Guest Post: Falling in love with Bollywood, no language experience necessary

Guest post by: Sunita Lancaster

I love Bollywood films! I only speak minimal Hindi, but that doesn't ever stop me. My friends always give me that "look" when I tell them about my Bollywood fascination. The singing and dancing, the over-the-top style and eyebrows, but most of all, I love the drama. The drama that you don’t need words to understand. The drama that makes you laugh or wince or snortle (that last one might just be me).

You might be wondering, like my friends, how I fell in love with these films when I often don’t understand a word that they’re saying. But the mistake my friends are making is thinking that they need to understand the words to understand what's happening. If you've never watched a good anime with the subtitles turned off or replaced the soundtrack of Return of the Jedi with your favorite pop album you’re absolutely missing out. A lightsaber duel set to Katy Perry is a life changing experience.

That’s Bollywood in a nutshell. It’s a great soundtrack with great choreography set to some of the best clichĂ©s of Hollywood. It’s like a spoof that isn’t trying. I dare you to try it just once and see if you don’t agree. And just to make it a little easier for you, let me set you on your way with a few great options.

One of the best dramedies of last year. And I don’t just mean Bollywood dramedies. This is the film I use to convince my friends that they have to give Bollywood a try. A young woman’s fiancĂ© breaks off their marriage a day before the wedding and she decided to go on her honeymoon to Paris alone. This movie is a first great step into the world of Bollywood as it’s a great blend of Holly and Bollywood. In place of the traditional singing and dancing scenes Americans might expect, the music in this film fits the scene and matches the tone. While a great starting place it doesn't really give you the full Bollywood experience.

This is actually not a Bollywood film, but instead a 2015 Marathi language remake of a 2006 Malayalam language film by the same name. But despite not being an actual Bollywood film, this is my first pick for people who really want to try the Bollywood experience. Set in college during 1995, anyone who's been to school in the past thirty years will find plenty to enjoy in this film. The fast cuts and choreography are to die for, and the film’s take on 90s fashion alone will make you laugh constantly. Just watch it and then thank me later.

Gulaab Gang: Gulaab Gang actually flopped in the box office, apparently, but is one of my favorite action flicks. It’s not Guardians of the Galaxy, but more of a The Hunger Games: Mockingjay. A group of oppressed women come together in an ashrama (school/monastery) to support each other and live the lives they want to. This one, like Classmates, jumps from serious to full comedy in the blink of an eye, but the mix of action and comedy makes it feel more like a good Kung Fu flick than comedy spoof. You really believe these women are fighting for their futures, and even that they’re doing it in pink saris.

So there you go: three great options to check out from Bollywood. Give it a try and then tell me your life hasn’t been changed for the better.

About the author:
Sunita grew up in India and moved to the U.S. for college and fell in love with Chicago where she’s lived since. She’s an avid movie fan, with eclectic tastes - everything and anything from the classic black and whites up to the new Marvel movies. Her current passion is introducing American audiences to the delight that is Indian cinema.

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