Yet, 2001 in the end proved to be a year which called for a toast to Indian cinema. To three films made by Indians: Lagaan, Dil Chahta Hai and Monsoon Wedding. The films could not have been more different: if Lagaan is chalk, Dil Chahta Hai is cheese. Nor were the takings at the box office comparable. Lagaan hit bull's-eye commercially—feelgood morale booster for the nation. DCH captured the imagination of the upmarket youth and cynical film critics alike: the film did moderately well and its young, debutant director Farhan Akhtar became the new great white hope, overnight. Mira Nair's Monsoon Wedding grabbed the top award of the prestigious Venice Film Festival, and became the conversation piece in Delhi's drawing rooms, even more so during the winter wedding season.
Certainly, these films are not rewriting the DNA of Indian cinema. But there is a sense of confidence, an exuberance, a devil-may-care-I-will-do-what-I-believe attitude evident in the three films. These are essentially feelgood films, uppers in the time of morose tidings everywhere else. Are we seeing a new chapter in commercial cinema? One in which these lines between art and commercial cinema have not only blurred but seem stupid. An age in which "we are like this onlyji" credo is at work. There is a joi de vivre, a zest for life which pulsates in these films. Perhaps, it is the confidence springing from 'The Success Story' of the Indian abroad—the upwardly mobile Indian diaspora—which is responsible for some of the change in the grammar of our filmmaking. The "made-in-India" label appears to be stuck on with pride and without apology.