The results of poll #1, on the most influential Desi musician of the 2000s, are pretty clear — with about 200 votes cast, A.R. Rahman wins by a significant margin, with M.I.A. as the second most influential Desi musician of the 2000s.
The topic of the next poll was strongly suggested by the comments following the first one — sports. I tried to use what the commenters were suggesting to guide my choices.
While I am at it, however, I am also doing a poll for the best Desi film of the 2000s. Here, it seemed wrong to put artsy “diaspora” films up against commercial South Asian cinema (Bollywood, Tollywood, etc.), so I created a poll #3 — for commercial cinema — and a poll #3A — for specifically South Asian diaspora cinema.
Choosing the films for the commercial cinema category was challenging, and I kept finding that certain films had a natural pairing (for instance, Lagaan, by Ashutosh Gowariker, goes with Swades). I also realized that some of the most influential commercial films were known not for their directors, but for writers and producers; Vidhu Vinod Chopra, whose name was associated with both Munnabhai films, only wrote the first one. Similarly, Karan Johar’s name is associated with several important films he produced rather than directed. And the directors for many Yash Raj Films are unknowns, but the films have a certain “stamp” to them. So I used the idea of the “filmmaker,” which could be the writer, director, or producer.
I’m sure my approach will seem a little unusual to some folks, but hopefully it’s coherent enough, and you see something there you want to vote for. (At the very least, my approach solved the problem of how to pick just 10 commercial films from over the entire decade.) Finally, people who really know regional cinema might want to create your own “Best Of 2000s” lists in the comments — I simply haven’t seen very much Telugu cinema, for example, so I don’t have any Telugu filmmakers listed here.
All three polls after the fold.
3. Cinema: Commercial Cinema
3A Diaspora Cinema:
just realised the last two obviously are not comparing the same thing…. getting tired.. my apologies..
just found a better number for Maqbool Total Collections (Till Date): 64,09,451
Unfortunately they don’t have a Box Office India info page for Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi that I could find, so I guess we can’t compare that one…
i am not sure about the veracity of these numbers given the fact that imdb lists maqbool’s total collections as INR 25,590,000 which is 4x off from box office india’s numbers. in fact, imdb lists maqbool’s first week collections at roughly 7 million and box office india lists it at 2.8 mil, which is a factor of 2.5 off.
so no idea what numbers i should believe on any of these.
no idea why you would count maqbool either as big budget or as big actor. maqbool didnt have any stars. the biggest name in it was tabu, who mostly hadnt being playing a traditional lead for many years and was more on the award movie/arty bollywood (like what madhur bhandarkar tries to do) type circuit. and the rest were acharacter actors/unknowns in pankaj kapur and irrfan. omkara was very different, i agree – it had devgan, saif, and oberoi, as well as kareena and bipasha.
Starring Irfan Khan Tabu Pankaj Kapoor Om Puri Naseeruddin Shah Piyush Mishra Masumeh Makhija Deepak Dobriyal
Tabu, Irfan Khan, Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah? They are not well known to you?
“During the 1970s and the 1980s, parallel cinema entered into the limelight of Hindi cinema to a much wider extent. This was led by such directors as Gulzar, Shyam Benegal and Saeed Akhtar Mirza, and later on Mahesh Bhatt and Govind Nihalani, becoming the main directors of this period’s Indian art cinema. Benegal’s directorial debut, Ankur was a major critical success, and was followed by numerous works that created another field in the movement. These filmmakers tried to promote realism in their own different styles, though many of them often accepted certain conventions of popular cinema. Parallel cinema of this time gave careers to a whole new breed of young actors, including Shabana Azmi, Smita Patil, Amol Palekar, Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Pankaj Kapoor, and even actors from commercial cinema like Rekha and Hema Malini ventured into art cinema.
Adoor Gopalakrishnan extended the Indian New Wave to Malayalam cinema with his film Swayamvaram in 1972. Long after the Golden Age of Indian cinema, Malayalam cinema experienced its own ‘Golden Age’ in the 1980s and early 1990s. Some of the most acclaimed Indian filmmakers at the time were from the Malayalam industry, including Adoor Gopalakrishnan, G. Aravindan,Padmarajan, T. V. Chandran and Shaji N. Karun. Gopalakrishnan, who is often considered to be Satyajit Ray’s spiritual heir, directed some of his most acclaimed films during this period, including Elippathayam (1981) which won the Sutherland Trophy at the London Film Festival, as well as Mathilukal (1989) which won major prizes at the Venice Film Festival. Shaji N. Karun’s debut film Piravi (1989) won the Camera d’Or at the 1989 Cannes Film Festival, while his second film Swaham (1994) was in competition for the Palme d’Or at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival.
