Two men I adore for daring to be different, for daring to be daring and doing it with excellence and poise. Movies have the capacity to reach all tiers of society and it is precisely for this reason that movies can be used as a tool to say something loud and clear. Onir and Shoaib have succeeded in doing this with their movies. Thanks guys for reviving in me the love of movies, I was giving up faith.

I watched My Brother Nikhil and I AM recently on DVD and Khuda Kay Liye in 2008 and BOL, a few days back, in the cinema.
Consider this an ode to them through a review of movies they have made. 
I start with the oldest:

Poster downloaded from film website
My Brother NikhilDirected by ONIR. The story of a young man and his struggle with being HIV positive, the reactions of his family, his friends, society and the medical sector. The film made in 2005 portrays homosexuality, much before the Delhi High court called for the amendment of section 377 to decriminalize homosexuality in 2009. What I liked about this movie was that it dealt specifically with the reaction of adoring parents, friends and society towards a person who is HIV positive without going into the modes of transmission. They never discuss how he contracted the virus in the movie, cause it really doesn’t matter, what matters is a HIV positive person’s rights, how society behaves/reacts/supports a person infected with the virus. Juhi Chawla, Sanjay Suri, Purab Kohli and Lilette Dubey kick ass with their performances and Onir has done a brilliant job in direction. I tip my hat to you SIRE!
Posted downloaded from film website
Khuda Kay Liye (In the name of God!) Directed by Shoaib Mansoor. Set in Pakistan and the United States of America post September 11, the movie deals with religious extremism, stereotyping of Muslims post 9/11 in the United States, the liberal and extreme sides of Islam as a religion, women’s rights in Islam and the hypocrisy of a seemingly liberated father when it comes to his daughter’s life. The movie released in 2007 in Pakistan made it to India in early 2008. (I watched it first day first show in Delhi, apart from me there were 5-6 other enthusiasts.)  The movie treads sensitively on very dangerous waters and comes out brilliantly. The dialogues are poetic and profound, stunning performances by Amin Ali, Shan, Naseeruddin Shah, Fawad Khan and Rasheed Naz make the movie excellent (I need more adjectives!). I loved how individual stories are interwoven to give a picture of Islam in contemporary Pakistan, women’s issues and a glimpse into the horrors that post 9/11 has been for some Muslims. Shoaib, I salute you! Read IHM’s review for inspiration if you have not watched the movie yet.

Poster downloaded from film website

I AM Afia, Megha, Abhimanyu, OmarDirected by ONIR. Released in 2011. Set in Kolkatta, Srinagar, Bengaluru and Mumbai, the movie deals with the stories of 2 women and 2 men,  strung together by one character from each story who travels briefly into the next. Afia and her struggle with identity, marriage and the need for motherhood is beautifully interpreted by the incredible Nandita Das. Purab Kohli has done an excellent job in Afia’s story. Megha, the independent, Kashmiri Brahmin performed very convincingly by Juhi Chawla struggling with, questioning the idea of home in Srinagar or elsewhere and Rubina portrayed by Manisha Koirala, the Kashmiri Muslim girl swallowing her dreams and struggling through the conflicts in Kashmir.  Abhimanyu portrayed by the rocking Sanjay Suri, fighting childhood demons, trying to confront them and struggling with constructing a coherent identity. Omar performed by Arjun Mathur, I don’t know what to say about him cause we don’t know much about him – as this very well written review puts it “the unsaid story of Omar” and his relationship with Jay played by none other than the Rahul Bose. I loved every bit of this movie. I identified with every character and their inner struggles, the title is so apt! ONIR you did it again! I also love that this movie was funded by the public through online social networks, doesn’t that make it even more AWESOME!

Poster downloaded from film website

BOLDirected by Shoaib Mansoor. Released in 2011. The story of a family of 6 daughters and one son born with abnormalities in sexual organs, their mother and their father, dwells on reproductive rights, the obsession with a male child, transgender issues, rape, the hypocrisies of certain religious beliefs, discrimination against women/girl children, conjugal violence, all this through the medium of patriarchy. This movie is a daring attempt to ask questions about those issues that we are not supposed to ask questions about, to make those statements that we are not supposed to make, at least in mainstream cinema.  Humaima Malik, Atif Aslam, Mahira Khan, Iman Ali, Manzar Selbai and Zaib Rahman are powerful in their roles. Bol and Shoaib deserve a standing ovation. Read IHM’s post for more details and analysis into the story.

If we could make a list of all time MUST WATCH movies, these four would definitely feature on my list.
Tell me of movies that would feature on your list. I feel like doing a movie marathon this weekend 🙂

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