Not “best”. If I say “best”, everyone’s gonna be all “1950s! Guru Dutt! Raj Kapoor! Giants walked the earth!” And of course that’s true. But was it really FUN back then? With all that exhausting depth and brilliance flying around everywhere?
I am going to start with a believe I hold to be deeply DEEPLY true! Early 2000s! The era I first found the movies! It’s the best funnest greatest era ever. Let me explain.
Back in India, the multiplex revolution hadn’t yet taken place, so the films still had to appeal to a broad cross-section of the audience. At the same time, they had firmly reached the diaspora (especially with the introduction of cheap DVDs) so they had a kind of smooth global look to them and even more universal appeal.
Social media was in it’s infancy, there was no posturing or worrying about the “message” you were sending by liking a film or not liking it. Heck, even Indian film reviewing was in its infancy! The only people reading/writing reviews were the ones really passionate about the movies and just loved them, no spin (Anupuma 1.0, Raja Sen, the start of Baradwaj Rangan). And there was space for filmmakers to take some crazy risks and make things that were really brilliant.
So we ended up with these bright optimistic happy films, ones that told universal human stories (love stories, stories of families, stuff like that), that unashamedly wore their heart on their sleeve, but also had a little bit of cheerful humor and awareness about themselves. There was no hate, no violence, just a happy world of escapism in bright colors and charming people.
BAM! 1998-2008 (Kuch Kuch Hota Hai to Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi) was the funnest era! FIGHT ME!