As winter starts to settle on campus, weekends are consisting less of going out, and more of staying in for take-out and movie nights. If you’ve already exhausted your supply for chick-flicks and rom-coms, there’s a new genre you need to try: Bollywood.
Bollywood movies can be described as musical-movies that generally take place in India, feature Indian culture, and are in Hindi (don’t worry- you can add subtitles). The plot of these movies generally revolve around family and romance, and can range from lighthearted comedy to dramatic tear-jerkers. Many plots revolve around the idea of forbidden love clashing with a family’s values or arranged marriages.
Jonathan Abraham, a freshman in CAS, first introduced me to Bollywood. He considers himself to be an avid Bollywood fan, and loves getting others hooked on the magic of Bollywood. When asked what it is that he loves about Bollywood movies, he explained that “they give hope to hopeless romantics.” Romance is often what makes a Bollywood movie so intriguing.
Jonathan says that another reason he loves Bollywood movies is, “the songs: the lyrics are beautiful and the music is catchy.” Though I don’t speak Hindi, and the subtitle translations aren’t always perfect, it is still easy to appreciate the beautiful music of these movies. The dances that accompany these songs are just as amazing and mystifying. Though it make look complicated, Cassell Fitness Center actually offers a Bollywood exercise class that teaches some of the basic moves.
Another bonus to these movies are the actors and actresses: every movie features beautiful casts, with famous Bollywood celebrities like Hrithik Roshan and Kajol. I guarantee you’ll find at least one new celebrity crush while enjoying the films. Bollywood actors often experience more fame than American actors: one actor, Hah Rukh Khan has appeared in dozens of Bollywood movies, almost always playing the central character of the film.
Since Bollywood movies are all centered on Indian culture, I was curious about whether or not they are an accurate reflection of day to day Indian life. Jonathan explained to me, “Bollywood pre-2000s is [culturally accurate], but most Bollywood post-2000s becomes westernized, like they go to clubs and curse in English, and that doesn’t really reflect traditional values.” Bollywood movies from the 20th century can be a great way to learn more about Indian culture while just hanging out with friends.
As fantastic as Bollywood movies are, there is one minor downside: the length. Bollywood movies are typically over three hours, some even running as long as four and a half hours. If you want to watch a movie, you’ll need to be ready to commit your night to it. However, many movies will have a clear intermission, splitting it into two parts, so you can easily split it over two nights.
If you do want to experience Bollywood, Jonathan recommends Mohabbatein for first-timers, explaining that, “it sets the stage for what a classic Bollywood movie is like.” Mohabbatein, along with dozens of other Bollywood movies, is available on Netflix for streaming. So grab some popcorn and start watching!