This is why I love Bollywood. It has the power to find fans in every corner of the world, such passionate fans in fact that you wouldn’t believe. So read on and meet two really awesome American girls who love Bollywood the way Raj loves his Simran, everyday since 1995. xoxo
Hi, we’re Erica and Melanie, North America originated screenwriting duo with a passion for Bollywood. You may remember us from such blog posts as “Anil Kapoor’s Son to Star with Katrina Kaif’s sister“. (Or you may not!)
When MissMalini offered us the chance to come out of the ghostwriting basement and write a blog about our Top 10 Favorite Bollywood Moments, we were really excited – then promptly forgot every film we’d ever seen. It’s impossible to narrow down the BEST ten moments in Hindi cinema – but we’ve chosen some of our personal favorites, which we are happy to share with you here!
You cannot have a top 10 list and not start it with the King himself. Shah Rukh Khan is a master at tears and bringing everyone else to tears. So much so that Melanie once invented a drinking game, where the only rule was “Drink every time Shah Rukh cries or
does that trembly lower lip thing.” This scene is the epitome of Bollywood drama though – who doesn’t feel it when Shah Rukh is proclaiming “Main tumse pyaar nahin karta! I don’t love you!” over and over.
Fanaa was popular for its amazing score and the reuniting of Aamir Khan and Kajol and while the first half of the film started out sweet and showed such Bollywood promise, the second half (while still gorgeous) had some of the most outrageously melodramatic
moments of the year. It’s tough to pick just one, but the brilliant moment after Aamir knocks Rishi off a cliff into a river, followed by Kajol then witnessing her father’s corpse float by under the ice, elicited some unexpected laughter. Or maybe we’re just cold-hearted (like Rishi, under the ice – just kidding!)
Special Mention: The entire film Kidnap – which has too many unintentional comedy moments to do justice to here!
We absolutely adore this entire film – Farhan Akhtar and Aamir Khan are two of our Hindi film favorites but one of our top moments is that sweet but hilarious scene in the metro station when Preity and Aamir become separated, and he leaves her behind at the station. All alone, she catches the eye of a drunken bum, who approaches her threateningly… when all of a sudden, Aamir rushes down the stairs, having run all the way back from the next station, approaches the bum, and… gives him a hug. The bum looks put out by this – we think he’s crazy, we would’ve gladly hugged Aamir.
Nearly impossible to pick a favorite song sequence, but this was an iconic moment that had a big impact on both of us, and was one of the reasons we both fell in love with Indian cinema to begin with. AR Rahman is an undeniable genius, and this is one of his best songs ever – coupled with the absolutely amazing dance sequence, Shah Rukh and the sensual and gorgeous Malaika Arora on top of a moving train – one of the best (if not THE best) song moments in Hindi cinema, for sure.
Right now is an amazing time to be involved with independent cinema in India – in the last few years, independent filmmakers have made huge inroads towards bringing new forms of cinema to what was previously a commercially-driven industry. But before these
opportunities existed, before there was a devoted audience for offbeat or independent cinema – there was Onir. His 2005 film My Brother Nikhil was groundbreaking in terms of both form and subject matter, as he addressed issues of homosexuality and AIDS in India, topics that had been virtually untouched by Indian cinema prior to this. It is impossible for us to select one moment, as actors Sanjay Suri, Juhi Chawla and Purab Kohli deliver every scene with such conviction, resulting in a powerful and sensitive depiction of an issue that mainstream cinema, even today, is afraid to touch. We’re going to say that the entire film was a major moment in Hindi cinema, and its release marked a huge victory for every independent filmmaker in India.
Another of our favorite films, Rang De Basanti is full of absolutely brilliant moments, humorous and sad, poignant and powerful. But one scene that really stood out for us – perhaps because we’ve seen many of our friends in India partake in similar candlelight protests for issues they feel passionately about – is the Candle Light march in front of India Gate, after Madhavan’s character loses his life to an airplane accident caused by faulty parts and the corrupt government that allowed it. It’s a tragic scene, but a powerful and inspiring cinematic moment, as all the characters stand together to fight for the truth. And the song is heartbreaking.
On a lighter note, Rang De Basanti gets a special mention for “Best Depiction Of A Foreigner As A Real Person And Not A Bikini-Dancing Hussy In The Background”.
Have we mentioned we’re huge Farhan Akhtar fans? Of course we were excited for his acting debut, in this tribute to the film industry, directed by his sister Zoya Akhtar, but what we loved the most about this movie was the ending. When Farhan’s character wrongs Konkona Sen Sharma and returns to apologize and win her back, she’s not remotely interested. Although it’s hard to imagine turning Farhan Akhtar down, we were both cheering her independence as she chose her dignity and her career over the man. The past few years have seen a huge rise in female-driven stories in Hindi cinema, and we’re loving it.
Special Mention: The ending of Ishqiya, when Vidya Balan torches the building her good-for-nothing criminal husband is in, and strides off with the flames rising behind her.
In stark contrast to our last category (women kicking ass), here we have Vishal Bhardwaj’s excellent adaptation of Shakespeare’s Othello, reworked brilliantly in a rural/political Indian context. A strong script and what we believe is Kareena Kapoor’s best ever performance on screen to date, as she embraces her character Dolly. The buildup in this scene is palpable, you can feel the intensity and the dread as she realizes what’s about to happen before her husband suffocates her with a pillow. Bleak and tragic, but there’s no denying it’s a visually powerful and well-acted scene in an excellent piece of cinema.
We realize most of our list appears to be trapped in the last decade, but we couldn’t forget the legend Amitabh Bachchan, who has had more great “moments” in Indian cinema than most actors combined. Sholay, Deewar and Don are all personal favorites (and ones we love to quote when we’re pretending we actually speak Hindi – you’d be surprised how often one can fit “Mere paas maa hai” into a conversation) – but Amar Akbar Anthony is one the funniest films we’ve ever seen, and Bachchan’s My Name Is Anthony Gonsalves
routine is simply unforgettable. Alternate title for this category: Best Backflip Into An Easter Egg.
Alright, the category titles are becoming more random, but we have a special place in our hearts for Rishi Kapoor, especially in his younger days. Who can resist Rishi in his oversized round sunglasses, gawking at Bobby in her adorable bikini, followed by cutaway shots to flowers and trees at the exact moment they are meant to kiss? Or a young, leather bell-bottomed Rishi Kapoor with a knife held to his throat by Prem Chopra, while young Bobby does her best ‘bachaooooo’ in the background? Or Rishi’s elation when he finds himself locked in a room and the key gets lost? Okay, that’s three moments, but you get the idea.
Special Mention: Rishi’s outfit in the Om Shanti Om song in Karz.
A huge amount of our Indian film influence has also come from South Indian Cinema so for us to leave out this gem of a climax would be a crime. Ram Charan Teja, son of the famed Chiranjeev stars in what is actually one of the most epic films ever made, anywhere. The amount of action jammed into this minute and a half of climax… well, we’re at a loss for words to describe it. It can only be experienced. Enjoy!
Erica Reddy and Melanie Easton are screenwriters specializing in both commercial and offbeat scripts for Hindi films – you can get in touch with them at [email protected] or follow them on Twitter @ericaandmelanie.
They recently did an interview with OMNI TV in Canada, which you can watch in full here.
Their next upcoming project is a short film starring Harsh Kapoor and Isabelle Kaif, to be directed by Steven Roy Thomas and produced by Anil Kapoor.