Nathaniel's Bollywood Picks

Ah, Bollywood. The cinema of India.

And yes. India is exactly like a Bollywood movie. Except that there's more dancing.

Nathaniel's Bollywood Favorites

Main Hoon Na
Ram is a buff special agent in the Indian army. His father was a body guard to a great general, who unfortunately dies in the line of duty at the beginning of the movie. But in the course of his passing, Ram's father dramatically reveals that he had another son, a half-brother to Ram, and begs Ram to reunite the family before dispersing his ashes. Ram, naturally, pledges to fulfill his father's dying wish.

Matters are complicated, however: the General's dealings have made him a target of terrorists. He is especially fearful for his daughter's life, but she won't accept any visible guardianship. The General asks Ram to go to her college undercover and keep an eye on her. Ram is only too happy to oblige when the General reveals that Ram's half-brother is at the school as well.

Ram's brother, Laxman, is of course the antithesis of military-man Ram's clean cut respectability, and the family ties have been horribly strained through the years. Family drama, national drama, and high school drama intertwine as Ram tries to keep his cover as just another student. Meanwhile, the terrorists could be lurking behind any bush…

Particularly enthralling about this film is the level of production in the music/dance scenes and special effects. The soundtrack was groundbreaking for Bollywood: it integrates styles as diverse as Latin tango, contemporary acappella, and early American rock. This music doesn't always make sense, but it is, at the very least, fascinating. I knew I had to see the movie after seeing this dance scene.

The special effects are lifted right out of the Matrix, but in a light-hearted way that complements the style, rather than as another cliche use of the pan-around. And the stunts are outrageous, comical in their improbability. My personal favorite is when Ram chases down an SUV full of armed terrorists on a bicycle rickshaw.

This is probably my favorite Bollywood movie.

To be Reviewed:

  • Kal Ho Naa Ho
  • Pehili
  • Kabhie Kushie Kabhie Gam
  • Baghban
  • Koi!…Mil Gaya
  • Swades
  • Krrish
  • Dil Se…
  • Karz
  • Hello
  • Waqt
  • Rab ne Bana Di Jodi

Bollywood Movies I Want to See

  • Love Story 2050
  • Guru

Bonus: Bollywood Movies I Enjoyed that Didn't Quite Make my Favorites List

  • Salaam Namaste
  • Lakshya
  • Kyun Ho Gaya Na

Where to find Bollywood Movies in the States

While your local Blockbuster may have one or two Bollywood flicks, usually that isn't your best bet. Consider one of these options

  • Netflix has a great selection. I don't know about Blockbuster online, but it's worth a shot.
  • Your local Indian grocery almost always has a rental section. Search your local Yellow Pages, or "google maps" to find it. Be careful, though: piracy is big in India, and even some of the copies that end up in American shops are less than legal copies. If you end up with one of these (or one not labeled for international sale) you may find that the recording quality is low, or that it doesn't have subtitles.
  • If you want to buy your favorite movies, there is no shortage of sites online that will sell them to you. Be careful, again, because of piracy/distribution issues. The last thing you want to do is pay 10 bucks for a DVD with no subtitles! I'm partial to Nehaflix. They have reasonably good prices, and their films are legal editions.
  • You can use YouTube to search for favorite dance scenes! That's the sweetest thing of all.

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