Hindi Cinema : 10 Years... 10 Films

Before I start another of my countdown, Let me clarify, this certainly is not the list of 10 best films of the decade. I would rather tag it as "10 Hindi Films of the decade I would like my grandchildren to watch". The list is of 10 films which attracted me the most from 2000 to 2009. I wish I had also seen films like Amu, 15th Park Avenue, Firaaq, Paanch, The Namesake and many others before writing this blog... (disclaimer : loooong post)

10 : Pinjar (2003) : Blame me for being extremely nostalgic, but I am a sucker for period dramas especially on partition. May be it's my Sindhi blood and may be I worship Gulzar too much. Pinjar is a heart-wrenching tale of a girl who gets entagled in the worst disaster of our history, the partition.

When you compare it with M S Sathyu's Garm Hawa, Pinjar might not stand anywhere, still every time, I watch this movie, it gives me goosebumps. It's a fantastic movie with brilliant performances from Urmila Matondkar, Manoj Bajpai & Priyanshu Chatterjee. After Maachis, this was one movie with a lot of brilliant scenes. Take the scene where Rashid(Manoj Bahpai) tells Puro(Urmila) how his heart has somehow found solace by the loss of his burnt down farms by her brother. However, my favorite remains the last one in which Puro runs to find Rashid, Initially her tormentor and then her soul-mate.

Expectedly, the film didn't do well and Chandra Prakash Dwivedi hasn't made any films since. But I hope he does, as I know just like me, many others have adored Pinjar.

9 : The Blue Umbrella (2005) : Back in my school days, we used to have a week of celebration as Children's week every year. A cinema hall in the city used to show-case children's films for all 7 days in the morning show, and we, as children, used to get free passes for these films. Strangely, many of the films that we saw were not "children's" films, rather they were movies with child actors. I am not sure whether I need to put The Blue Umbrella as children's film. My problem is with the new films. We either come up with animation movies or movies with tons of special effects. To be sell-able the movie must have something extra-ordinary. I don't sincerely have a problem with these things. However, it doesn't leave any space for a simple story. 

I am glad Vishal did come up with one. The Blue Umbrella  is a story of a small village in Himachal where Binya is the apple of the eyes for the villagers because of a marvelous umbrella she possesses. The film revolves around a shopkeeper, the richest person in the town, and his scheming ways to have the umbrella.

The film excels due to a simple and endearing story (by Ruskin Bond) and brilliant performances by Pankaj Kapoor & Shreya Sharma. There is a scene in the film where Nandu  is dealing with his injuries and the dilapidated shop after being outcast from the village. The girl visits him to buy some toffees. It brings an expression on his face which nobody else but Pankaj Kapoor could have produced. It's a shame nobody else (but Vishal) has used his skills to this extent lately. It's a gem, not to be missed.

8 : Sehar (2005) : Directed by Kabeer Kaushik, Sehar is a film about the police force and the way it tackles organized crime. The movie, instead of following a usual action-thriller-emotion genre, deals with it's subject purely on the technicalities. This was one of the reasons, the film failed and to my utter disgust didn't even have a show in some of the big cities. The distributers/theatre owners just refused the film before even we could decide it's fate. None-the-less, this has been one of the bravest films ever to be produced. My sincere salute to the producer/director of the movie for coming up with such an honest film. 

Sehar follows SSP Ajay Kumar(played by Arshad Warsi)'s Special Task Force which has been assigned to deal with Gajraj Singh and in general the organized crime in UP. The film is set in the 90's when mobile phones were new and the entire force was unaware of the technicalities. Ajay Kumar enlists the help of a Physics lecturer, Prof. Tiwari (played brilliantly by Pankaj Kapoor). The entire story has been told as a flashback from the professor's perspective. It would be wrong for me to compare Sehar with Ardh Satya, but I can not help myself, and believe me, this movie does justify the comparison. To this date, It has been the best performance by Arshad Warsi, in my opinion. Sadly, Kabeer Kaushik hasn't repeated the spark that he showed in his first film.

7 : Black Friday (2004) : Before I even start writing about this one, let me lament again(as in my earlier blogs) that this movie could certainly have brought an Oscar nomination, if not the award itself.
Every time, I dream about making a film, Anurag Kashyap's struggles pull me back. His fault, he came up with two wonderful movies which didn't go well with our government. Yes, in the name of religion & region our leaders are supposed to kill innocents, but in the name of Cinema, you can not portray the same on celluloid. 
So, even before my capabilities as a movie-freak are considered, I concede the defeat. I simply do not have guts to struggle. Better be a blogger.
Black Friday depicts the real-life events of the Mumbai Bomb Blast of 1993 which claimed over a thousand lives. The film is based on the book by Hussain Zaidi. The script is tightly bound with the book (and yes, it is strange in Hindi Film Industry). The movie has endearing performances by almost everybody (& it does have a lot of actors) topped by Aditya Shrivastava. It's a miracle, Anurag pulled it off in the industry. A lot of cinephiles actually started understanding all the aspects of Cinema after knowing about Kashyap's plight. 

