Back in June 2013, I introduced the "Friday Five" blog series with "Friday Five 01: 5 Movies to Watch if You Are New to Bollywood" aimed at the Bollywood newbie. This first post recommended the films Kal Ho Naa Ho, Dhoom, Om Shanti Om, Jodhaa Akbar, and Kites.
I was sitting beside a colleague at an IIFA press conference last month when we began talking about some of our favorite films. I realized my list of top 5 recommendations had expanded quite a bit. Along with the above, I began thinking about some of my favorite "comfort" films - those that I've watched numerous times because they have a lasting impact.
Each of these films has an excellent story, memorable scenes, outstanding soundtracks, and riveting performances. These 5 films provide great reasons for falling in love with Bollywood.
Description: Action thriller. Vijay (Shah Rukh Khan) is a simple man from the city of Mumbai who is recruited by police officer ACP DeSilva (Boman Irani) to masquerade as the Don, the leader of an international gang of smugglers. But things go wrong, the officer is killed and now Vijay is on his own, with only Roma (Priyanka Chopra) and ex-con artist Jasjit Ahuja (Arjun Rampal) to help him to prove his innocence.
Why I Love This Film: Don is a well-dressed, wise-cracking bad guy who smiles in your face while he takes you down. Don is the criminal you love to hate ... or hate to love. When Vijay takes on the guise of Don and the world around him starts crashing down, you hope for the best while preparing for the worst. By the end of the film, the story has completely drawn you in and you find you want more.
Recognition: Won, Filmfare Award for Best Film.
Description: Drama. Eight year old Ishaan Nandkishore Awasthi (Darsheel Safary) is thought to be lazy and a troublemaker, until new art teacher Ram Shankar Nikumbh (Aamir Khan) has the patience and compassion to discover the real problem behind his struggles in school.
Why I Love This Film: Ishaan's life is portrayed through his parent's, his teacher's, and his own eyes - and each view shows a completely different story. Just when everything seems to be going against this child, the art teacher steps in and shows patience and caring that is a model for anyone dealing with a difficult situation. This is a powerful and life-changing film that stays with you.
Recognition: Won, National Film Award for Best Film on Family Welfare; Won, Filmfare Awards for Best Movie and Best Story; Won, Zee Cine Award for Best Story; Won, Apsara Film & Television Producers Guilde Award for Best Film; Won, Star Screen Award for Best Story; Won, V. Shantaram Award for Best Film; India's official entry for the 2009 Academy Awards Best Foreign Film.
3. Ek Tha Tiger
Description: Action spy thriller. India's top spy "Tiger" is an officer with the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). While on a mission in northern Iraq, he is forced to kill one of his own men who defected to Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). His next mission takes him to Dublin, Ireland to observe Professor Anwar Jamaal Kidwai (Roshan Seth), a scientist of Indian origin who is suspected of sharing his research findings with the Pakistan defense establishment. In an attempt to get closer to Professor Kidwai, Tiger befriends the scientist's home caretaker Zoya (Katrina Kaif), and begins to discover his human side.
Why I Love This Film: With several amazing action sequences, a modern storyline, and the "made for each other" romance, this film keeps you on your toes as it takes you on a chase around the world. To add realism to the film, stunt directors of The Bourne Identity were brought in to choreograph the action sequences. The initial sequence sets the tone for the film as Salman Khan runs and base jumps across the Iraqi cityscape. This is a real entertainer that also incorporates a message of unity.
Recognition: Won, BIG Star Most Entertaining Film of the Year; Won, People's Choice Awards India Favourite Movie.
4. Special 26
Description: Thriller heist. A group of four men - Akshay Kumar, Anupam Kher, Rajesh Sharma, and Kishor Kadam - pretend to be Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) agents and carry out Income Tax raids on different locations throughout India. They plan one last big raid when the real CBI - led by Waseem Khan (Manoj Bajpai) - becomes aware of their game, investigates, and follows them.
Why I Love This Film: The film is inspired by true incidents during the 1980s - including the unsolved 1987 Opera House heist. The events in the film evoke a real time and place. The story fascinates as you watch planned and executed. Just when you think the cat-and-mouse game between the conmen and the CBI is at an end, another event occurs which takes the story in a different direction. You soon learn that the mouse in this maze knows all the tricks.
Recognition: The film received many positive reviews from critics.
Description: Biographical sports drama. Based on the life of Milkha Singh, an Indian athlete who was a national champion runner and an Olympian. The film is also a story about the impact of the Partition of India in 1947.
Why I Love This Film: With the blessings of the real Milkha Singh, Farhan Akhtar took on this role with a passion that turned him into an all-star athlete. His performance is honest and his portrayal of the struggles, missteps, and achievements of a simple man in extraordinary circumstances is inspiring. Plus, I had the opportunity to see the real Milkha Singh on the TATA Motors IIFA Awards Green Carpet in Tampa, Florida.
Recognition: Won, National Film Award for Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment; Won, Filmfare Award for Best Film; Won, Screen Award for Best Film; Won, International Indian Film Award for Best Film.
Don't know which film to watch first? The following playlist features the trailers for each of these films.
If you liked this, please check out our other Friday Five posts.