Girish Kasaravalli, Girish Karnad and B. V. Karanth led the way for parallel cinema in the Kannada film industry, while Mani Ratnam and Kamal Haasan have done the same for Tamil cinema. In particular, Ratnam gained international acclaim after directing Nayagan (1987), based on the Mumbai underworld don Varadarajan Mudaliar.  Decline
By the early 1990s, the rising costs involved in film production and the commercialization of the films had a negative impact on the so-called art films. The fact that investment returns cannot be guaranteed made art films less popular amongst filmmakers. Unlike the European art film industry (which earlier had a major influence on Indian art cinema), there is less of an art film audience in India.  Resurgence Konkona Sen Sharma and Rahul Bose, in Aparna Sen’s Mr. and Mrs. Iyer (2002).
The term “parallel cinema” has started being applied to off-beat films produced in Bollywood, where art films have begun experiencing a resurgence, largely due to the critical and commercial success of the Mumbai underworld film Satya (1998), directed by Ram Gopal Varma and written by Anurag Kashyap. The film’s success led to the emergence of a distinct genre known as Mumbai noir, urban films reflecting social problems in the city of Mumbai. Later films belonging to the Mumbai noir genre include Mahesh Manjrekar’s Vaastav: The Reality (1999), Madhur Bhandarkar’s Chandni Bar (2001) and Traffic Signal (2007), Ram Gopal Varma’s Company (2002) and its prequel D (2005), Varma’s Sarkar (2005) and Sarkar Raj (2008), Anurag Kashyap’s Black Friday (2004), Vishal Bharadwaj’s Maqbool (2004), Apoorva Lakhia’s Shootout at Lokhandwala (2007), Rajeev Khandelwal’s Aamir (2008), and Irfan Kamal’s Thanks Maa (2009).
Other modern examples of art films produced in Bollywood which are classified as part of the parallel cinema genre include Mani Ratnam’s Dil Se (1998) and Yuva (2004), Nagesh Kukunoor’s 3 Deewarein (2003) and Dor (2006), Sudhir Mishra’s Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi (2005), Jahnu Barua’s Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Mara (2005), Pan Nalin’s Valley of Flowers (2006), Nandita Das’ Firaaq (2008), Onir’s My Brotherâ€¦ Nikhil (2005) and Bas Ek Pal (2006), and Anurag Kashyap’s Dev.D (2009) and Gulaal (2009). Independent films spoken in Indian English are also occasionally produced; examples include Revathi’s Mitr, My Friend (2002), Aparna Sen’s Mr. and Mrs. Iyer (2002) and 15 Park Avenue (2006), Anant Balani’s Joggers’ Park (2003), Homi Adajania’s Being Cyrus (2006), Rituparno Ghosh’s The Last Lear (2007) and Sooni Taraporevala’s Little Zizou (2009).
Other Indian art film directors active today include Mrinal Sen, Buddhadeb Dasgupta, Gautam Ghose, Sandip Ray (Satyajit Ray’s son) and Rituparno Ghosh in Bengali cinema; Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Shaji N. Karun and T. V. Chandran in Malayalam cinema; Mani Kaul, Kumar Shahani, Ketan Mehta, Govind Nihalani and Shyam Benegal  and Deepa Mehta in Hindi cinema; and Mani Ratnam and Santosh Sivan in Tamil cinema.”
sorry folks… i jumped to the bait. pls to delete.
LinZi, We deleted a somewhat nasty, ad hominem comment directed at you.
heh heh heh heh
Why is VISHWANATHAN ANAND’S name not on the sportsperson list? His contribution is as good as TENDULKAR’S.
ak@35 yes shwas, too (though i thought it was a tad over-dramatized). also, some others:
i am looking forward to harishchandrachi factory – the story of dadasaheb phalke, and the first indian film!
I just wanted to point out– first, this whole discussion was based on “influential” films, which can have many definitions. So different people are going to have different opinions, obviously.
