Oh, Bollywood

Want to know a secret? Did ya know that I'm Indian? *gasp* *shock* SACRE BLEU! HOW CAN IT BE? Yes, friends, it is true. I descend from a long line of brown people, but worry not - I am a coconut through and through (brown on the outside, white on the inside). My parents moved from the motherland to the US in the late 80s and I was born shortly there after. My Indian heritage has had a huge impact on several aspects of my life (holidays, food, customs, morals, religion, etc.) but nothing has been more influential than Bollywood.

Changing Lightbulbs in my Backyard (Photo cred: Hillary Weiss)

Bollywood movies are a unique blend of every genre.... yes every genre. Almost every Bollywood movie includes copious amounts of romance, comedy, action, drama, and song/dance sequences. Oh, and wind machines. Lots and lots of wind machines. Now, you're probably asking yourselves... How in the hell can one movie encompass all of that? Simple! Every Bollywood movie is at least 3.5 hours long. But don't worry - there's always an intermission for you to go use the restroom and reload on masala chai and spicy popcorn. Yuuuuuuuuuum.

For this week's Bear Picks post, I'm going to share with you some of my all time favorite Bollywood movies. Most of these are available on Netflix, so if you're ever bored on a rainy night, YOU'RE TOTALLY WELCOME.

  1. Rang de Basanti - By far, my most favorite Indian movie to date. It's got less 'changing lightbulbs' and more real substance. Follow some of the most inspiring tales from both India's history and modern day government corruption. I could watch this movie a thousand times more and still not be sick of it. (more info)
  2. Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge - Also known as the movie that reigned over my childhood, is better than any Disney movie ever created, and ruined my romantic expectations for life. FOR LIFE. But I still love it dearly and every year I watch it again. And every year it teaches me something new about life and love and the pursuit of happiness. This movie also may or may not be the reason I want to take an epic trip through Europe by train... I need me a Raj Malhotra in my life. (more info)
  3. Lagaan - Another stellar performance by Aamir Khan! British rule, Indian revolution, and cricket all wrapped into one action packed movie. Nominated for an Oscar, this movie is definitely one to watch, especially if you love sports. (more info)
  4. Bunty aur Babli - This one is a bit more silly and frivolous, but still an excellent movie. Imagine Bonnie & Clyde... but brown. Yeah. That just happened. Watch as these two characters reel in the dough with cons that will have you DYING of laughter. Also, if I could just have ALL of Rani Mukherjee's more traditional outfits from this movie, my wardrobe would be eternally grateful. (more info)
  5. Jab We Met - Another slightly silly romantic comedy, but ohmygod Shahid Kapoor. I can't really explain why I'm so in love with this actor, but my love for him is so great that I was able to endure three hours of Kareena Kapoor. Who I hate. With a fiery passion. If nothing else, watch this movie for some of the best choreography in Bollywood. (more info)
  6. Slumdog Millionaire - I'm sure that most of you guys have seen this, but it's definitely worth mentioning. I love this movie for not being afraid to show the darker, dirtier side of Mumbai. The portrayals of the slums are more than accurate and it's a shame that such poverty exists in India, but it's important to recognize it. In Mumbai, the slums are literally right next to some of the most wealthy neighborhoods. It's not something that can be easily ignored or avoided, and the world needs to know. I loved everything about this movie, except the song and dance sequence at the end. If you sing Jai Ho to me, we may not be able to be friends anymore. (more info)
  7. Jodha Akbar  - I just recently watched this movie for the first time and I was absolutely blown away. Firstly, it tells the story of what may very well have been the first inter-religious marriage in India: between Mughal emperor Akbar and Rajasthani Princess Jodha. Aside from the plot being absolutely enthralling, the costumes and sets are literally breathtaking! It also doesn't hurt that I've visited one of the palaces featured and filmed in the movie - Amber Fort. (more info)
  8. Veer Zaara - Another heart warming love story, this time between an Indian bloke and a Pakistani chicky. I'm a sucker for any and all Shah Rukh Khan movies, and this one was definitely one of my favorites. Again it offers some truly stunning costume and set design, but not to be missed is the hauntingly beautiful sound track. Additionally, the movie gives some really lovely insight into life in India in the smaller villages - it's not all about them big cities! (more info)
  9. Sarkar - Amitabh Bachchan is the hero of Bollywood, and this movie (and his role) were MADE for him. I'm convinced. I've been told that this movie is the Indian version of The Godfather, but I've never seen The Godfather, so I wouldn't know. The movie follows the inner workings of the Indian mafia and all the massive violence and corruption that inevitably follows. Truly fantastic. (more info)
  10. Sholay - This might be the best movie ever created within Bollywood, and it's ANCIENT (at least according to me). I don't even want to try and describe it to you because words fail me. I remember watching this movie as a child, and many of the songs and catch phrases hold a very special place in my heart. This movie always reminds me of home, family, friendship, and my undying love for my heritage. (more info)

And that's my list! Granted, it's a very short list considering that EVERY YEAR Bollywood releases about ONE THOUSAND movies. In my opinion, most of them are awful. But every once in a while you find a gem and fall in love with the Indian movie industry all over again.

As a rule, I'd watch any movie with Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan, or Amitabh Bachchan. I would also listen to any audio book featuring Amitabh's voice, because he is the Morgan Freeman of Bollywood.

Have any of you seen an Bollywood movies? What are some of your favorites? I love to hear from you, so please drop it all in the comments below! And if you check out any of these movies, I'd love to hear your take on them! I'm always down to pow-wow about ridiculous Bollywood moments. (Aka, how do they change their outfits so quickly mid song? AND HOW DID THEY JUST TRAVEL FROM THE BEACH TO A SNOW COVERED MOUNTAIN? AND HOW IN THE WORLD DO ALL THESE RANDOM PEDESTRIANS KNOW ALL THIS SPORADIC CHOREOGRAPHY?) Drop me a line anytime, lovers!

Saving up for my own little wind machine, xx Nikbear