In the last decade, the entire landscape of film making has seen an overhaul. The films nowadays, speak differently than what they used to, a few years ago. The modern filmmaker is armed with optimum technology and spellbinding stories. The audience today demands soul searching stories. They look for the tales that provoke the grey matter. The past decade has been a testament of this endeavour of the filmmaker and the viewer. We, at The Cinemawala, scoured through the vault of time and found many such movies that can truly be considered as one of their kinds. It was hard to discard some of them. We really had to keep our individual differences aside to agree on this list. Eventually, thirty films made to the final cut, which can be truly labelled as genre-defining.
Honourable Mentions – These movies missed the list by a whisker. Nevertheless, these also hold importance to us, for the pathbreaking films they have been individual.
Paan Singh Tomar, Ishqiya, Karthik Calling Karthik, Udaan, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Rockstar, Vicky Donor, Ship Of Theseus, Shahid, Filmistan, Jolly LLB, Sulemani Keeda, Highway, Special 26, Ankhon Dekhi, Ugly, Dum Laga Ke Haisha, Raman Raghav 2.0, Kapoor and Sons, Pink, Tu Hai Mera Sunday, Bhavesh Joshi Superhero, Karwaan, Stree, Manmarziyaan, Sonchiriya, Manto
Now, check out the greatest movies of the last decade (2010 – 2019). Do let us know your views, in the comments.
Love, Sex Aur Dhokha (2010)
All of Hollywood went crazy with the advent of the ‘Blair Witch Project’. A film that was shot on a handy cam, portrayed as the found footage of an incident dealing with an urban legend, went on to earn billions at the box office. For Hindi films, this watershed moment came with Dibakar Banerjee’s ‘Love, Sex Aur Dhokha’ aka LSD. Based on the anthology of three stories which deals with honour killing, hidden MMS video and sting operation which eventually gets interconnected was lauded by all and sundry. One of the riveting films to have come from the Hindi film industry, this film was truly pathbreaking for its use of technology of five different handheld cameras and the edge of the seat storytelling. The film starred Anshuman Jha, Nusrat Bharucha, Amit Sial and then unknown, now a superstar – Rajkumar Rao.
Anurag Kashyap’s ‘Paanch’ was subjected to CBFC’s gruelling conditions and thus was never released. This movie was inspired by the infamous Joshi – Abhayankar murders in Pune in the seventies. One look at Bejoy Nambiar’s ‘Shaitan’ and you’ll straightway know, the DNA behind it. In order to save themselves from an accidental murder, a group of rich and astray kids decide to kidnap one of their own and pay off the police officer, who threatens them, holding a critical piece of evidence. How a crime turns their lives topsy turvy and brings out the demon inside each of them, is the story of ‘Shaitan’. Technically stunning, it spoke of a storyteller with a twisted and subverted mind. Check out Mikey McCleary’s recreation of Khoya Khoya Chand as the backdrop of a shootout scene in a Mumbai chawl, and you’ll never look at a shootout same way again. The film starred Rajeev Khandelwal, Kalki Koechlin, Gulshan Devaiya, Shiv Pandit, Neil Bhoopalam, Kirti Kulhari, Pawan Malhotra and again Rajkumar Rao.
Delhi Belly (2011)
Funnily, Aamir Khan, the producer of ‘Delhi Belly’ and an actor famous for acting as well as producing clean cut family entertainers, warned the viewers about this film that if they can’t stand abuses, they shouldn’t watch it. Those who weren’t aware of this and went to see the film, their reaction was priceless, upon seeing the profanity in it. One of the finest black comedy film had truly arrived in Hindi cinema. It was an insanely funny film, which was ahead of the prevalent slapstick genre of comedy, at that point of time. In an ensemble cast, Vijay Raaz was appreciated for his gangster act along with Kunaal Roy Kapoor and standup comic Vir Das in their respective roles. Director Abhinay Deo and writer Akshat Verma’s labour of love, stands the test of time as film lovers fondly remember – Bhaag Bhaag DK Bose, Andhi Aayi Hai !
