Here Are My Favourite Bollywood Movies That You Should See!


A less known fact about me is that I'm a Bollywood film connoisseur. Now Bollywood often conjures images of over-the-top make-up, ridiculous action scenes, poor acting and song-and-dance sequences. However things have changed a lot in the industry since the 90s, and even back then there were tons of indie and regional film makers that were making amazing movies.
I find that two kind of Bollywood films make it to the west -- the stereotypical blockbusters and a smattering of serious movies. Today I want to share a couple of films which are (mostly) neither, films that I dearly love and think that people without any knowledge of Indian cinema would enjoy. And most of them are free of dance sequences.




Queen:

If you like travel stories or are looking for something heart-warming and fun, watch this. A traditional "good Indian girl" gets jilted just before her wedding, and is so devastated that her parents allow her to go on her "honeymoon" trip to Europe solo. After spending the first day under her hotel room blankets, she ventures out to brave the unknown culture. The culture clash is hilariously accurate, and her journey to discovering a new self-confidence is familiar across all cultures.
The funniest part: where she stealthily tries to put on the bra under the blanket. Though the sex shop scene is good too.



Mr and Mrs Iyer:

One of my all-time favourite films, an off-beat slow, sweet story where the most important things are left unsaid. On a bus trip along the length of India an orthodox Indian woman passes off a Muslim fellow passenger as her husband to save his life. The same one with whom she doesn't want to share her water bottle because of the strict rules of her caste. Amid the background of violence which is always present and never shown, a tender and tentative relationships starts to bud.

The beginning is a bit slow for my taste, but then the story really pulls you in. And the ending, well, it's one of the best ones I've ever seen. Just about everyone whom I showed this film to loved it.
My favourite bit: the ending. Though the scene where he teaches her photography is great too.





Devdas:

If you want the splendid colours, the breathtaking costumes, the gorgeous women an lavish sets that Bollywood is known for, look no further. You get all of this plus a tumultuous story about pride, unfulfilled love and longing, supported by great acting from the biggest Indian stars.
The director draws from a different culture in each of his films for the storytelling, and this film sparked a major craze for everything Bengali. For while everyone and their aunt were getting puffed-sleeve saree blouses. I actually went and bought myself a replica of the bangle Paro wears, and got the bottoms of my sari petticoats lined with lace.
My favourite tidbit: The first dance stunning of the character Chandramukhi is choreographed by one of India's leading classical dance masters, and the actress is classically trained, so you get a taste of what north-indian classical Kathak dance is like. And her costume was apparently ridiculously heavy!
My favourite scene: Paro and Devdas by the river where the thorn gets stuck in her foot, and the one where Chandramukhi whips her wet hair over Deva's face.






Highway:

This movie touched me pretty deeply, and I couldn't stop thinking about it for a long time. It starts out as what could be a road thriller, and then quietly evolves into something  soul-achingly beautiful. The story is about coddled rich girl gets abducted and held for ransom until the kidnappers, realising their hostage is from an extremely powerful and influential family, panic and want get rid of her. Yet she doesn't want to go back to her family, having tasted the wild free life on the road. The ethereal cinematography takes you on a journey through lesser-known corners of India and inspires major wanderlust, especially the last scenes in Kinnaur which is one of the most remote and the most beautiful parts of the country.
The music is by my favourite Indian composer AR Rehman, and each song draws from a different Indian tradition.
The last scene inspired me to finally order Women Who Dance With The Wolves, which had been on my wishlist for years.





Barfi:

An innocent, quirky and fun movie set in the 70s. A story of a deaf and mute man, an autistic girl, and... well, you'll see. The film is really funny and heartwarming, and I really really am a fan of the main actor's Chaplinesque humour.
If you like films like Benny and Joon or anything by Wes Anderson, you'll love this. Plus Priyanka Chopra as the autistic girl is jaw-droppingly good and really looks like a kid.



Dear Zindagi

So I'm unabashedly adding a slice-of-life film here, because it's genre I really like. Especially if it features two actor I love -- Shahrukh, who was my crush since I was a pre-teen, and Aliya who is just an amazing amazing actress. This film is about a jaded girl going through a series of (very good looking) men, finding herself through her therapy sessions with a rather unorthodox therapist. But the real star of the film are the friendships and the relationship with her brother and her housemaid. And the beautiful interiors and Aliya's outfits (I was seriously taking notes).


Will you be watching any of these? If you have a good Indian film you'd like to recommend, let me know in the comments!




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