For some reason, Bollywood has gotten a bad reputation with western audiences. But with leading men such as Shah Rukh Khan, Abhishek Bachchan, and Hrithik Roshan, you can't go wrong.
If you are ready to give Bollywood a try (which you should!), here are five movies I recommend to get you started:
1. Kal Ho Naa Ho
English title: "Tomorrow May Never Come"; also known as KHNH
Release Date: 28 November 2003
Director: Nikhil Advani
Music by: Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy
Producers: Yash Johar, Karan Johar
Description: Romantic comedy drama. In New York City, happy-go-lucky newcomer Aman Mathur (Shah Rukh Khan) befriends Naina Catherine Kapur (Preity Zinta) and her family. However, when Naina falls in love with Aman, he won't reciprocate. We soon learn he has travelled to New York to meet with his doctor, who is treating him for a life-threatening illness. As he denies his love for Naina, he sets her up with best friend Rohit Patel (Saif Ali Khan).
- "Pretty Woman" features an Indian twist on the Roy Orbison tune
- "Kal Ho Naa Ho" a sweet and sad song beautifully sung and performed
- "Maahi Ve" fun ensemble song sung during wedding celebrations - Rani Mukerji and Kajol put in special appearances for this item number
Why I love this film: This movie is an emotional roller-coaster ride. The actors are superstars in Bollywood, the music is outstanding, the script well-written and the storyline extremely engaging with plenty of laughs and digressions to help you through the sadder portions.
English title: "Blast"
Release Date: 27 August 2004
Director: Sanjay Gadhvi
Music by: Salim-Sulaiman, Pritam
Producer: Aditya Chopra
Short Description: Action comedy. Assistant Commissioner of Policy (ACP) Jai Dixit (Abhishek Bachchan) a no-nonsense cop, tracks down motorcycle gang with the help of a thief named Ali (Uday Chopra). But the motorcycle gang leader (John Abraham) gives Jai and Ali and run for their money.
- "Dhoom Machale" - this song is so associated with this franchise that it was played during the motorcycle confrontation in Rab Ne Bana De Jodi
- "Dilbara" - sweet love song sung in the rain
Why I love this film: This film was a box office hit and had significant impact (some negative) on Indian urban youth. Bachchan and Chopra are a delightful team who built on this partnership in Dhoom 2 and Dhoom 3. This is an important Bollywood franchise that is definitely an enjoyable watch.
3. Om Shanti Om
Release Date: 9 November 2007
Director: Farah Khan
Music by: Vishal-Shekhar; Background score: Sandeep Chowta
Producers: Shah Rukh Khan, Gauri Khan
Description: Romantic reincarnation film - In 1970s, Junior artist Om Prakash Makhija (Shah Rukh Khan) loves and befriends superstar film actress Shanti Priya (Deepika Padukone) who is secretly married to producer Mukesh Mehra (Arjun Rampal). Om learns of the marriage and overhears Shanti tell Mukesh she is pregnant. Feeling his plans to film Om Shanti Om are over, he sets the movie set on fire, locking Priya in. Om tries to rescue her but both are killed. Om is reincarnated as superstar Om Kapoor who seeks revenge 30 years later.
- "Ajab Si" - a gentle "I love you" song
- "Jag Soona Soona Lage" - a song of the shattered dreams of the brokenhearted
- "Dard-e-Disco" - an addictive song featuring a red-hot, over-the-top performance
- "Deewangi Deewangi" is a great party song - and this item number features lots of stars!
- "Dastaan-E-Om Shanti Om" is like watching a condensed version of an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical - the story within the story
Why I love this film: Set in the 1970s and 2000s; it pays tribute to (and pokes fun at) the Indian film industry of both these eras. There are Bollywood celebrities old and new throughout this film. And the storyline really works because "for some dreams one lifetime is not enough ..."
- Top 5 Reasons Why Om Shanti Om Rocks!
- The Storms in Our Lives (Om Shanti Om - "Jag Soona Soona Lage")
- 5 Classic Performances Remixed for "Dhoom Tana" (Om Shanti Om)
- The Spider and the Fly: Om Kapoor Does Lunch With "Mike" Mehra (Om Shanti Om)
4. Jodhaa Akbar
Release Date: 15 February 2008
Director: Ashutosh Gowariker
Music by: A. R. Rahman
Producers: Ronnie Screwvala, Ashutosh Gowariker
Description: Historical epic. Fictionalized account of the 3rd Mughal Emperor - Jalaludden Mohammed Akbar (Hrithik Roshan) - who marries Rajput princess Rajkumari Jodhaa Bai (Aishwarya Rai) to help unite the Hindustani empire.
- "Azeem-O-Shaan Shahenshah" is an epic celebratory song on a HUGE scale
- "Khwaja Mere Khwaja" by A.R. Rahman/Kashif is a beautiful song of spiritual reverence and reflection
- A.R. Rahman's music is brilliant throughout
Why I love this film: Did I mention Hrithik Roshan? Actually, this was the first film I saw him in and he was very convincing in the role of a thoughtful but powerful Emperor who is just as capable of leading his army and succeeding in hand-to-hand combat as making thoughtful decisions. The slowly developing relationship between Akbar and Jodhaa is in stark contrast to the political intrigue and back-stabbing coming from Akbar's advisors. In the end, advisors become enemies and enemies become friends.
About the Title: This title is explained at the beginning of the movie when the lead character explains, "Kites fly in the sky, free, dancing in the wind, with no worries ... like two lovers they meet, they fight, they embrace, they almost become one. But it is not the will of the kites that makes them dance, because someone else always holds the strings...
Release Date: 21 May 2010
Director: Anurag Basu
Music by: Rajesh Roshan; Background Score: Salim Sulaiman
Producer: Rakesh Roshan
Description: Romantic action drama. In Las Vegas, Indian dance teacher and con artist (Hrithik Roshan) falls in love with runaway Mexican beauty Natasha/Linda (Bárbara Mori) - but the baggage of their lives complicates their relationship. They have to go on the run but manage to get married along the way. But just when you thought they were finally free ...
Stand-Out Songs: Most of the songs are integrated into the movie - just as in most Hollywood films. But the item number "Fire" reminds us of what an amazing dancer Hrithik Roshan is.
Why I love this film: The mashup of the Indian and Mexican cultures provides some interesting dynamics for these two. And, despite their questionable backgrounds, they are redeemed through their relationship. For those liking the action part a bit more than the romance, there is an awesome high-speed chase sequence involving cars jettisoned from a car carrier.
Don't know which film to watch first? The following playlist features trailers for each of these films:
If you liked this, check out our other Friday Five posts.