Whenever I tell people that I love Bollywood films, I get a confused look. In fact, they’ve been my “Best Friday Night Date“, beating out dates with a banker and an actor. What is it about these films that keep me addicted to them?
The Bollywood Formula:
• A three hour-long epic drama
• The emotional roller-coasting plot of romance-tragedy-romance
• Bright and lavish costumes
• Exotic backdrops
• Upbeat song & dance numbers
• You may be eating popcorn, but you’ll find it occasionally tastes like cheese. Not to worry, this flavor is still fun and good, but a chuckle and a little suspended disbelief goes a long way.
My top 13 Bollywood films:
No song and dance numbers in this film but discovering likability is easy. Iqbal, a deaf and mute boy in a little farming town has big dreams of playing cricket for the national team. How likely are his odds? He meets a washed up cricketer turned town drunk and helps get him back on the road to recovery and to becoming his coach. This movie is about overcoming the odds and you will fall in love with it.
“A journey from engagement to marriage”… a young couple is arranged to meet for a possible wedding. Prem is from a wealthy family whose matchmaker uncle has set him up with a kind Indian girl, Poonam, who was an orphaned at an early age and adopted by her relatives. They meet and are instantly attracted to one another and agree to marriage. Tragedy enters the picture. How deep are the bonds of love?
You won’t find many lively celebrations of life and love here as this isn’t your standard commercial Bollywood formula. No, this is the Indian version of Shakespeare’s Othello, with powerful performances from an all-star Bollywood cast. While Ajay is brooding as always, Saif’ is literally unrecognizable as his normal commercial spunky self; in fact, he’s downright sinister! Solid performance from Karina as usual.
Once you see this jodhi-couple on the big screen, you’ll want to keep their films rolling. Akshay and Katrina have a chemistry which is endearing to watch. How can a spoiled NRI London girl fall in love with a simple Punjabi farm boy? Just watch and you’ll find yourself falling in love as well.
6) SINGH IS KING 2008
Starring Akshay Kumar & Katrina Kaif
Genre: romantic comedy
Naive and clumsy oaf, Happy Singh leaves his home for Egypt after he is tricked by his village and sent away as a way to re-instill a peaceful town. Along the way he meets Sonia and falls head over heels in love with Sonia, who is in love and engaged to another. Both accidentally meet again in Australia when Happy is meets up with Lucky Singh, the head of the underworld and is mistakenly placed in Lucky’s home, as the mob boss recuperates from his unfortunate run-in with the clumsy Happy. Can Happy’s simple and honest way change the underworld and Sonia’s heart?
7) CHORI CHORI , 2003
Starring Rani Mukerjee & Ajay Devgan
Genre: romantic comedy
Ajay as the brooding young architect and Rani as the spunky rogue living a bit of a hustler’s life. The two meet by fate and Ajay unknowingly sheds details of a house he’s building (for a girlfriend who has rejected his marriage proposal) with a down-on-her luck homeless rogue. Rani secretly moves in, until she is discovered by Ajay’s parents, by which the comedy of errors and mistaken identities ensue as she is mistaken for Ajay’s fiancée. If this plot sounds vaguely familiar it’s the Bollywood version of House Sitter, with Steve Martin, Dana Delaney and Goldie Hawn
Starring Aamir Khan and only Aamir
Genre: drama, period
This film was actually an Academy Award winner and is a period piece set against the Indian desert and the sport of cricket.
9) HUM DIL DE CHUKE SANAM (heart wrenching romance), 1999
Starring Aishwarya Rai, Ajay Devgan, Salman Khan
Genre: romantic drama
Young love. Passionate lovers, Nandini and Sameer, find each other, but tragedy ensues when they are forced apart; Nandini (Rai) is promised to wed another. Now repulsed by an arranged marriage, which has cast her love into rubble, she vows to never love again. However, over time, the patient and enduring love of her gentle husband, Vanraj, slowly revives her dead spirit. But when Sameer comes calling again, whom will she choose?
10) KUCH NAA KAHO (cute, funny & good song & dance numbers)
Starring Abhishek bachchan & Aishwarya Rai
11) MONSOON WEDDING (Mira Nair film)
While I wouldn’t necessarily classify a Mira Nair film as Bollywood, this was my first introduction to India in movies and it was pretty seductive as a shootout between various conflicting issues in India.
Three lives are brought together around a grand wedding. Lovers discover that “love” can be patient and still powerful, while secrets are uncovered and threaten damage to their relationships with family and each other.
12) AAJA NACHLE
Starring: Madhuri Dixit, Konkona Sen Sharma, Akshaye Khanna, Kunal Kapoor
Genre: romance, overcoming odds
A town’s star dancer-turned New York choreographer- returns to her town after news of her teacher’s failing health. When she arrives, she finds that their small theater is in jeopardy of being closed down and turned into a mall. In an effort to save their theater and the town from commercialization, she auditions actors for a new theater group, but the “actors” are townspeople oddballs.
13) JHOOM BARABAR JHOOM , 2009
Starring: Abhishek Bachchan, Preity Zinta, Bobby Deol,
Genre: romantic/slapstick comedy
A thin storyline. An uptown girl meets a street hustler and they spend an afternoon spinning yarns about their non-existent fiancees. But what happens when the two actually find themselves falling in love with each other? The story is a bit thin but the song and dance numbers are cool. The dance battle is the show stealer. Abhi and Priety do your best to charm you with their characters. One of my favorite music video number is of Abhi & Preity at the Taj Mahal.
Have any favorites that I’ve not listed? Give it a shout!