovelamudi’s Judgementall Hai Kya, Bobby (Kangana Ranuat) often talks about aawaazpet ki aawaaz. At one point, Sridhar (Jimmy Shergill) asks her that he has heard about dil ki aawaaz but he does not know about pet ki aawaaz. Bobby replies, “Jab koi haadsa hone vala hota hai, dil silent rehta hai, aur pet se aawaaz aati hai.” When it is about survival, and everything else is silent, it is our own gut that comes to our rescue. I also really liked the futuristic Ramayana and the psychedelic cinematography of the sequences shot in the streets of London.

Honorable Mentions:

1. The coach cutting potatoes during the kabaddi scene in Nitesh Tiwari’s Chhichhore.
2. In Ajay Bahl’s Section 375, Anjali (Meera Chopra) is questioned if Rohan (Rahul Bhat) ejaculated when he assaulted her. She replies does any man stop before that.
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