Ever since I started blogging, aside from a couple of reviews from the Indian Film Industry, most of my reviews have been about films made in the US. I think it is about time I did a little bit in promoting the wonderful cinema that is being produced in my own country, India.
Just a quick note to inform the worldwide public that most of the people in the Indian Film Industry and a whole lot of citizens of India do not like the title "Bollywood" that has become so popular internationally. It's pretty much considered degrading and disrespectful to a vastly talented and original film industry. So it would be nice if everyone recognized the Indian Film Industry as just that and not a re-hash of Hollywood.
So here is a list of just a few of my favorite Indian films. I would like to warn you that you might be shocked to learn that a number of these do not contain any lavish music or dance sequences :-)
Udaan (2010) - Udaan (Flight) is one of the few indian films reviewed on my blog. It is a brilliant coming-of-age film that traces the journey of a teenager returning to his authoritarian father after many years in a boarding school. The performances from all the actors are simply brilliant and the story is as real as it can be. One of the few recent releases that have gone under my all time favorites.
Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron (1983) - JDBY (Let It Go Friends) is a comic satire on the corruption that handicaps India and one which is unfortunately as true today as it was when the film was released in 1983. The movie is about two photographers who want nothing more than to run a successful photo shop, but due to unfortunate events get entangled in a murder that takes them from beautiful newspaper journalists, to shady business tycoons, to the middle of a rather modern theatrical performance of Ramaya (which is till date one of the most comic scenes in the history of Indian Cinema). It was also responsible for kickstarting the career of some of India's most prominent actors. If you find the movie interesting make sure you give Manjula Negi's article "It Just Happened" a read. Link to the article - http://www.openthemagazine.com/article/art-culture/it-just-happened
Khosla Ka Ghosla (2006) - Khosla Ka Ghosla (Khosla's Nest) is once again a look at real life. The movie follows a middle class family's ordeals as they try to recover a plot of land illegally taken over by a local property dealer. Done in a light heartedly subtle comical fashion, the movie doubles as a con caper film as well.
Note: "Khosla" is a common Indian surname.
Lagaan (2001) - Probably one of the most well known and popular Indian films, Lagaan (Tax) is a fictionalized period drama that is based in India during the British Raj. It has some great characters, dance, music, and in a nutshell its about a village's quest to get rid of the yearly tax they have to pay to the British by playing a cricket match against them. Please, even if you are not familiar with cricket, do not let is hold you from watching the movie.
Ek Ruka Hua Faisla (1986) - Loosely translated it means "A held up judgement", but what it really is, is a remake of "12 Angry Men". I have watched this film many a times over the years and just happened to watch 12 Angry Men recently. Maybe it is my fondness for the Indian version, or maybe I found that the supporting characters in the original lacked the depth found in the remake, I do prefer the Indian version a whole lot more. So, have a go at it, even if it is to compare the two.
Dil Chahta Hai (2001) - "The Heart Wants" or Dil Chahta Hai is another coming-of-age film following three friends as they learn about relationships, friendship, love, work and pretty much everything else that life is all about. Once again a great cast and interesting story with strong performances make this a must watch film. The film also had a very urban feel and look to it, and having lived in a metropolitan city all my life, it was something me and my friends could easily relate to.
Rang De Basanti (Pain It Yellow) (2008) - So, another coming-of-age film of sorts (Yes! I see a pattern here as well), the movie looks at the youth of India through its main characters. What the film brilliantly does is portrays their thought process, their beliefs, and their aspirations by giving them all dual identities. In the present time they are all college going individuals, but in a process of making a documentary they each relive an important character from India's freedom struggle. The movie moves seamlessly between the two eras and culminates as the lost young souls realize the importance of their identity and eventually take drastic measures to rid our nation of corruption. Inspirational and heartening are two words that really describe the movie.
Bluffmaster (2005) - I am sure a whole lot of my fellow countrymen and women will cringe at the fact that I recommended this movie as a must watch. The reason why I do recommend it is because it has good song and dance sequences (you didn't think you could get out of it... did you?), it makes use of multiple starts who go about doing their jobs commendably, and lastly it is about a conman, so you know you will have a pretty good twist at the end. Now, I am not going to name the english movie it is loosely based on, but it does take some inspiration from it. Nevertheless, this rather modern film is perfect for some light fun viewing.
Satya (1998) - The South East Asian film industry is in a league of its own. They have specially been known for making some phenomenal gangster based films. So, being part of Asia, India was not going to be left behind. Satya (Truth) is the journey of a young man from the time he comes to Mumbai to his untimely death. It is also a hard hitting look at the Mumbai underworld and the lives of the various people who are drawn into a lifestyle of guns, women, and shady deals. Watch it for its raw feel and for the various characters, each of whom makes the movie his/her own.
Iqbal (2005) - Iqbal is a story about, well Iqbal. An 18-year-old deaf and dumb village boy who has only one aspiration and that is to play in India's National Cricket Team. The story is less about cricket, but more about facing adversities in life and aiming towards your goal. Iqbal, in this journey of his, on one hand faces criticism from his coach and father, but on the other hand has his sister and a washed up ex-cricketer who support and guide him towards success. The movie is simply a reminder that you should never let go of your dream and hard work always pays off.
So there you have it. 10 films from India that are a must watch. They are all available on DVD and all come with english subtitles. So, if ever in the mood for some foreign (or local if you are from India and have not seen any of the above) film watching, do give these movies a try. You will not be disappointed.