Earlier this month we hosted our 12th annual Bollywood night at Peter White Public Library, an evening of film, dancing and dinner that celebrates Indian cinema. The library owns an impressive collection of Bollywood and Bollywood-inspired films available for check-out. If you haven’t seen a Bollywood film yet, know they are long and colorful, feature a romance punctuated with song and dance, and often offer an intermission half-way through.
Ek Tha Tiger (2012) is a romantic thriller that tells the story of the response of two intelligence organizations to a Trinity College scientist suspected of selling missile technology secrets to Pakistan. The Indian government sends a secret agent, codenamed Tiger, to find out about the professor's activities. Tiger falls in love with the professor's caretaker Zoya who is studying at a dance academy and together they embark on a roller-coaster journey that takes them from Ireland to India, Istanbul to Havana. The plot isn’t the most brilliant but the chemistry between the stars, the action scenes, including one in which our hero stops a runaway tram with only his jacket, are great fun. The dance scenes are set in Ireland and Cuba and reflect the cultures of these countries. The film ends with a hilarious chase that defies logic and matches anything James Bond could do.
Jab Tak Hai Jaan (2012) is an old-fashioned love story in which Samar, a fearless Indian army officer, diffuses bombs along the Kashmir border. Through flashbacks we see Samar fall in love with Meera, a young, religious Indian woman he met when he lived in London. In order to save Samar’s life after an accident, Meera offers up their relationship to God. Angry and disappointed, Samar returned to India and entered his risky profession as a challenge to Jesus. Ten years later, a bubbly Discovery Channel intern wants to do a story on “the man who cannot die” and falls for him. Plot twists and turns create a tension increased by the presence of two lovely and well-played heroines.
Veer-Zaara (2005) combines a plea for reconciliation between India and Pakistan with a classic love story. This film recounts the forbidden love between an Indian man and a Pakistani woman and the efforts of a Pakistani lawyer who tries to break the barriers separating the two.
3 Idiots (2009): Two friends search for their long-lost university buddy, Rancho. The three met while studying at India’s most prestigious engineering university, a school very interested in its ranking, perhaps even more so than in providing a real education. Rancho is the school’s top student even though he prefers chasing one’s dreams to one’s grades. The three friends make life miserable for “Virus” the school’s dean. Then the dean’s beautiful daughter, a medical student, falls for Rancho. A comedy with something to say about education systems.
Lunchbox (2013): This little love story revolves around a mistaken delivery by the Dabbawalas (lunchbox service) of Mumbai, world famous for their 99.999666% accuracy. The wrong delivery leads to slowly blossoming love between Saajan, a lonely widower close to retirement, and Ila, an unhappy housewife, as they exchange notes through the daily lunchbox.
Dhoom: 3 (2013): To avenge his father's death, a swashbuckling circus entertainer (Aamir Khan) trained in magic and acrobatics turns thief to take down the Western Bank of Chicago which closed down his family’s Great Indian Circus for defaulting on its loans. It takes two police officers from Mumbai to solve Khan’s riddle. The plot is not the movie’s strong point; however, the dancing and acrobatics are amazing and the chase scenes through Chicago, styled after James Bond, are riveting, especially the Chicago River sequence.
Band Baaja Baaraat (Wedding Planner) (2010): Shruti is a 20-something no-nonsense girl from a middle class Delhi household who planned out her whole life while still in college. Bittoo has no plans other than to have fun with his friends and stay out of his family’s sugar cane fields. He barely survives his college exams. They meet and, after a rough start, set up a wedding planning business together. When romance interrupts their business plans, they split up only to see their business start to fail. Will they save their romance or their business or both?
Bride & Prejudice (2004): A modern retelling of Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice in Bollywood style. In Ammritsar, Mrs. Bakshi is eager to find suitable husbands for her four unmarried daughters. When the rich single gentlemen Balraj and Darcy come to visit, the Bakshis have high hopes, though circumstance and opinions threaten to get in the way of romance.
Bollywood movies and a small selection of art Indian cinema will be on display in the DVD section of Peter White Public Library through the end of February.
~Cathy Sullivan Seblonka, Collection Development/Reference Librarian