- Cast: Aamir Khan, Gracy Singh, Raj Zyutshi, Yashpal Sharma, Rachel Shelly, Paul Blackthrone, Raghuvir Yadav.
- Director: Ashutosh Gowariker.
- Producer: Aamir Khan Production
Well, how do you describe this movie? I should say that there are times when a movie just comes and changes the definition of film-making. Although, all the movies in this list are of that kind, but LAGAAN stands out. This movie was only the third Indian movie to be nominated for the Oscars.
Theatres changed into Stadiums in May, 2001. Everything about this film was novel. I have always wondered why most Indian blockbusters are based on love and family affairs; Hollywood movies span such a vast variety of topics. I must thank Aamir for having broken that barrier making an excellent movie that not only touches the hearts of millions of Indians with their favorite pastime, cricket, but at the same time tackles the sensitive issue of the British Raj in the most hilarious way possible. The four hour long saga was smooth as silk and one of the few Indian movies in which songs are interwoven in the story and just seem to happen …. at the right moment! Accolades to Rahman for putting together another masterpiece soundtrack. I just wish this would’ve been released in the “English” theatres also to become the first Indian blockbuster in the US (surpassing even Crouching Tiger …). Kudos to Ashutosh Gowariker.
#2 BLACK FRIDAY(2004)
- Cast: Kay Kay Menon, Aditya Srivastava, Pawan Malhotra
- Director: Anurag Kashyap
This is not only a film. It’s a lesson. It’s a message. It’s cruelly true history. It’s an initiative. It’s an attempt. It’s a bold step, forward. It’s known yet untold bare truth. And after all it’s a film.
No doubt the film opens old wounds, but only to find the root cause of it, only to find cure for them, only to make sure they are eradicated and never surface again. The film presents the hard facts about the 1993 serial bomb blasts in Mumbai (then Bombay). The film gives a new dimension to real life cinema, with real name, real incidents, and real people. The usage of actual news footage of the incidents make you believe whatever you are watching. It takes courage to take names of some of the biggest people in underworld and Indian politics as bluntly, and the filmmaker shows that courage. The story doesn’t point finger on any particular person, group or community as the culprit for what is still Indian crime history’s biggest tragedy. It tries to make a point how some clever minds make their business out of our religious sentiments, at the cost of lives of common men. Men who are common in every sense of it. The terror, the attacks, the explosions, the riots inhales not any particular community but the whole humanity.
Anurag Kashyap churns out a stunning effort. Technically too the film is impeccable. The blast sequences couldn’t have got any more realistic. Each actor performs his character to full honesty.
And before you jump to your own conclusion to decide the culprit(s), to decide the fate of them, the film concludes with the quote that says it all. ‘An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.’
#3 OMKARA (2006):
- Cast: Ajay Devgan, Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Konkana Sen Sharma, Viveik Oberoi, Naseeruddin Shah.
- Director: Vishal Bharadwaj
If Shakespeare would have seen this one, he would have been proud of two people, Vishal Bhardwaj and Himself, for Omkara brings life to what was left to the closed pages for so many years.
In today’s swift world, you don’t expect too many people (especially youngsters) to read through the classic literatures. One good way to bring these classics to common notice and provide them the respect and recognition they deserve is by making a good cinema out of it, and if you could do it like Omkara, then only one word comes out of your mouth…. WOW..!!
No one had a doubt about the story as it’s masterpiece by the maestro, but people were skeptical about the execution. And this is where Vishal Bhardwaj excels. He has transformed the centuries old classic in a story of current day rustic country land of India, so effortlessly, with such perfection that you don’t feel the bump even once.
The assembly of huge star cast in not only to attract the crowd, each character has a role etched out. Ajay Devgan is as intense as it can get, this is probably Kareena’s best effort till date, Konkana Sen is a treat to watch, Vivek is doing what he does the best, play second fiddle… but the real thunder is Saif Ali Khan… with tremendous screen presence, he infuses so much power in the character Langda Tyagi that easily overshadows everyone else in the cast. By the time it all ends, you wonder why the movie is called Omkara and not Langda Tyagi.
Vishal Bhardwaj is slowly looking like the man who could get India its first fame at Oscars… he directs, sings, composes music, writes scripts and all of these with such elegance… this is one of the finest movies of modern times.
#4 RANG DE BASANTI (2006):
- Cast: Aamir Khan, Siddharth, Atul Kulkarni, Kunal Kapoor, Sharman Joshi, Alice Patten, Soha Ali Khan, Madhavan, Kirron Kher, Om Puri, Waheeda Rehman, Anupam Kher, Steven McKintosh, Mohan Agashe, K.K. Raina, Lekh Tandon.
- Director: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra
Every so often Bollywood produces a rare gem like Rang De Basanti, a film that breaks the mould by offering something more sophisticated than the standard musical melodrama. Directed by Rakeysh Mehra and featuring Brit Alice Patten opposite Indian superstar Aamir Khan, it tells the story of an English filmmaker who travels to the sub-continent to make a documentary about the freedom fighters mentioned in her grandfather’s memoirs. An entertaining mix of romance, history and social commentary, this quality production takes Hindi cinema in a fresh direction.
