‘India is a large country and we have many languages. Hindi is just one of them – it’s the national language and it’s spoken, by and large, across the country. Each state has its own language, and each state has a healthy film industry of its own. If you really want to experience Indian cinema, you have to experience it in its various languages – it would be unfair to pick any one language over the other. Here’s what I would start with…’
Dir Guru Dutt (1957)
Two and a half hours of epic emotion, involving a failed poet, a lovelorn prostitute and a case of mistaken identity. The soundtrack, featuring ‘Hum Aapki Aankhon Mein’, is generally thought to be one of the genre’s definitive collections.
Dir Mehboob Khan (1957)
India’s Gone with the Wind. At almost three hours, this bum-number traces the story of a misfortunate family trying to make ends meet in rural India. A tear jerker, if ever there was one, as much for the sheer beauty as the on-screen tragedy.
Dir K Asif (1960)
A tragedy based on the life of Mughal Prince Salim. The pleasure-loving prince falls for a court dancer, but it soon turns sour when his father finds out and sentences the dancer to be buried alive. Plenty of high-emotion warbling ensues.
Dir Vijay Anand (1966)
A murder mystery built around suicide and Presley-esque rockers. Still popular to this day, despite the fact that audiences throughout India know full well how the movie concludes.
Dir Ramesh Sippy (1975)
BBC India declared it ‘Film of the Millennium’ in 1999, and at 199 minutes, it’s almost as long as a millennium. Still, it stars Amitabh ‘Big B’ Bachchan, so who on this mortal earth would complain?
3 to try in 2010
Khan’s 3 Idiots has us all Bollyinterested. Here are our Indian cinema picks for the year.
Dir Ram Gopal Varma (expected January 29)
Amitabh Bachchan’s latest flick uncovers the exploitative nature of the Indian media industry. It has caused controversy for pinching the melody of the Indian national anthem for its title song, resulting in a promo ban and song censorship by the Supreme Court. A sure-fire hit, then.
My Name is Khan
Dir Karan Johar (expected February 12)
In an apparently true story, Shahrukh Khan stars as a Muslim detained as a terror suspect in LA. Khan’s character also suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, and is involved in the pursuit of love across the US. They like to cram them in, don’t they?
Dir Anurag Basu (expected May 14)
Set in Las Vegas, Hrithik Roshan and Barbara Mori star as lovers – Indian and Mexican – hindered by the language barrier. In time they split, only to be reunited years later once the rom-com has become a murder mystery and Roshan a wanted man.
See them here
Bollywood movies are colourful and loud, so get along to your local cinema – the atmosphere is the best part. Audiences are vocal, often screaming at the screen as though they were at a pantomime matinee.
There are three main Indian theatres in Dubai. Lamcy Cinema (Lamcy Plaza, Oud Metha, 04 336 8808) shows the latest releases, while the Grand Cineplex (Dubai Grand Hyatt, 04 324 2000) specialises in Indian films other than Bollywood, and CineStar (Deira City Centre, 04 294 9000) shows a range of hits. Indian films are nearly always subtitled in English and Arabic, but call beforehand to find out.