6 : Munnabhai MBBS (2003) : If filmmakers like Anurag Kashyap & Dibakar Banerjee introduced us to new genres & styles of film-making, Rajkumar Hirani did the other way round. He took us back to the golden old days of film-making when we had clean and endearing stories by Hrishida

Munnabhai series is, in true sense, a first of it's kind series of films in India similar to Shrek & Ice-age. Munna & Circuit are the stooges we had always missed in our cinema. Both the movies in the series are enjoyable to the hilt because of the endearing acts from Sanjay Dutt & Arshad Warsi. These movies are like Pani-Puris.... you are always ready for the next as soon as you finish the one in your hand. So keep serving...

5 : Gulaal (2009) : Well I know, one would not agree with my selection for Gulaal ahead of DevD and Black Friday. However, this being my list (for my grandchildren), I have the right of my own guilt-pleasure, and this being one of them.

Although questionable in a lot of selection criterias, this certainly is a movie which has remained my favorite of all Anurag Kashyap movies (I am yet to watch Paanch). Unlike the tightly bound script of Black Friday, Gulaal gave Kashyap a vast ground to play with and to build the characters. And boy-o-boy, he does have a knack to build them... I am sure, it is easier to do so when you are also a good scriptwriter and a wonderful casting director. 

Gulaal is the story of college politics in a fictional city of Rajasthan. Two gangs are at loggerheads to gain the control of the university. Both of which are being controlled by two warring scions. The story revolves around a commoner who gets involved in the mud and how he is used by each of the gangs. The movie is a class in itself. It is a must for every dreamer like me who adores cinema. It is amazing to see how Kashyap has come up with such wonderful cast & crew.  Characters like Prithvi Bana, played by Piyush Mishra who also happens to be the Music Director of the movie, and Bahrupiya are the actual masterstrokes which provide the dark undertone of the movie. The music is outstanding. 

The film is about politics. More so, It's about self-indulgence of a film-maker. And who am I to complain, as long as it gives my dose of cinema.... Kashyap... Take a Bow.

4 : Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi (2005) : (excerpts taken from one of my earlier blogs). Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi is a film about youth and what defines it: Ambition, Love & Dreams. The film is about three friends who study in the era of the beginning of the naxal movements. Siddharth - An energetic student who dreams of a marxist revolution & equality in India. Geeta- A girl for whom life is nothing but love, towards Siddhartha and his morals, and finally Vikram- an ambitious go-getter who lusts for power and money and loves Geeta. Their persona is a reflection of their upbringing. Siddharth being from an upper class hasn't ever worried about his own bread n butter so he does about others. Geeta, from a middle-class family, thinks about a peaceful life and a husband in Siddharth. Vikram, on the other hand has suffered because of his father's Gandhian philosophy and hence is always after money. They all go their separate ways after their dreams and how they turn out to be. Film has a wonderful cast of Kay Kay Menon, Chitrangada Singh & Shiney Ahuja.

This is a wonderful film by Sudhir Mishra and is mildly similar to his earlier film, Yeh Woh Manzil To Nahin, which is impossible to be found. 

3 : Khosla Ka Ghosla (2006) : Khosla Ka Ghosla did in Hindi Film Industry what Fargo did in Hollywood. This small budget film came and conquered the industry just the way Fargo did. Khosla Ka Ghosla is a brilliant example of how a film should be made. The first and foremost of it is the script. For this, I think both Jaideep Sahni & Dibakar should be commended. The film has a wonderful script, nice characters, actors that fit the characters(and not only SRKs, AKs, HRs & Akkis for every lead role) and the use of locales & sets that fit the entire story line. 

The film is about a middle class family in Delhi. KK Khosla, the patriarch of the family, has bought a piece of land in Delhi investing all his savings. However the land-sharks usurp the land. The film shows the family's struggle to get their own land back and their own individual struggles. Every scene from the movie is tragic but hilarious. Notice the performance of Boman Irani and you'll notice our own Al Pacino. Some time back, I had reviewed "It's a wonderful Life" and had written that the characters of Bert & Ernie actually gives a better understanding of George's character. The same way, It's the character of Munjal that is so brilliantly written, it makes you understand Khurana.

Dibakar, in one of his interviews, said that the film's heart is in the character of the land-shark Khurana. For me, it lies in the characterization of Kamal Kishor Khosla and his pal Mr. Sahni. Anyway, I think I'll go by Dibakar's view because as Mr. Sahni put it "Bhenchod, Yeh Zamana Hi Compromise Ka Hai" !

