Everyone has heard of the term Bollywood or Bollywood films and most people also know that this term refers to Indian Cinema. The term Bollywood is derived from American Hollywood. The “B” stands for Bombay, where the film industry is located. (This city is now called Mumbai, as it was before the English changed it to Bombay.) Although Bollywood is the largest film industry on the Indian peninsula and also one of the largest in the world, it is not the only one. There is also Lollywood from Pakistan (Lahore), but also Tollywood and Dollywood. The various film industries publish films in different languages.
What Makes Bollywood Films Different from Western Movies?
All in all, Bollywood films are very different from Hollywood films. Originally this is mainly due to much lower budgets, but also due to public demand. Hollywood films generally have to be very realistic. We often do not like action films in which people fly unrealistically far after a crash. In India, films must contain an element of surrealism.
These films show how the world can be, it makes people dream of a better life. Focus in the films is more on the story and less on filming. The acting can also seem a bit much to us western people. Then there are the pieces of music with dance, which seem to come out of nowhere. In the more recent films these pieces are less common and they also arrive in a more logical way. In the past, music and dance were often used to indicate that a spark had been struck between lovers, since kissing on TV was very taboo and still is in some areas.
Bollywood Films Something for You?
We are convinced that Bollywood also has something to offer you, but this requires something from your side.
- Perseverance: Because the cinematography is so different, the chances are small that you will immediately find your first film great. Just like a good glass of wine, you must learn how to drink and appreciate it.
- Choosing the right films: like Hollywood, the Bollywood industry makes good and bad films. If you have chosen three bad films, you can cancel for good.
- Focus: on the story, on the beauty of the country, on the beauty of the people, the beauty of the culture. Do not focus on what’s weird, the other ways of acting, things not being as realistic as you are used to.
- Follow our list: Not only did we carefully compile a list below with 10 very good Bollywood films, we also carefully selected the order. Some films are not very different from the Hollywood films. It is easier to get used to a little differently before it is completely different.
Follow these steps and you too will be in tears with the second film.
A Small Sidestep
Before starting on the Bollywood Top 10, we recommend starting with two Western films about India. Both films are with Dev Patel, which you may know from Life of Pi or Slumdog Millionaire. The first film is a comic film about British elderly people moving to India because of the financial benefits for their retirement. They end up in Dev Patel’s “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” (This is also the title of the film). The other film is the true story of a little Australian adopted by Australians. When he gets older, he goes in search of his roots and biological mother in India. This movie is called “Lion”. Where the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel lets you get acquainted with the warmth of Indian culture, Lion shows you how miserable the circumstances can sometimes be. The films will warm you up a little for your first real Bollywood Film.
The Bollywood Films Top 10 for Beginners
We will now introduce our Top 10 to you. We will briefly explain what the film is about and why it belongs in the Top 10 according to us. If you want more information about the film itself, we refer you to IMDB. Actor and director Aamir Khan we will often encounter in this top 10. His films are often accessible, fun to look at, and often offer a different persepective on society and how well it functions.
1. 3 Idiots
This is a great comedy. There are not only “3 idots” in this film, but also 3 themes. The two main themes are friendship and the educational system. Aamir Khan shows us how beautiful a friendship can be when we are willing to do anything for one another. The film offers a critical view of the educational system in India. We often make the language in education unnecessarily complicated, the pressure on students is often extremely high, partly due to the expectations of parents. We are taught to follow certain studies that give us status instead of studying what we are really pasionate about. Of course, the third element of a love affair can not be lacking, but this is not the focus of this film.
Black is an accessible film because there is no music and dancing in the film. The film is about a girl who was born as a mute. She can not communicate with anyone and her world is literally and figuratively “Black”. A very patient teacher takes it upon himself to attempt to teach the girl to communicate. If she can communicate her world is no longer black. Very emoitional movie. Tears guaranteed.
3. Band Baaja Baaraat
No tear-jerk but a nice accessible film about a golden business in India; Wedding Planning. The film gives you an insight into the Indian fidelity culture in a low-threshold way. Friendship and love are the main themes in this film, but it is certainly not a standard romantic comedy. A+
shaadi aapki, tension hamaari (the wedding is yours, the tension is ours)
4. Taare Zameen Par
At number 4 surely a tear-jerker again. Aamir Khan again with a critical look at parents and the educational system again. This time by bringing dyslexia to the attention and a small “sidestep” to the down syndrome. The film shows how wonderfully beautiful people are who are different from most of us. Instead of s Not only is this film very accessible to beginners, it is certainly one that belongs to the top 10 of all time as far as we are concerned. Perhaps you will look different at people with down syndrome as well after watching this fantastic movie.
Based on a true story, Padman takes you to the conservative side of Indian culture. In a lot of areas women are not allowed in the house when they have their period. They use old and dirty rags to stop the bleeding. Out of love for his wife Lakshmikant (Akshay Kumar) wants to develop a sanitary napkin that is affordable for everyone. However, he runs into all sorts of problems, the least of which is making a good sanitary napkin.
6. Bajrangi Bhaijaan
A deaf girl from Pakistan getslost and ends up across the border She is found by a man from India, who tries to find out the identity of the girl. The film provides insight into the tensions between Pakistan and India and makes a fantastic attempt at fraternisation. As we said before, Bollywood likes to show how it can be done. How the world could be if we would focus on the things we have in common instead of the differences. This film with Salman Khan in the leading role shows this in a fantastic way.
7. Veer Zaara
This Bollywood movie took 7 years to shoot. This film, like the above one, focuses on the tensions between India and Pakistan and those between Muslims and Hindus. A girl from a prominent Pakistani family promises her midwife to fulfill her ‘dying wish’. Who would like her ashes to be spread in India, the land of her birth. The girl makes the trip to India, where she meets an Indian boy she falls in love with. Her father, however, has already promised her hand to the son of a Pakistani politician.
8. Dabba (Irfan Khan)
Irfan Khan is certainly not the most popular actor in India, but he is outside of India. He has the most Hollywood titles to his name. You might know him from Jurassic World, Slumdog Millionaire or Life of Pi. Dabba or Lunchbox is an atypical Bollywood film and falls under the “arthouse” genre. The film shows how hard life in India can be, even today. It really stood out to us that a man with a full-time job could still only afford to eat two bananas for lunch every day.
In India there is a real business around delivering a hot lunch at work. Contrary to what you would expect, the food is prepared by the wife at home. Intermediaries pick up the lunchboxes at the women’s houses and bring it to the workplaces of the men. What happens when a lunchbox is accidentally delivered to the wrong man?
9. Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham
K3G as this film is also called gives you insight into the conservative culture in India when it comes to the Caste System. This can not be revealed better than on the stage of a marriage. What happens when you fall in love with someone from a lower caste. A very emotional, but very beautiful film. Do not forget to not focus too much on the different way of acting. Stars in this film are Shahrukh Khan, Aamitabh Bachan, Kareena Kapoor and Hrithik Roshan. Definately one of the best Bollywood Movies ever!
10. Muqqadar ka Sikandar, an Older Bollywood Film
When you have followed all 9 steps, you may end up with a film that is not classifiable as a Bollywood film for beginners. This is mainly because the film was already released in 1978. The main role of the film is played by Aamitabh Bachan, who you may know from the Great Gatsby. This film shows how an orphan boy “against all odds” becomes successful in his life. The title can be translated as “Overcomer of destiny”.
People who stand against death are alive ,people who are scared of death are worse than the dead