Since my group of friends and I tend to enjoy Parallel films more than commercial films, though I still do watch a good amount of commercial films as well. Hence for me, I don’t limit my definition of ‘well-known’ actors to commercial films, but rather include quite a lot of actors who work and have worked in parallel films (many of whom have also worked in commercial films as well) including some of my favorites– Shabana Azmi, Nasseruddin Shah, Konkona Sen Sharma, Rahul Bhose, Irfan Khan, etc. While Parallel film is, by nature not commercialized, I do feel pretty confident that if I mention one of those names in India, people know who they are and some of the films they have been in.
Hence I don’t discount the whole of Parallel cinema. No, it is not commercial Bollywood as most people see it, but it is an important and well known film movement in India, and one that has seen a resurgance of popularity in the 2000s.
Films like Bheja Fry are influential in my book because they are not a typical commercial film and they are also not a typical parallel cinema film. The version of comedy is much different than other comedies at the time, and also, while not being a large commercial film, Bheja Fry was able to break out and created quite a stir. I was in India when it came out and I remember that it was a topic of much discussion.
Anyways, like I mentioned above, all the ideas of what is influential are in the end an opinion and up for debate. Hopefully such discussions won’t lead to nastiness, it’s just a film discussion!
don’t know what the ad hominem or stuff was, but just to be clear, it wasn’t me. linzi, these actors are all character players and do not carry a movie, as i mentioned in my comment. irrfan was really quite unknown at the time, except in character circles. tabu hadnt done a mainstream heroine film in years either, for example.
Linzi, admittedly, one of the problems in this post is that I never really defined what “influential” means.
Let’s start with the question of straight-up Bollywood — Yash Raj Films. On the one hand, films like Veer-Zaara and Fanaa were definitely pretty formula in some respects. But they also had ripple effects on other things — the cross-national and cross-religious love story in Veer-Zaara was at times moving for me at least, and it marked a change from the more jingoistic vibe of “Gadar: Ek Prem Kahani”. And there were some really beautiful moments in the first half of “Fanaa” — a bit of a revival of the classical Urdu romantic style, I thought.
I was thinking about films that were commercial successes — super-hits — but which also made a “serious point” in some way, that might have made some impact on bigger Indian issues, like caste, communalism, gender relations, etc. (Another film that might be called “influential” along those lines was “Main Hoon Na”. And obviously the “Munnabhai” films…) I’m less interested in run of the mill superhits (“Krrish” “Dhoom” “Singh is Kinng” etc) because nobody remembers them two seconds after seeing them. I think even bad, conventional bollywood movies can be influential if there is an important twist or idea there.
With parallel cinema, multiplexers, and art films, it’s a gray area and rapidly changing. Though Omkara was a much bigger film than Maqbool, the former couldn’t have been made without the earlier Maqbool. And the idea of these edgy, modernized adaptations of Shakespeare (Macbeth and Othello) makes the two films of a piece for me. Also, sometimes smaller films like Maqbool end up having an outsized impact because their soundtracks become popular (in Maqbool’s case, deservedly so).
There is no science for what is influential; it’s not just the masses who might be watching certain films, but other directors, writers, and producers. Something like Page 3 might be small in terms of box office, but if it inspires a slew of other films (Luck By Chance and so on), perhaps it might also be seen as influential? I doubt that people like Dibaker Bannerjee, Zoya Akhtar, or Anurag Kashyap are getting returns on anything like the scale of the average Yash Raj film production or Karan Johar, but what they are doing as “major minors” or “artsy multiplexers” — or whatever they are — is going to shape the next generation of even more commercial/family-oriented/mainstream bollywood films. I tend to think that something like “Wake Up Sid” got made in the wake of the success of “Khosla ka Ghosla” and “Oye Lucky Lucky Oye”…
Um…why weren’t Rinku Singh and Dinesh Kumar Patel added in the sports category? They’re the first Indians to be signed on an MLB team.
I think that between his role directing hugely successful diaspora films + producing movies like this, K Jo is undoubtedly the most influential filmmaker of the decade.
Two things on the sports choices for discussion sake. I didn’t want to pass up the joke at the end about India and Luxemborg vis a vis Gold medals. One because it plausible it’s correct. And also I think there’s a lot of things going into the sentiment.
Also, I’d consider MS Dhoni, Sewag and Yuvraj Singh in the poll. For one, India is now in the top spot in Test Cricket in the world, someone wrote a comparision between them and the Brazil national soccer team, and those three are carrying the standard for the team, Yuvraj less so. Also, and this might be controversial, the first five are part of an old guard, old boy’s network. Dhoni, Sewag and Yuvraj come from different backgrounds, and could be a shift to meritocracy.