The Dirty Picture (2011)
Based on the life of Silk Smitha, the southern sex siren of the seventies, director Milan Lutharia’s ‘The Dirty Picture’ took cinegoers to storm. Never had before the mainstream actors had taken such a leap in faith to a script, that if it wasn’t handled carefully, would have fallen right away into the category of soft porn. Featuring Naseeruddin Shah, Emraan Hashmi, Tushaar Kapoor and that lady, who was labelled as the Fourth Khan – Vidya Balan, ‘The Dirty Picture’ is a remarkable film. In the guise of a soft porn actor’s rise and fall from grace, this was a poignant tale about one’s aspiration and tryst to touch the skies, while selling the pieces of the soul to the devil, all in the name of Entertainment, Entertainment and Entertainment!
The tagline screamed ‘The Mother Of All Stories’ and by jove, the mother it was! A pregnant lady flies from London and lands in the city of joy Kolkata, in search of her husband’s whereabouts. In her efforts to find her husband, a young police officer joins in. Her efforts pays off and she finally gets to know the reason behind her husband’s disappearance. In the last few minutes of the film, as viewers, we get to see, one of the most phenomenal climaxes of all time. In Vidya Bagchi’s search for truth, the city of Kolkata stands still, in the vivacity of Durga Puja. Directed by Sujoy Ghosh and starring Vidya Balan, Parambrata Chatterjee, Kharaj Mukhopadhay and Saswata Mukherjee as the silent assassin Bob Biswas, this is a film made of clever craft and precision that swoons you.
Gangs Of Wasseypur (2012)
The gun totting Corleones of Wasseypur and the revenge saga of Sardar, Ramadhir and Faizal takes centre stage as, in a combined runtime of five hours, we see the vengeance drama destroying the lives of three crime families. Anurag Kashyap’s magnum opus and one of the best films to have come from the Indian diaspora, ‘Gangs Of Wasseypur’ is a film that keeps ageing like a fine batch of single malt whiskey. Manoj Bajpayee, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Vineet Singh, Piyush Mishra, Pankaj Tripathi, Rajkumar Rao, there was a powerhouse of performers who took the film to a different level altogether. While the macho men ruled the majority of the screen time, the womaniya were on the top of their games too. Richa Chaddha as the feisty Nagma, Reema Sen as the vindictive Durga and Huma Quereshi as the quirky Mohsina blazed the screen in this five hours epic. Lethal was never this cool.
English Vinglish (2012)
Over the years, after ‘Sadma’, my favorite performance of late Sridevi is Shashi in ‘English Vinglish’, her comeback film after the long sabbatical. Playing a housewife, who’s often ridiculed by her family members, for her poor usage of the English language, it was the story of an individual’s journey of self-discovery. In her tryst to master the language, she makes new friends, each dealing with their own sets of problems. With her charm and superior performance, Sridevi had again proved that she doesn’t need a big star to sell her film. She was the star, actor, performer, everything bundled in one. Director Gouri Shinde, who was inspired by her own mother’s life to write the script of ‘English Vinglish’, made a wonderful film and Amit Trivedi’s soulful music took it to a notch higher.
In a quaint corner of Varanasi, a Hindu temple priest’s son is enamoured with the daughter of a Muslim scholar. His infatuation grows to such levels that he ends up ruining lives just because the girl he’s in love with, doesn’t respond the way he wants her to be. And then in an effort to make amends, he starts repenting on his action. He destroys his own life, as he tries to fix his follies. Some of the viewers have bashed the film stating the fact that it glorifies stalking and makes a hero out a man who’s hellbent on proving his one sided love. But the fact remains that ‘Ranjhaanaa’ is an immensely watchable movie, with AR Rehman infusing it with his melodies and some amazing dialogues. The story by Himanshu Sharma is bolstered with some power packed individual performances by Dhanush, Abhay Deol, Swara Bhaskar, Mood Zeeshan Ayub and Sonam Kapoor. Directed by Anand L Rai, it brings alive the ethos of small town India.
