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January 6, 2010

10 Movies of the Decade You Should Not Miss

Now, I tried to do an article about the 10 best movies of the just passed decade. (I know, falling for that make-a-list-thingy: how preposterous!) But well, looking back at an important decade in Indian cinema is no crime.

So, as I was saying, I tried to do a best 10 movies of the decade list. Not possible. So not possible. There are so many movies separated by a hair’s breadth or even lesser; you just can’t throw any of them out. So I shifted tack. I decide to do a ‘Movies not to be missed list’. This way, I tell you to not miss these movies, while not claiming that these are the best. No sensibilities offended, eh? And, oh yes, this list is chronologically ordered, and not in order of well made stuff.

1.     Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India (2001)

This Aamir Khan-Ashutosh Gowariker movie works on many levels: patriotism, the thrill of sports, mega budget extravaganza. And to top it all, we had the Oscar nomination. A nation watched in vain, as the A-A combine fell agonizingly close to the mark. Nevertheless, it remains one of the finest performances by an ensemble cast in Indian cinema.

2.     Koi… Mil Gaya (2003)

Koi Mil Gaya deserves to be on this list solely on the point that it kick-started the science fiction genre in India . Why couldn’t aliens land in Kasauli or Kolkata? It was about time we got our very own E.T. Enter Rakesh Roshan. And he did it. People this side of the world still remember Jaadu. And it was truly magical at the box office.

3.     Swades: We, The People (2004)

After Lagaan, Ashutosh Gowariker’s next project was bound to generate a lot of hype, and it did. Nowhere close to Lagaan on grandness of scale, Swades was a story of how leadership and team effort could overcome all obstacles. Something straight out of a leadership class, a story well told and well acted out. Simple yet touching.

4.     Rang De Basanti (2006)

Rang De Basanti spurred a public revolution of sorts when it released. Everyone was going around proclaiming ‘Let’s kill all those politicians. Good riddance!’ Though that might be a worse way than not supporting them in electoral battles, the movie did drive home the idea to not remain a bystander.

5.     Lage Raho… Munnabhai (2006)

The effects of this film are still being felt. A peaceful protest anywhere in India , ‘ Gandhigiri’ is the key word. Rajkumar Hirani brought Mahatma Gandhi to the mainstream like never before. Wonderfully well made, this film deserves a place in any good list they make about Bollywood.

6.     Khosla Ka Ghosla (2006)

Khosla Ka Ghosla took us into the middle class household and told us that stories worth telling indeed can exist there. After all the NRIs, the living-in-palaces people and the slumdogs, it was time for the class who made up the mass to strike back. No larger-than-life characters please. Humor they say is the best medicine. Dibakar Banerjee introduced us to a world we all knew outside of the silverscreen, and made us laugh at it. Brilliant.

7.     Black Friday (2007)

Black Friday was the first time I got to watch Anurag Kashyap in action. The semi- fictional account of the 1993 Bombay Blasts was gritty, dark and in-your-face. Starting with the blasts, and moving to the fears experienced by the bomb planters, Black Friday keeps you spellbound.

8.     Dharm (2007)

This movie was embroiled in a controversy with Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s ‘Eklavya’ regarding which film should be sent to the Oscars. Chopra won that fight, but Dharm shines out as a brilliant piece of film-making. Pankaj Kapoor in the leading role faced with the moral dilemma of religion and humanity gave the performance of a lifetime.

9.     A Wednesday (2008)

No stars, no songs, a tight script and a brilliant film. ‘A Wednesday’ was a brilliant, taut thriller that looked at terror and the common man in a different, possible and scary way. If you have any love for good acting and enjoy a good thriller, do watch what happened on ‘A Wednesday’.

10.                         Dev D (2009)

The final movie on the list is Anurag Kashyap’s modern take on relationships mixed with a 13th or 14th re-incarnation of Sarat Chandra Chatterjee’s Devdas. LSD, casual sex, brilliant music, great acting, a twisted script, and above all, great direction. Dev D truly is a different love story.

There were a few that missed the bus by very little: Lakshya for its brilliant portrayal of war and the precursor of all slacker turning serious stories, Iqbal for making a differently-abled person the hero and not making it comical, Jab We Met for portraying a realistic love story, Aamir for being a wonderful tale of a man in forced circumstances a-la Hitchcock and Chak De India for being a female centric film about sports: two big no-no’s for normal Indian cinema. Do comment your own. Cheers.


no signal said...

No Dil Chatha Hai on the list ? It was both critically acclaimed and commercial success. Won National awards too. What about Bheja Fry ?

Swagat said...

Both very good movies indeed. But I wasn't trying to make a best-of-list, I was trying to put in movies that did bring about changes in the way we make movies. Apart from dharm, they are all mainstream movies and told us that scripts with sports, focused in villages, aliens, starless comedies and really bold scripts among other things could work. That's why I've selected these movies. There are many many more very good movies and some that are better than the 10 listed out here among them :)

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