Bollywood Movie Reviews: Part 1 – The Modern

Author: Gauri Bhatia, Entertainment


Hey there, millennials! I, Gauri, am here to recommend some stellar Bollywood movies for your viewing pleasure. What qualifies me to be a movie critic? I like to think I have successfully bridged the gap between East and West by being of South Asian descent—but raised a ‘Noo Yawker!’ Most of my movie recommendations involve some form of that struggle to blend “Western” ideas of romance with “Eastern” cultures and traditions—because I am trying to do that myself. So here are my tried and tested modern must-see Bollywood films, according to yours truly:

  • Queen
    • Synopsis: Queen is a 2013 film that crosses the divide between comedy and drama. Rani (“Queen” in Hindi), as played by Kangana Ranaut, is a quiet Punjabi girl from New Delhi. After her fiancé calls off their wedding, she embarks on her honeymoon to Paris and Amsterdam on her own, as any independent woman would!
    • Review: I give this movie 9/10 stars. It is one of my personal favorites! Rani starts the movie as a demure, well-behaved girl who has never traveled out of India and ends up becoming a confident, independent woman (with the help of Vijayalakshmi, as played by the ever-versatile Lisa Haydon). Her adventures are appropriately raucous and relatable to those of us who tend to have innocent but cheeky fun while traveling. Curious about what I mean? You will have to watch to find out! The soundtrack is also fun, with a lot of dance numbers, as you come to expect from a Bollywood movie.
    • Where to watch: iTunes, YouTube, Google Play and Amazon Video. Available for purchase.
  • Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani
    • Synopsis: Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (English: This Youth is Crazy) is a 2013 romantic drama film. The film tells the story of the relationship between Bunny (Ranbir Kapoor) and Naina (Deepika Padukone) when they are just out of college and they embark on a light-hearted trekking trip. They then meet again in their late twenties. The tale of how these two characters fall in love with each other speaks to the trials and tribulations of youth in the modern age.
    • Review: I give this film 9/10 stars! It is another one of my favorites! The story begins with Naina as the bespectacled yet gorgeous young woman and Bunny as the blithe young man with a secret emotional side. The rest of the tale generally follows the “boy meets girl” stories of our youth, but the juxtaposition of the love story with the traditions of Indian culture make for a must-see film! The soundtrack of YJHD is stellar, with a few “item numbers” thrown in for good measure.
    • Where to watch: iTunes, YouTube and Google Play. Available for purchase.
  • Band Baaja Baraat
    • Synopsis: Band Baaja Baraat (English: Band Music and Revelry) is a 2010 romantic comedy. The story centers on Shruti (Anushka Sharma), a twentysomething independent girl from a middle class Delhi family, and Bittoo (Ranveer Singh) a careless boy. Shruti has her goals in sight by the time she graduates from university. Bittoo barely gets through his exams while wedding crashing and partying as if it’s a full time job. In typical “rom-com” fashion, they come together on a crazy journey in which they become partners in “Wedding planning ka bijness.” The clearly stated rules: “Jisse vyapaar karo, usse kabhi na pyaar karo” (don’t mix business with pleasure) go out the window as Shruti and Bittoo experience the ups and downs of over-the-top Delhi weddings. Want to know what happens? Watch the film!
    • Review: This wonderful film gets an 8/10 stars from me. I love Shruti’s brash yet respectful attitude throughout the film and the fact that Shruti and Bittoo are clearly comfortable being “just friends” for most of the story. The movie really focuses on the wedding industry and how absurd it can be sometimes, but inserts lighthearted moments between the two main characters. The build-up to their own relationship is so entertaining that you will be laughing throughout the film. The soundtrack is superb as well!
    • Where to watch: iTunes, YouTube and Google Play. Available for purchase.
  • English Vinglish
    • Synopsis: English Vinglish is a 2012 film that also bridges the divide between comedy and drama. The film revolves around a housewife, Shashi, who secretly enrolls in an English speaking course after being unable to place a simple order in a New York restaurant. The protagonist is played by Sridevi, who had taken a 15-year hiatus from filmmaking prior to starring in this film. Shashi’s journey from being mocked by her husband and daughter to proudly giving a speech at her niece’s wedding is irresistibly compelling! This movie premiered at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival and was shortlisted as India’s official entry for the Academy Awards in the category of Best Foreign Language Film.
    • Review: 9/10! This film perfectly portrays the difficulties most immigrants face when coming to America. We expect that everybody will understand English and are unable to sympathize when someone does not. This plot is particularly poignant in our current society. English Vinglish does a spectacular job of showcasing these issues without burdening the viewer. Shashi has many lighthearted moments with her fellow classmates and there is even a bit of a love story thrown in. I declare this film a 100% must-watch!
    • Where to watch: iTunes, YouTube and Google Play. Available for purchase.

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