When Aamir Khan was asked the question by a journalist “Why can’t India make a film like Inception?” he replied “Because we don’t have the imagination, we can’t think out of the box.” Bollywood needs independence from the tried and tested. Instead of rehashing the old maybe it is fresh and innovative ideas that we need to indulge in. Slowly and steadily Bollywood is taking the road less travelled. From the year to 2009 to now, let’s be extremely strict and divulge those films that were truly path breaking.
The year 2009 was of newness and originality giving hope to the industry filled with formulas. Zoya Akhtar’s film Luck By Chance starring Farhan Akhtar was the first depicting the changing face of Indian cinema and representation of the diplomacy, unhealthy competition and games that one needs to play just to survive in Bollywood. An honest film that may not have done well commercially but opened doors to novel ideas. This was followed by Dev D in the month of Feb. A shocking yet refreshingly surprising story of Love, Sex and Drugs. A definite first in Indian cinema. Anurag Kashyap‘s fresh perspective on Devdas took everyone by surprise. The once termed tabooed was now considered as realism.
While drugs and betrayal was welcomed, March saw yet another film from Anurag Kashyap titled Gulaal. Student politics as a subject that was hardly ever entertained was shown at scale never seen before with an equally moving storyline. A film not meant for popcorn entertainment rather to challenge the system and beliefs existing since time immemorial. Where things got a bit serious with a political thriller, the month also saw Straight starring Gul Panag and Vinay Pathak. A romantic comedy, the film in a funny yet sensitive way handled the issue of homosexuality. Again a forbidden topic this was the first time it was openly spoken about in a film where a character’s trials and tribulations due to his sexual preferences are handled so beautifully.
In the month of December came a film that took everyone by surprise yet again. With an exceptionally commendable star cast comprising of names like Amitabh Bachchan, Vidya Balan and Abhishek Bachchan, R. Balki’s film Paa was definitely a class apart. Dealing with the issue of progeria, it was as much about unbeatable performance as it was about a water tight script and witty dialogues. This film broke the faÃ§ade that serious issues don’t make for good commercial films. Next one to reiterate the same fact was Aamir Khan starrer 3 Idiots. An extremely ground-breaking way of expressing the faults in the Indian education system. The film was funny, entertaining and yet never lost the message it was trying to make.
Come 2010 and Karan Johar surprised us with, not a relationship drama, instead a film that voiced the beating issue of xenophobia. A global issue, that also takes root in India, fear of Muslims was never before addressed at such a level. KJo went international with the film and handled the issue with such panache that gaining recognition for same was inevitable. In March, we saw an emergence of new techniques and fresher story line that challenged the age old belief that stars make a film. Dibakar Banerjee’s film Love Sex Aur Dhokha had no big stars, not only that but this film was filmed in a voyeuristic style and dealt with issues like honour killing and unscrupulous media & journalism. An extremely daring film!
Any film based on the city of Mumbai is usually one of slums, underworld, crime and poverty and it was the genius of Mahesh Manjrekar that opened the eyes of Indians to the lost glory of Mill Culture of Mumbai. City Of Gold, a critically acclaimed film was honest and heartfelt with a story that was never narrated before. An exceptional attempt! In June came out Raajneeti, A political drama that was far from preachy. This Prakash Jha film showed the grey shades of Indian politics, the reality of being in the system to fight the system. A take off from Mahabharata, the film was another hallmark of Indian cinema’s originality.
It is hard to be part of this list as the credentials required are originality, freshness and daredevilry to beat the system. Many upcoming films seem like they would be an ideal fit right from Aamir Khan’s Peepli Live that is a satire on farmer suicides in India to Antardwand that is based on groom abduction, a phenomenon common in Bihar. Lots of ideas are floating around and more and more filmmakers are taking the plunge and letting their imagination take wings. You never know in time, Bollywood too would have the imagination to make the likes of Inception.