Have you ever seen poetry on screen? Director Vikramaditya Motwane’s ‘Lootera’ is a film, that feels like a poetry, painted across the screen. Inspired from O’Henry’s short story ‘The Last Leaf’, it’s essentially a love story that spans across years. During the fifties, in rural Bengal, Pakhi, the daughter of the Zamindar and Varun, an archeologist fall in love. In mysterious circumstances, right before their wedding, Varun disappears with the Zamindar’s antique jewelleries. A heartbroken and bitter Pakhi and Varun meet again, in a few years. With Varun being a runaway criminal, the hatred for him that has kept Pakhi alive all these years, come to the forefront. What happens next, is perhaps something that cine goers will never forget until the end of their lifetimes. Stunning cinematography by Mahendra Shetty, haunting melodies by Amit Trivedi, a vision set by director Vikramaditya Motwane and a near flawless Ranveer Singh and Sonakshi – Lootera is a masterpiece.
Madras Cafe (2013)
Civil war ravaged state gave rise to an armed revolution which eventually culminated in the political assassination of an ex prime minister of India. Shot as an documentary but never dropping the pace of the narrative, ‘Madras Cafe’ is a solid political drama. As the narrative progresses, the viewers get to see the complex side of the espionage where high level officials are forced to commit sedition. The movie never takes sides, yet it manages to showcase the vulnerability as well as the moral dilemma of the people involved. Starring John Abraham, Prakash Belawadi, Nargis Fakhri and Siddharth Basu, directed by Shoojit Sircar, based on actual events in the emerald island of Sri Lanka, which changed the political scenario of South East Asia, ‘Madras Cafe’ is a gripping tale.
The Lunchbox (2013)
It’s an interesting premise on which ‘The Lunchbox’ is based on. A widower and a lonely wife, interact in letters, passed through a lunchbox. It began as an accident due to the Dabbawala delivering the lunchbox to the wrong address, but as they continue to interact, it blossoms as a friendship between two lonely souls, eventually making them long for each other’s company. Directed by Ritesh Batra, starring Irrfan Khan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Nimrat Kaur and Bharati Achrekar as the voice of aunty upstairs, ‘The Lunchbox’ is a fine film, with the aroma of love and longing. It’s a pity that the film missed becoming India’s entry in the foreign film category of the Academy awards, by a whisker.
Rani, a soon to be bride, gets jilted by her would be husband, mere days before the wedding. Shattered by this rejection, she decides to take the planned honeymoon trip alone, to Europe. On her maiden voyage, she meets strangers who eventually become her friends. As she explores an world outside of her cocoon, we see the metamorphosis of a strong, confident woman, from the mollycoddled version of her. Kangana Ranaut as the protagonist gives a stunning performance. The film subtly talks about the prejudices that’s prevalent in our society. Directed by now disgraced Vikas Behl, ‘Queen’ is an acute portrayal of feminism, without being in your face.
At the heights of militancy and counterinsurgency, a doctor disappears mysteriously, for his willingness to help the injured militants. His son returns to see his mother and his uncle in a seemingly romantic relationship which he finds hard to digest, partly because of his Oedipus complex. Unwelcome everywhere, the only person in whom he gets solace is his childhood lover. In the search of his missing father, he meets the last person to see his father alive. A person, who’s almost a ghost, delivers his father’s final wish – Revenge. Wittily black, director Vishal Bhardwaj’s ‘Haider’ is a poetry in motion. Never shy from experimenting, Mr Bhardwaj uses his craftsmanship wittily and presents the tragedy of Prince Hamlet set in a picturesque yet bloodied and burnt paradise on earth. Stunning performances from Shahid Kapoor, Tabu, Kay Kay Menon and Irrfan Khan make this film one of the greatest.
Four lives, two stories, interwoven across each other in a way, that makes you wonder the frailty of human life. But then again, a splash of hope is strewn around to show, despite all the inadequacies of life, hope is something we all dearly want to cling to. After all, life is all about hope, isn’t it? Director Neeraj Ghaywan’s ‘Masaan’ which literally means crematorium, is a poignant take on human life and how circumstances affect it to a large extent. Starring Richa Chadha, Sanjay Mishra, Vicky Kaushal, Sweta Tripathi and Pankaj Tripathi, ‘Masaan’ is conceptualised from a screenplay written by Varun Grover. The strained relationship between a father and his daughter, after she’s found in a seemingly objectionable state in a hotel, the love story blossoming under the deep reservations about casteism run in parallel, eventually culminating into heartbreak – ‘Masaan’ is essentially India, far away from the rosy, tinted glasses it’s often portrayed as.
