Hindi cinema has long thrived on moments. Monologues. Meltdowns. Singular bursts of inspiration. As a culture, we are conditioned to appreciate the art of individual brilliance. The century more than the win. The pieces more than the whole.
A scene, however, is more than just a moment – it has the body of an individual but the heart of a team. When you remember a scene, it’s invariably because of what comes before and after the moment. It elevates, rather than transcends, a narrative. More importantly, a great scene reeks of time. It reeks of cumulative space. It can be anything from a montage to a song sequence to an opening shot to a 20-minute climactic buildup.
The last ten years have had several fine contenders. But 25 is a number that amplifies both the nostalgia and the nerdiness of an era in which the theatricality of Bollywood has married the digitalization of storytelling. This list – compiled, in no particular order, by Mohini Chaudhuri and Rahul Desai – attempts to epitomize the language of the movie scene in context of modern Hindi cinema.
OCTOBER (2018): The mother of a comatose patient (Shuili) meets the mother of a comatose heart (Dan) in a hospital room. The gentle thoughts they exchange about their hopeless situations mark them both out as parents of profound grief.
LOEV (2015): It’s not often a scene of sexual assault makes you feel sorry for both the victim and the perpetrator. But Shiv Pandit and the late Dhruv Ganesh convey volumes in this desperate moment from a tragic love story between three men.
SONCHIRIYA (2019): As dusty dacoits, Manoj Bajpayee and Sushant Singh Rajput go from hallowed to haunted in a harrowing scene that features firecrackers, gunshots and an accidental slaughter of children on a dark Diwali night..