How Indian cinema fared this decade (2010-2019)

A definitive recap of Bollywood over the last decade

The past decade marked a century in Indian cinema (Dadasaheb Phalke’s Raja Harishchandra, released in 1913). This slice of history aside, the decade has had several turning points of its own: the Baahubalisation of Bollywood, with the Hindi dubbed version of the Telugu-Tamil bilingual, Baahubali 2, beating it in its home turf, Ranveer Singh taking centre stage and the #MeToo movement. We look at these and other big and small mileposts in this 10-year journey…

1. The Holy Trinity scored half a century: The Khans hit the golden jubilee in 2015; Aamir in March, Shah Rukh in November and Salman in December. Aamir didn’t just consolidate his sway in India with biggies like PK, Dangal, Dhoom 3 and Secret Superstar but won over China as well. With Dabangg at the start of the decade, the massy Salman managed to reach out to the multiplex audiences and even found critical acclaim with the pacifist politics of Bajrangi Bhaijaan. SRK started with a bang with My Name is Khan but has been floundering in the latter half of the decade, despite some well-intentioned experiments like Fan and Raees.

2. Decade’s child: Ranveer Singh made an electric début as the likeable, endearing Bittoo in Band Baaja Baaraat in 2010 and at the close of the decade hit it out of the park as rapper Murad in Gully Boy. In between there have been Lootera, Goliyon ki Raasleela Ram-Leela, Dil Dhadakne Do, Bajirao Mastani, Padmaavat and much talk of his quirky sense of fashion and styling. The next decade is promising to start with a bang with him becoming Kapil Dev in 83.

A definitive recap of Bollywood over the last decade

3. The new triumvirate: Long ago, we had Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand and Raj Kapoor. From the 90s onwards, it has been the three Khans who have ruled the roast. The turn of the decade has thrown a new set of contenders, albeit not starry in the traditional way. Vicky Kaushal with Uri, Sanju, Manmarziyan and Raazi, Ayushmann Khurrana with Vicky Donor, Dum Laga Ke Haisha, Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, Badhaai Ho, Andhadhun, Article 15, Bala and Dreamgirl and Rajkummar Rao with Kai Po Che, Aligarh, Shahid, Trapped, Bareilly Ki Barfi and Stree have formed the new boy next door brigade of stars. Khurrana seems ahead in the race for now with his unique genre of light-hearted, taboo-breaking films defining the 2010s.

4. Akshay Kumar’s patriot act: From Padman to Mission Mangal via Kesari and not to forget the omniscient No Smoking ad, Akshay Kumar emerged as shining India’s Neo Mr Bharat. The long interview — about mangoes and little else — with Narendra Modi, in the run up to the elections, also showcased him as the one with the mightiest political clout in Bollywood, his Canadian visa notwithstanding.

5. Badass ladies: They may not have been dealing in as many multiples of crores as their male colleagues, but they had a better spread of films and roles. In the largely male-skewed universe, this decade saw a far bigger chunk of women-led and focussed films than ever before, be it Vidya Balan in The Dirty Picture and Kahaani, Sridevi in English Vinglish, Kangana Ranaut in Queen and Tanu Weds Manu, Rani Mukherji in Mardaani 1 and 2, Deepika Padukone in Piku, Priyanka Chopra in Mary Kom or Alia Bhatt in Raazi. Most of these films grew steadily successful, through word of mouth, than bringing all the bums to the seats on the first weekend itself.

A definitive recap of Bollywood over the last decade

6. BMKJ (Bharat Mata Ki Jai) cinema: From vigilante dramas to story lines that take off on government schemes (‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ became the theme for Toilet: Ek Prem Katha) to the rise of the new, aggressive, nationalist hero who wears his patriotism on his sleeve, as portrayed by Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgn, John Abraham and Vicky Kaushal, the on-screen notion of patriotism took on a life of its own and peaked with the compelling propaganda and celebration of the “surgical strikes” and “New India” in Uri. The Modi makeover was complete before the elections with Vivek Oberoi playing him in PM Narendra Modi.

7. #MeToo: As the #MeToo movement swept the nation in 2018, 10 men from the Hindi film industry were accused by women of sexual misconduct. Even as Bollywood women took a lead — it started with Tanushree Dutta’s 10-year-old sexual harassment claims against Nana Patekar — a misogynistic hero in Kabir Singh became the favourite of the masses. Others who made headlines for all the wrong reasons included Sajid Khan, Vikas Bahl, Alok Nath, Subhash Ghai, Rajat Kapoor, Anu Malik, Kailash Kher, Soumik Sen and Raj Kumar Hirani.

A definitive recap of Bollywood over the last decade

8. Director’s chair: Women filmmakers like Meghna Gulzar and Zoya Akhtar breached the much coveted ₹100 crore tag at the turnstiles. Vikramaditya Motwane debuted with Udaan in 2010 and has kept the viewers satiated with an eclectic set of films: Lootera, Trapped, Bhavesh Joshi Superhero. Nitesh Tiwari kicked off with Chillar Party in 2011 and now has two of the biggest blockbusters of the decade to his credit — Dangal and Chhichhore.

9. Getting noticed: Love Sex and Dhokha in 2010 set the ball rolling and right up till A Death In The Gunj, Lipstick Under My Burkha, Tu Hai Mera Sunday, Badhaai Ho, and Mulk and more, the ensemble rocked in solidarity. It’s become all about group show with the supporting cast often stealing the show and unknown faces making the audience wake up and take notice. Showstoppers who rocked on the side included Pankaj Tripathi, Mohd Zeeshan Ayyub, Vineet Singh, Neena Gupta, Gajraj Rao, Surekha Sikri, Manoj and Seema Pahwa, Vikrant Massey, Ratna Pathak Shah, Swara Bhaskar, Vijay Varma… Right casting became the buzzword and casting directors came into their own.

