During my time in lockdown, I have rediscovered my love of Bollywood films again compliments of my Netflix subscription, which has the bonus of subtitles and maybe it’s also because you need ample time to watch a Bollywood film, as they average three hours long!
There’s something for everyone, the cinematography, the dance, the music and storylines. The closest Hollywood film to Indian cinema, in my view is ‘La, La Land’, which has all the magic ingredients of a Bollywood blockbuster – fun, music, songs and dance. Bollywood has songs for nearly every situation and you can never see a Bollywood movie without experiencing a great soundtrack. Plus, Indian film offers storylines about ordinary people facing challenges that help them grow as individuals. Movies like these have become global hits because of their strong storylines.
I experienced my first ever Indian film with my dad when I was about six years old and we went to see Arandhana at the local cinema in Southall, London. I remember it was a Sunday evening and as we came out of the cinema hall, my dad bought the Arandhana LP, which we would go on to play regularly. This is a film that captured my heart and at only six, I fell in love with Indian romantic drama. I have memories of my dad singing me the tunes, and as I got older, he would insist that this music was better than anything was being featured on Top of the Pops at that time!
So, what have been I have been watching on Netflix?! Well, I have been making up for my years of Bollywood void and have enjoyed the classics such as Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (Sometimes Happiness, Sometimes Sadness); Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna (Never Say Goodbye); Heroine; and Hum Aapke Hain Koun (Who Am I to You?). I have wanted to go back into time and watch my favourites such as Silsila (this is an Arabic word that means chains) and Kabhi Kabhi (Sometimes), but sadly these are not on Netflix.
But I think my favourite film, which not quite a Bollywood production, as it’s only an hour and half long and there’s no dance or music, is Bulbul, a Netflix original. It is a period drama that looks at old beliefs and superstitions. Set in a village plagued by mysterious deaths and stories; the storyline is haunting, revolving around Satya and his brother’s child bride who are separated when Satya is sent to a foreign country. When he returns, he finds that his brother has abandoned his wife. Everything about this film is sumptuous – the acting, the costumes, the settings. It’s one of those films that stays with you, long after you have watched it.
So, if you fancy watching something different during lockdown and you have Netflix, press play for Bulbul. It might just whet your appetite for something more full on Bollywood… Mujhe Bollywood se pyaar hai (I love Bollywood).