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Overstreet

Recommended Cinema of India

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Well, I'm stumped. I've been asked to recommend great films about India from someone who is seeking to better understand Indian culture. All I know are the classic Satyajit Ray films. Nothing else is springing to mind — and even if it did, I wouldn't be confident that it would help a friend prepare to spend time there.

Suggestions? 

I can find plenty of articles like this one that recommend films I've never seen, but I'd be keen on sharing any of your own personal favorites.

Edited by Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Are you looking for Indian films or just films about India, regardless of origin?

I haven't seen all of Ken's recommendations, but second Jodhaa Akbar, which is one of the most beautiful films I've ever seen. Midnight's Children makes more sense if you've read the novel first--if your friend is planning to spend time in India, the novel would be worthwhile. Sita Sings the Blues is a fun animated take on the Ramayana.

Maybe Slumdog Millionaire? How hightoned are your friend's film standards?

BBC mini-series The Jewel in the Crown and the current Indian Summers (on PBS Masterpiece) are worth a look.

You can't go wrong with Ray as a filmmaker, but his India is mostly only to be found now in remote rural areas. Bollywood may be an acquired taste, but it is very revealing of cultural ideals:

Lagaan was the first Indian film nominated for an Academy Award. It's set in the 19th c, but to understand India you must understand colonialism. I've found it to be a good intro to Bollywood.

Modern India? Bride and Prejudice (Bollywood in English). Dil To Pagal Hai (The Heart Is Crazy).  Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (True Lover Will Take the Bride). Veer-Zaara (love symbolically reunites India & Pakistan). Swades (Homeland, aka We the People)--desi rocket scientist returns to Mother India, complications ensue). Taare Zameen Par (Like Stars on Earth--variation on the "savior teacher" trope, but very revealing of Indian culture & values; released in US by Disney, which tells you something). Bandit Queen (dir. Shekhar Kapur)

Most Bollywood movies are 2.5-3 hours long, so your friend should have plenty to watch :)

Edited by BethR

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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I've also found this site to be helpful for Bollywood reviews & commentary.


There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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There's also these Letterboxd lists: 


"What's prayer? It's shooting shafts in the dark." -- Frederick Buechner, Godric

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