The past decade -- from 2010 to 2019 -- saw an emergence of the millennial cinema in Bollywood; the kind wherein the new India strived and thrived to make content-driven films. There was no hero (or heroine) in any physical form -- the content was the hero, and the USP of the narrative.
This was also the decade when movies somehow became a playground of myriad emotions -- so much so that we saw love stories ('Rockstar', 'Tamasha'), potboilers ('Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara'), social dramas ('Article 15', 'Udta Punjab') and movies with a dash of patriotism ('Raazi').
We list our top 15 movies of the past decade -- in no proper order:
1) My Name Is Khan
Shah Rukh Khan had worked in numerous movies till 2010 (including 'Chak De India'), but it required him a 'My Name Is Khan' to have him registered in the list of "great actors". The Karan Johar directorial was so unlike his previous movies that it almost looked like he hadn't directed it.
But it continues to remain his best work till date.
Chronicling the story of Rizwan, played by SRK, who sets out on a journey to meet the President of the United States, and a single mother played by Kajol, the movie sheds light on the misrepresented aspects of Islam.
More than the SRK-Kajol chemistry, or SRK's brilliance, 'My Name Is Khan' goes down in history for its script and filmmaking.
Falling, as a physical mechanism, has its rules. The deeper you fall, the harder it hurts -- and it applies to falling in love too. Imtiaz Ali weaved this into a narrative about a struggling artiste and how he hones his skills with the help of a heartbreak, and out came a cult classic by the name of 'Rockstar'.
Ranbir Kapoor was a revelation in the film, and so was Mohit Chauhan's husky voice. Kapoor played a singer in the movie, so the movie had to be adept in the music department. And rightly so, 'Rockstar' shone through its peers just by the virtue of its strong storytelling, melodious music, and Ranbir's breathrough performance.
3) Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara
Three childhood buddies get together and have fun at a bachelor holiday. Sounds like a hangover from Hollywood's 'Hangover'. Doesn't it?
But 'Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara' was much more than that. A coming-of-age film about aspirations, emotions, and ambition, the Zoya Akhtar directorial had the right mix of everything -- romance, glamour, a strong message, great performance and the 'Zoya Factor'.
Zoya infused a bit of her adventurous spirit into the storytelling, and what came out was a superlative travel film, which stood to teach the millenials to live in the moment -- and without being preachy even for a moment.
The movie had one of the best performances of their career -- by every actor, incluing Hrithik Roshan, Katrina Kaif, Farhan Akhtar, and Abhay Deol.
What would happen if your fiance abandons you at the altar? You can quit living, abandon all pleasures, and become just a semblance of a human, or can take on the entire world with double the spirit...
'Queen' taught the latter.
The film told the tale of a simpleton who gets the shock of her life when her fiance calls of their impending at the last moment. But she doesn't lose heart. She embarks on a life-changing journey -- her own honeymoon, albeit sans the husband.
'Queen' has been Kangana Ranaut's best performance till date, and even earned her the National Award for Best Actress for that year.
'Haider' was Vishal Bhardwaj's third successful attempt to map William Shakespeare's texts and characters. With the Bard's help, Bharadwaj drew patterns for India's social and political realities. Hamlet became the guide for Bhardwaj to navigate Kashmir, and its social and political intricacies with respect to the entire nation.
A well-executed script, ably lifted by Shahid Kapoor's and Tabu's performances, Haider was lovely to look at.
The humanist perspective on the Kashmir struggle was an exemplar of Vishal Bharadwaj's brilliance as a filmmaker.
There's nobody who understand the complex human emotions as well as Imtiaz Ali does. 'Tamasha' opened to mixed reviews from critics, and mixed reactions from the audience, but gained a cult classic in years to come -- because just as in love, a person takes time to grow on you, the movie did so too.
There are now short write-ups on Deepika Padukone's Tara -- the way she loved without abandon -- and Ranbir Kapoor's Ved -- and his helplessness at leading a life he never wanted to, all over the social media.
Ved got a new life because of Tara's love and patience, and that's what true love is all about. And that's Imtiaz Ali has been explaining to the masses all these years.
The Aamir Khan-starrer 'Dangal' narrates the inspiring story of the Phogat family. A biopic by many means, the film was a class on filmmaking owing to its presentation, and hard-hitting performances.
'Dangal' crossed the Rs 2,000-crore mark at the global Box Office, and is considered the biggest blockbuster of the decade, according to a Yahoo India report.
