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The best Bollywood fights of the decade

Last updated on: January 13, 2011 16:42 IST

Image: A scene from Ek Hasina Thi
Raja Sen in Mumbai

It hasn't been a decade of too much action, 2000-2010. It's been a decade Bollywood rediscovered the male-bonding film, started making sports films, tried out chick-flicks, and erstwhile action icons embarked on an unending string of comedies.

And yet there's been some action to remember. Action scenes aren't always memorable for flawless choreography, even though several on this list are blessed with that.

It's not always how gory the action is, or how realistic. Yet when an action scene works perfectly, when all the elements fall into place just right, then it's the most basic kind of movie magic. A knockout punch right between the eyes.

Here, then, are ten that do work. And are decidedly worth remembering. And celebrating.

Ek Hasina Thi

One of the best hand-to-and fight scenes ever in Hindi cinema came when director Sriram Raghavan took his antagonist Saif Ali Khan into a hotel hallway and made him go at it real hard.

Coordinated by action man Yusuf Khan, the fight looks both disturbingly real as well as edited with high drama. If you haven't seen this one, go hunt it up and watch it. Pure class.

Robot climax

Image: A scene from Robot

Shankar's Rajnikanth-starrer released a few months ago has already become the stuff of legend, and the film's high point comes with a stupendous climax, one where hundreds of evil Rajni clones magnetically link together to fight the good Rajni.

They take turns turning into a fist, a drill, and even a snake, complete with a few Robot-Rajnis as a gunfire-happy tongue. Super.


Image: A scene from Omkara

Vishal Bhardwaj's films are never quite about the fights, and yet the fight is inevitably a part of the poetry. This is never better expressed than when Omi (Ajay Devgn) and his men take on a bunch of local hoods in Omkara.

Minutes before the dusty, highly dramatised, often slow-motion fight breaks out, the title song -- a warrior song -- breaks out, setting the mood.

The tension is palpable as you wait for the first fist to be thrown. When it is thrown, accompanied as it is by a killer punchline, it's a Gulzar-endorsed knockout.


Image: A scene from Asoka

Say what you will about Santosh Sivan's Asoka, but applause must be given to a film that takes its swordfighting seriously.

Weilding a mammoth He-Man inspired blade, Shah Rukh Khan's emperor gracefully takes on his foes in a green, freshly-rained-upon jungle, vanquishing them with style, spirit and the right kind of flourish.

Johnny Gaddaar

Image: A scene from Johnny Gaddaar

A moving train always makes a great backdrop for an action setpiece, and this Sriram Raghavan film featured Neil Mukesh first getting his plan in place -- while the lock on the bathroom door danced from side to side -- and then taking on a man much bigger than himself.

He turned out to be too big for chloroform, and the way this fight gets ugly -- and its unplanned consequences -- smacks of both reality and pulp.


Image: A scene from Robot

I know it's already here on the list, but SUPERSTAR can surely come back for seconds?

There is a train fight sequence in Robot as well, one that easily redefines the Indian cinema action bar.

Looking every bit as impressive as the iconic (and evidently influential) train fight in Spider-Man 2, this one features Rajni's robot first outrunning the train and then running aboard to kick some serious behind. Striking stuff.

Om Shanti Om

Image: A scene from Om Shanti Om

It isn't a film known for its action, but this Farah Khan film has its moments, one of the best with a spoofed fictional movie trailer shot with Akshay Kumar.

Called Return Of Khiladi -- and inspired by a Youtube clip that went viral a while before -- this stunning, supercop take on Kumar's Khiladi image was both hilarious and perfectly cast. And it looked real good.


Image: A scene from Dabangg

We're not quite talking subtlety when we talk about memorable movie fights, and there is just something to be said about the audacity of turning your hero superhuman.

While pummelling the bad guy, Salman Khan comes to know he's the man who's killed his mother. He roars with anger, his muscles swell to thrice their size, and his shirt Hulkisly gives way, ripping itself off him.

It's hard to imagine any other hero carrying off this shot; Salman made it a phenomenon.

Jodhaa Akbar

Image: A scene from Jodhaa Akbar

Nope, none of the war sequences. The most engaging action scene in Ashutosh Gowariker's period epic showed Hrithik Roshan's Mughal emperor smilingly take on his queen, played by Aishwarya Rai.

The indulgent smile is soon wiped off Roshan's face and Rai shows herself to be an equal, and the scene turns fierce.

The fatality of the parries and thrusts matched in intensity by heavy sexual tension, the scene is hard to forget -- not least for the way Rai channels her internal Monica Seles and grunts.