Screen Time: Award Winners and Other Winning Shows
An Oscar-winning documentary that pulls at your heartstrings, a crazy family that will leave you in splits, murders gone wrong, and more will keep you hooked.
The Elephant Whisperers (Tamil)
India took center stage at the 95th Academy Awards when this touching documentary about a baby elephant and his carers bagged the Oscar in the Best Documentary Short Film category. The story follows a blended family like no other—a man named Bomman, a woman named Bellie, and their baby elephant, Raghu, who was orphaned when his mum was electrocuted. The trio (a fourth member joins them down the road, upping the cute quotient) have made their home in the Theppakadu Elephant Camp, one of the oldest elephant rehabilitation camps in Asia, located in the lush environs of the Nilgiris. Raghu, quiet and reserved after his mother’s unfortunate demise, is gradually drawn out of his shell by the couple’s unconditional love and care. As Raghu thrives, Bomman and Bellie are healing too: Bomman was previously attacked by an elephant and had to stop working, while Bellie lost her first husband to a tiger attack. The documentary is a gentle reminder that humans and tuskers—and all the creatures in between—are one extended family on this vast planet.
Happy Family: Conditions Apply (Hindi)
If you are a hardcore fan of the Aatish Kapadia-J.D. Majethia universe (Sarabhai v/s Sarabhai and Khichdi), this new show about the crazy Dholakia family is right up your alley. There’s lots of fun to be had—quirky characters, hilarious situations, and inane wordplay in their signature style. So you have Ratna Pathak Shah playing Grandma Dholakia, a motor-mouth ready with her razor-sharp opinions and comments, while her husband, Mansukhlal (Raj Babbar), prefers to keep the peace. They’ve kept their joint family together for years until the youngest couple in the family decide they want to forge their own path. The stellar star cast includes Atul Kulkarni playing the anguished dad whose son wants to break away with his wife and child; the lovely Ayesha Jhulka, a devoted mother and homemaker; and Sanah Kapoor who plays the granddaughter. Look out for the hilarious bit about the maid being accused for stealing a piece of jewelry from the household—it’s comedic writing and timing at its best!
So grisly, yet so much fun! This delightful dark comedy by Prakash Mokashi is short and not so sweet, but it sure is a twisty ride. The story follows Aniket (Swapnil Joshi) and his wife Avani (Anita Date) who, fed up with their financial struggles and their lives generally being in turmoil, enter into a suicide pact that involves shooting themselves simultaneously with their guns. But there’s a twist. Aniket actually doesn’t want to die—he wants to be with his girlfriend, the feisty Devika (Shivani Surve). Aniket and Devika plot a murder plan wherein Aniket would wield a fake gun and Avani the real one. But you know what they say about the best laid murder plans. There’s always more than one! Well, Avani does die and the story then progresses to the couple trying to, with some help, dispose of her body. A fantastic star cast, tight pacing, and an especially memorable performance by Shivani Surve—as a woman whose unabashed villainy will blow your mind—makes this a must-watch.
My favorite genre (police procedurals) from my favorite film industry (Kerala). What’s not to love? On both fronts, this tense, shocking thriller does not disappoint. Debutant director Rohit M. G. Krishnan gives us a devastating tale of trauma brought on by familial abuse and neglect. Twin brothers Deputy S.P. Pramod Kumar and Assistant S.I. Vinod (Joju George—give him all the awards!) are stationed at the same police station. They are polar opposites. While Pramod grew up with a loving and nurturing mother, Vinod had the misfortune of spending his childhood with his abusive father when their family broke up. When Vinod is murdered at the police station under mysterious circumstances, the suspects pile up. As the tale unfolds, there is more to it than meets the eye as Pramod and Vinod’s traumatic pasts finally catch up with them. Clever storytelling, an extraordinary performance by George (do yourself a favor and watch all his films on Netflix) and a climax that will leave you gasping. Don’t miss this one.
The Night Manager (Hindi)
Aditya Roy Kapur has gone beyond his eye-candy status for his role as Shaan Sengupta in this remake. Shaan, a former naval officer, goes about his business at his routine job as a night manager at a five star hotel in Dhaka. Until he meets a young girl who is being coerced to be a child bride. She seeks his help to escape, but he’s unable to and she’s murdered ruthlessly. Years later, he is recruited to spy on an arms dealer, Shelly Rungta (Anil Kapoor, looking oh-so spiffy), who has a connection to the young girl’s death. Kapur delivers a sound performance, coming off as strong, vulnerable, and tender at the same time. Kapoor is solid too and full of panache, as is expected from him, and so is Lipika Saikia Rao (Tillotama Shome), a dogged intelligence officer who recruits Shaan. But the one standout is Saswata Chatterjee (Kahanii) who plays Shelly’s right hand man, BJ. He’s slimy, he’s creepy, and he’s a hoot! The first season has only four episode, but luckily the second season drops in June.
Baisakhi Roy is a culture writer and journalist based in Ontario, Canada. Her work has appeared in The Globe and Mail, Huffington Post Canada, Chatelaine, Broadview and CBC. Formerly a reporter with The Indian Express in India, Roy is an avid Bollywood fan and co-hosts the Hindi language podcast KhabardaarPodcast.com. Email: email@example.com
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