I’m sure I’m not alone in having found a new obsession/hobby during 2020. Mine has been watching Indian films with my daughter.
Disclaimer: I don’t know anything about the Indian film industry. Just what I’ve learned by watching them. I’m certain I miss or misunderstand cultural elements. I don’t always quite always know the difference between Bollywood, Tollywood, Kollywood. But I’m getting there!
The first Bollywood-esque movie I watched was Bride and Prejudice (I’m also a Jane Austen fan). I came across this Pride and Prejudice adaptation a few years back and love love loved it. I had no idea I was watching a Bollywood movie, to me, it was just simply a movie about Elizabeth, Jane, Bingley, Darcy set in India with elaborate dance numbers. I assumed someone decided India would be a nice setting for an adaptation and turned the whole shebang into a musical. If you like Jane Austen adaptations, you need to watch this one.
Earlier this year, I desperately needed something to take my mind off everything. I came across Bride and Prejudice again and wondered, hey! maybe there are other Jane Austen adaptations in the same style. There are a few, not surprisingly. One thing led to another and I was hooked.
My early ventures into Bollywood movies were light fluffy sweet romances. The first movies I watched were Khoobsurat or The Zoya Factor. With each movie, I’d search for more movies by the actors I liked and following that method I discovered more and more. Eventually I stumbled upon Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol, a couple of the biggest names. I don’t think you can watch much Bollywood without running across them!
Right now, anyone who knows anything about Hindi cinema is judging my taste. I am aware that Dilwale did not do well and the reviews were poor. It’s cheesy etc etc. Whatever. I don’t care, it’s cute, silly, romantic, the action scenes are fun, it’s perfect. I thoroughly enjoyed the music and the chemistry between SRK and Kajol. In fact, I’m listening to the theme song as I write this post. And I’ll readily admit to having rewatched it several times.
The main thing I’ve learned is that my impression of movies is usually vastly different from the reviews. And I’m ok with that. I like what I like!
To illustrate the point, another one that I adore and apparently everyone else hated is Daawat-e-Ishq. First, Aditya Roy Kapur and Parineeti Chopra are the cutest. second, the music is super fun. Finally, the plot is delightfully silly and wraps up just exactly as it should. Girl sets out to take revenge on all men via an elaborate dowry revenge scheme and ends up falling in love with her target. Target falls in love, finds out about scheme, sets out to take his revenge. They realize they love each other and all is forgiven. Believable? Nope. But from my limited experience, believable story lines are not particularly a strong suit of Hindi romance movies. And that is 100% ok by me! It’s all about escaping reality for a minute or two or three hours, right?
I’ve also taken a few side tracks to watch more serious films, like Bhaag Milkha Bhaag and dark stuff like Sacred Games. I love Kalki Koechlin. And even adaptations of other classics like Fitoor (based on Great Expectations).
I’m still waiting for more Jane Austen adaptations though. There simply aren’t enough.