Aman and I really enjoy sharing our favorite movies with each other. We get to know more about each other and our respective cultures. Movies give us a crash course in pop culture, inside jokes, and memes that would be otherwise hard to explain. After we watched Princess Bride (because of course we did), Aman was amazed at just how many references proliferate the internet, even after all this time. He’d never noticed them before because they had no relevance to him. Now they are everywhere. One might say it’s “inconceivable.”
Aman has a healthy appreciation for Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings (as he should), but he’s absolutely in love with You’ve Got Mail. He’d like to live inside that movie. Sleepless in Seattle is up there as well. For TV shows, we are both desperately awaiting the return of This Is Us so that we can weep openly and frequently.
I wanted to write a bit about Indian movies that I have enjoyed so far because before moving to India, I didn’t know much about the film industry aside from Bollywood (where there’s a bunch of dancing and high-pitched singing). We’ve watched old movies from his childhood, recent movies in theaters, comedies, dramas, and some really terrible action movies that completely disregard the laws of physics. In no particular order, here are my favorites:
If you think that barfi is a dessert, you’d be right. It’s also the nickname of the titular character in one of my favorite dramadies (that’s drama / comedy). Barfi is deaf and mute young man who is charming, imaginative, full of practical jokes, and in pursuit of love. At first sight, he falls in love with the well-to-do Shruti who can’t help but to fall for him as well. However, her parents convince her to marry someone with money and stability instead.
Through a series of events that are too involved to get into now, Barfi ends up caring for an autistic woman named Jhilmil (played by the unrecognizable Priyanka Chopra Jonas). Shortly after Barfi and Jhilmil fall in love with each other, Shruti shows back up and complicates an already complicated relationship.
One reason I like this movie is because with a mute character, I have less subtitles to read. But also, it is a very unique and interesting storyline for me. It doesn’t have a fairytale happy ending, but a more realistic yet still satisfying ending.
This movie is gorgeous. Before I even tell you what it’s about, I have to say that the cinematography is reason enough for you to watch. It also has a badass woman who decides her own fate – and looks flawless doing it.
Padmaavat is based on a epic that’s been handed down for centuries and is very important to Rajput culture. Essentially, this nearly 3 hour long movie comes down to two men warring over the most beautiful woman in the world, but she ends the fight on her own terms.
There’s lots of back story, lots of characters, a few dance numbers, the occasional sex scene, and plenty of controversy surrounding the release of the film regarding the portrayal of such an important piece of culture, which I honestly think is just a front for sexism and Islamophobia – but that is a post for another day! If you don’t watch it for the visuals, then watch it for all the bullshit the actress was dragged through.
Badla means revenge, but it should mean “surprise twists.” I had no idea what was coming all throughout this psychological thriller. I can’t even tell you that much about it because the narrative flips so fast. If you want an unreliable narrator, you’ve got it.
The story is told through a series of flashbacks as a young woman works on her case with her lawyer. Naina claims she’s been framed for the murder of her lover. Mr. Gupta says he needs her to be honest with him if he’s to construct a narrative that will win their case. More and more details slowly come out as they go over every aspect of the crime to unravel who is the murder, who is the real victim, and who is the mysterious witness that could be her undoing.
Just writing about this movie makes me want to watch it again so I can look for clues. This is all I can say without ruining it.
Ek Ladki Ko Dekha To Aisa Laga
In English – How I Felt When I Saw That Girl, is the film I’ve been waiting for in India, and yes, I cried. I also cried the second time I watched it. I’m going to ruin the big twist but only because I don’t want you think it’s just another love story.
Boy meets girl. The young playwright rearranges his whole life to follow this girl to her small town. Due to a confusing set of circumstances, the girl’s family thinks the playwright (Sahil) is the girl’s (Sweety’s) secret crush and also think he is a Muslim. Though hesitant (remember that Islamophobia we talked about earlier), they end up welcoming him as their daughter’s suitor.
In a big dramatic reveal (which we would have found out a long time ago if there weren’t so many unisex names in Punjab), we find that Sweety’s secret crush is actually a woman named Kuhu. In a huge win for gays everywhere, Sahil sets aside his infatuation and concocts a plan to help Sweety and Kuhu spend time together, right in front of everyone. Will Sweety’s parents accept her? Will her brother keep being an asshole? Will she run away with Kuhu? Will Sahil ever write a successful play and impress his parents? I won’t spoil the whole thing.
I definitely recommend watching these four films, all for different reasons. I’m also going to give honorable mentions to Kesari, Dear Zindagi, Stree, and PK. Aman will be grouchy if I don’t put 3 Idiots. We also have plenty more recommendations. Feel free to let us know what genre you are looking for, and we’ll send a title your way.