Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Taste of India

“God I love the sweet taste of India/ Lingers on the tip of my tongue/ Gotta love the sweet taste of India/ Blame it on the beat of the drum.” – Aerosmith, Taste of India

Quick – what country’s film industry produces more movies in a year than any other?  Nope, it’s not America’s, despite the number of new movies that come out every week.  It’s India’s.

You may have heard of “Bollywood”.  Technically, it refers to the film production from the country’s largest city (Mumbai), but it has come to generally be used when referring to all Indian cinema.  (Just as “Hollywood” is used for any American film.)  The word comes from Bombay (the previous name for Mumbai) Hollywood.

Unfortunately, it is sometimes used in a derogatory manner, meaning quick and cheap productions that only have singing and dancing in them.  That’s no more fair than saying that all Hollywood movies are quick and cheap horror/action/romcoms.

There is a wide diversity of movies made in India.  I have seen too many that I would recommend to list them all here.  Instead I will try to give you just a taste of what is available from Indian cinema.  Note:  I will not be covering classic Indian films here (i.e. Pather Panchali); that is deserving of a separate category someday.

I have tried to pick representative movies from different genres.  I was lucky in that I worked with contractors from India for many years and I got to discuss films with some of them.  One of my recommendations, Black (2005), is a movie I probably would never have even heard of, let alone seen, if it had not been recommended to me by them.

Some of the movies I will be writing about are actually from non-Indian production companies, but all are shot in India and feature mostly Indian casts and crews.

As I post the reviews I will come back and post the links to them here:


  1. Awesome! I try to be as diverse in my movie watching as I can be, but Bollywood is a place where my knowledge is...slim. Indian film is becoming more and more important and there are fewer and fewer excuses not to follow along at least a little.

  2. @SJHoneywell - Go back 10 years and I had not even heard of a film from India. Lagaan (2001) was the first I became aware of, and it will be one of the ones I review. Black is probably the least known to Americans and will give me an opportunity to discuss Amitabh Bachchan - the most popular actor ever in Indian cinema. (He was the man that the little boy was so desperate to meet at the airport in Slumdog Millionaire.)

  3. I know it is probably not in your criteria but my favorite film shot in India made by Europeans is The River by Jean Renoir. Wes Anderson's The Darjeeling Limited, depending on someone's tastes is one intereting film.
    Very interesting topic, I'm very eager to learn about those movies!

  4. @Michael Parent - I have not seen The River, but you are correct that it wouldn't fall into the criteria I have set up for this category. I actually wasn't aware that Renoir had made a film set in India. Thanks for the info.