As much as I love sports and movies, I don’t quite enjoy sports based movies of India. They are so cliched that they are predictable by the scene. From an Indian film scene point of view, the only sports-related content worthy of their story telling is the ‘underdog winning against all odds’. One of our earlier attempts at sports movies landed in the Oscar shortlist. I already wasn’t rating the Oscars much but when they shortlisted Lagaan, my assessment of them was complete.

Dangal is another sports based movie where the underdog does win against all the odds in the final piece of action in the final game of the championship with a super-dramatic move. That’s original. The sport is different, the setting is different – rest everything is pretty much the same.

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When it comes to movies, there’s nothing better than a good old ‘whodunit’ movie. There’s mystery, there’s thrill and there’s this intellectual stimulation that keeps you engaged all through the movie. At the end, two things happen – one is the unravelling how it happened or who did it and another is if you cracked it or how close did you come to crack it.

I’ve managed to watch numerous high rated whodunits this year and interestingly none of those were made in the 80s or later. Almost all those movies were classics and were made in 50s or 60s, some even in the 40s. I was wondering why. Probably, with the development in forensic science, mobile communication and other scientific developments, whodunits are not as charming as before. Back then, if you came to know the murderer only in the last scene of the movie, the secret could have been kept from the audiences that had not seen the movie. Not anymore, these days, by the time the first show is over, there could be thousands of tweets with all the spoilers. But still, there’s this style of whodunit where the culprit is known upfront but the whole movie is tracking the crime down to him/her and about nailing him/her down.

In the olden days, much of solving a crime involved a lot of psychology and imagination. These days it’s probably more efficient but a bit too mechanical and methodic. The primary objective of solving a crime is justice so I’m not going to complain about how efficient and methodical this process might have become now. But from a film making point of view, it’s a loss to the whodunit genre. It’s purity is gone.

If you happen to watch the movies I’m referring to, you might come to the same conclusion – Dial M for Murder, Death on the Nile, Murder on the Orient Express, Witness for the Prosecution, Anatomy of a Murder, the whole Poirot series and the Sherlock series and so on. Many of these movies also turn out to be court room dramas – the other genre that I love. When whodunit meets courtroom drama, that’s my kind of movie.

Wonder why we don’t see whodunits anymore. It is one genre where the plots keep coming. Every solved and unsolved murder is a plot – particulary the unsolved ones like the Aarushi-Hemraj murder case. Probably, movies have become too big for whodunits. Most whodunits screenplay happens in very small sets, mostly indoors, with very few characters and with lots of words than actions. Movies are too much of an investment for what could be just play or even a television series. May be movies are no longer the preferred medium for whodunits.

The movie industry needs one big whodunit blockbuster to revive the genre. Whodunits need what a ‘Paranormal Activity’ did to the horror genre. A revival. What I don’t want is a cheap mystery with predictable characters and outcome or cheap twists and turns which are inconsistent to the line of the story or charaters. The whodunit genre needs a proper, high quality, good old fashioned (even a period movie) murder mystery to bring the glory days back for this genre.