Movie Suggestions?
June 28, 2007 9:00 AM   Subscribe

Which Bollywood movie should I watch on my birthday?

As part of my birthday celebration next week, I'll be heading down to West Devon St., Chicago to get some Indian food, some bhangra, and some Bollywood DVDs. Thanks to methylviolet I have some idea of what sort of music to look for, but I know nothing about Indian Movies. Except that, apparently, they rock.

So I'm looking for somethign to purchase there, to watch that night, on a big screen, with a bunch of folks. Something that is pretty indicative of the genre, but still fun for total novices to enjoy. Something that I'd be able to find in the US, with English subtitles.

What should I look for?
posted by Squid Voltaire to Media & Arts (23 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
I believe Lagaan is considered a classic in this genre. I thought it was good fun.
posted by mcstayinskool at 9:08 AM on June 28, 2007

Lagaan is the ultimate feel-good Bollywood movie.

If you want something with a little more dramatic flair, get Devdas and Kal Ho Naa Ho.

If you want another happy one, also get Krish.

Honestly, I could watch those 4 movies all day.

If you want something way, way, old, "Sholay" is considered by many to be the greatest Bollywood movie of all time (Personally I vote for Devdas!)
posted by unexpected at 9:19 AM on June 28, 2007

Amar Akbar Anthony is really funny, has great songs, stars Amitabh Bachchan, and has bad guys being punched through brick walls—all the elements you need for a good Bollywood movie.
posted by interrobang at 9:28 AM on June 28, 2007

Kal Ho Naa Ho


Here, watch this - it's awesome.
posted by unixrat at 9:28 AM on June 28, 2007

Dil Se is a film I admire a lot. It is not the feel-good comedy of the year, but it does have some great numbers in it, including this one.
posted by pasici at 9:38 AM on June 28, 2007

Response by poster: Hey, unixrat, that's incredible! This is going to be awesome.

One quick note--does one pronounce these titles exactly as they look?
posted by Squid Voltaire at 9:42 AM on June 28, 2007

I cannot recommend more highly The Rising. It is a classic and, from 2005, a recent Indian film. A true spectacle.
posted by parmanparman at 9:47 AM on June 28, 2007

Main Hoon Na.

Munnai Bai MBBS is pretty funny as well.
posted by Lord_Pall at 10:05 AM on June 28, 2007

Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Kuch Naa Kaho are two of my favorites.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:06 AM on June 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

Wow, Youtube has Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Kuch Naa Kaho clips.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:09 AM on June 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

The only one I've ever seen is Shree 420, which is from the 1950s and incredibly entertaining. It reminded me of a Frank Capra movie with the combination of humor + social message, and the music was fantastic.

There are some fun reviews here.
posted by runtina at 10:14 AM on June 28, 2007

Hey, unixrat, that's incredible! This is going to be awesome.

I know, it totally is. I've been showing that to everyone I can recently. This thread came up as a great coincidence. :)

I may have made that into an MP3 since it's not available for purchase anywhere. *cough*
posted by unixrat at 10:16 AM on June 28, 2007

A second vote here for Main Hoon Na.
posted by misteraitch at 10:31 AM on June 28, 2007

Anything by Maniratnam is awesome (Bombay, Dil Se, etc), but it's not typical bollywood fare. Lagaan is excellent. Dil Chota Hai is pretty cool. Devdas has good music, and is very well done.
posted by chunking express at 10:35 AM on June 28, 2007

Oooh, a name check! I'm flattered.

Don't worry about subtitles. You would have to really look to find a Hindi DVD that did not have English subtitles. As far as what to watch? Whatever you want, they have that in Hindi -- so it depends on what you want.

Here is the movie that blew everyone's mind in India, as being real singing-and-dancing Bollywood updated for the youth and with a political relevance: Rang de Basanti

Here is an ineffably beautiful art film (by the auteur director of BW) of a Hindu-Muslim love affair at the time of the Bombay riots: Bombay

Here is the eyeball-exploding big budget period extravaganza that brought BW to Cannes for the first time: Devdas

Here are some of the artistic pinnacles of the golden age (very popular throughout China and Russia, even today) with the smokin' hot Bogie and Bacall of BW: Awara (more socially realistic) and Shri 420 (more lighthearted)

Here is a personal, lyrical, unclassifiable beauty of the golden age, an Indian Citizen Kane/Seventh Seal: Kagaz ke Phool

Here is the most successful Hindi movie in history, culturally iconic in a way no American movie could be: Sholay

Here is the most successful modern BW movie -- for me, the archetypal BW movie: Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge Some people think it is the most romantic movie ever. Nope. Dil Se is the most romantic movie ever.

Here is my (American) kids and their (American) friends' favorite movie, the one they always put on when there is nothing else to watch: Kal Ho Naa Ho

Here is the first movie I ever saw, the one that showed me my heart spoke Hindi five years ago (this is, in fact, the first song in that movie -- "holy shit!" said I "this is a musical?"): Asoka

Here are the kind of over-the-top self-parodic wackstravaganzas that some (wrongly) think are what all BW is, and (wrongly) think are unintentionally hilarious: Kismat (what costumes), Naksha (killer dancing jungle midgets), Andaz Apna Apna (Crime Master Go-go!)

Enjoy -- tell me what you end up watching!
posted by Methylviolet at 11:01 AM on June 28, 2007 [8 favorites]

That's what I get for writing a book.
The Rising (aka Mangal Pandey) rocked -- amazing music. More.
posted by Methylviolet at 11:21 AM on June 28, 2007

Seconding Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. It's one of the more comprehensible megahits for a neophyte Westerner, in part because its director was going for a mix of Archie Comics and Beverly Hills 90210 through a Bollywood lens. (It's also the film that made Shahrukh Khan a megastar, I think, but I could be wrong about that.)

Lagaan's great as well, but not a typical Bollywood film - more plot-driven and socially conscious, less glitzy, no clingy-sari-in-the-mountains-in-the-rain dancing (if I recall correctly).
posted by gompa at 11:21 AM on June 28, 2007

*/Don't watch Lagaan. Lagaan is a good movie, with terrific music but... it was made for a Western audience and it feels like a Western movie. If you and your group are wanting something new, don't mess around with gateway drugs like Lagaan. Mainline joy with the real thing.
posted by Methylviolet at 11:46 AM on June 28, 2007

I forgot about Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, and DDLJ. It's awesome there are so many Bollywood fans here.

Asoka is good but not great - it's not really one of the seminal works of Bollywood.

Also, do you have NetFlix? If you like the movies you see, get Netflix. They have a fantastic selection of Bollywood movies!
posted by unexpected at 11:59 AM on June 28, 2007

I really love Teesri Manzil. Shammi Kapoor was extremely cute back in the day.
posted by MsElaineous at 12:06 PM on June 28, 2007

Khal Nayak was always a favorite of mine.

The main song - Choli ke piche - was actually banned due to overtly sexual lyrics, and then reinstated later due to popular demand (its' a good song!)

Plus, the guy on the cover of the DVD looks like a Hindi Stevie Ray Vaughn.

posted by Cycloptichorn at 2:19 PM on June 28, 2007

How about Taal? Too obvious?
posted by schoolgirl report at 6:10 PM on June 28, 2007

Hum Tum or Kal Ho Na Ho
posted by WizKid at 10:35 AM on June 29, 2007

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