Screen Time: Films and Shows to Lift Your Spirits
Need some cheering up? We all do. War, Covid and inflation still seem to dominate the deadlines. But we can look forward to warmer days, and some heartwarming entertainment that includes a fond send-off to the lovable Rishi Kapoor, the Mishra family’s shenanigans, and a rousing sports biopic about a cricketer who never gave up.
Sharmaji Namkeen (Hindi)
Rishi Kapoor’s final screen performance is full of his signature joie de vivre. He plays Brij Gopal Sharma, a widower who is, much to his dismay, a premature retiree. He’s bored because he still has so much to give. He also has a passion for food and begins to cater for kitty parties. Along the way, he forms a bond with the ladies at these parties, attempts to bridge the gap between his adult sons, and comes into his own as a home cook. Those of us with aging parents will relate to Sharmaji’s frustrations, his yearning to feel relevant and needed both by his family and peers. Kapoor sadly passed away in 2020, before he could complete shooting for the film, and Paresh Rawal stepped in. It was a joy to see both actors bring their distinctive styles to the character. Kapoor’s impish smirks and smiles complemented Rawal’s nervous energy and it didn't jar for a minute. A simple story told with a lot of heart, this one is a must-watch. Rishi Kapoor’s other notable films are available to watch on various OTT platforms. We recommend Do Dooni Chaar and Luck by Chance (Netflix and Amazon Prime).
Gullak- Season 3 (Hindi)
If you haven’t met the Mishra family yet, we recommend that you do so immediately. In the first two seasons, the Mishra parivaar—Santosh (Jameel Khan) and Shanti (Geetanjali Kulkarni) along with their sons Anu and Aman—deal with typical middle class problems: fussing over the utility bill or dealing with the ever-curious neighbor who drops in to borrow sugar but actually wants to gossip. Season 3 has some more poignant moments with one of the principal characters going through a health scare. If you are an ’80s or ’90s kid who grew up in India, you most likely loved Buniyaad, Circus, Mungerilal ke Haseen Sapne and so many more feel-good dramas that spoke to middle class families, mirroring their little joys, heartbreaks and disappointments. Gullak retains that sweetness of a simplerlife gone by. It’s a perfect picker-upper for an overcast afternoon.
Kaun Pravin Tambe (Hindi)
Even if you aren’t an avid cricket fan, this sports biopic will make you smile and root for Pravin Tambe—a Mumbai cricketer who made his Indian Premier League debut at the age of 41, never having played professional cricket before that. Shreyas Talpade (who was in Iqbal as a bowler with a disability) nails his role as the dogged cricketer who took up every opportunity to play the sport, while working a fulltime job and supporting his family. There are none of the theatrics of Lagaan or the recent 83, and no grand crescendo accompanies the exploits of our underdog hero who finally triumphs. It tells the story simply, about a man who stubbornly pursued the sport despite being written off by experts and critics. He learns from his mistakes and grows as he slogs through, even taking suggestions from a coach to better his bowling. If it leaves you wanting more sports dramas with a heart, you can catch Selection Day (Netflix), which is about two teenage cricket prodigies who fight the system to fulfill their dreams.
I really tried to watch Dasvi. I like Abhishek Bachchan, Nimrat Kaur is a fantastic actress, and the premise was intriguing. But fifteen minutes into the film about the chief minister of a state trying to crack his grade 10 exams, I realized it was going to be a slog. So I will spare you the agony and recommend Mandela instead. Made by first-time director Madonne Ashwin, Mandela is a delightful political satire about a village hairdresser who is thrown into extraordinary circumstances in remote Tamil Nadu. The film features the iconic comedian Yogi Babu (Jada, Watchman, Nava Rasa are all on Netflix if you want to watch more of his work), who plays Ilicha Vaayan and goes by the alias Nelson Mandela. When elections are held in his village, there is a tie and Mandela’s is the deciding vote. The irony lies in the fact that Mandela is casteless and has no power, yet he wields all of it in this situation. The film is a laugh-a-minute riot but it’s also a sharp critique on the state of affairs in an inequitable society. It will make you laugh, cry and think at the same time. The film was among the 14 shortlisted films submitted as India’s official entry in the Best Foreign Film category at the 94th Academy Awards.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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