10 Pioneering Hindi films in the millennium

Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif in Jagga Jasoos (2017), a musical in the Oliver-Chicago mould that was rejected by the Indian audience. Photo: Publicity Photo

Last week’s release, Brahmastra, carrying mixed reports—audience feedback as well as business-wise—has one plus point: it is a fresh genre for Hindi cinema. It is an Indian take (however complicatedly told) on the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) kind of films that generally do very well in India. We do not know what the internal business arrangement is, and whether it will go into a profit or loss zone, and consequently, if Part 2 will be made of a planned trilogy.

Ranbir Kapoor, Alia Bhatt and Amitabh Bachchan in Brahmastra Part One: Shiva. Photo: Universal Communications

What is important is to realize that director Ayan Mukerji has tried to bring in a new genre in Hindi cinema that is original in our context. With a fraction of budgets available for the making vis-à-vis Hollywood, maybe compensated a bit by special effects biggies Prime Focus coming in as co-producers, we definitely expected some teething problems. Add a disparate, capricious in these aspects Indian audience and we know what kind of a psychological pressure Ayan, his writers and team must have faced during the scripting and filming.

And this must have happened to varying extents with every one of the other pioneering Hindi films we have watched in the millennium! Here’s a check-list of the other nine.

Koi…Mil Gaya (2003)

Rakesh Roshan created the world of Rohit and his alien friend Jadoo in this 2003 super-hit featuring his son Hrithik Rosha and Preity Zinta. This was the first A-Grade Alien drama film in Hindi—on a B-grade level, such a film had been tried out in 1967 as Wahan Ke Log, featuring a then-struggling Pradeep Kumar and Tanuja. It’s alternative title itself had been The Aliens!

Munna Bhai MBBS (2003)

In the same year, Rajkumar Hirani, Hindi cinema’s only director who has never directed a hit (all his 5 films have been super-hits!), introduced Munna Bhai, now a cult name along with his crony Circuit, in this genre-defying blockbuster. At best, this can be called a ‘medical’ comedy, a genre known to Hollywood through classics like What’s Up, Doc? or Carry On Doctor. It infused humor and a social comment within the story’s base of the serious and noble medical profession.

Masti (2004) and No Entry (2005)

Indra Kumar directed what can be called India’s first A-grade ‘sex comedy’ in this multi-star success top-lined by Ajay Devgn. Later came its two sequels Grand Masti and Great Grand Masti, and before them, Anees Bazmee’s No Entry, which, seemingly impossibly, converted a sex-based story into a subject loved even by kids!

Darna Mana Hai (2004)

Anthologies in Hindi cinema were not known until Ram Gopal Varma produced this horror saga with a link between the stories. Directed by Prawaal Raman, it was a chilling mix of stories overall, with an impressive ensemble cast headed by Nana Patekar, Saif Ali Khan, Shilpa Shetty and Vivek Oberoi. Its purported sequel, Darna Zaroori Hai, failed to maintain the excellence.  Since then, anthologies of every genre galore have been made in Hindi, but none made a box-office mark. This film, however, was a decent success. 

Krrish (2006)

Hindi cinema’s first proper superhero film was Rakesh Roshan’s ingenious idea of a sequel to Koi…Mil Gaya. The Hrithik Roshan here was the son of the mentally-challenged Rohit and had superhuman qualities inherited because of Rohit’s tryst with the aliens. This film too was a super-hit.

Dhamaal (2007)

In the best traditions of all-out universal-rated comedy (a genre rare in Hindi cinema but common enough in Hollywood, like in The Great Race and If It’s Tuesday It Must Be Belgium), this Indra Kumar success experimented with a road movie genre that had crazy elements, a crime base and an all-male cast with no females even in cameos. Sanjay Dutt, Riteish Deshmukh, Arshad Warsi, Jaaved Jaaferi and Aashish Chaudhary headed the cast. Of course, its sequels Double Dhamaal and Total Dhamaal had women in key roles!

Roadside Romeo (2008)

Walt Disney Studios joined hands with India’s top banner Yash Raj Films for a total animation film with Indian characters with a Hindi film-crazy base. Technically and creatively impressive, it was a no-no at the box-office though it picked up an international award besides winning the Best Animation Feature at India’s National Awards.

Jagga Jasoos (2017)

Anurag Basu’s masterpiece was cold-shouldered by the Indian audience as it was Hindi cinema’s first attempt at a complete musical wherein virtually all the dialogues (besides the songs) were in verse and music. Ranbir Kapoor co-produced and starred in the film (as with Brahmastra) with music by Pritam and lyrics by Amitabh Bhattacharya. The film had a unique post-climax with scope for a great thriller had it worked (a two-headed arch-villain by a famous actor in a cameo here!). But with this Oliver-Chicago genre of crime-based musical not endorsed by our audiences, we will never know what was in store in the sequel.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here