Ladies and Gents, ‘Badlapur’ is one of of the most amazing byproduct of the neo-noir cinema. Written as a revenge drama, it blurs the line between the righteous and the wicked. It tells us about a story where the a simpleton turns into a murderous soul and a loathed criminal has, his rarely displayed empathy exhibited in moments of total sacrilege. Shot brilliantly, Badlapur is the movie to watch out for. Expectedly, Sriram uses violence as a tool to drive his point home. Defiling women, using brutal force to kill characters and usage of sexual imagery might be cringeworthy to some viewers, but it does bring authenticity to the story. Starring Varun Dhawan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Vinay Pathak, Divya Dutta, Radhika Apte and Kumud Mishra, ‘Badlapur’ is revenge reimagined.
Director Meghna Gulzar, whose ‘Talvar’ remains one of the finest cinema in the genre of investigative journalism, shows her stupendous pedigree through some of the nail biting scenes of the film. Based on the mysterious events of the Aarushi murder case, that shook the nation, ‘Talvar’ is facts presented as is. Starring Irrfan Khan, Konkona Sen Sharma, this film will shock you to the core, with its acute take on the flawed justice system of the country. Brilliant direction, attention to the detail and stunning performances is what ‘Talvar’ is all about.
‘Tamasha’ is one of the finest stories that director Imtiaz Ali has etched on the celluloid and trust me, sometimes you have to go beyond the fun, the glitz and the razmatazz of movies to tell a story that touches the chords of your heart. There are some stories which you can relate to. Certain stories, which you fall in love with because those are your own. This is Imtiaz Ali’s biographical and he has put his soul into it. An out-n-out Ranbir Kapoor show, he steals every scene as the protagonist Ved. He portrays the character with such nuance that he ends up owning it. There are multiple layers to this character and he does justice to each of them. Deepika Padukone as Ved’s love interest Tara and one of the main catalysts behind his change, is in equal fine form. Above all, it’s AR Rehman’s soul searching music that makes the movie soar.
Detective Byomkesh Bakshy (2015)
Mr Dibakar Banerjee takes one of the most loved detective characters of India and gives him a “Shaken, not stirred” introduction for the modern cinema-goers. Set during WWII, the time when Calcutta was constantly getting bombed by the Japanese, Byomkesh starts the investigation of a missing chemist. He starts digging into the little clues, the finer details and soon he realises a much bigger game is being played where everyone is a mere pawn. The deeper he gets into the mud, the redder it becomes. Dead people, drug peddlers, mysterious women, freedom fighters and the shadowy character of Yang Guang, who looms over Calcutta and threatens its existence. The movie boasts of a soundtrack to kill for. Sneha Khanwalker of Wasseypur fame along with indie musicians such as MadBoy/Mink, PCRC, IJA and Joint Family bring rock-n-roll and heavy metal together as a piece of wonderful fusion music takes form. A classic neo-noir!
Watching ‘Aligarh’ will send a chill down your spine. It speaks about our failure as a nation. It speaks about a nation where a preference or choice in a partner of the same gender is termed as a disease. The saffronised bandwagon labels it as against the nation’s culture. A country which has been invaded in past by many, has seen a cultural amalgamation of several other religions, is best defined as tolerant. Funnily, a tolerant nation cannot tolerate persons of the same gender, being together. Manoj Bajpayee’s portrayal as the protagonist Siras is bound to bring tears to your eyes. Watch out the scene where he listens to the song ‘Aapki Aankhon Ne Samjha Pyaar Ke Kabil Mujhe’ and you’ll know why he’s one of the finest actors in this country. Ably supported by Rajkumar Rao, directed by Hansal Mehta, ‘Aligarh’ is the finest film in a long time, dealing with the LGBT issues and the stigma people associate with it.
