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High-concept mainstream films, with catchy hooks and fresh twists, ruled the roost in 2012
It is not very often that the year's best Hindi films are based on a concept — striking a chord with the masses as much as pleasing the critics. This awards season, however, a majority of the contenders for top honours in various categories are films driven by such concepts. They shine with novel ideas and smart scripts.
Vicky Donor probably comes closest to the ideal high-concept film. Driven by its catchy hook, the movie tells the story of its sperm donor protagonist Vicky Arora while exploring the urban quirks of Delhi. Not only was the film one of 2012's surprise hits, it also stands fourth in the nomination tally of the Screen awards.
The year's other examples — Kahaani, English Vinglish and Paan Singh Tomar — all three contesting for the coveted Best Film trophy, are backed by novel concepts and interesting premises. What has aided in developing the films so beautifully is the fact that the directors of these movies happen to be their writers.
At the heart of Kahaani, is the tale of its pregnant protagonist searching for her husband in a jigsaw puzzle of a city called Kolkata. English Vinglish tells a slice-of-life story of a middle-class Maharashtrian housewife. She enrols for a two-week crash course in spoken English, following constant jibes from her husband and daughter for not being able to speak the language. Paan Singh Tomar is an original tale, a biopic to be precise, of its eponymous protagonist, an Indian steeplechase champion-turned-dacoit from the Hindi heartland.
Typically, high-concept films go by certain attributes, such as a story with a unique hook and its self-explanatory movie title and tagline — all of which the films named above stay remarkably true to. If Vicky Donor's "Every Drop Counts" summed up the film's soul, Kahaani's "Mother of a Story" hinted at a clever twist in its riveting climax.