Successfully weaving historical facts with contemporary themes and characters, it’s thanks to Mehra’s smart writing and direction that you are instantly drawn into Rang De Basanti’s absorbing plot, which flits smoothly from past to present. While Khan is on usual form, it’s Patten who earns top points as the amiable foreigner who amuses the locals with her excellent command of Hindi. But it’s the strong performances from the ensemble cast that impress foremost, all of whom are totally convincing as disillusioned youngsters learning the importance of personal sacrifice. Accomplished and universally appealing, this is the way Bollywood films should be made. To add to all this…this is one of A R RAHMAN’S best scores to date. It has a zing to it and the ability to transform the audiences to a new world which is so distinct yet, so recognizable.
#5 Lage Raho Munnbhai (2006)
- Cast: Sanjay Dutt, Arshad Warsi, Vidya Balan, Dilip Prabhavalkar
- Director: Rajkumar Hirani
The fact that the Mahatma and his ideologies have been paid little more than lip – service in recent years is common knowledge to most Indians. As is shown in the movie, currency notes, roads n one – sided history lessons have become the only way to remember Bapu, that too momentarily. This is where this ‘Lage raho… .’ scores heavily. Like ‘Rang de basanti’ earlier, it draws parallels to our freedom struggle by invoking Gandhiji. Mixing ‘Gandhigiri’ with a contemporary phenomenon like Munnabhai is a master stroke.
The movie has its fair share of laughs (maybe a li’l less than the 1st one), but the overall feel is better and the innocence has been retained. All the leads are in great form, right from Sanjay Dutt to Jimmy Shergill. Vidya Balan looks very pretty n innocent, as suited to the role. The performance, though, I really liked was Boman Irani – damn good. He’s repulsive n likable in equal measure. And finally, the actor playing Gandhiji, Dilip Prabhavalkar is so astutely tongue-in-cheek, u cannot but love him. There are a few stretched sequences-a couple of the drunk scenes, the songs, but not too many. Patriotic comedy, I read somewhere. Gandhian humor is what I’d call it.
I have seen so many comedy movies, where comedy is forced and the Actors have to make all kinds of funny faces and tricks. But this movie just takes you through the real streets of Mumbai, it’s almost like an Art Film. Especially Gandhigiri portrayed is something where the script writer doesn’t want to preach yet he delivers the message in a very straight forward manner. All the things happening around us I know in real life for us to ensure total Ghandigiri is impossible in the present world but not to forget, that’s the way we got our freedom from the British.
This is the best performance by Mr. Sanjay Dutt, an ignorant strong man and then there goes (I will call him a phenomenon) Arshad Warsi , a friend who is more than a friend , his acting is something which makes you forget all your troubles. I was even laughing while i was walking out of the cinema. This is definitely one of the most hilarious movie ever made in the history of Indian Cinema, where all age groups could watch together. Hats off to the entire crew.
#6 DIL CHAHTA HAI (2001)
- Cast: Aamir Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Akshaye Khanna, Preity Zinta, Sonali Kulkarni, Dimple Kapadia
- Director: Farhan Akhtar
Every once in a while in the history of cinema, it happens that a young film aficionado sets out to actually make a film. He makes his first movie with good feelings, with no great ambition or pretentiousness of any sort, and yet with a great deal of care and intelligence. The actors, cinematographer, editor and all the other film people, believing in the young man’s enthusiasm, themselves pour their best into the film. And then some kind of magic happens. The film turns out to be revolutionary; it defines a generation, both of filmmakers as well as avid film watchers. Such movies virtually spawn a new era of films….an age begins, and another one ends.
DCH is just such a film; with this, Farhan Akhtar soared into unchartered territory and then somehow never made anything even remotely close.
This film’s technical standards stunned me when I had first seen it long ago. For a Bollywood film, it set the bar so high that even subsequent films never came close. Take Ravi K. Chandran’s cinematography: in a word, unbelievable. The shots inside the discotheque are unlike anything I’ve ever seen, even in the most eye-boggling of American/European music videos.
The same goes for the performances, the script, the music, the editing, the mise-en-scene….I could go on and on. Having lately revisited this, I still cannot believe that an Indian filmmaker managed to do this. This film is like a good dream, the kind where you know that it’s a dream, and you don’t want to wake up.
DIL CHAHTA HAI changed the friendship trend and the film showed friends in a more realistic urban way.
#7 DEV D (2009)
- Cast: Abhay Deol, Mahie Gill, Kalki Koechlin, Dibendru Bhattacharya
- Director: Anurag Kashyap
Technically speaking, DEV D is arguably the finest movie ever made in India. This is the way one should contemporize a cult classic novel. Anurag Kashyap, draws the baseline from Sarat Chandra’s Devdas. Then, the movie is its own unique masterpiece. Anurag Kashyap brilliantly weaves the soul of Devdas to the urban youth. India is a country where people like to wallow in self-pity, we have a tradition of songs of self-pity and Devdas is an epitome of self-pity.
