10 Best Hindi Movies Of The Decade (2000s)
10 Best Hindi Movies Of The Decade (2000s): The 2000s was an impressive decade for Hindi cinema. The Academy accepted one of our broad and lengthy Masala films for a nomination of The Best Foreign Language Film. Many of the master filmmakers in Hindi cinema such as Anurag Kashyap, Imtiaz Ali, Vishal Bharadwaj, and Dibakar Banerjee made their first films. A newcomer called Farhan Akhter made a ‘cool’ friendship film before ‘cool’ even became a thing in India. Aamir, Shahrukh, and Salman were officially the Khan trinity. And a few tremendous leaps were taken then so that the genuinely satisfying films of now could run on their own.
After twenty years since Hindi cinema was officially christened the 21st-century industry, here we are, sitting in our homes, in the middle of a worldwide epidemic, revisiting our favorite films. This is a list of my top movies from the decade of 2000s, ordered from the better to the best. There are other great films, but these 10 are impeccably particular. The popularity of these films has no bearing on my choices because they are all too personal to be dismissed on such counts. And all of them still have some kind of resonance, which is another reason to watch them.
Sriram Raghavan’s Johnny Gaddaar (2007), Imtiaz Ali’s Love Aaj Kal (2009), Vishal Bharadwaj’s Omkara (2006), Shimit Amin’s Rocket Singh (2009), Anurag Kashyap’s Dev-D (2009), Farhan Akhter’s Dil Chahta Hai (2001) and Asutosh Gowariker’s Jodha Akbar (2008)
10) Chak De! India (2007)
Shimit Amin is a competent filmmaker. He has made only two Hindi films in his career, but both of them stand out for their inventive craft. But Chak De! India is an entertainer that stands purely on another level. I would admit that it is not an entirely satisfying story, but it is sweepingly enjoyable from the beginning to the end. The film is a first in the discernment that there were no sports dramas with an entire women’s team previously. The hockey film also explored how rushed and unprofessional Indian media is; a Muslim man is immediately robbed of identity and identified a terrorist, even when he is the captain of a country’s sports team. It also motivates hugely to be united despite the differences that exist.
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The other most promising thing of the film was the writing: the hockey-playing girls are from all kinds of states but they are sketched out without any stereotypes or sense of background in its mind. The last game has been written with a sense of urgency so perfect; I can watch the whole of it breathlessly, even now.
9) Rang De Basanti (2006)
Few films aggregate as interestingly as Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s Rang De Basanti. I recollect when I saw the film, I was completely dumbstruck by the end at the level of head-rush and exemplary outrageousness the film propagated. It connected the struggle of a young generation against an oppressive system to the fight of freedom fighters against colonialism, and in unexpected ways.
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The film is bettered by the performances of Aamir Khan, Atul Kulkarni, Kunaal Kapoor, and Siddharth, yes, but the writers are the winners here because they choose simple entertainment and a fiercely political method to their screenplay. The film’s layers and the fascination that you feel multiply together and by the end, the film lifts off the surface.
8) Guru (2007)
Mani Ratnam has a talent for visual filmmaking. Even when the story slows down halfway, the film doesn’t. Perhaps that is just why his filmography is a tad uneven. But Guru marks a refreshing change of pace in his career. Starring Abhishek Bachchan in the actor’s best performance, this film is a character study of the protagonist Gurukant Desai. Touted unofficially as the biopic of the rich industrialist Dhirubhai Ambani, the film studies an ordinary man’s extraordinary rise to power. The film is a great one because it achieves an endearing simplicity with surprising heft. Its delivery and storytelling are never distracted by the masala-drenched AR Rahman soundtrack or the immersive Sameer Chanda production design. And it is compulsory, peppy and seasoned fun all the way.
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Guru has a lot of strengths but the best thing about it is the husband-wife relationship: it has songs, dances, celebrations. But it is remarkably real and relatable even now, perhaps because it reminds me of the love of my mother and father, which is very peppy and joyful even now. Sujata and Gurukant make for an unconventional pairing, but it enhances the richness of the film’s plot.
7) Gulaal (2009)
Melodrama is an oft-cursed trope in any cinema. But if done the right way, it could enhance the cinematic quality of the film. Gulaal is a distinct and flavored example of such storytelling. Directed by Anurag Kashyap, this film tells a story brimming with tension: that of college ragging and an untrue romance unraveling with the backdrop of Rajputana politics in Rajasthan. Through an epic tale, the film unmasks the bitter and unfortunate truth of India as a democracy.
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It is almost inhumane how discomforting and yet, understated the film’s compelling observations are. It is a film that scissors all the glimmers of humanity because they cease to exist. Characters like Dukey Banna and Dileep Kumar have come to stay with us primarily because they exist amongst us. To say that in 2009 was very unusual.
6) Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! (2008)
Dibakar Banerjee’s film career kicked fourteen years ago with Khosla Ka Ghosla (2006), but OL!LO! is still his most masterful film. Starring Abhay Deol, Manurishi Chaddha, and Paresh Rawal in arguably the best hours of their careers, the film kicks in as a delightfully sassy morality tale, keeps you engaged throughout as a taut heist drama featuring an adorable thief, and ends as a character study which is moving. The best part of the film is its crackling comedy, a cracker of a cast, and the nuanced, relatable as well as earthy Delhi drama at the core that keeps the plot busy without any overreaching. The cinematic traits add up nicely for an unusually satisfying and funny experience. Even after so many years, the film hasn’t lost an iota of relevance and remains as timely as then.
