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2004 in Movies: What To Watch If You Don’t Want To See Dhoom

Movies without bikers and babes

10 Years ago this week Dhoom was released. Skip the re-watch and consider one of these Bollywood films instead


2004 was a banner year for Bollywood. It was the year in which we first got introduced to the mad-cap chemistry of Shah Rukh and Farah Khan, the indie- spirit of Anurag Kashyap and the Shakespearean ambitions of Vishal Bharadwaj.

It was also the year of the first Dhoom movie (which co-incidentally completes 10 years from release tomorrow). But you’ve already seen Dhoom once- and thats enough (seriously, can anyone sit through that thing again?). You have also rewatched Main Hoon Na and Black Friday and Maqbool and (admit it) even Hum Tum on a couple of lazy Sunday afternoons. Here then, are  5 other movies from the year that hold up really well, and which act as a perfect time capsule for that innocent time when we still believed Esha Deol was a viable lead actress

The One That’s Better Masala Than Dhoom- Khakee

Why it holds up: Khakee is one of those rare movies which is made to entertain; and yet competently directed (why most directors think the two are mutually exclusive defeats us). Aishwarya Rai and Akshay Kumar have crackling chemistry (we wish the pair was repeated more often in movies); and Amitabh Bachchan is at his gruff best. Unlike the Abbas Mustan School of Filmmaking, the twists are there to serve the story and entirely organic, and-for a brief moment- we even almost liked Tushhar Kapoor.

Sign that it is from 2004: Akshay Kumar is ageless and hasn’t changed a bit, but you can sense the passage of time when you compare the easy intensity  and lack of vanity of the 2004 Ajay Devgan with the bulging muscles of the 2014 v2.0. Time was we’d see a movie he starred in without thinking twice because we trusted his script sense so much.We want that old Devgan back!!

Ajay Devgan-2004

Ajay Devgan 2014
The One That Has Better Performances by both Esha Deol and Abhishek Bachchan- Yuva

Why it Holds Up: 2004 was The Year of Aby Baby. He appeared in bit parts, cameos and lead roles in a staggering 7 movies during the year. And while these may have included the forgettable Rakht and Run, he probably gave the performance of his life in Yuva. The easy and sexy relationship between him and Rani Mukherjee made the movie, and it is the rare performance in which we found even Kareena Kapoor winning. But the true hero of this film is the interesting interlocking script (inspired by Amores Perros) which gives voice to so many of the concerns of the millenials. Did Ajay Devgan’s college leader in the movie inspire Rang De Basanti, and even the AAP? We wouldn’t go as far as to say that, but it definitely was one of the first time that the idea of responsible student politics was depicted in popular culture.

Sign that is from 2004:  So many! Viveik Oberoi as a lead! Abhishek Bacchan not phoning it in! But the surest sign this movie is from another time is this song by Adnan Sami in which Esha Deol looks about a 100 times more adorable than in Dhoom. After a very busy early 2000s, Adnan continues to sing for Telugu movies but hasn’t had a “song-of-the-moment” for a while now.

The One That Remains The Best Of Its Type- Murder

Why it Holds Up:We will never forgive Murder for spawning about 8 low-budget James Hadley Chase-ish movies every year with interchangeable actresses opposite a smouldering Randeep Hooda or smirking Emraan Hashmi. But we can’t deny just how revolutionary it was at that time. The soundtrack so different from every thing else on the airwaves, the actress threatening a lot more skin show than made the actual movie, the pulpy feel- we had never seen anything like this movie before. We can’t help admire Ms.Sherawat’s hustle even if her shtick has got old after all these years, and (true confessions), we still have the songs on our I Pod.

Sign that it is from 2004: The year had two semi-scandalous movies in the Top 10- Murder and Aitraaz. Interesting how Priyanka Chopra has managed to reinvent herself a serious actress doing serious actressing while Malika Sherawat continues the hustle.

The One With The Eye Candy Alternative for John Abraham- Dil Maange More

Why it holds up: A young Shahid Kapoor is as adorable as a puppy! Watch this film just to see him romance three beautiful young actresses, dance up a storm, and make funny faces. This is not a great movie (not even close). But it is just so nice to see young beautiful people have fun and share easy laughs and loves with each other instead of the Uncle/Babe pairing in the recent films. And there is this song-with Shahid doing his best Shammi Kapoor impression- which in itself is worth the two hours of tedium built around it.

Sign that is is from 2004: In a classic case of Bollywood misogyny, Shahid Kapoor continues to get his share of interesting roles in Bollywood while the three women have all but retired.  Ayesha Takia, Soha Ali Khan and Tulip Joshi (who makes her television debut later this month), are all lovely ladies with considerable acting talents for whom Bollywood could never quite find the right role.

The One That is Our Favourite: Lakshya

Why it holds up: Remember when Farhan Akhtar didn’t fancy himself an actor? When Hrithik Roshan did not fancy himself a superhero? When Preity Zinta played complicated women with spunk and a little bit of sass? Lakshya- Akhtar’s sophomore effort- remains one of our favourite movies at least for its first half. The story of a young boy just trying to figure himself out rings so much truer than the more recent one in Wake Up Sid, and while our preference would be for him to just experience personal growth and not scale an entire mountain, we can’t begrudge him his happy ending.

Sign that is from 2004:  The only person working harder than Abhishek Bachchan in 2004 was Amitabh Bachchan who starred in a total of 8 different movies! There was a time when you couldn’t go to the theatre on a Friday evening without hearing the famous family baritone in some form or the other! And while we make fun of him often on these pages, we do miss Amitabh Bachchan the actor and can’t wait to see him in a film we’d actually go to the theatres for (sorry Bhootnath Returns- you dont count), soon!

Which movie from 2004 do you miss most? Is it Socha Na Tha or the impossibly weepy Veer Zara? Just as long as it isn’t Masti! Tell us in the comments below.



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