5 Reasons Why You Should Watch Bollywood

For almost as long as I can remember I’ve had a special fascination with India.  I’m not sure how it started, but I do remember reading a lot of books about other countries & cultures, including India, as a child.  (Yes, I was & still am a real nerd.)  In fact, as I may have mentioned on this blog before, I remember determining as a kid that I was going to marry an Indian man when I grew up.  This is pretty hilarious considering I grew up in a town with maybe one, and I do mean one, Indian family.  (As it turns out I married a white man, just for the record.)  Anyway, three years ago when I graduated from nursing school & first started working night shift, I discovered Bollywood films on Netflix.  One night when I was up late with nothing much to do, I just decided to watch one.  I honestly don’t remember which movie I watched first or why that particular one intrigued me enough to give it a try, but in any case I’ve been hooked on Bollywood ever since.  Here are five reasons why you should be too.Taj Mahal

  1. The music: Indian music is very different than Western music. Rhythmically & stylistically it’s just a whole different world.  But it’s beautiful!  Nevermind the fact that the lyrics rarely translate well into English, the music itself is just gorgeous.  I know some people can’t understand the idea of listening to music in a language you don’t understand, but sometimes I think it’s easier to really appreciate music for exactly what it is when you aren’t distracted by the actual words (if that makes any sense).
  2. The dancing: Going in hand in hand with the music, Bollywood films are often filled with lots of dancing. If you don’t like Western musicals, this might initially be a turn-off, but I implore you to give these movies a try anyway.  Indian dancing is very different than Western dancing, although you can definitely see elements of Western influence from time to time.  There are certainly plenty of Indian films that contain very little or no dancing, other than perhaps during the credits at the end, but most do have at least one or two dancing scenes.  Yes, the music & dancing contribute to the fact that most Indian films are 2-2.5 hours long, but trust me, you won’t even notice the extra length because of how fascinating the music & dancing are.bollywood dance
  3. The gorgeous people: Bollywood films are quite literally a feast for the eyes. Both the men & women are just drop-dead gorgeous.  While the female stars are definitely on the skinnier side, I can’t help but notice that they are not as skeletally thin as most Hollywood actresses.  To me this contributes to them being even more beautiful.  If you’re not yet convinced that you should give Bollywood a try, run a quick Google image search on a few of these names & you might change your mind: Shahid Kapoor.  Imran Khan (the younger one).  Arjun Kapoor.  John Abraham.  Ranveer Singh.  Shushant Singh Rajput.  Anushka Sharma.  Sonam Kapoor.  Kareena Kapoor.  Vidya Balan.  Parineeti Chopra.  Priyanka Chopra . . . See what I mean? jab we met
  4. The stories: Bollywood is probably most famous for romantic films but there are plenty of comedies, thrillers, & horror films as well, even sci-fi. I tend to stick with mostly romances or romantic comedies, but regardless of the genre these people really know how to tell a story.  Yes, the stories are spun a bit differently than most Hollywood films, but that is exactly what makes them so fascinating.  I don’t know about y’all, but Hollywood rarely impresses me anyway.  As a side note, I’m definitely not the first person to observe that Bollywood films contain considerably less sex than American films.  While I don’t necessarily have a problem with sex in movies & there are plenty of Bollywood films that do include sex, I also appreciate the way that Bollywood films somehow make even a hug extremely sexy.  Quite often there isn’t even a kiss until the very end of the movie, but trust me there is no lack of chemistry in Bollywood, far from it indeed.  (I’m sure the dancing contributes to this somewhat.)arjun kapoor 2
  5. The fascinating culture: Perhaps the most compelling reason to watch Bollywood films is that learning about a different culture is just plain fascinating & so much more rewarding than watching movies about your own culture. I’m sure there are plenty of things I miss in these movies because I don’t understand more than a handful of Hindi words, but the sub-titles are more than sufficient to help me understand the stories.  Additionally watching movies in a different language forces you to realize how much communication & human interaction are influenced by things other than the exact words people say.  While I appreciate the fact that Bollywood provides only a small glimpse into real Indian life & culture, just as Hollywood is far from a perfect picture of American/Western culture, I still find this glimpse into Indian culture fascinating.  I won’t pretend that I like everything I see because it’s quite apparent from watching these movies (& reading various articles) that there are some serious societal problems in India, particularly the stark contrast between the wealthy & the poor & the treatment of women.  But it’s not like Hollywood doesn’t reveal a lot of serious problems with American culture too.

To get you started, I’m including a list of ten of my favorite Bollywood films, many of which can be found on instant on Netflix.

