My previous article explains how the hope-factory that’s Bollywood works to keep more than a billion people happy.
This article is for Bollywood virgins. Ten movies summed up in a Tweet form. A gentle introduction to the mad-cap world of melodramatic mediocrity that’s Bollywood. You are welcome.
Lagaan — Once Upon A Time In India
A heady mix of India’s two biggest exports: cricket and Bollywood. Underdog-driven story telling. Beating the Brits at their own game. Equating tax to slavery. Love triangle thrown in because Bollywood. A four-hour epic. Oscar-nominated. Watch it once before you die.
Chak De India
Hockey, not cricket, this time. Preaching feminism. Smashing patriarchy. Cutting beauracratic red-tape. Embracing multiculturalism. Motivational montages galore. Ultra-quotable dialogue. Unifying extremes. Pounding background score. Poignant ending. Rip-roaring cinema for the ages.
Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge
Boy meets girl. Woos, wins, wanders and womanises. Girl’s dad dissents. Boy’s dad relents. Making cliches great again. Borderline creepy but always above the waist. Spanning Punjab to Zweissimen. Iconic dialogue. Memorable songs. An overdone climax. A rom-com done right.
James Hadley Chase does Bollywood. Characters single, double and triple-crossing each other. Plot always thickening. Motivated by lust, greed, power and money. Deceit-driven escapades of a con-man losing his grip on the con. A retro-soundtrack guaranteeing Bombay never sounded better.
Gangs of Wasseypur — Parts 1 & 2
Take the best bits of the Godfather, Scarface and Goodfellas. Add two pinches of humour. Three spoonfuls of unabashed hindi cussing. A dash of violence. A sprinkle of politics. Two heaps of noir. Leave to simmer for five hours. What do you get? This film. Garnish with a good time.
Kuch Kuch Hota Hai
Archie comics copulates with Bollywood to produce this bubblegum flaovured, popcorn-fluff of a film.
So bad that it’s so good. So silly, it’s unmissable. So OTT, you won’t take your eyes off the screen.
Trivial, convivial, banal and utterly watchable. Just do it.
Patch Adams goes chicken-tikka? Yes please. Local goon gaslights parents that he’s a world-famous doctor, bluffs his way into medical school and comes out trumps. Heart-on-the-sleeve, seat-of-the-pants kinda stuff. A humorous, feel-good parable with profound philosophical moments.
A Bollywoodized Shakesperean tragedy? Look no further. Transplanting “Othello” into the Hindu heartland is no easy feat. Dark, brooding, intense and affecting. Soulful soundtrack too. Watch it for the juxtaposition of ideas. Cerebral film-making isn’t Bollywood’s forte. This tries.
Star-crossed lovers? Check. Unrequited love? Check. An ode to nationalistic pride? Check. A grand, sweeping musical love story of identity, culture, religion and status. An eclectic mixture that’s partly sad, partly optimistic and wholly epic. A tale of two countries, if you will.
Ab Tak Chhapan
A serial-killing cop that extrajudiciously guns down bad guys. Laconic. Understated. Vengeful. Law-abiding but morally questionable man turns lone-wolf to avenge his wife’s murder. Violent. Pithy. Problematic. Climaxing in a murderous crescendo. Think “Uncut Gems” meets “The Departed”.