2 : Maqbool (2003) : I read somewhere Maqbool is Macbeth meets Godfather. In fact, Vishal Bhardwaj himself also acknowledged that the film is his adaption of Macbeth. It has taken the inspiration from the bard's play however it is the most "original" adapted screenplay that comes to my mind. 

The film starts with the mafia don Abbaji and his adopted muse Maqbool. The film shows Maqbool  & Nimmi's betrayal of Abbaji and it's final outcome. Vishal's script has converted the three witches in the corrupt police officers who play the comic officers cum astrologers. Again, Pankaj Kapoor stills the show by his powerful portrayal of Abbaji. Such a wonderful actor he is. He is present in around 10 scenes only but you will feel it during the entire movie. 

I wish Omkara would have been of the same class. Ajay Devgan messed up the character of Othello. Every time he needed to show emotion, he looked constipated. But I believe, one can't help it. I myself mess it up every time I try to cook Poha at home.

Coming back to Maqbool, this is truly a marvel to be cherished by connoisseurs.

1 : Mithya (2008) : Again an act of pure self-indulgence from my end. However, if I have to choose one movie from the entire decade (2000 - 2009), It would certainly be Mithya. 

Directed by Rajat Kapoor, Mithya is a story of a struggling actor VK, played by Ranvir Shorey, who has the same face as of a mafia don. All VK wants to do is to act and fails. So what if an actor loses his memory and is told that he is a Don. Just like the characters of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind where the perennial lovers end up finding each other in their lost memories, an actor in VK does play the role of a Don which he is not. 
The film is a masterpiece with a wonderful cast & extremely haunting background music. 

This is one film, I am not sure how to categorize it. However, just like Raghu Romeo, it is another of Rajat Kapoor's mystery which I might find an answer to in coming years...
... as for Ranvir, this has been his best performance till date... same for Neha & Brijendra Kala.

... There are other movies too which I just loved in the past decade like Waisa Bhi Hota Hai Part II, Raghu Romeo... but I think If I have to give 10 to my children and then theirs, It would certainly be the ones I mentioned above...

(Courtesy : All the photographs are taken from Google and digitally modified by me. Kindly let me know for any violation I may be doing)

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Abhishek Vashistha Wednesday, June 30, 2010 12:07:00 AM  

Hey Kalpesh...wonderful work frm your side...You saved all the efforts of mine when in future I have to create a similar kind of list for my children also....nyways If i have created this list I would've placed Haasil ans Dil Chahta Hai also in the list.

These are the movies which come up with a new idea...
But from your list also I dnt think we can remove any name...

dunkdaft Wednesday, June 30, 2010 8:41:00 AM  

Loved your post man! Glad that you have listed out the movies that are untouched by mainstream media.
But i did not find Munnabhai MBBS 'that' great, but after all, its a personal perception. Gulaal, Hazaron khwahishen ..., Blue Umbrella and Mithya are high on my list. Indeed they deserve to be in such list.

Also, thx for reminder - i still have to watch Maqbool and Blck Friday. There are locked somewhere in my cupboard !

BTW, I've linked your post here, hope u're okay with that.

Freak's paradise Wednesday, June 30, 2010 11:02:00 PM  

@Abhishek : Thanks, I agree DCH was great... but somehow these 2 movies would not be in my 10.

@dunkdaft : Munnabhai MBBS was clean humor and hence its in my list. I didnt like Rajkumar's 3 idiots though. Thanks for linking the post. It's an honour.

Akshat,  Thursday, July 01, 2010 4:47:00 AM  

Dude, all those movies i have been collecting and carrying with me since I moved abroad, as my personal collection of 'best movies to watch and show from india' you have listed them. However, I am yet to watch Gulal and Seher, I think they are great movies too.

Sixer: the last line in your para on Khosla ka ghonsla, awesome :)

sharmila Saturday, July 03, 2010 10:15:00 AM  

except "seher" "gulal" "mithya" ... all are my favorite too !! people of my age finds me wierd as i like them but they're interesting ... but i haven't watched them more than once (except munabhai mbbs)... i like shaurya too !!

nice reading ur post ... came to ur blog from tangy pick.

Freak's paradise Saturday, July 03, 2010 3:46:00 PM  

@Akshat : Thanks dost, You must watch Gulaal & Sehar.

@Sharmila : I can understand when due to our likes of some films we are treated as weird people. But if you are, you are not alone.

Anonymous,  Friday, July 09, 2010 5:15:00 PM  

I Loved all the movies.. except Gulaal which I did not see. Mithya is really the crowning achievement of Rajat Kapoor. We see him here at the top of his abilities.. and what can you say about Ranveer Shourie...he really dug himself into the role. I would have suggested Johnny Gaddar... I felt here was a brilliant noir film which reworked all the elements in the 70s suspense films and condensed it into a great thriller. I felt it was such a tight script with brilliant performances. I think you should watch Firaaq as well.. but do tell us what do you think about it.. in terms of the script and the closure that all characters get in the film.