Tag Archives: Break Ke Baad

Best Bollywood Movies of 2010

After reviewing my lists of the best Hindi movies for 2008 and 2009, I’m convinced that 2010 was Bollywood’s best year among the three. Of the approximately fifty Hindi movies I reviewed this year, here are my picks for the top films of the year. (Click on the title of each movie to read my original review.)

Some movies are worth seeing just for the stunning visuals, like the updated epic Raavan — which takes place primarily outdoors amid stunning natural beauty — and Guzaarish, which paints a personal struggle in super-saturated blues.

Politics set the stage for many of the strongest dramas, including the action-packed Aakrosh, the historical epic Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey and dynastic thriller Raajneeti.

Other, grittier dramas like Udaan and Striker featured smaller stories personal growth under the direst of circumstances.

2010’s best romantic comedies also had an earnest tone, featuring complex, realistic female leads in Anjaana Anjaani and Break Ke Baad.

Another romance, The Japanese Wife, deserves an honorable mention. It tells the story of two pen pals — one a Japanese woman and the other a man from Bengal — who fall in love through letters written in beginner’s English. Because it’s not in Hindi, it’s not in the running for best Bollywood movie, but I heartily recommend it.

The two best Hindi movies of 2010 defy easy classification. Part drama, part comedy, part romance and part adventure, they represent cinematic storytelling at its most complete. Both movies are less than two-hours long, emphasizing that it’s the quality of the story, not the length of its runtime, that makes a fulfilling cinematic experience.

Ishqiya features memorable performances by Vidya Balan, Arshad Warsi and Naseeruddin Shah as a widow and a pair of petty thieves trying to pull off a heist. The story is simple but compelling, and the performances make it shine. It’s a remarkable effort from debutant director Abhishek Chaubey.

The movie that has stuck with me more than any other is Road, Movie. After playing at international festivals in 2009, it opened in limited release in the U.S. in May of 2010. I caught it during its short run on On Demand. It tells the story of a city guy who drives a dilapidated truck across the desert, meeting strange companions along the way and learning the secret history of the truck: it was once a mobile movie theater.

Road, Movie is so charming and engaging that it briefly made me believe that I could make a career of driving a truck though rural India, projecting old movies onto the sides of buildings for grateful villagers (never mind that there are few things in the world I’m less qualified to do, and the need for the service is shrinking). The film embodies the escapism that cinema provides and inspires us to dream improbable dreams.

Road, Movie isn’t the easiest film to find in the U.S. — it’s not yet available on Netflix or Amazon (though my local public library has three copies) — so seize the chance to watch it when you can. It’s one of the best movies I’ve ever seen.

Previous Best Movies Lists

Movie Review: Break Ke Baad (2010)

3.5 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the DVD at Amazon
Buy the soundtrack at Amazon

I have a hard time being objective when it comes to Deepika Padukone. I adore her. She’s one of the world’s best actresses at the moment, and she’s only 24. But I think I can say with some measure of professional detachment that Break Ke Baad (“After the Break”) could be her most nuanced work to date. It’s worth seeing just for her.

Padukone plays Aaliya, a 20-year-old wild child who aspires to an acting career against the objections of her mother, Ayesha (Sharmila Tagore), herself a former screen idol. Aaliya’s in a relationship with her childhood best friend and long-time sweetheart, Abhay Gulati (Imran Khan). With Abhay poised to take over operations of his dad’s movie theater, everyone assumes that “Al” and “Gelato” will soon be married.

This is fine with Abhay, even though he hates his job and has no life outside of Aaliya. But Aaliya wants to experience the world first, though she doesn’t come out and say it. Instead, she secretly applies to a one-year Communications program in Australia and only tells Abhay about it when she complains that Ayesha won’t let her go.

Eventually, Aaliya leaves for Australia, and she gets Abhay to consent to “a little break.” But, to Aaliya’s annoyance, he won’t stop calling, going so far as to show up at her house one day. Aaliya finally breaks up with him for good, but Abhay refuses to leave Australia without her. He works a variety of jobs in the hopes of finding one he really likes.

Writers Danish Aslam and Renuka Kunzru have a real understanding of what it’s like to be at that age where you’re desperate to chart an independent course for your life, but still eager for parental approval. The dialog is thoughtful, as when Ayesha tells selfish Aaliya that people don’t love her because she’s special, she’s special because a few people love her intensely.