I was also going to say something controversial about Murali….but then I’m not from Oz!
dont agree with them being part of an old boys club. ganguly was dropped for a long time, and got a second chance which he made good on, and settled on his place in the team. tendulkar might’ve been from shardashram but he is truly an exceptional talent. dravid again got a break due to manjrekar’s injury and made good consistently for years after his debut. further, ganguly’s success in captaincy was pretty reliant on dravid being both in a rich vein of form during this period, and being a trustworthy second in command. kumble executed brilliantly from the moment he was in the team becoming the fastest indian to get to 50 test wickets and second fastest to get to 100. laxman has been dropped a gazillion times when he didnt perform. not one of these could be considered a nepotistic pick and not meritocratic.
dhoni did break through from a second tier team like jharkhand, but yuvraj’s dad was a cricketer and he has had powerful backers, so if anything, as his pathetic test record and general bad attitude proves, his holding his place in the test team is the exact opposite of meritocracy.
i hope that sehwag has a 2-3 year brilliant run of form like many players hit in their early 30s, as he could truly help dhoni to take the indian team to new heights. especially important as laxman and dravid retire over the next year or three and people like rohit sharma will take their time to find their place in the team, especially given the fact that the team is carrying a player like yuvraj who averages ~30 in tests and boosts it only on featherbeds.
Granted, all five are great players, although Laxman I think is further back from the others. Yuvraj does not average that high in Tests, but opposite to having a bad attitude, I think his attitude helps in the team because he can do things like blow Broad out of the water. I mean to say with Dhoni and Sehwag are more people a common person can think of becoming. It’s to India’s good to move away from the elite feeder system of before.
And in general I think Tendulkhar is a great role model because it seems he is a very fair-minded person, for example his comment about being an indian first and foremost versus regional identity, and his friendships with many of the players on the team.
To take one example of the way the Indian team is going, Sreesanth gets back on the team and says that Harbhajan is like an older brother to him. Not only is Sreesanth a much-needed fast bowler, he is a christian from the South telling India that Harbhajan, a sikh from Punjab, is like his family. And it’s a heart-warming story. That can only be good for India.
Sports can move a society in needed directions.
a. don’t think sreesanth is a christian. he just does the cross-like thing since he is a hyper character and needs to do a million different things before he bowls. b. as for his harbhajan statements, he is a drama queen and prone to melodramatic statements. and he is probably afraid of getting another well-deserved resounding thappad from bhajji 🙂 c. tendulkar is very admirable for keeping a quiet and calm public persona, but as a sportsperson, his heyday was in the late 90s. granted, he is still a wonderful player, but he has been close to the pack in the 00s. d. i am not talking about yuvraj’s aggression on the field, which is a positive; i am talking about his arrogance and sense of entitlement off it – something that is very well documented, and has, for example, led to his deservedly being booted from the captaincy of kings XI punjab in the ipl. and aggression in the field does not merit poor attitude of it, especially when the aggression doesnt come with results. also his broad biffing was in 20-20s, and he is a good player in that and odis, but a liability as a no 5 in tests.
lot of credit goes to ganguly for that – both insisting on picking good performing players, and sticking with them. he deserves immense credit for rebuilding the team after azhar and matchfixing.
Point taken about Sreesanth, it was an assumption. I hope he has calmed down now, they need a fast bowler. I think Yuvraj is a threat even in a Test format, and his on-field attitude cements a different kind of attitude for the Indian team. The six sixes against Broad were special. Granted, I am a homer for him, as he and I are punjabi. I think he should no doubt be on the team, but his numbers are near the level of Sehwag. I look for his scores at every innings and most of the time they are disappointing. Tendhulkar is still going very strong. Maybe it’s because with the Indian team you get used to it, but some of the scores he has put up recently are amazing.
*not near the level of Sehwag
Amardeep @ 63
You phools should have had some Indian-American spelling bees there!!!! Spelling bees are definitely considered a sport by ESPN! Don’t hate your own kind.
The latest video of Andhra Pradesh’s chief minister, Tiwari, and his 3 lady friends is also very influential enough to influence India’s politics.
Trying to be clever? You succeeded in being incomprehensible, but still somewhat arrogant. congrats
aja, waiting for a retort
please to be forgiving saab, bara vaj gaia see
This very helpful