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May 25, 2004 10:45 AM   Subscribe

Bollywood movie recommendations? [more inside]

My wife finds she has a liking for Bollywood movies (she enjoyed a couple she happened to see on TV, loved the Bollywoodesque Monsoon Wedding and lately we've ordered some from Amazon (UK): Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam for starters, followed by Dil Chahta Hai, which just arrived today). I quite enjoy them too, & would like to order more, but am still very ignorant on the subject. What are the must-see mainstream Bollywood blockbusters? Who are the actors/directors to watch out for? Are there any good on-line resources in English for non-Indians wanting to find out more about Indian movies? Are there better (i.e. cheaper) places to buy English-subtitled Bollywood DVDs than Amazon? Are there any movies where Salman Khan gets the girl?
posted by misteraitch to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Tangental: what is the deal with the little boy who doesn't talk in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai? Just random comic relief or is he some kind of traditional Indian character that a native audience would recognize?
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 11:47 AM on May 25, 2004

Salon did a good Top 10 list a while ago.

So far I've only seen "Zubeidaa" (via Netflix). I enjoyed it quite a bit, although it was very long by American film standards.
posted by JoanArkham at 12:00 PM on May 25, 2004

Not mainstream, but I would highly recommend Earth (about Partition) and Fire (about arranged marriage and illicit relationships), both directed by Deepa Mehta. Also Salaam Bombay!, which was directed by Mina Nair (same person who did Monsoon Wedding). all of the above are depressing, heartrending but moving and worthwhile films, far more so than most Bollywood products.

For more lighthearted stories, I'd recommend Taal. and definitely second 'Kuch Kuch...' and Dil Chahta Hai
posted by darsh at 12:17 PM on May 25, 2004

On reading that Salon list, would have to second "Lagaan", and "Mughal-e-Azam" . I was bored to tears by "Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham" (or K3G).
posted by darsh at 12:21 PM on May 25, 2004

Netflix has a pretty good selection of Indian/Bollywood movies, if you'd like to rent before you buy.

Personally I tend to prefer Satyajit Ray's films to the musical masala movies, but Sholay is a super-classic of that latter genre.
posted by hashashin at 1:58 PM on May 25, 2004

If you're in the US, Eros Entertainment has a big collection of DVDs for you to rent.

I'll now give you a brief rundown of Indian movies (note: I was born & brought up in India, hence I'm sick & tired of them. That may get reflected below.)

Bollywood movies, unfortunately, tend to follow a few set patterns. They're all generally love stories. Since cinema was/is considered the opiate of the Indian masses, movie-makers tend to populate a movie with all elements like comedy(slapstick), (melo)drama, romance...etc. So, in general, there aren't distinct genres like comedy, action or romance, although a few movies might be that way.

I divide Bollywood into time periods. 50s-early 60s, early 60s-late 60s, 70s-early 80s, early 80s-early 90s, mid 90s-present (the last grouping is still fluid as movies have undergone some changes in the last 5 years, although in many ways, they're still the same).

Some famous actors/directors: Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand, Guru Dutt, Shammi & Shashi Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan, Rajesh Khanna, Sanjeev Kumar, Dharmendra, Vinod Khanna. (Unfortunately, males were consistently the dominant personae earlier). You want to look up their filmographies and rent their notable works.

Some representative movies: Awaara, Anari, Shri 420, Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi, Jaagte Raho, Mother India, Junglee, Kaagaz Ke Phool, Pyaasa, Mughal-e-Azam, Sangam, Teesri Manzil, Jewel Thief, Anand, Zanjeer, Sholay, Deewar, Amar Akbar Anthony, Shakti(1982), Mera Naam Joker, Chandni, Henna, Saajan, Roja, Bombay, Satya. Having watched this list, you'll pretty much seen some of the best that Bollywood has to offer.
posted by Gyan at 2:44 PM on May 25, 2004

That Salon journalist is crazy. Half those movies wouldn't make the Best of Past Decade list (KKKG, DevDas, Asoka, Kaho Na Pyar Hai). But then I'm very jaded, so, cum grano salis
posted by Gyan at 2:50 PM on May 25, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks for your suggestions, everyone!
posted by misteraitch at 12:32 AM on May 26, 2004

Response by poster: A quick follow-up, in case anyone interested browses by: this site looks like a good source for Bollywood news'n'reviews.
posted by misteraitch at 2:59 AM on June 4, 2004

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