10. Embracing the rainbow... Has only just begun in the mainstream, uneasily and gingerly at that, with Ek Ladki Ko Dekha To Aisa Laga , Kapoor and Sons and Karan Johar’s short in Bombay Talkies. And we are not even talking about the relatively offbeat I Am and Margarita with a Straw here… Delhi Sultanate ruler Alauddin Khilji (Ranveer Singh) in the bathtub with his ghulam (slave) Malik Kafur (Jim Sarbh) in Padmaavat and Tiger Shroff looking longingly at Hrithik Roshan in War. Male bonding got a homoerotic touch. There was pathbreaking bromance in Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety with the grandfather (Alok Nath) almost joined at the hip with his bachelor buddy (Virendra Saxena) while the grandmother just couldn’t be bothered. A same sex love story with Ayushmann Khurrana — Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan — early in 2020 might hopefully push the envelope further in the right direction.

11. Polarisation and spirit of resistance: As with the rest of the world, Bollywood has been heavily polarised when it comes to politics. As we close the decade the industry is divided on the politics of protest. While Anubhav Sinha, Anurag Kashyap, Sushant Singh, Richa Chaddha and Huma Qureshi are vehemently opposing CAA-NRC, even joining the rallies, Vivek Agnihotri and Ashok Pandit have been expectedly favouring it. The royalty has maintained an uneasy silence and others like Ayushmann and Vicky are being diplomatic in their templated statements.

A definitive recap of Bollywood over the last decade

12. Musical notes: The elusive Arijit Singh mustered the maximum number of earworms even as assembly line melodies, multiple music composers and remixes of the old ditties defined the soundtracks. Was Hindi film music more about dissonance this decade?

13. Flag bearer of nepotism: Kangana Ranaut may have riled Karan Johar with the term but then he did endow the industry with two gifted star kids — Alia Bhatt and Varun Dhawan — in Student of the Year in 2012. Other notable star entrants this decade: Sonakshi Sinha, Shraddha Kapoor, Tiger Shroff, Jahnvi Kapoor and Sara Ali Khan.

14: Muslim representation: While Phantom, Batla House pointed fingers at the community, Gully Boy, Kahaani and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara were interesting in the way the characters wore their Muslim identity lightly. Then you had a Commando 3 righteously playing on the good Muslim and bad Muslim binary while being seemingly inclusive.

15. Selfie obsession: The whole world has been hit by the selfie virus, Bollywood more so with an increasing dependence on social media, Instagram in particular, to reach out to and expand their fan base. The two most famous Bollywood selfies have been with PM Modi and another with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu at the Shalom Bollywood event.

A definitive recap of Bollywood over the last decade

16: Out of town/Mofussil cool: From Varanasi and Bareilly to Chhattisgarh and Haryana… Hindi films ventured beyond Delhi-Mumbai with UP as the most favoured destination in Dum Laga Ke Haisha, Jolly LLB, Gangs of Wasseypur and more, so much so that Ayushmann Khurrana once joked about pitching a permanent tent in Lucknow-Kanpur considering the number of films he was shooting there. Filmmaker Abhishek Chaubey débuted with Ishqiya (based in Gorakhpur) in 2010 and since then has been taking the viewers on a compelling ride through interiors of North India in films like Dedh Ishqiya (Lucknow), Udta Punjab (rural Punjab) or Sonchiriya (Gwalior-Agra). For him it’s not just about the setting but embracing the lingo, culture and even the politics of the region.

17. Size doesn’t matter: Some of the most stimulating cinema happened in small, independent spirited zone — in the realm of débuts and sophomore films like Neeraj Ghaywan’s Masaan, Chaitanya Tamhane’s Court, Anand Gandhi’s The Ship of Theseus. Women filmmakers like Konkona Sen Sharma (A Death In The Gunj), Rakhee Sandilya (Ribbon), Alankrita Shrivastava (Lipstick Under My Burkha) came on their own. Small ventures like Hindi Medium, Newton and Lipstick… proved to be surprise sleeper hits.

18. Going online: Streaming platforms brought in a variety of programming online, giving filmmakers freedom to play with the form and content and offering more challenging roles to the actors than available in safe realm of the mainstream cinema. There have been more jobs going in the market specially for writers. Once on the lookout for assignments, now they have no time to spare. On the flip side, viewer has too much to consume.

19. Those who left us… An entire generation it would seem… Dev Anand, Pran, Sadhana, Saeed Jaffrey, Viju Khote, Shyam Ramsay, Khayyam, Vidya Sinha, J Om Prakash, Girish Karnad, Om Puri, Vinod Khanna, Kundan Shah, Sridevi, Girish Karnad, Sriram Lagoo, Raj Kumar Barjatya, Kader Khan, Kalpana Lajmi, Bhimsain, Shammy Aunty, Nida Fazli, Neeraj, Mrinal Sen…

20. The fighters…Manisha Koirala, Lisa Ray, Rishi Kapoor, Sonali Bendre, Irrfan Khan didn’t just slay dreaded diseases but set a brave example for their fans by sharing the stories of their battles

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Printable version | Mar 7, 2021 12:13:56 PM |

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