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What I love about this sophomore film of Dibakar is that it unapologetically compromises on the emotional wallop for the riveting storytelling and riotous laughs. It has been perfectly cast: the hypnotic casting of Paresh Rawal in a triple role as three father figures is the highlight of the film. The context of the film’s release makes it even timelier: it was released just two days after the devastating 26/11 attacks at Mumbai, and the delightful comedy with a high-note finish delivered on all counts. A Hindi film about a city has never been as universal as this one.
5) Maqbool (2004)
This film marks the beginning of Vishal Bharadwaj’s Shakespearean Trilogy spanning ten years in making, succeeded by Omkara (2006) and Haider (2014). And it is the finest of them all. A thoroughly seasoned and effortlessly concentrated effort; the film adapted “Macbeth” and untied the strings, setting the drama in the seedy Mumbai underbelly and the world of gangsters. Sure there is the manner to the writing, with refined and clever dialogue, with restraint in editing, and there’s the masterful camerawork. But the film benefits the most from the opulent performances from the terrific leading pair: As Miyan Maqbool ‘Macbeth’, the late Irrfan Khan is subdued and enchanting, but the film’s soul lies in the marvelous Tabu who plays Simmi, the Lady Macbeth, with the trademark loveliness and a naturalistic, haunting presence.
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There is little that’s not to be appreciated here, but the key to the film’s brilliance is the way it touches upon the little nuances frequently enough. For example, the way it replaces three witches of the original play to the two cops with underworld links- played by Naseeruddin Shah and Om Puri- is pure brilliance because no sheer genius could predict such deviation from the original.
4) Monsoon Wedding (2001)
Mira Nair’s deft wedding drama might look like a Bollywood wedding drama in the disguise of a distinctive indie but has a lot more to it than meets the eye: an inter-family affair, a bride with a secret sexual affair, a failing marriage, a sexual abuse, and a son pressured by a father. It is about a dark past of a family and perhaps even a haunting future. But the film cleverly shifts gazes and turns into an immensely happening story of the great Indian wedding, an event where families and friends come together and celebrate an occasion with cheer, dances, and elaborate processions, with a smile on each one’s face. To achieve this screenplay as early as 2001 makes one gasp because the film is technically superb as well as well-performed, and outstanding cast blends into the story’s dysfunctional core.
The movie has, till now, one of the most exquisite ensemble performances in Hindi cinema- there are a lot of transcendent actors here, from the Naseeruddin Shah-Lilette Dubey pair to a small cameo by Soni Razdan, plus the debuts by Tilottama Shome and Randeep Hooda, the acting is pitch-perfect. But the women are simply extraordinary: I particularly loved Shefali Shah and Vasundhara Das, because their inherent selfishness and ups-and-downs were hard not to buy into.
3) Black Friday (2004)
Anurag Kashyap’s harrowing and examining look into the life of the terrorists who staged the 1993 Bombay bomb blasts is composed of technical and performative mastery one viewing of which isn’t enough to experience. The brave performances by the low-key artists like Kay Kay Menon and Aditya Srivastava as Rakesh Maria and Badshah Khan respectively add to the elaborate glory of this gem of a film.
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It has been based on a Hussain Zaidi book of the same name which chronicles the bomb blasts with true-crime narratives, but it is entirely original in the way it gives a delicious spin to the proceedings. The dark edges have been sharpened with the kind of intensely sensitive writing that keeps you gripped through the proceedings. And if you overlook the human drama the film’s focus shifts frequently towards, you still have a thoroughly entertaining crime story.
2) Luck By Chance (2009)
You won’t believe at the scale and ambition of the film that Luck By Chance is an insider’s story, chronicled so effortlessly by a woman who is an insider who belongs to the film fraternity. Directed by Zoya Akhtar, the film starring her brother Farhan Akhtar and Konkona Sen Sharma isn’t about casting couches, talent being snatched, or internal quarrels in the parties hosted by superstars. This is a film that examines the privileges and nepotism and infers the differentiation between talent and luck through the recesses of vanity vans and hotel rooms. It is beautifully understated, simple, and consistently flawless. There’s a method to the film’s delicious humor and efficient storytelling. It is a film that aces a chamber-piece despite the frequent cameos by big shots.
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Farhan Akhtar shines through most of the film. He plays a “lucky” outsider who was struggling to get into Bollywood- and he plays it diligently, which is surprising because he is a star kid. He has been paired with Konkona Sensharma, who isn’t an outsider herself, but plays the role of a struggling actress who misses the mark! The late Rishi Kapoor is mesmerizing as a whimsical director in this wonderful film about films.
1) Lagaan (2001)
Ashutosh Gowariker’s Lagaan starring Aamir Khan is a wonderfully acted and directed film that poses as an example that with the right kind of screenplay, direction, and superb performances, a simplistic sports drama close to four hours can never turn into drivel. This is because what turned to be a colonial drama where villagers fight a tax-imposing government by defeating them in their own game also turns into a meticulous drama of hope and an epic on the plusses of life in supposed poverty. Even such minor details such as the love triangle play a part in the narrative with perfection. There’s the humongous heart that drives all of it with unapologetic entertainment. It is not an ideal film, but surely a masterwork. The kind that’s not made these days. Lagaan is at the top spot in the list of best hindi movies of 2000s.