Nuanced writing requires skilled acting to make it come to life, and Padukone does that with Aaliya. Aaliya is careless of others’ feelings in a way unique to pretty girls in their early twenties. She usually gets her way, so she doesn’t worry about the manner in which she does so.

Padukone is careful to make Aaliya simultaneously lovable and frustrating. Aaliya’s obviously fun, and she is caring, but she also deflects blame onto others and fails to consider their feelings before she acts. Padukone manages to show Aaliya’s potential for growth despite her current faults.

Khan has a somewhat detached performance style that actually works for Abhay, who’s simply going along with whatever life throws at him. He doesn’t get worked up about much because he doesn’t know what he wants, nor does he consider the possibility that things won’t work out for him. Khan does a nice job playing low-key opposite Padukone’s more dynamic character.

Supporting characters Nadia (Shahana Goshwami) and Cyrus (Yudhishtir Urs), beach-bum siblings living off their inheritance, keep the plot moving. Misanthropic Nadia’s sarcasm is on point and forces Aaliya and Abhay to act. Horndog Cyrus provides the comic relief. The lead characters’ parents are also good, though I would’ve liked to see more of their relationships with their kids.

Break Ke Baad may not be as universally relevant as some romantic comedies, but it knows its characters well and portrays them with sophistication. This would be a great movie to show to teens as a guide for “how not to act in a few years.” Not that they’d listen, of course, but at least they’d be entertained.

Links

Opening December 10: No Problem and Band Baaja Baaraat

There’s no let up in new Hindi releases in the Chicago area. Two new comedies open on Friday, December 10, 2010: Band Baaja Baaraat and No Problem, which gets the wider release of the two. No Problem stars Anil Kapoor as a bumbling cop trying to solve a bank robbery. Pop star Shakira makes a special appearance in the movie.

No Problem opens on December 10 at the AMC Loews Pipers Alley 4 in Chicago, Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington and Regal Cantera Stadium 30 in Warrenville. Click here for a national list of theaters carrying No Problem, which has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 23 min.

The romantic comedy Band Baaja Baaraat (“Wedding Music Band”) follows the exploits of two friends trying to run a wedding planning business.

Band Baaja Baaraat opens on Friday at the Golf Glen 5, South Barrington 30 and Cantera 30. Check this incomplete list for nationwide theaters carrying Band Baaja Baaraat, which has a runtime of 2 hrs. 35 min.

Last weekend’s new release, Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey, gets a second week at the Golf Glen 5 and South Barrington 30. The South Barrington 30 is also carrying over Break Ke Baad and Guzaarish, which has earned $989,527 in the three weeks it’s been in U.S. theaters.

Starting Friday, the Golf Glen 5 is carrying one other Hindi movie I haven’t found much information on: Family Pack.

Other Indian movies playing in the area this weekend include Rakht Charitra 2 (Tamil and Telugu) and Cocktail (Malayalam) at the Golf Glen 5. Sathyam Cinemas in Downers Grove also has both versions of Rakht Charitra 2, as well as the Telugu movies Manasara and Orange.

Opening November 24: Break Ke Baad

Give thanks for the Thanksgiving holiday. It’s the reason why America gets Break Ke Baad (“After the Break”) two days before the rest of the world. The romantic comedy stars Deepika Padukone and Imran Khan as a pair of childhood sweethearts struggling to make their relationship work as adults.

Break Ke Baad opens on Wednesday, November 24, 2010 at the AMC Loews Pipers Alley 4 in Chicago, Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington and Regal Cantera Stadium 30 in Warrenville. Click here for a nationwide theater list. The movie’s runtime is listed as two hours.

The wonderful drama Guzaarish continues through the holiday weekend at the Pipers Alley 4, Golf Glen 5, South Barrington 30 and Cantera 30, having earned $488,121 in its opening weekend in U.S. theaters. The Golf Glen 5 is also carrying over Golmaal 3, which has earned $1,132,192 in the U.S. so far.

Other Indian movies playing in the Chicago area over the Thanksgiving holiday include Chekavar (Malayalam), Karma: Do You Believe (Telugu), Orange (Telugu) and Tere Ishq Nachaya (Punjabi) at the Golf Glen 5. Sathyam Cinemas in Downers Grove is carrying Orange and Enthiran (Tamil and Telugu versions).