Contemporary Hindi Cinema

For an average cine-goer, the medium offers an escape route from the grind of day-to-day living – an emotional catharsis at losing his being & actively participating in the experiences of the characters on screen.

Rakesh Roshan’s Kaho Naa Pyar Hai launched his son Hrithik Roshan, who “Almost pulled me down” quoted Shah Rukh Khan in an award ceremony. Aditya Chopra’s Mohabbatein helped him retain the top position among the Bollywood directors. Amitabh Bachchan & his contemporary best Shah Rukh Khan gave stellar performances in this love saga. In 2001, Ashutosh Gowariker’s period saga Lagaan, with Aamir Khan, swept all Indian national awards in its year of release. Lagaan was nominated for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars. Farhan Akhtar breezed across the big screen with Aamir Khan-starrer Dil Chahta Hai, a fresh, funky & cool movie. This was undoubtedly new millennium cinema-everything was new about it. From the characters, to the plot, to the look. Oscar nominated Indian filmmaker Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding (2001) is a poignant portrait of contemporary Indian culture. Aparna Sen’s much acclaimed Mr & Mrs Iyer (2002) won Konkona Sen the coveted National Award and proved that great direction, great stories do not go unnoticed. Another talked about film in 2002 was Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas, one of the most expensive Bollywood films ever produced; with a reported budget of Rs 50 crores. Movies like Company, Saathiya clicked well among the masses.

2003 came with Aziz Mirza’s couple flick Chalte Chalte, with Shah Rukh Khan & Rani Mukherji. The film did well at the box office. Yashraj Films have a knack of producing the หนังชนโรง . They proved it again with Yash Chopra’s border love-saga Veer-Zaara (2003) provided a refreshing acting combined with good story telling & tasteful direction. The success of the film proved that people still have a faith in platonic love. Nikhil Advani’s directorial debut Kal Ho Naa Ho (2003) mediate between modern life & tradition. Saif Ali Khan won the National Award for Kunal Kohli’s Hum Tum (2004). It is his first solo hit. Sexuality entered the industry with Anuraj Basu’s Emraan Hashmi-Mallika Sherawat starrer Murder (2004), Aashiq Banaya Apne (2005) Comedy, which appeals to our cinematic taste found voice in the year 2005 with Yashraj Films’ Bunty & Babli, Priyadarshan’s Garam Masala & the like. Rani Mukherji & Amitabh Bachchan kissed away in Black (2005). Their performances won them many accolades. Rakesh Omprakash Mehra’s popular 2006 film, Rang de Basanti produced a fantasy of what a Western consumer wants from India. The film gave a clarion call to the youth of the nation to come forward in protest against the polite tricks of the politicians.

There avant-garde acquired a different meaning for new movie buffs. Homi Adajania churned out the best from Saif Ali Khan in his much acclaimed movie Being Cyrus (2006). Rajkumar Hirani, the modern-day Hrishikesh Mukherjee, gave us Munnabhai M.B.B.S (2003) & Lage Raho Munnabhai (2006). The success of Lage Raho… , Krrish, Dhoom 2 gave way to sequels. Karan Johar’s divorce drama Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna (2006) experimented with infidelity & love outside marriage. It profited millions outside India.

Shah Rukh Khan, the heartthrob of millions was busy delivering hits after hits. Om Shanti Om (2007) & Chak De India (2007). Priyadarshan’s Bhool Bhulaiya with Akshay Kuamr won our hearts. Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire (2008) is a modern Bollywood classic. Aamir Khan’s Ghajini was based on the Hollywood film Memento. But the film was very well received & Aamir flaunted his muscles & money earned from the movie’s huge success. Yashraj Films returned with Aditya Chopra’s third directorial venture Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi in 2008. The movie elevated the relationship between a husband & a wife. Much to our delight, Aamir Khan turned to direction & churned out Taare Zameen Par (2007). This award winning drama flick depicts a touching story of an eight year old dyslexic boy. Ayan Mukherji’s first venture Wake Up Sid featuring Ranbhir Kapoor as a spoiled young adult living in Mumbai experiences a change in his lazy ways when he meets a woman at a party, who inspires him to “wake up”. Even Rajkuanr Hirani’s 3 Idiots (20009) embarked on the fact that knowledge is power, not a degree.

New Hindi movies (mainly the popular kind) have turned to shooting most of the films in foreign locations. Action films contain more death defying stunts & a slicker packaging. At one point in time, women were relegated as love interests & often shown clinging to the hero’s arm. Movies like Madhur Bhandarkar’s Fashion, Milan Luthria’s The Dirty Picture & Sujoy Ghosh’s Kahaani have proved that the story will not sink if it doesn’t have a male lead. Movies like Raaz, 13B & Phoonk have proved that horror movies can be a commercial success. More filmmakers have started experimenting with horror genre these days.

Remakes of old classics peeped in & Agneepath’s success cemented the position of remakes. Today, the most remarkable change visible in Indian cinema is the death of the formula. No longer can Bollywood be boxed into the lost-&-found, the boy-meets-girl or the blood-&-gore revenge formula. With filmmakers like Anurag Kashyap, Sujoy Ghosh & Ayan Mukherji, we can hope for some more movies which are zara hatke. 2012 has not ended up yet, who knows another movie may break Yashraj film’s Salman-Katrina starrer Ek Tha Tiger’s (2012) record which crossed the 100-crore mark.


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