Ever since I studied Classical Indian dance in college, I have been a huge fan of Indian film or Bollywood. It isn't likely that any of these movies would ever earn an American Academy Award but there's a lot of charm to them and you can't go wrong with fun dance scenes and catchy music.
So, if you've never see Bollywood (or have a very limited experience with the genre), there is a list of films I recommend. The list includes my favorites... some well-know films that are sometimes referenced in more current offerings and a few that are just fun.
1) Kuch Kuch Hota Hai
Featuring one of the beloved Bollywood on-screen couples of Kajol and Shah Rukh Khan (known as the "king" of Bollywood), this one is a classic. It's a cute Rom-Com with some awesome 90's fashion.
For this one I recommend the 2002 remake with Shah Rukh Khan and Aishwarya Rai. Spoiler alert: This is a tragedy but it is a great introduction to Classical Indian Dance and the stunning fomer Miss Universe (Aishwarya).
Another Aishwarya Rai film, Taal is one of the first Bollywood flicks I ever saw. The music is one of the best things about this particular movie ("Ishq Ishq" is my favorite track).
"Does Bollywood do action?" You might ask. Well, look no further. (Or maybe keep looking, if you want something with the ilk of current Hollywood special effects.) Motorcycle bandits being chased by a cop and his goofy sidekick (who happens to be a former criminal) are just the tip of the iceberg on this one. The music of Dhoom is something all good Bollywood fans should recognize. Note: If the goofy stuff doesn't suit your action film taste, the third installment (Dhoom 3) features the incomparable Aamir Khan who acts the pants off everyone else in the vicinity.
Along the vein of films like Love Actually (without the "R" rating), Salaam-e-Ishq is a lot of fun as it follows multiple couples through their ups and downs. The soundtrack to this one is also very memorable as is the incredibly sweet character played by John Abraham. Prepare to melt!
6) Jodhaa Akbar
Jodhaa Akbar is a period epic film featuring Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai. It is so visually stunning that fans of good cinematography will really appreciate. And it has a nice touch of romance with a strong female protaganist. Can't beat that.
7) Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge
Another film with the beloved pair of Kajol and Shah Rukh Khan. Shah Rukh is a rich playboy and Kajol a straight-laced student. You can only imagine what happens next. This one is a classic but it doe make you wonder if dancing on a snow-covered mountain in a sari is the wisest of moves.
8) Straight From the Heart (Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam)
Bollywood hunk Salman Khan becomes Aishwarya Rai's love interest and she has to follow him halfway around the world. The best part of this movie is the soundtrack. I especially like dancing to the songs in this one.
If you speak Spanish, don't let the title fool you. ("Vivah" means "marriage.") Vivah is based on a true story and is about a pair in the days leading up to their arranged marriage. Some of my friends refer to the story as "gooey sweet" but I love it, anyway. There are interesting characters and the blossoming of a great love story to enjoy.
10) Bride and Prejudice
This one technically isn't true Bollywood (it's primarily in English) but the film overall is a lot of fun. The premise (as you might have guessed) is a modern take on Pride and Prejudice but from an Indian perspective. Great soundtrack, too!
Do you like watching Bollywood? What are your favorite films?