The 2016 comedy Happy Bhag Jayegi ("Happy Will Run Away") takes a humorous look at the plight of a runaway Indian bride who finds herself alone in Pakistan without passport and papers. This rom-com takes the tactic that while political boundaries may separate us, our common humanity unites us.
Over the years there have been many Indian films that highlight the ongoing political tensions between India and Pakistan since independence and the partition of India on 15 August 1947. Bollywood award-winning films like Hey! Ram, Train to Pakistan, Earth, Border, 1971, Sarfarosh, Lakshya, Lahore and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag! can help western audiences better understand some of the issues - the pain of the partition, the military struggles, the spy vs. spy culture, finding oneself in country that doesn't fully accept you.
All of these films offer an interpretation of the struggles between these countries. Many times the films leverage the real-life drama by pitting the countries against each other. Fortunately, that isn't always the case.
If you are new to Bollywood, here are five favorite award-winning films that approach the complicated India-Pakistan relationship by making compassion, kindness and consideration key elements of the storyline.
Description: Comedy drama. Young Pakistani mute girl Shahida (Harshaali Malhotra) is separated from her mother during a cross-border visit to a shrine in India. Lost and alone, she finds a guardian in Pawan Kumar Chaturvedi alias "Bajrangi" (Salman Khan), a simple man who takes her in and tries to find her parents. When he finally discovers the girl he has named "Munni" is from Pakistan, he unsuccessfully tries to send her back across the border. Bajrangi decides to take the perilous journey with Munni to personally see that she is reunited with her parents in Pakistan.
Why I Love This Film: Despite his reservations, our hero steps up and does what he feels is the right thing to do. He is honest to a fault which adds complexity to the journey, but this tactic also generates respect among those he meets. As people are challenged by his forthrightness, he makes friends across the border who are willing to help him complete his mission. Pritam's music is powerful, especially the anthem "Tu Jo Mila" that musically delivers heart to the story.
Release Date: 6 June 2014
Director: Nitin Kakkar
Music by: Arijit Datta
Producer: Shyam Shroff, Balkrishna Shroff, Subhash Chaudary, Shaila Tanna, Siddharth Roy Kapur
Description: Comedy drama. Assistant director Sunny (Sharib Hashmi) is a die-hard Bollywood fan who has memorized Hindi film dialogues and aspires to be an actor in his own right. While filming in Rajasthan near the Pakistan border, he is separated from his english crew and mistakenly kidnapped by Pakistani terrorists. He is taken to the home of Aftaab (Inaamulhaq), where the terrorists have taken over and set up base. When Sunny discovers that Aftaab deals in pirated Hindi films, Sunny finds a friend to connect with in this difficult situation.
Why I Love This Film: The joy that Sunny derives from Bollywood films challenges those around him but keeps him occupied and upbeat during his captivity. He interacts with those around him via Bollywood dialogues and song. As he entertains the village people with his filmy antics, he challenges everyone to understand a world view beyond their own. As a Bollywood fan who is continually exploring the Indian film industry, this is a film I connect with on a personal level.
3. Ek Tha Tiger
Description: Romantic thriller. "Tiger" (Salman Khan) is a top spy working for India's Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). When he is sent undercover to monitor suspicious activity by Professor Anwar Jamaal Kidwai (Roshan Seth) at Dublin's Trinity College, he finds himself falling in love with Kidwai's housekeeper Zoya (Katrina Kaif). As events surrounding his target escalate, he discovers that there is more to Zoya than he could have imagined and soon the two become fugitives, running from members of both RAW and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agencies.
Why I Love This Film: Salman Khan's Tiger is an expert when it comes to the spy biz, but when he meets Zoya he finds himself on uncertain ground. This new experience of love complicates matters and when he finds his mission compromised, he thinks with his heart rather than his head. The course Tiger takes with Zoya challenges the status quo as the two struggle to uphold allegiance to country and allegiance to love. The powerful soundtrack enhances the story yet is outstanding on its own.
Description: Romantic drama. Following a bus accident, Indian air force squadron leader Veer Pratap Singh (Shah Rukh Khan) rescues the stranded Zaara (Preity Zinta), a woman from Pakistan who has come to India to perform the last rites for her grandmother. Seeing that Zaara is alone on her first visit to India, Veer escorts her to her destination. Along the way they discover a very deep connection and their lives are forever bound as their love story unfolds over 22 years.
Why I Love This Film: A classic love story, the film's intense tale of passion, separation, sacrifice and courage is a romance for the ages. The beautiful music by the late Madan Mohan makes this an epic but intimate tale that weaves together the destiny of two strangers who find their love lives on despite the many obstacles that are thrown in their path.
Description: Action drama. Sikh Jatt truck driver Tara Singh (Sunny Deol) becomes the protector of Muslim woman Sakina (Amisha Patel) who has been separated from her family during the violent events surrounding the partition of India and Pakistan. Years later, Sakina receives word that her family is alive and well and living in Pakistan and when she visits them in Lahore, they prevent her from returning to India and her Tara Singh.
Why I Love This Film: Sunny Deol delivers a stunning performance as a gentle giant who fights for right regardless of the obstacles in his path. As hatred and prejudice erupts around him Tara Singh battles to maintain respect and dignity in a world turned upside down. One of the more powerful stories depicting some of the horrors of the partition, this epic story of humanity in the face of tragedy makes the film a classic. While it has an old-school feel to it, the powerful story of love and loss quickly draws you in.
The following playlist features trailers for these films, including Happy Bhag Jayegi. Unfortunately, no official trailer for Gadar: Ek Prem Kathi is available.
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