Discussion Post: What is Your Favorite/The Funnest Era of Indian Film?

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.

Akshay Kumar was making silly light romances….

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!

19 thoughts on “Discussion Post: What is Your Favorite/The Funnest Era of Indian Film?

  1. I also found Indian movies in early 2000 and for some time I love those 2000 movies, mostly for being different from usuall stuff we watch in Europe. The oddest the movie was the better. I enjoyed Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon, Mujhse dosti Karoge, Humko Tumse Pyaar Hai. I wish the makers still had this crazy imagination and courage. But I’m not able to watch early 2000 movies anymore because majority of them are sooooo boring. Lack of social media and reviewers was good, but also made many filmakers very lazy. For WTF factor , in my opinion 90′ movies are better and crazier, there is more action and the plot is fuller. Usually something interesting happens in the beggining to have our attention. Meanwhile in 2000 films you must wait one hour to finally have some plot. e.g Dil Vil Pyar Vyar – I already tried like 3 times to watch this movie, but it’s so slow, I just can’t. People talk and sing and drive cars but nothing happens.
    2000 also films are not here and not there. They want to be crazy jak 90′ but also modern and also sanskaari. My fav era is now and 90′

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    • Interesting! I can see that. I could even come up with an explanation, as more people watched movies on DVD, there was a willingness to slow down and enjoy with family, versus in theaters where you had to constantly be catching the crowds attention. Maybe?

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      • I don’t know. For me it was more like they thought: oh NRIs are watching us now so let’s make a movie that looks more western and sober, but still it has to be 3 hours long so let’s add some fillers.

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      • I find it really hard to pinpoint why exactly. The 70s were really BIG in most countries. In Indian film, that larger than life sensibility but with a progressive or socialist bent really comes out as great for me. The emotions, the songs, the sets, the costumes, the stars, the colours, are all EXTREME. Heroines were underserved but it’s not an all-rape and violence fest yet like the 80s were. I don’t have any interest in realism, and the 70s don’t give you any, except in parallell cinema which I ignore.

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        • I’ll add that there is still a hangover from the Nehruvian 60s, especially with the heroines. Pants wearing working women for the WIN!

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          • Yeah, it’s like the morals of the 60s mized with the excess of the 80s. It’s great. I also have to say that there was a lot of political censorship, obviously, but the censorship of imagery was less.

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          • And the political censorship was more about public issues rather than private. I can handle the “evil smuggler” and “good police officer” far more easily than I can the constant “revere your mother and father and don’t marry for love” we get today.

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          • Ugh, I hate that so much. The film industry was doing so well in the early 10s and then this government just drove it into the ground.

            I don’t know enough about the political situation in India to comment on any more subtle policing of private life that might have gone on, but the stuff I notice is definitely general social issues.

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          • Yeah, and now we have stuff like Alia’s character in Gully Boy being called “groundbreaking” and “unique”. She was great and I love that movie, but all heroines used to be like that! They only got boring recently.

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      • Also, the censoring in the 70s is really random, and often basically lacking, and filmmakers were being rebellious, so you get a lot of stuff that does not fly now at all anymore. I’ve talked about this before, but the amount they cut or blur from 70s films on TV now is INSANE.

        And as we all know the number one thing I dislike about Indian film is the censors. You get a lot of wanky nonsense from Indian critics like whyyyy aren’t Indian films aaaaart and the answer is the art gets censored out, this isn’t rocket science.

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        • Yes! The 70s had all that sex before marriage, illegitimate children, artistic violence, and angry speeches about Society. And now we get a lot of hand wringing about the length of a kiss onscreen and dumb stuff like that.

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          • Nothing drives me crazier than to see people comment like “old films are so great, so much more decent than modern ones”. Have you ever SEEN one? EVEN ONE?

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          • YEP!

            See also, the trumpeting of “progressive” themes in today’s movies. The stuff that now is treated as over the top and groundbreaking, was considered common place just a few decades back in film time!

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          • Yeah, it’s really weird to me. But it’s like with silent film, I assume people just don’t watch that stuff but think they know about it because they watched Sholay a bunch of times.

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        • I tweeted a screenshot of the Amar Akbar Anthony scene where they give a simultaneous blood transfusion to their mother with a temple, mosque and church visible in the windows behind them with the caption “The blood of all three sons is needed to keep the mother alive” and I got the single most shocking, bigoted and flat out nasty reply I’ve ever received on Twitter. So yeah, things are very ugly right now and what used to be common in 70s film is seen as traitorous today.

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          • wow, really? I’m sorry that happened to you.

            These days there is very little interest in the classic cinema, and I do think that’s because of the political climate.

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  2. I like both periods, the 70s that Popka favours but also from mid 90s to late 2000s Margaret wrote about. I just would call the latter more funny and the other more bold/liberal.

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