But generations have passed away; there have been changes in the society. Dev D incorporates all that and more to become what it should have been. A TRUE CULT CLASSIC. Anurag Kashyap proves yet again that he is an exceptional film-maker. The way he has woven the songs with the screenplay, which anyways is outstanding is quite remarkable.
The cinematography of the film is exceptional. The audience starts to feel dizzy and hung over while watching the film. The screen shots have been taken from a still camera in many scenes so that it looks like the screen is trippy. The movie does not make the mistake of showing Dev as a glamorous character, a mistake often made. There is nothing wrong with the movie. The performances are outstanding and natural. The lighting, editing, screenplay are all brilliant.
Seldom are such movies made in Indian Cinema.
#8 Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi (2003)
- Cast: Kay Kay Menon, Chitrangada Singh, Shiney Ahuja.
- Director: Sudhir Mishra
A thousands wishes like this, each one takes your life. A thousand cravings arise and still too less. Three flawless characters in post independent India struck by poverty, illiteracy, riots and corruption find their love triangular way out from University Education with completely different personalities, background and ambitions. The portrayal of Vikram’s love for Geeta and Geeta’s love for Sidhharth and Sidharth’s dedication for his ideals of extremism can be easily compared with each other and still at the top of all that history could ever see.
The movie depicts platonic LOVE intertwined with the story line which deals with the tragedies in modern India and in some or other way with each three of them. I don’t know why but I tend to remember American History X while thinking about Hazaaron Khwaishen Aisi, most probably by the untouched levels of brilliance of flawless acting of flawless characters achieved by Shiney, Kay Kay and Chitrangada. Believe me it could easily have been made its milestones with the name Indian History X. But still Sudhir Mishra knows what he wants to show and for this matter “Hazaaron Khwaishen Aisi” tells it all. The way romance has been portrayed with the love chemistry is breath taking.
A real breath of fresh air in Indian cinema, Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi is a very real, earnest, crackling-with-life portrayal of what it (apparently) was like to be a college student in Delhi in the late 60s and 70s with the opposing currents of Marxism and (Indira) Gandhian totalitarianism. Intertwined with the ideology and the politics is a love story of three people, who start off with different ideas and whose ideas criss-cross in the course of the film. Superb direction, vibrant cinematography, slick editing, lovely music and superlative performances from all three protagonists make for a thoroughly satisfying cinematic experience.
The surprise package is Shiny Ahuja, whose model-boy looks belie a prodigious acting talent. Both Kay Kay Menon and Chitrangda Singh deliver superb performances with Chitrangda looking stunning throughout. People say she looks like Smita Patil, I wouldn’t know. While the film is not without its faults, including the occasional stilted dialogues and imprecision in the narrative, the overall effect is good enough to make you forget these. Watch this and get high!!
#9 KHOSLA KA GHOSLA (2006)
- Cast: Anupam Kher, Ranvir Shorey, Parvin Dabas, Tara Sharma, Kiran Juneja.
- Director: Dibakar Banerjee
It is a brave decision on the part of débutante director Dibakar Banerjee to choose a subject like this one. Set in a middle class family of Delhi, the movie is a remarkable achievement as far as the defining of character goes. It is impeccable. The effortless storytelling by Banerjee makes it unique and very refreshing. The characters and the treatment are so real that you feel like you know the characters. Screenplay is fantastic giving the audience a realistic view of how life in a middle class family operates. The performances are superb.
The one-liners, the subtle humor is what sets this movie class apart. The helplessness of a middle aged common man in retrieving his land from the land mafia is brilliantly told. The journey of deceiving the devil is amazing. The way Banerjee has done the lighting of the film is precisely how it should be in a middle class house. The film is brilliant on all levels, writing, direction, acting, cinematography. It is a tribute to the common man of India.
#10 LOVE SEX AUR DHOKHA (2010)
- Director: Dibakar Banerjee
You keep hearing of path-breaking cinema but only when you see a film like Love Sex Aur Dhokha, do you know what that term really means. The director engages you so beautifully with his stories that the format becomes secondary. Each story is hard-hitting to the point of being brutal that’s the film’s biggest strength.
The screenplay is the cleverest in recent years where the film ends, it could well begin again. The film has tremendous shock value; it has its moments of laughter and it has the capacity to make you think about it much after it’s over. LSD has all the makings of a contemporary cult classic this season’s best film. It’s a must-watch. Outstanding movie.
Finally the bottom line is you just cannot judge greatness. A piece of art is called great not just due to the recognition it gets at its profane stage but finally when it is measured in its totality, when its message outshines the concoctions which made that piece invaluable.LSD is one such movie. It would be the cult movies of future although it couldn’t fare well in what should have been its heyday.
I think Indian cinema is now proceeding towards its heyday due to the likes of few good men like Dibakar Banerjee! Dibakar Banerjee is the third musketeer of bollywood along with Vishal Bharadwaj and Anurag Kashyap! We should rejoice at this epoch making event.