Udta Punjab (2016)
Udta Punjab will shock you. It’s a terrifying tale, told as the events unfurl. The characters are probably from your neighbourhood. The drug menace is real. Only we choose to ignore them, until it strikes one of our own. The director Avishek Choubey, of ‘Ishqiya’ and ‘Sonchiriya’ fame, hails from the stables of Vishal Bharadwaj. Hence his way of story telling speaks of a finesse that is way ahead of his contemporaries. He brings such authenticity to the story board that makes the shiver reach the bones. A work of fiction seldom feels so real like Udta Punjab does. Be it Tommy’s numerous meltdowns or Alia’s scenes, each are shot with enviable angles. Infused with Amit Trivdei’s music, ‘Udta Punjab’ is a film that scares the shit out of you.
In its DNA, ‘Dangal’ is essentially a sports film , but it also drives home with the point about patriarchy and feminism. Inspired from the lives of Mahavir Singh Phogat and his daughters, who become champion wrestlers and bring laurels to the country at various sports events, director Nitesh Tiwari’s ‘Dangal’ cleverly uses humour as its central narrative and brings out the sheer hard work that the father and daughter duo undergo to become the champions. The dynamics of the father – daughter relationship is bound to bring a lump to your throat. Compelling performances from Aamir Khan, Zaira Wasim, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Suhani Bhatnagar, Sanya Malhotra and Aparshakti Khurrana makes the film an unmissable epic.
A Death In The Gunj (2017)
Ever felt left out of that big group of friends? Were you that cousin that others made fun of? Was it your result card that was discussed at lengths in the family gathering? Were you the runt of the litter? Cause’ if you were, then ‘A Death In The Gunj’ is about you. It is an amalgamation of masterful story telling, wonderful acting and a background score that soothes as well as slays the soul. Konkona Sen Sharma proves her pedigree by exhibiting her prowess as a storyteller. She presents the weakling as her hero. The one that’s always left out of the group, making him the miserable one. Vikrant Massey gives a coming of age performance as Shutu. The rest of the cast is superb as stalwarts like Ranveer Shorey, Kalki Kochlin, Gulshan Devviah and Tilotomma Shome put in their best effort to take the movie to its height. Watch out for the death, cause’ it will bring a chill to the spine.
Jagga Jasoos (2017)
In what will be known as the most audacious effort to make a mainstream Bollywood musical film, ‘Jagga Jasoos’ is the story of a boy detective Jagga, in the search of his missing father. Jagga, who stammers a lot, finds it easy to sing instead of talking, to pass on messages. Ranbir Kapoor, who played Jagga, also produced this film which is a nothing short of grand adventure on screen. Spanning continents, as Jagga travels various places looking for his father, this movie is a stunning work of art and a masterpiece. Eventually, it was unable to find its takers when it released in 2017. Directed by Anurag Basu and co-starring Katrina Kaif and Saswata Chatterjee and featuring some greatest of melodies, ‘Jagga Jasoos’ is pure love.
Sports movies, especially movies made on the sports of Boxing are something that have been in vogue from time immemorial. Any underdog boxing movie, gets compared with ‘Rocky’ or the ‘Raging Bull’. What separates ‘Mukkabaaz’ from these stories, is the issues that sportsmen face in our country. Actor Vineet Kumar Singh who’s primarily credited for the idea and the story of ‘Mukkabaaz’, conceptualised the story about a boxer, struggling between rampant casteism and other problems. Inspired from various real incidents, Vineet wrote the initial script with her sister Mukti, which was finally made into the movie, with four different writers contributing to it, including director Anurag Kashyap himself. The movie draws attention towards casteism, cow vigilantism, corruption, nepotism and many such problems those are faced by the sportsmen of this country. One of the best sports movies to have come out of Hindi cinema, ‘Mukkabaaz’ is a movie for ages.
‘Mulk’ aims to ask some difficult questions to the audience. And it is successful in creating doubts in the heads as well. There’s a constant pressure building up, as the scenes unfurl. And as an audience, you start getting involved in the proceedings. It is an important film in today’s times, where mandates and opinions are dictated by the social media. It compels you to have an argument about the prejudices and presumptions about an entire religion being involved in terror activities. You may or may not agree with the film, but it will lead you to question the society and the system around us. Not pseudo jingoism but a reality check. And that’s what is really needed. Starring Rishi Kapoor, Neena Gupta, Manoj Pahwa, Tapsee Pannu and Ashutosh Rana, director Anubhav Sinha’s ‘Mulk’ is the film everyone needs to see.
