If you've ever met me, you know that I love Bollywood movies. I love the actors, the acting, the overdramatic plot-lines, and the series of songs that serve as both musical accompaniment and essential plot devices to each story. My friends and family all know that if given the aux, I will either play Panic! At the Disco, The Script, or Bollywood songs. If you've ever wanted to get in on the Bollywood hype, here are 6 movies you need to watch to get almost every reference any Bollywood-obsessed person (read: me) will make.
1. "Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge"
Released in 1995, this classic film tells the story of two people who meet abroad and hate each other when they first meet. Of course, through the course of missing trains in Europe, being forced to spend large amounts of time together, and getting drunk together, the two fall in love as they are about to leave back for India. The songs in this movie are arguably the most well known Bollywood songs through the generations of Bollywood fans, especially the thematic mandolin phrase that Shah Rukh Khan, the movie's hero and main actor, plays throughout.
2. "Kal Ho Na Ho"
This one is another one of Shah Rukh Khan's classics. "Kal Ho Na Ho" was released in 2003 and is set in New York City, featuring Preity Zinta, Saif Ali Khan, and Shah Rukh Khan as three friends who evolve into a love triangle-type scenario. The songs in this movie are timeless, and everyone I know always gets up to dance when "It's The Time to Disco" starts playing. This movie tells a story of romantic and familial love and sends the message that you don't have to be with someone to love them with every fiber of your being.
3. "Hum Tum"
"Hum Tum" was my favorite movie as a kid. My absolute all-time favorite actress, Rani Mukerji, stars in this 2004 film alongside Saif Ali Khan. This story follows the model "girl meets boy, girl hates boy, boy falls in love with girl" trope, but with a couple of twists (and some really good music) to keep the audience on their toes. This movie is set all over the world, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to watch a cute love story.
4. The "Dhoom" Franchise (Specifically "Dhoom 2")
Now onto the newer movies! The "Dhoom" franchise is a trilogy (as of now), revolving around a cop and his partner in the Mumbai Police Department. Out of the three movies in the series, my personal favorite is the second one, "Dhoom 2." One of my favorite actors, Hrithik Roshan, plays the star villain, and his brilliant acting, matched with his unparalleled dancing, makes this movie one you will not regret watching.
5. "Chennai Express"
Another Shah Rukh Khan movie! This one is a comedy, starring another one of my favorite actresses, Deepika Padukone. Set in India, "Chennai Express" tells a love story while incorporating parts of other classic movies with a bit of a ridiculously humorous twist (we love Bollywood movies that are parodies of other Bollywood movies). The songs in this movie range from dance bops to cute love songs, and this movie also touches upon the cultural differences that two people in love may face when trying to be together.
I just recently watched "Padmaavat," a 2018 film starring Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor, and Ranveer Singh. "Padmaavat" is a movie remake of an Indian epic that tells the story of Queen Padmavati and explains the philosophy behind Jauhar. "Padmaavat" was one of the highest grossing Bollywood movies to be released and the highest grossing Bollywood movie of 2018. Deepika Padukone does a stellar job in the role of Queen Padmavati and is a feminist icon as she plays the role of queen, lover, and warrior.
The world of Bollywood goes on far past these six films, but this is a good place to start for anyone who wants to watch something new, explore a new genre of film, or develop a new obsession. And don't worry if you don't speak Hindi—I don't and I watch these all the time! Subtitles are my best friend. Enjoy!