  1. Jab We Met: This romance centers on a couple who meets on a train & is probably my all-time favorite Bollywood moviejab we met 2
  2. Dil Bole Hadippa: This romantic comedy about a woman who joins an all-male cricket team has a Twelfth Night vibe. You do NOT need to understand cricket to understand this movie, by the way.  This film also has a LOT to say about the state of women in India.dil bole hadippa
  3. Ishaqzaade: A romance/thriller with a Romeo & Juliet vibe that contains electrifying music aside from the thrilling story/romanceishaqzaade
  4. Band Baaja Baaraat: A romantic comedy that centers on the wedding-planning industryband baaja baaraat
  5. Shuddh Desi Romance: This romance examines commitment, live-in relationships, & the push for early marriage in India & how all of this affects the current generation of 20-somethings.shuddh desi romance
  6. Mere Brother Ki Dulhan: In this romance, a man sets out to find a bride for his brother only to fall in love with her himself.mere brother ki dulhan
  7. Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu: A couple meets & gets married in Vegas while drunk . . . The next morning they’re horrified to find what they’ve done. But what happens when one of them starts actually falling in love?ek main aur ekk tu
  8. Bewakoofiyaan: This romantic comedy focuses on the hardships of romance in a less than stellar economy & is extremely relevant to all 20-somethings today. Also the girl’s father is just plain hilarious.Bewakoofiyaan_Poster
  9. Kaminey: This thriller stars Shahid Kapoor playing identical twins with vastly different personalities & life choiceskaminey
  10. Wake Up Sid: In this romance, an unmotivated young man moves in with a female friend & is inspired to transform his life.wake up sid

Something New: A Movie Review!

For today’s blog post I thought I would try something a bit different, a movie review. Perhaps if you get bored this weekend this will give you something to check out on Netflix.

As some of you may know I have long been fascinated with Indian culture (Indian as in India, just to be clear since Christopher Columbus has forever made that term ambiguous). In fact when I was a little girl I remember thinking I was surely going to marry an Indian guy or at the very least someone with brown skin from a culture that was not American. Which is pretty hilarious considering where I grew up & the number of Indian (or other Asian) people there (basically zero). In any case because of my fascination with Indian culture I watch lots of Bollywood or other Indian-inspired films on Netflix. Quite conveniently these are mostly of the instant streaming variety.

Last night I rewatched one of my favorite Indian-inspired films, Kissing Cousins. It’s actually an independent American film but the characters are mostly Indian (& thus gorgeous which is always a plus with these type of movies). The main character Amir is a thirty year-old bachelor whose friends are all starting to settle down & get married & thus begin bothering him about doing the same. His career is an odd one; he is a relationship terminator. In other words, people hire him to do their break-ups for them. I know, it’s an odd premise but the film is in LA so it’s not that unlikely that such a career actually exists out there. At Thanksgiving Amir decides to visit his family in Northern CA, something he rarely does, so they are surprised when he unexpectedly shows up. As it turns out his cousin Zara from England is visiting the U.S. & staying in his old room. Amir & Zara have hated each other ever since childhood when they were reenacting Prince Charles & Lady Diana’s wedding with their other cousins/siblings & Amir kissed Zara which then provoked her to bash him in the head with a shovel. Keep in mind this was twenty years ago. Well, after the Thanksgiving meal is over & Amir is ready to head back to LA, his parents suggest that Zara accompany him so she can see Southern CA. At first the cousins are reticent because of their antagonistic history but eventually they agree to forget the past & try to be friends as adults.

So Zara accompanies Amir back to LA & moves into his apartment, intending only to stay a few days. Naturally Amir introduces her to his friends & on a whim Zara, knowing Amir’s romantic situation (or lack thereof), introduces herself as his girlfriend instead of his cousin. Amir decides to go along with the ruse so his friends will stop annoying him about finding a girlfriend. Naturally this is where things begin to get complicated (I’m reminded of the old English adage “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive”).

I won’t expound much more on the plot for fear of ruining the film for those of you who might actually care to watch this, but I will say it’s one of my favorite movies. The characters are interesting & it raises some perplexing questions about the nature of relationships between men & women. I know a lot of people will be grossed out just by the title Kissing Cousins & what that implies but I can assure you the point of this movie isn’t that cousins should hook up or get married. I guess what I really like about this movie is that it reinforces the idea that the best romantic relationships are grounded in friendship which is something our society still doesn’t totally grasp. (And also if you decide to get drunk, be careful who you do it with.) How many times have you heard girls say “Well, he’s cute & he’s my friend but we could never date.” I always want to slap someone when I hear this. Are these people even listening to themselves & how ridiculous they sound? I know it is possible to be friends with someone of the opposite sex & have absolutely no attraction to them whatsoever but honestly that is rare. Usually there is some sort of chemistry there . . . It’s just human nature, it’s ok, & it doesn’t mean anything HAS to happen between you especially if one or both of you aren’t single.  I often hear people say relationships are so complicated which is interesting because just the other day my husband said exactly the opposite to me. I thought about it for a minute & I agreed with him. Relationships really don’t have to be that complicated if they are grounded in friendship. Of course life is complicated & that can affect things.  In any case, this film is just an interesting look at relationships & the chemistry between people. And I for one love movies that make you stop & think a bit, that challenge your ideas of right/wrong. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for something a bit “off beat” to watch this weekend. Cheers!