Friday, November 26, 2010

10 Movies About India that I enjoyed - Part 2

Seeing India through 10 movies about it – Part 2

This is part 2 of my list of 10 movies about/on India that I have enjoyed. The criteria I used can be found in part 1.

6. The Cup (1999, Khyentse Norbu): This movie is actually about the life of young Tibetan novices, but the location is India. This lighthearted movie is about current day life in Dharmashala and Mcleodganj. An endearing movie which uses the backdrop of a soccer world cup to portray the modern-day struggles of novice monks trying to live in an environment full of worldly attractions.

7. Born Into Brothels (2004, Zana Briski & Ross Kaufmann): This is the only documentary in the list, and it won the Oscar for Best documentary that year. The real life story of the lives of a group of children of prostitutes in the Sonagachi district of Calcutta. Zana, the filmmaker goes there as a photographer, sees an opportunity to help the lives of these children and documents it as she goes along. This is an uplifting movie in which we watch the children blossom into pretty decent photographers, and some get to travel to Europe for a showing of their pictures.

8. The Namesake (2006, Mira Nair): This is a movie about the life of one Indian family in the US, based on the novel by Jhumpa Lahiri. (As an aside, her book of short stories about the Indians abroad is "The Interpreter of Maladies" is exquisitely penned while also being very readable). Namesake is a very faithful adaptation of Jhumpa's second book by the same name. India forms the backdrop, and we get to see many aspects of the protagonist Gogol's life. Kal Penn and Tabu both give authentic performances. I also remember being impressed with director's version that was included in the DVD extras.

9. Outsourced (2006, John Jeffcoat): I wanted to choose one movie that shows contemporary India. Of course, this is a Hollywood version of a fairly romanticized view of the IT outsourcing phenomenon. Those of us who have worked and lived it know that it is not all fun. This is a very good effort with likable characters and lots of humor. (At present, there is also a Primetime NBC sitcom airing on Thursdays based on this story.)

10. Slumdog Millionaire (2008, Danny Boyle): There is no being neutral about this movie, or so it seems. I haven't yet come across a movie that so decisively divides people. In general, the Indian diaspora (those living outside India) seem to like it, but a huge majority of Indians seem to abhor the way it portrays their country. (Some of my relatives were aghast and just about ready to deny me dinner and turn me away because I had said I liked this movie.) The movie is based on the popular quiz show "Who wants to be a millionaire" based on Vikas Swarup's book Q&A, presented as a series of improbably connected vignettes. You might love it, or hate it, but you must view it.

The following movies probably belong in this list, but I haven't watched them yet.
  • Mr and Mrs Iyer
  • Hyderabad Blues
  • A Train To Pakistan
Hope I didn't miss too many other good movies about India.

Related Posts: The 10 Best Movies about India - Part I


  1. A very nice set of 10. I have seen most of them but can't wait to see The Cup on your recommendation. I'd add The Warrior (Irrfan Khan/2001) only because I am a sucker for its' cinematography.

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