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2001 Se 2011 Tak

The decade that rewrote many rules in Hindi film industry

The last decade in Indian cinema we have seen changes in the content, structure and the box office dynamics. 2001: The year immediately brings to mind two movies—Dil Chahta Hai and Lagaan.

They were diametrically opposite in content and narrative and yet both continue to dominate mind space even till today.  Both movies achieved cult status because suddenly your “masala’’ movie of the 80s-90s was buried under debris. A new age cinema was born.

Farhan Akhtar and Ashutosh Gowariker (or should we say Aamir Khan because he is common to both movies, and he is a torch-bearer of change) subtly infused confidence in many filmmakers around that they could tell their own stories, without toeing the line of their predecessors.

Chandni Bar also came in the same year. Today you will agree that cinema viewing in the last decade became truly exciting. It was like going on a wild hunt not knowing whether you will shoot a boar or a deer. Whether you will enter a multiplex and get to see a typical Hindi film or an art house flick.

I was reading somewhere on how single screens kept you captive and forced you to endure what they offered.  However, the multiplexes changed it all.  If you don’t like one kind of film, you are free to jump to the next screen. In the case of food, fashion and film—one man’s meat is another man’s poison.  Cinema from 2001 gave you so many choices, that you felt spoilt. You could pick and choose.

While it is impossible to go through a decade in one page; another fantastic example of how diverse cinema worked is the July of 2011. You had Bbuddah... Hoga Terra Baap vying for space with Delhi Belly; Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara wanting to beat Singham. The beauty is all these films worked.

Bodyguard released in 2799 screens.  And the opening day brought in 21.5 cr.  Honestly, the business of box office has gone through the roof. This decade is also significant because the film corporations swung into action.

Every big business house from Tata to the Birlas, Ambanis to the Singhanias made their debut in Hindi film industry. Some retired hurt after their initial offering - like Applause went away after Black; however the fact remains that corporations did change the entire dynamics of the business of cinema.

Independent producers had to virtually shut shop. The corporations flushed with public funds could offer stars and technicians the kind of fees, which an independent producer couldn’t.  Of course the flip side is that a lot of money went down the drain because avariciousness spread like a disease.  And content was sidelined.

The sound of music also changed in the last decade. It can be argued that the golden oldies may now be reserved for your private listening; but a new sound emerged. Many of the contemporary music directors like Amit Trivedi (Aisha, Dev D); Ram Sampath (Delhi Belly) displayed originality in thought. The Dev D and Delhi Belly music is a rage with Gen Now. And music contributed a great deal in making films like I Hate Luv Storys (Vishal-Shekar) and Dabangg (Sajid-Wajid and Lalit Pandit) mammoth hits.

Almost all the A-list and B-list actors turned producers in this decade. Shah Rukh, Aamir, Salman, Akshay, Ajay, Sunny, Sanjay…and Arshad, Dia, Lara the list is endless. Superstars realised that since the initial draw came from them, they should be the beneficiaries.

Aided by film corporations who were more than happy to tie up with big stars; Bollywood today has a long list of actor-producers who are raking in big money, thanks to their personal equity as actors.

As I said at the start of this article: This is a decade that has rewritten the rules in many ways. New changes have been ushered; new wave cinema was born, new music sounds emerged, new business practices began.

We’ve pushed the envelope and in the next decade, it is bound to tear and sky rocket to new heights.

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