In the last 10 years, Hindi cinema (and in general Indian cinema) has undergone some significant changes so much so that this decade can be termed as both evolutionary and revolutionary- new subjects were tackled, new technology was used, collaboration between studios and the corporate world took place, Hollywood studios entered the Indian market, digital film distribution was introduced, full length animation feature films were produced, overseas markets became an influential factor, independent movies saw a wider acceptance, mainstream actors and producers took leaps of faith in the kind of movies they associated themselves with etc. All healthy signs of growth and progress. However, all was not well (no matter how much Hirani and Co would like us to believe) - quality films targeted for the younger audiences were conspicuous with their absence (although sporadic juvenile attempts were made, but nearly not enough for such a huge and demanding audience), women were still largely treated as disposable objects of desire in a majority of the scripts and the low rung workers in the industry still remain an unorganized bunch with no formal forum to voice their needs and concerns.
On a personal front, I can say that I rediscovered my love for Indian cinema. As a child growing up in the 80s I grew up on the Amitabh “angry young man” movies and the NFDC movies showed on Doordarshan. Although I did not quite comprehend most of the movies (let alone the art of making movies), I did feel a deep connection with them. My love affair with the movies experienced some rough weather in the early 90s and towards the last few years of the millennium I had given up on the relationship –we were officially on a break. The new millennium reinstated my love for these movies all over again and I can now say that I understand these movies and their purpose a lot better. I have a new affection towards all those who work in this dream-factory - the title sequence of Luck By Chance gets me a little emotional , for this reason.
Having said that, I felt compelled to write about the highlights of the last 10 years and got to task. This is not a “best of the decade” list, but a cinematic journey into the last 10 years to highlight some key movies and the people behind them. So in the next five chapters I have tried to highlight the important moments in the Hindi film world – two years at a time.
(The title of this series is a homage to an oft used way of narrating past incidents in many Hindi movies of the 50s through the 90s)
The new millennium dawned and the world had survived the Y2K devil. Although, Mumbai was still surprised by the shocking success of the low budget independent Hyderabad Blues in the closing years of the millennium, not many people showed interest in producing independent movies just yet (the seeds were sown though ). 2000 will primarily be remembered for the launch of a new superstar - Hrithik Roshan with the smash hit Kaho Naa Pyar Hain. Papa Roshan’s production and direction was a perfect launch vehicle for this star. The entire nation was enamored by his physique, his dancing skills and his light eyes - he was a complete package (apparently, many newborns were named Hrithik that year).
Other notable movies of the year :
- Kamal Hassan’s under-appreciated Hey Ram which had some fine performances by Kamal, Rani Mukherjee, Shahrukh Khan and Atul Kulkarni
- Mahesh Manjrekar’s Astitva which portrayed Tabu as an adulterous woman defending her actions
- Another star son-daughter Jodi that debuted this year who would make
a big name for themselves in the coming years was Abhishek Bachchan and Kareena Kapoor in the JP Dutta opus “Refugee”.
Movie of the year: Hey Ram
Actor of the year: Hrithik Roshan (Kaho Naa Pyaar Hain)
Actress of the year: Kareena Kapoor (Refugee)
Director of the year: Kamal Hassan (Hey Ram)
Music director of the year: Anu Malik (Josh, Refugee)
2001 was a defining year for the rest of the decade and was also a stellar year at the cash
registers. People flocked to the cinemas in hordes to watch Aamir Khan's Bhuvan and his underdog team beat the crap out of the Angrez on the cricket pitch and Sunny Deol's Sardar Tara Singh beat a Pakistani army single-handedly to get his wife and child back into India . With the massive success of Lagaan and Gadar the industry found confidence
in big budget cinema and a lot to cheer about. Lagaan also brought “Bollywood” (I still hate this term, but will have to make my peace with it eventually) to the red carpet at the Kodak theater in Hollywood, however it was Dil Chahta Hain which would set the tone for the rest of the decade. More on that later.
Other significant movies from 2001:
- Mira Nair’s “Monsoon Wedding” displayed a slice of the various social strata of Indian urban society effectively, also Delhi looked sumptuous through Declan Quinn's camera
- Another director who would eventually make some important films in the decade debuted in 2001 - Rakeysh OmPrakash Mehra. His psychological thriller “Aks” was an inspired attempt but failed to grab the attention of the audience.
- Madhur Bhandarkar of the pseudo-socially-relevant-expose` genre, hit the limelight with a movie about the life of a bar girl (portrayed by a phenomenal Tabu) in Chandni Bar.
2001 will be remembered for Dil Chahta Hain, a turning point in Hindi Cinema. Farhan Akhtar’s style, his characters and their on screen interactions were something to which the person on the other side of the screen could relate to. The urban Indian youth found a new voice in Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s music and the trio will continue to dominate the rest of the decade along with A R Rehman. Aamir Khan was a key in both Lagaan and Dil Chahta Hain, and the end of the decade will only prove this star’s consistency and staying power. He will emerge as the star of the decade. On the flip side, Ameesha Patel who was the leading lady of two of the biggest movies of 2000 and 2001, would be a forgotten name by the end of the decade. Another proof that the hit movies don’t stars make.
2001 also permanently altered the civilized world after the tragic events of 9/11. These events and the aftermath would become plot points for a number of movies towards the end of the decade.
Movie of the year: Dil Chahta Hain
Actor of the year: Aamir Khan (Lagaan, Dil Chahta Hain)
Actress of the year: Tabu (Chandni Bar)
Director of the year: Farhan Akhtar (Dil Chahta Hain)
Music director of the year: Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy (Dil Chahta Hain)