It is holiday season and that time of the year when we relax and watch our favorite movies again.
As a die-hard movie fan with a special love for Bollywood, I have always taken great enthusiasm in preparing a list of movies that entertained us, made us think, cry, laugh, wonder and off course sing and dance to their tunes.
And wow! This time we get to rewind our list for the whole decade- 2010 to 2019 and what a decade this was for Bollywood! Unlike the nineties when Masala was king or the early 21st century which was lost in finding the right formula , in this decade, content was big and even small films but with great story, emerged from nowhere to rule our hearts. Films like Badhai Ho, Tanu weds Manu, Jolly LLB, Band Baja Barat, Vicky donor, Nil Battey Sannata, Kahani, Talwar showed that the right story and slick direction can enable both, entertainment and commercial success.
It was truly a great decade with a wide range of movies to choose from and as a fan and not a critic, my list may have a fair share of movies on either side of the spectrum including both true entertainers and ones which left us thinking and showed a new light.
So here we go with our TOP TEN films for the decade of 2010-19.
But first the five which were close enough to be there but are not simply not there because the list is of top ten. There was Gauri Shinde’s English Vinglish with Sridevi’s coming back from her retirement to deliver a brilliant performance. There was the melodious Aashiqui 2 with songs which touched our hearts and made us happy and sad at the same time. There was the wacky and absolutely brilliant action-comedy Mard ko dard nahi hota which truly showed why a great writer-director is the true hero of a film. There was the bombastic battle of rap created by Zoya Akhtar in Gully Boy which not just gave life to the journey of ordinary heroes from Mumbai’s chawl but also cemented the position in superstardom of Ranvir Singh while introducing to the world a new rising star, Siddhant Chaturvedi. And finally there was Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s magnum opus, Bajirao Mastani which rode all the way to the heart with mesmerizing performances by the star cast led by Ranvir Singh. The climax when Bajirao rises from the death bed to fight the ghosts created by the burdens of caste, class and society of the times, is going to be one of the finest cinematic moments of our times.
And the top ten are-
10. Inkaar- 2013–
Sudhir Mishra’s corporate drama displaying emotions on either side due to a sexual harassment case filed against the CEO by a co-worker and an ex-love interest created cinematic magic. The chemistry and fire between the leads, Arjun Rampal and Chitrangada Singh added sparks which flew thick and fast. A must watch for cinema buffs.
9. Lipstick under my Burkha -2017-
Alankrita Shrivastava’s Lipstick not just showed a middle finger to the society in general for their double standards and how women are treated especially when they express their desires. Surprisingly in this age too, it was bold enough even for the censor board which tried to stop its release and finally agreed when the middle finger worked and showed them how much outdated their own prejudices were. Off course you got the added benefit of watching great performances by the women leads, especially Ratna Pathak Shah and Konkana Sen Sharma.
8. Barfi- 2012–
This barfi was sweet enough for Hindi movie lovers worldwide even with the Hero being deaf-mute. Off course his eyes spoke and then no words were required. Even in his typical Bollywood eshtylelove triangle with a vivacious, charming, big town lass and an autistic childhood friend. Priyanka Chopra and Ranbir Kapoor both excelled and not to forget the unforgettable chases of Saurabh Shukla. Barfi was vow. Need Kaju Katli now!
7. Mukti Bhawan (Hotel Salvation)- 2017–
Despite watching it a few times, I am still amazed how a young twenty something screenplay writer and director, Shubhashish Bhutiani got this spiritual journey right at such an early age! Perhaps some people go through that journey in many lives to reach this level of understanding. Every frame of this cinematic, nay spiritual sojourn is laid back and makes us sit back, pause and think of our own lives and how we would address our final destination. More than death, it was about life and relationships especially one of the most complex ones between a father and a son. Take a bow Lalit Behl and you just needed one role to do a lifetime’s justice to your talent. Adil Hussain has a lot to offer in times to come and this was another feather in his already illustrious cap. Watch it for your soul! It will stay with you for life and perhaps on to the next one!
6. Dangal- 2016–
So what does a fellow IITian do when he gets into movie making? He creates magic repeatedly and the biggest hit of Indian cinema worldwide, grossing more than three hundred million dollars! Nitish Tiwari not just developed a truly remarkable real life story into a reel masterpiece but made humans worldwide believe truly that it is time to leave aside their gender intolerance towards women as they are at par, if not ahead of men in all walks of life. And the casting by Mukesh Chhabra was perfect and all actors including new comers led by the ever dependent Aamir Khan brought the Phogat family and their struggle to life. Great cinema and a movie that brought real transformation including creating a foot-hold for Indian cinema in the Chinese market.