Love is complicated, yet the journey of life makes it simple. Sometimes love is not about the sweet nothings or the physical proximity. Love, in its supreme form, becomes sacred. It makes people do stuff that’s unheard of. Some people spend their entire lives caring for their beloved, irrespective of their physical state. Some people leave their loved ones because they’re the reason for their unhappiness and they can’t bear it. Some people spend their lives, longing for their lost love. They live their life, yet they crave for their soulmate. ‘October’ is about that kind of love. Selfless, unyielding, supreme, unrequited. Director Shoojit Sircar came up with a unique love story of Dan and Shiuli. Varun Dhawan was ethereal but the dead silence of Vanita Sandhu spoke plenty.
So was the rabbit story all made up?
Was Ayushmaan Khurrana really blind at the end?
Did Tabu die of the car crash or Ayushmaan took her eyes?
Was everything a lie?
Google ‘AndhaDhun’ and you will see many such theories doing rounds of the cyberspace. If one has to see the impact of a powerful and well written script, well, look no further! ‘AndhaDhun’ is the film of the year and the script of the year too. A blind man, who may or may not have been blind, a woman who may or may not have killed her husband and a rabbit, which may or may not have existed at all ! ‘AndhaDhun’ will keep perplexing people and the credit goes to the cerebral insides of the mad genius Sriram Raghvan and his co-writers Arjit Biswas, Pooja Ladha Surti, Yogesh Chandekar and Hemanth Rao. Starring Ayushman Kkhurana and Tabu, this is a hell of a film!
Greed. The sin that pays. And it makes people pay too. Sometimes with their lives. Human nature, the ficklest of all of God’s creation, often finds itself in the crossroads of life. On one path, strewn around are countless thorns, hardships and obstacles. The other path is rosy and seemingly easy. The fickle mind always chooses the later one. That’s the road of greed. Easy, quick and dangerous, often leading to annihilation. ‘Tumbaad’ tells the story of greed and how the human nature falls for it, despite being aware of its ultimate outcome. More than the story, it’s a straightforward nod to the undying desire for something that forces men to commit the undesirable. Inspired by the work of Marathi writer Narayan Dharap, the director Rahi Anil Bharve wrote the initial script, which over six years, got shaped into the final product, including additional writing from Mitesh Shah, Adesh Prasad and Anand Gandhi. ‘Tumbaad’ is the perfect amalgamation of thrill, fantasy and horror.
Gully Boy (2019)
Passion. When you discover your passion in something, that moment feels surreal. Something that gives you a medium to express yourself. Your passion defines who you are. What are you made of. Unfortunately, in a country like ours, passion and talent are often pushed to the corner, to make space for bullshits like societal norms. People spend their whole lives by doing what they’ve been asked to do. The choice of education is not utilised for learning, it’s used to get the degree. And society decides the class of people. Not in the way they behave, but by the demarcation of strata, chosen by the good side of the money. Despite being on the wrong side of everything, against all odds, Murad chooses his passion over the norms. This becomes his destiny. He becomes Gully Boy. Director Zoya Akhtar blends the reality of ‘Salaam Bombay’ with the funk of ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ and comes up with a movie that India can be genuinely proud of. Like a seamless poetry, she fuses a genre of music with the angst of a generation that keeps asking, if the sun and moon are same for all, then why that man suit, residing in the palace gets more preferential treatment than others!
Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota (2019)
Without an iota of doubt, this is the finest moment of Indian cinema, as we finally make the move into an entirely new genre for this audience – the pop culture laden love child, born out of the threesome of kitsch masala films, over the top funkiness of the eighties Bollywood and several martial arts films courtesy Messers Bruce Lee and his ilk. ‘Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota’ or MKDNH, as its acronym becomes, bears the stamp of crafty film making yet is a wholesome entertainer. Every scene has been woven with layers of introspection of the characters. This is a work of passion and it shows on the screen, as director Vasan Bala puts his blood, sweat and madness into this zany film. Starring Abhimanyu Shivdasani, Radhika Madan, Mahesh Manjereker and a kickass Gulshan Deviah, this is an epic fun film.
So that was the list of the greatest Hindi films of the last decade. Please do let us know your favourite in the comments section.