From Bombay to your local Blockbuster
It's the largest film industry in the world. It starts with a "B," (as in Bombay), and rhymes with Hollywood. Just in case you still don't get it, we're talking about Bollywood – the Indian film industry that produces around a 1000 movies a year, twice that of Hollywood.
So, how can you recognize a Bollywood film? Well, to start off, Bollywood films are usually in Hindi, the predominant language in India. Movies usually last around three hours. And chances are, you'll think you're watching a musical because every ten minutes or so, a number of the actors will break out into song and dance. Don't be scared if the actors change clothes around 20 times within the five or so minutes of the song, or if the background switches between the Eiffel Tower and the Swiss Alps. Instead, sit back and admire the (usually) beautiful choreography of the dances and the songs themselves.
Whether the movie falls under comedy or action, drama or horror, if it's Indian, it will most likely have some element of romance to it. Bollywood movies are incomplete without a love triangle (or square, or pentagon). Even then, don't expect any kissing. That is too scandalous for the Indian public to watch, though that seems to be changing with time as the films are becoming more "westernized."
Now, everyone can join in on the Bollywood fun because these films are trickling into your local Blockbuster or library. They come with subtitles, so don't fear if you can't understand Hindi! To help you start out, we, Poorva, Priyanka and Rachita – Silver Chips Online's self-dubbed Bollywood experts – have chosen ten films that have made it big at the box office.
The movie is a classic but the scenes felt like they dragged on for a bit. But whatever flaws the movie might have had, the absolutely gorgeous song-and-dance numbers made up for it. Dixit is a stunning dancer and so it's always a pleasure to see her lively Bollywood steps as a song comes on.
Priyanka: For me, "Devdas" was a little boring at times, but its timelessness and class make up for the length, which might be a turn-off for amateur Bollywood film-viewers. This movie is also acclaimed for the cast, which has award-winning actresses Dixit and Rai.
Rachita: I have to agree with Poorva – the songs make up for the movie's length and frequent ability to bore.
"Dhoom" was an entertaining movie to say the least. I loved the songs (quite unlike in the follow up of this movie, "Dhoom 2").
Priyanka: This movie's plot is trite and its characters are all superficial and shallow. But its cool action effects, banging soundtrack and attractive actors absolve it of all its flaws.
Rachita: Action lovers will enjoy "Dhoom" and its newly released sequel "Dhoom 2." The second installment pairs Dixit with a new thief and spins into a wildly entertaining two hours of car chases and explosions.
Title: Dil Chahta Hai
Some parts could be made shorter, but it's still worth watching the movie. The actors deliver fine performances and "Dil Chatha Hai" seems to be a hit with today's generation.
Priyanka: This movie is a really good one for anyone to watch. It has humor, drama and an all-star cast…not to mention a ton of English words thrown in everywhere (but that falls under "humor"!).
Rachita: Probably the most "westernized" movie on our list, this film goes deeper into human emotions than usual Bollywood flicks, making it entertaining and engaging.
Title: Hera Pheri
Hilarious – that pretty much sums it up. Paresh Rawal delivers a brilliant performance. Yes, the jokes get a bit corny at times, but hey, that's what Bollywood comedies are all about.
Priyanka: If you're not into movies about stupid people getting into stupid scenarios, then steer clear of "Hera Pheri." But, if you enjoy the occasional immature comedy, then give it a try! Be warned: "Hera Pheri" has a lot of characters with long, similar names, which might make viewing confusing for the inexperienced Hindi film connoisseur.
Rachita: Paresh Rawal is India's Sacha Cohen – ridiculously funny.
Title: Kal Ho Naa Ho
"Kal Ho Naa" Ho is such a cute movie (and not just because Saif Ali Khan is in it). The first half of the film is sweet and funny but after the intermission, the drama begins. I know you want to know what Aman's secret is, so go watch the movie…today. Because tomorrow might never come.
Priyanka: This is one of Bollywood's best recent productions. It tackles issues like extramarital affairs, which directors generally shy away from. Another plus is that the movie takes place in New York City and is filled with English words, which makes it easier to understand.
Rachita: For me, this movie was the usual Indian love story with a little extra drama disguised as depth. Where it shines is in the personable characters.
Title: Khabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham
To start out, the cast is amazing (if you take away flaky Kareena Kapoor). They know how to act. Kajol makes the movie fun with her goofy role. Watch this movie to get a sense of what Bollywood really is. By the way, the soundtrack is beautiful.
Priyanka: "K3G" seems like an intense movie, but it's really not – there are many funny parts and a lot of spontaneous dance scenes (like any other Indian movie). Just be warned, the movie runs 210 minutes, so make sure that you have a lot of patience, time and tissues.
Rachita: This movie truthfully depicts Indian family relationships, taking it beyond your average Bollywood love story. As an added bonus, the scenes with Kareena Kapoor are hilarious!
Title: Kaho Na Pyar Hai
The movie seems to be the typical Indian movie – boy loves girl but they can't get married. Yet it's a pleasure to watch, probably because I get to see Hrithik Roshan dancing!
Priyanka: "Kaho Na Pyar Hai" movie has a crazy, unbelievable plot. This lack of "realism" is kind of fun in movies!
Rachita: "Kaho Na Pyar Hai" was basically a vehicle to launch Hrithik Roshan into Bollywood. But by no means is that a bad thing, as this movie is fun and entertaining.
I have yet to find a person who has not liked this movie. Though it lasts for over three hours, "Lagaan" seems much shorter than that as the plot is well thought out and entertaining. Not to forget, the songs in the movie are great – I can listen to the soundtrack forever.
Priyanka: "Lagaan" is amazing. If you're not into history or know absolutely nothing about India-Britain relations, watch it anyway – it's that good. Plus, it has a stellar soundtrack – what more could you ask for?
Rachita: No one can complain that "Lagaan" is the "typical" boy-loves-girl-but-they-can't-get-married Bollywood mess. It's honest and engaging, especially at its climax when Bhuvan's band of villagers takes on the British officers in an intense three-day cricket match.
Title: Munna Bhai M.B.B.S.
This movie stars the usually irritating and annoying Sanjay Dutt, but I still think it's amazing. That's saying something. "Munna Bhai M.B.B.S." is both sweet and funny, and one of my favorite movies. If you're in the mood for a laugh, definitely see this movie.
Priyanka: For some reason, I really dislike this film. But, everyone (including all of my family members and friends) disagree, so give it a chance! Watch out, though, a lot of the humor in the movie relates to Indian culture, so some of the jokes might leave you thinking "What?!?!?"
Rachita: I'm in between Poorva and Priyanka for this movie. But if you like it, then check out the sequel, "Lage Raho Munna Bhai."
Every Indian person knows of Amitabh Bachchan for his amazing action films (from when he was young, that is). Watch "Sholay," and you'll know why. My parents have probably seen the movie 50 million times but it still remains a great movie to watch for our generation. The plot, the acting, the songs, the dialogue and basically everything, is great.
Priyanka: This movie channels the feel of old American westerns. If you're into good old fight scenes, stereotypical villains and classic movies, check out "Sholay."
Rachita: Although the special effects are a little outdated, this movie is heralded as Bollywood's best. Consider it an initiation into Indian cinema.
Priyanka Gokhale. More »
Poorva Singal. More »
Rachita Sood. Rachita Sood wants you to tell her a joke. She probably won't get it, but she'll laugh anyways. In the little free time she has, Rachita enjoys jammin' to ROXANNE, dressing in earth-toned clothes and munching on Peeps. More »