This is the concluding article of the six-part review of Indian cinema as it was over the century, and how it impacted international filmdom, even as it achieved a kind of fine art status
2001 – 2011:
The New Millennium
As Nicole Kidman danced to the strains of Chamma Chamma in Baz Luhrmann's flamboyant Hollywood musical, Moulin Rouge, the Indian movie industry gushed with pride – Bollywood had finally arrived on the global scene!
The last decade had spawned a slew of movies that mainly catered to the Indian diaspora. One of the payoffs of the phenomenon was that westerners appreciated the naach-gaana routine of Bollywood and incorporated it in their productions. Bombay Dreams, a Bollywood-themed musical with music by A. R. Rahman and produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber ran in London theatres for two years before it was staged in Broadway in 2004. In 2008, the American dance reality show, So You Think You can Dance included the Bollywood style in their programme.
Thanks to satellite television and the Internet, the tastes of Indian moviegoers changed as their awareness of international trends increased. The new millennium saw the rise of a new breed of directors who made script-driven films tackling contemporary issues.
Gadar: Ek Prem Katha and Lagaan were the biggest hits of 2001. Sunny Deol’s partition drama ruled the box-office, collecting over Rs 250 crore while Ashutosh Gowarikar’s period epic went on to be included in Time magazine's list of ‘The All-TIME 25 Best Sports Movies’.
Farhan Akhtar’s coming-of-age film Dil Chahta Hai (2001) was set in urban Mumbai, following the lives of three young men. It set the trend for slick films minus the melodrama. Rock On (2008) and the more recent Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011) boasted of similar production values.
Films like Rang de Basanti (2006), Chak De! India (2007) Taare Zameen Par (2007) and 3 Idiots (2009) had a huge impact on the nation, making the people debate crucial issues like patriotism, importance of sports and the educational system.
One of the most lovable characters of the decade was undoubtedly Munnabhai. The gun-toting gangster with a heart of gold and his sidekick (ably portrayed by Sanjay Dutt and Arshad Warsi) warmed our hearts with their mischievous pranks in Munnabhai M.B.B.S (2003) and Lage Raho Munna Bhai (2006). The terms ‘jadoo ki jhappi’ and ‘Gandhigiri’ are now firmly entrenched in our lexicon.
The mushrooming of multiplexes all over the country contributed to the success of small budget movies like Bheja Fry (2007), A Wednesday (2007) and Tere Bin Laden (2009). Multiplexes vastly improved the movie-going experience with their comfortable seating and digital prints.
Directors like Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Rajkumar Hirani set a high benchmark for good cinema.
Regional cinema also made waves. Rajinikanth-starrer Tamil film Enthiran (2010) awed the public with its animatronics. One of India’s most expensive movies, it was released along with its dubbed versions in Telugu (Robo) and Hindi (Robot).
The Marathi movie industry saw an upswing with Shwaas (2004) and Harishchandrachi Factory (2009). Both won National Awards for Best Film and were India’s official entries at the Oscars in the Best Foreign Language Film category.
Waris Shah: Ishq Daa Waaris starring Gurdas Mann and Juhi Chawla became the first Punjabi film to be sent to the Oscars in 2006.
(Content provided by Amrita Bharati)
This decade saw the entry of the corporate world into Bollywood. Backed by producers like Reliance and UTV, moviemakers were allowed to experiment with new storylines and production techniques. Remakes of classics like Devdas, Don and Agneepath charmed the audiences.
While Bollywood happily borrowed stories from popular South Indian movies like Ghajini, the South banked heavily on heroines from the north.
Lagaan was nominated to the Best Foreign Language Film category at the Oscars.
The digitally produced colour version of K Asif’s magnum opus Mughal-e-Azam was re-released in theatres.
Sony Pictures released Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Saawariya, which launched Sonam Kapoor and Ranbir Kapoor. It was the first Bollywood film to be produced by a top Hollywood studio.
A. R. Rahman won two Oscars for his music for Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, while Resul Pookutty won for Best Sound Mixing.
Singing legend Asha Bhosle entered the Guinness World Records for the most number of single studio recordings.
Why This Kolaveri Di, a Tanglish song written and sung by Dhanush became an internet phenomenon across Asia as its video went viral on YouTube.
Multi-talented actor Kamal Haasan celebrated 50 years in cinema in 2009, a feat few Indian actors have accomplished. He began his career when he was merely six years old.
In 2011, K.J. Yesudas completed 50 Years as a playback singer with more than 50,000 songs in various languages to his credit.