Tag Archives: Brahman Naman

Best Bollywood Movies of 2016

2016 was a darned good year for Hindi films, with positive reviews outnumbering negative reviews 26-22 at this site. Here’s my list of the Best Bollywood Movies of 2016. (Click on the title of each movie to read my original review.)

I should start by noting that Dhanak — which released theatrically in the United States and India in June, 2016 — would have made the list had it not already appeared on my Best of 2015 list. I watched it as part of the 2015 Chicago South Asian Film Festival.

As for the ten films that did make the 2016 list, two stood out for employing narrative structures that reflect their subject matter. Pink begins with the aftermath of a sexual assault, and not until the ending credits do we see the events as they really happened, echoing the “he said, she said” nature of many sexual assault cases. Waiting isn’t afraid to show its characters being bored, a feeling anyone who’s spent time in a hospital can relate to.

Neerja and Aligarh were emotional true stories featuring riveting performances by their lead actors: Sonam Kapoor and Manoj Bajpayee, respectively. Parched also earned a nod for the stellar performances by its four female co-leads.

Two films mastered genres with spotty track records in Bollywood: superhero movies and sex comedies. A Flying Jatt was a welcome nod to the colorful, optimistic type of superhero flick that has fallen out of favor in Hollywood in recent years, featuring an ordinary protagonist who discovers his inner hero (with a little divine assistance, providing a compelling subplot about religious identity). Unlike the two worst Bollywood movies of 2016 — the mean-spirited sex comedies Mastizaade and Kyaa Kool Hain Hum 3Brahman Naman is raunchy and hilarious, aiming most of its jokes at its hapless leading man.

South Korean films have inspired a number of Hindi thrillers in recent years (Rocky Handsome and Jazbaa, for instance), but the chilling Raman Raghav 2.0 is totally Indian, especially in regard to the way director Anurag Kashyap uses music to guide the audience through emotional moments.

The two films at the top of this year’s list earn their spots by tackling tough subjects in otherwise very commercial fare. Udta Punjab harnessed the star-power of Kareena Kapoor Khan, Alia Bhatt, Shahid Kapoor, and Diljit Dosanjh to deftly address Punjab’s drug crisis and make it relevant to people not directly affected by it.

My favorite film of the year also featured a top-notch cast, including Alia Bhatt (again), Rishi Kapoor, Sidharth Malhotra, Fawad Khan, Rajat Kapoor, and Ratna Pathak. Kapoor & Sons bravely examines the secrets that family members keep from one another and the resentment that builds because of it, addressing issues like infidelity, parental favoritism, and homosexuality with sensitivity and compassion. That Kapoor & Sons also manages to be lots of fun just further cements it as my Best Bollywood Movie of 2016.

Check my Netflix list to see which of these films are available for streaming in the United States.

Kathy’s Best Bollywood Movies of 2016

  1. Kapoor & Sons — Buy/rent at Amazon or iTunes
  2. Udta Punjab — Buy at Amazon
  3. Aligarh — Buy at Amazon
  4. Parched — Buy/rent at Amazon or iTunes
  5. Brahman Naman
  6. Raman Raghav 2.0 — Buy at Amazon
  7. A Flying Jatt
  8. Neerja — Buy at Amazon
  9. Waiting — Buy at Amazon
  10. Pink — Buy at Amazon

Previous Best Movies Lists

Advertisements

Streaming Video News: July 6, 2016

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with an exciting new addition to the catalog. The raunchy yet sophisticated Brahman Naman is now available for streaming. The mostly English-language comedy was a hit earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival, where Netflix purchased the rights to air it. I really can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s hilarious.

Other recent additions to Netflix include the Hindi TV series Adrishya, as well as the movies Chauranga, A Decent Arrangement, I.D., X: Past Is Present, and Kyaa Kool Hain Hum 3 (which is not worth watching).

New York Indian Film Festival 2016

The 2016 New York Indian Film Festival is underway. This year’s NYIFF slate has some crossover with the slates of the 2015 Chicago South Asian Film Festival and 2016 Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles, so I’ve previously reviewed several of the movies showing in New York. Click on the title below to read my review, and click the showtime for NYIFF ticket info:

Movie Review: Brahman Naman (2016)

BrahmanNaman3.5 Stars (out of 4)

Brahman Naman was a part of the 2016 Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles.

“Right now, we could have been in between the thighs of whores losing our virginity, but here we are trading electoral trivia.” “That’s all we have, Ajay: trivia.” Brahman Naman paints a hilarious portrait of the lives of some sex-obsessed college quiz masters in 1980s Bangalore.

Naman (Shashank Arora) leads the university’s quiz team, which includes his right-hand-man Ajay (Tanmay Dhanania) and their pal with a broken leg, Ramu (Chaitanya Varad). Onstage, they rule the school with a mastery of arcane knowledge and British literary quotations. They recruit a timid younger student named Randy (Vaishwath Shankar) to fill out the team.

Offstage, however, the guys rank low in the social pecking order, a fact made painfully obvious by their foil, Ronnie (Sid Mallya), the handsome captain of the cricket team. Naman’s plan to humiliate Ronnie by distributing pictures of the jock’s genitals backfires when proof of the captain’s endowment entices even more of the university women into the athlete’s arms — and out of reach of the desperate quiz team.

And I do mean literal pictures of genitals. There are a lot of penises in Brahman Naman, as well as plenty of breasts, bodily fluids, and some inventive methods of masturbation. This is not a tame Bollywood sex comedy. (The dialogue is entirely in English, too.)

Naman and his friends armor themselves in condescension, convinced that their superior brainpower will yield future rewards, both fiscal and romantic. Thus, Naman regularly humiliates the one woman who is actually attracted to him — Ash (Sindhu Sreenivasa Murthy) — because of her acne. Ash is sweet and cute and deserving of someone far better than Naman, a fact he slowly realizes over the course of the film, as a tiny seed of understanding grows within him.

As rotten as Naman often is, it’s hard to dislike him, because the source of his bad attitude is so obvious. His intellect and status as a member of the respected Brahman caste hold no sway with the ladies in town. He wants to have sex, but he’s also terrified of it. He feels equally entitled and unsure.

Writer Naman Ramachandran’s delightful script is brought to life by director Qaushiq Mukherjee (better known as Q). The story is peppered with strange asides, in the form of Naman’s daydreams and quiz questions for the audience. Ronnie is introduced with a few-seconds-long montage of him catching balls and doing other crickety things, establishing him as a classic ’80s teen movie villain.

The eclectic soundtrack plays an important role as well. My favorite moment is when Naman’s crush, Rita (Subholina Sen), walks by, and Ramu cries, “Oh, no! Not again!” Before my brain could complete the thought — “Aren’t those the lyrics to…” — Rod Stewart’s song “Infatuation” kicks in. Rita walks by in slow motion while Naman gawks. The music drops out abruptly, and we’re left with Ramu singing, “Infatuation. Infatuation.”

The cast is something special. Arora’s magnetism — the selling point of the movie Titli — makes Naman the most charming of anti-heroes. The rest of the supporting cast is amazing as well, including Biswa Kalyan Rath of “Pretentious Movie Reviews” as a frenemy with outlandish tales of sexual conquest.

Brahman Naman is a real treat, with great characters and visual flourishes that make it a must-see movie.

Links