The film saw Aamir Khan play Mahavir Singh Phogat -- in probably his career-best performance.
8) Dear Zindagi
'Dear Zindagi' was one of the few movies that had mental health as its premise. The film spoke to the millenial soul of the country, and doled out life lesson and precious advice, without being preachy.
The film also made a mark because Alia Bhatt (yes, a heroine) carried the entire film on her able shoulders, and Shah Rukh Khan played a second fiddle -- in a very understated special appearance.
9) Udta Punjab
This was a film that was longing to be made -- a social narrative around the drub problem in Punjab. 'Udta Punjab' had the entire nation talking about it -- mainly for its script, execution, stand-out performances by Shahid Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Kareena Kapoor and Diljit Dosanjh, and its music.
Special mention for Abhishek Chaubey and Phantom films (which later was dissolved) for taking up such a sensitive topic and churning out a socially relevant film.
Seldom are made films that give lessons in patriotism without resorting to the usual route of jingoism. 'Raazi' laid out an entire cheatsheet of how a patriot should consider his nation above everything -- without taking the hackneyed path of anti-Pakistan slurs.
Chronicling the story of a spy given a huge responsibility, the film was widely praised for its unique storytelling, and Alia Bhatt's brilliance.
'Raazi' also gave the industry Vicky Kaushal, and an anthem 'Ae Watan Mere Watan'.
'Andhadhun' was Sriram Raghavan's shot at a genre that has been the most abused in India cinema -- crime thriller. Picture this. A pianist, who is faking blindness to be popular, actually goes blind after being eye-witness to a murder.
Raghavan was the Krishna to Ayushmann Khurrana's Arjun in this special movie that raised the bar of Indian cinema for the year in which it released and for many years to come.
Ayushmann Khurrana was conferred the National Award for Best Actor for his stellar act in the film. Tabu and Radhika Apte were also appreciated for their role in the narrative.
12) Article 15
This was a path-breaking movie in many ways, as it spoke about the caste system inherently present in the Indian psyche. 'Article 15' made no bones about any of anti-human practices carried out in the nation.
The film presented all intricacies of the caste system with studious detail -- so much so that viewers could not help but cry at a few scenes.
Filmmaker Anubhav Sinha deserves accolades for this special movie. And so does Ayushmann Khurrana, who took a break from his slice-of-life movies, and nailed every nuance of a police official stuck in the muck of caste politics.
Another Ayushmann Khurrana movie that makes the cut in the list is 'Bala' -- a self-deprecating yet uplifting narrative about a man with receding hairline. Flawsome, as one would say.
Bhumi Pednekar, who played a dark-skinned girl, also deserves mention as the force that lifted the film to perfection.
'Bala' told the tale of the daily struggles of a balding man -- his inner demons, and his depleting self-confidence that often gets masked by an uncanny superiortiy complex.
A movie made in the same year with a similar story doled out cringe in the name of a social message, but 'Bala' made it a point to not ridicule a genetic flaw, or melanin in excess. The film encouraged people to accept themselves for what they are -- the real formula for happiness.
14) Saand Ki Aankh
There have been female-centric movies in the past that were backed by male superstars or big banners to invite audience to the theatres. But 'Saand Ki Aankh' was an exception.
Starring two of the most talented actresses of our times -- Taapsee Pannu and Bhumi Pednekar, 'Saand Ki Aankh' was a compelling feminist statement. It narrated the story of two fierce women -- Prakashi and Chandro Tomar, better known as 'Shooter Dadis' -- who strived and fought patriarchy. The only catch -- they did so at the age of 60.
'Saand Ki Aankh', Bull's Eye in English, was a tribute to these two extraordinarily wonderful women, and more than that, to womanhood and sisterhood.
Aaah! The sheer joy of watching a good female-centric movie...
15) Gully Boy
Faith and hope never die. Especially in India. This proposition is emblematic for the Hindi film industry. Maybe that's why 'Gully Boy' was made -- to pin hopes for a better cinematic future on Zoya Akhtar's painstaking courage.
With 'Gully Boy', the filmmaker moved to real themes and locales, and gave India's official entry for the 92nd Academy Awards in the Best International Feature Film category.
Inspired by the trials and tribulations of rappers Naezy and DIVINE aka Vivian Fernandes, 'Gully Boy' was no run-of-the-mill rags-to-riches story. It was a sentiment, and the main 'boy' Ranveer's honest portrayal of Murad had that emotion running through the entire narrative of the movie.