5. Kai Po Che-2013–
The winning cry of rejoice on cutting the opponent’s kite was a story about friendship in times of distress beautifully presented by Abhishek Kapoor. It was a story of human bonds, of love, deceit, religious fanatics, ambition and above all of the human spirit that conquers all spirit to soar deep in the skies. One which cannot be bound by any chains or cannot grovel in the dirt for long! It will remain a shining light in the world of today one which hopefully will show us the path whenever we consider the dirt as our destiny. Bravo Shushant, Rajkumar and Amit, your magic worked. And how!
4. Andhadhun- 2019–
Sriram Raghavan’s Andhadhun is the story of a blind pianist but you need to watch it with all your senses alive to enjoy each of its nuance. It is cinema at its best, be it fine acting with Ayushmaan and Tabu at their best, great direction and screenplay, perfect editing and melodious music that actually added to the story than being the typical Bollywood fill-in. This one was at par with the finest in the world and will remain a thriller which will entertain us even in its nth re-run.
So whom do we thank for this soulful highway to heaven? One that actually takes us through a journey of emotions so rich that we leave our comfort zones and journey along with the two travellers into the deepest and darkest corners of our soul! And come out seeing a shining light of hope. Was it the magic of Imtiaz Ali’s direction and story-telling? Or the raw performance of Alia Bhatt with child-like delight at little things as well as the pain of her tormented soul which shook us to the core? Or the pain and sadness and earthly realization of Mahabir Bhati beautifully portrayed by Randeep Hooda? Or the heavenly music of A. R. Rahman and the rendition of ‘Patkakha Guddi’ by the Nooran sisters? It was all and more which took us through a journey on a highway of emotion, heart break, love and most importantly, the simple joys of life.
Again Imtiaz Ali. Again A R Rahman. Again magic. Songs which will stay with us for ever along with a mesmerizing performance by Ranbir Kapoor, one which will take your breath away by its sheer range. Off course there were other performers in the movie but who cared. This was about Jordan’ journey and equally about the emergence of Ranbir Kapoor as a powerhouse of talent! This was about the finest music of our times and the evolution of a man. Of happiness, pain and love that left us in awe. And yes, it gave us our anthem. ‘Sada Haq- Ethhe Rakh’! Yeah!
And the best of the decade- Queen-2014–
I get it. It is shocking to rate the movie directed by Vikas Behl as the number one movie of the decade. That too one about women empowerment when the director himself is shrouded in the clouds of the me-too movement! But we have to remove the art from the artist and this piece of art is truly the finest of our decade. Kangana Ranaut’s transformation from a meek, shy, ordinary Punjabi Delhi girl who gets ditched by her fiancé on the day of her wedding to a self-confident lady who can stand on her own two feet and decide for herself what she wants to do with her life; was a delightful journey, one which we can rejoice and watch time and again. But off course what added was the joy of friendships earned on the way and of human bonds which were not bound by religion, region, color, language or any other barriers.
This movie made Indian cinema the real Queen of our hearts and one to whom we will bow for another decade to take us through emotion filled voyages beyond the four walls of our homes and into the world of fantasy. Into the world of Murphy, Jordan, Bajirao, Rani, Veera, ….
Oh yes, before we go, the best performers of the decade, if at all we can rank art.
Best Actor– A tie between Ranbir Kapoor and Ranvir Singh. The future is bright for Indian cinema.
Best Actress– Again a tie between Kangana Ranaut and Alia Bhat.
Best director– Hands down- Imtiaz Ali
Best music director– A R Rahman– Yet another decade of rocking music!
And yes, last but not the least. I must also mention the Five best movies of 2019, which are-
(Director- Zoya Akhtar, Performers- Ranvir Singh, Alia Bhat, Siddhant Chaturvedi, Vijay Raaz. Deadly combination. Inka time Aa gaya!)
Mard Ko dard nahi hota
(Director- Vasan Bala. Performers- Never mind, they were great but this movie is rocking due to its script and direction)
(Director- Abhishek Chaubey. Performers- Manoj Bajpayee, Sushant Singh Rajput, Ranvir Shorey, Bhumi Pedenkar, Ashutosh Rana- Need I say more!)
(Director- Nitesh Tiwari. Performers- Sushant Singh Rajput, Shraddha Kapoor, Varun Sharma and a host of talented artists and yes the tallest among them all- The IIT Bombay hostel life which was the REAL HERO of the movie. Reminded me of my Hostel 9 days there! Ohhhhh!)
And Super 30
(Director- Oh Vikas Behl again but the movie was great. It was surprising to see Hrithik Roshan desperately trying to look and act as an ordinary Bihari and while he did not really get any of that right and was more magical in his next avatar in War, yet this movie had its heart in the right place and the story of Sanjay Kumar was too powerful and resonated successfully worldwide).
Here’s to hoping for rocking twenties and more magical stories which will brighten our nights!
(PS: As an after thought, there is only one movies of all the six top Khans here off course none of the Quarter-master Kumar. The times, they are changing!)