Bollywood For Discerning Minds – Part One

Do you think Bollywood only produces junk?   Not true.  It produces mostly junk.  Forgive me for being so blunt, Bollywood, but it’s the truth, isn’t it?

When it comes to Bollywood, sadly, quantity rules over quality. Therefore, for a movie buff, it’s like a game – fun to discover and then enjoy (sometimes get pleasantly surprised or amazed) the few, good movies that hit the screen. Gems are very rare but they do exist, if you look hard enough. Because they are so rare, I find myself going to the movies (the Bollywood movies, that is) infrequently and still being disappointed when even my fairly modest expectations are not met.

This series of random posts then, will be my attempt to showcase a few gems that I have found over the years – until I run out of them. Some of them are precious and others “semi-precious”.

They will be listed in no particular order, just whatever occurs to me when I write that post. The only common, underlying theme will be that I have seen and appreciated all of the movies I will list.  I will categorize below into three different areas for now, although it’s possible that #2 and #3 may get consolidated into one lot fairly soon-

1. Unadulterated Bollywood Entertainment –  typifies this genre with music, song, dance, romance, emotion, action, color…and is pure entertainment (park your brain to the side and simply enjoy) that is very well done.

2. Groundbreaking and/or Innovativea first or near-first for Bollywood

3. Art Film -which is typically a serious, independently made movie for a niche rather than mass audience (thank you, wikipedia).

How about I start my post on this topic with two movies in each of these categories.  Although they are randomly picked, for the sake of this first post, I’ll will start with some of the more recent movies:

Unadulterated Bollywood: 

    • Once Upon A Time in Mumbai (2010) – Allegedly the story about the Mumbai gangsters Haji Mastan and Dawood Ibraham – beautifully and realistically set in the 1970-80s.
    • Band Baaja Baaraat (2010) – a rom-com, Yash Chopra style, showcasing Indian weddings and wedding planners with all the trappings of Bollywood.

Groundbreaking and/or Innovative: 

    • Udaan (2010) – a must-see movie about the growing pains of a young man and the paternal issues that he has to deal with.  Truly a gem of a movie and comparable to any well-made Hollywood drama.
    • Peepli Live (2010) – a satire on media and politicians in India today, but based on the serious theme and reality of farmer suicides.  Groundbreaking, for sure.

Art House: 

    • Ishqiya (2010) – Unique characters and script – two goons falling for the same (married) woman; a woman with many secrets and and even more schemes.  Great plot, great acting, great/crazy dialogs, great music, great direction.
    • Dhobi Ghat/Mumbai Diaries (2010) – The heroine of this movie is the well-loved and well-photographed city of Mumbai, which brings together a few intriguing characters in parallel stories.  The wonderful music score also works to make it all come alive. Well-told with a few glitches; a solid effort by a first-time director.


Posted on May 20, 2011, in bollywood, india and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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