June 15, 2010
The moment I realize - the date is 15th of June, I start thinking hard – whose birthday is it today, or some anniversary? There is definitely something special about it. And then, within seconds I recall. It has been happening every year for the past nine years – I welcome this day with a smile. It was on 15th June, 2001, that a film got released and changed the meaning of cinema for me. Today, we can safely call that a watershed moment in the history of Hindi cinema. This date is truly special.
Here is what Pritish Nandy had to say about Lagaan. “If Hollywood has any sense, it will get put its hands together and acclaim it as the film of the year… Our cinema history will now have two eras. Before-Lagaan and post-Lagaan. The standards of movie making will have to completely change. Lagaan has set the new standard... It is not just outstanding. It is spectacular. It is better than anything I have seen.”. Mind you, this review of his came just 5 days after the release of the film – long before it actually won acclaim at Locarno and later the Academy Awards. I am really amazed at this far-sightedness of Mr. Nandy. Just after the film's premiere, Rakesh Roshan had complimented Ashutosh Gowariker with these words: “Do you know what you have done? You have just created a masterpiece.” A filmmaker can realize better, what an epic of a film Lagaan was, in every aspect of cinema – aesthetic, economic, and more. There are friends who ask me – “OK, I realize it was a good film. But why do you rate it so highly?” I seriously want to prepare a paper, a detailed discussion on this film, to answer this question.
A few days ago, Empire Online released a list of the Greatest Non-English Language Films. Here is the list for the current decade (2001-2010). Bhansali’s Devdas is another film that finds a place in the top 20. This is not among the best of the top-movies lists, leaving out some truly great ones. But it has managed to appease me by ranking Amelie as the best movie of the decade. I have no doubts in accepting that. And although Lagaan could not make it to the top 10, it is the twelfth man anyway. Cheers!
1. Amelie (2001, France)
2. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006, Mexico)
3. City of God by (2002, Brazil)
4. Spirited Away (2001, Japan)
5. Let the Right One In (2008, Sweden)
6. Oldboy (2003, South Korea)
7. Y tu Mama Tambien (2001, Mexico)
8. Infernal Affairs (2002, Hong Kong)
9. Waltz With Bashir (2008, Israeli)
10. 10 (2002, Iran)
11. Downfall (2004, Germany)
12. Lagaan (2001, India)
13. Persepolis (2007, Iran)
14. A Prophet (2009, France)
15. Ten Canoes (2006, Australia)
16. Hidden (2005, Austria)
17. Devdas (2002, India)
18. House of Flying Daggers (2004, China)
19. The Host (2006, South Korea)
20. Goodbye Lenin (2003, Germany)