MUMBAI: It has been a defining decade for Bollywood, when content came of age, when larger-than-life made space for realism, when the Khans continued to dominate and when the heroine-oriented film finally came on its own.
This was a decade that witnessed major changes in terms of filmmaking as well as film-watching trends. Bollywood, which has had a history of worshipping superstars, has seen a re-haul of the term 'star' over the past few years, what with script idea and taking precedence over everything else including the faces on the posters.
True, the record-busters are still being driven by male superstars. But even among these films, only the ones with interesting are the ones that have emerged winners.
So, while Aamir Khan reaped it rich with "Dangal", "PK" or "Secret Superstar", his effort came a cropper when he tried "Thugs Of Hindostan".
Akshay Kumar was at his best in films with solid content as "Special 26", "Baby", "Rustom", Pad Man", and "Mission Mangal", while biggies as "Boss", "Entertainment" or "Singh Is Bliing". His "Housefull" series has also come under flak with its latest release.
It was a decade when Salman Khan unleashed Bollywood's undoubtedly most entertaining comic action hero by way of Chulbul Pandey in the "Dabangg" series, to catapult his stardom to unprecedented heights, before struggling to reinvent that super avatar at the fag end of the decade.
It was also the decade when Shah Rukh Khan has looked like he is at a loss on how to reinvent his superstardom, after reigning the Bollywood box-office over nearly a decade and a half.
The rise of content-driven cinema has also created space for the stardom of 'realistic heroes and heroines'. These include Ayushmann Khurrana, Vicky Kaushal, Rajkummar Rao. Irrfan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui, who were around before, found the right projects to come of age.
Taapsee Pannu, Richa Chadha, Radhika Apte and Bhumi Pednekar are among actresses who have found a platform in this decade that would perhaps have not been possible earlier.
The late Sridevi, Rani Mukerji, Tabu, and Vidya Balan found great roles "Mom", the Mardaani" flicks, "Andhadhun" and "Tumhari Sulu" respectively, to prove the industry looks at senior actresses with new regard now.
The impact has affected new-age mainstream stars, too. The likes of Deepika Padukone, Alia Bhatt, Kangana Ranaut, Ranveer Singh, Ranbir Kapoor and Varun Dhawan have been judiciously mixing their out-and-out commercial ventures with the odd, performance-oriented offbeat project that lets them garner histrionic appreciation and, who knows, the right award or two.
The actor who has left the biggest impact lately has to be Ayushmann Khurrana, who has delivered seven consecutive hist over the past few years, without actually wavering from his focus on solid content and character. The feather in his cap was the National Award he won for "Andhadhun", which he shared with Vicky Kaushal "Uri: The Surgical Strike" this year.
Looking back at the decade that was, therefore, has to be about mixing vintage larger-than-life zest with the Bollywood's newfound zeal for realism.
Here is our top ten list of the decade, of films that we feel best to define the 10 years that past us by...
We are talking of the first film of the series here. Supercop Chulbul Pandey redefined the comic action hero, and also made Salman Khan Bollywood's biggest superstar. Although, over three films, the originality of entertainment has gone southward, the original film continues to be as popular as ever. Starring Salman Khan with Sonakshi Sinha in her debut role, the Abhinav Kashyap directorial created a storm, collecting Rs 145 crore in India.
With the Vidya Balan-starrer, filmmaker Sujoy Ghosh showed what he is capable of when it came to serving up a truly original and realistic Bollywood thriller. Popular Bengali actor Saswata Chatterjee left a mark as Bob Biswas, and a largely Bengali cast including talented names as Parambrata Chatterjee, Dhritiman Chatterjee, Indraneil Sengupta and Kharaj Mukherjee added authenticity to the Kolkata-based storyline alongside Nawazuddin Siddiqui and , "Kahaani" is one of the best mystery thrillers in the history of cinema worldwide. The film collected Rs 59 crores in India.
THE LUNCHBOX (2013)
Ritesh Batra's 2013 movie won Viewer's Choice Award at the Cannes Film Fest's Critic's Week section, besides many other global accolades. Starring Irrfan Khan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Nimrat Kaur, the film is extremely relatable as a middle-class story, especially for those residing in Mumbai. The phenomenal success of "The Lunchbox" without the presence of any A-lister Bollywood star came as a surprise to many. The small-budget film earned around 22 crores at the Indian box office.
The Vikas Bahl directorial came as a slap on the face of patriarchal society. It showed the world that gone are the days of the weeping hapless woman who is ditched by her groom-to-be. Kangana Ranaut shows the transformation of such a demure, conservative young woman to one who learns to live life on her own terms. Kangana and Lisa Haydon won accolades for their performance while Rajkummar Rao impressed even in a small role. The film collected 61 crore at the domestic box office and was a superhit.
DUM LAGA KE HAISHA (2015)
The romantic-comedy film with a strong social message broke all stereotypes with its subject and with debutante actress Bhumi Pednekar putting on weight for the role of an overweight bride. The Sharat Katariya directorial turned Ayushmann Khurrana into a star and established Bhumi Pednekar as a talented actress in Bollywood. The film collected 30 crores in India.
The Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury directorial received widespread critical acclaim for touching upon the very relevant subject of sexual harassment of women in the present-day Indian society. The film established Taapsee Pannu as a bankable star in Bollywood. Even her co-star Amitabh Bachchan was impressed with Taapsee's performance! The film became a super-hit and did a business of 68 crores in India.
This black comedy can certainly be counted as one of Rajkummar Rao's best performances and was showered with love both by critics and audiences. Pankaj Tripathi, one of the finest actors Indian cinema has ever seen also grabbed eyeballs. The Amit Masurkar directorial made on a small budget collected Rs 22.18 crores in India.
The Sriram Raghavan film, which won Ayushmann Khurrana a National Award as Best Actor, was the most unconventionally entertaining thriller of the decade. Tabu as the antagonist and Radhika Apte in a prop but interesting role were in superb form.
Another female-oriented script which stood out in an array of male-dominated movies was Amar Kaushik's "Stree". The horror-comedy with a strong social message starred Shraddha Kapoor, Rajkummar Rao, Pankaj Tripathi and Aparshakti Khurrana in key roles. The film was an instant hit at the box office and collected 129.67 crores in India.
URI: THE SURGICAL STRIKE (2019)
2019 was another year which delivered so many good films that it makes one difficult to choose. Our pick from this year is Aditya Dhar's "Uri: The Surgical Strike" which is based on India's surgical strike against militant launchpads along the Line of Control in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir in September, 2016. The film starring Vicky Kaushal, Yami Gautam, Paresh Rawal and Mohit Raina received critical acclaim and love from the audience for paying a fitting tribute to the Indian Army.