With a history that spans more than a century and thousands of movies, it's difficult to recommend just a few examples of Bollywood filmmaking, but, for the uninitiated, here are a few worth seeing:
Legendary director K. Asif set out to create the biggest, most elaborate Indian romance ever with this epic tale of the forbidden love between a prince and a courtesan. Asif could only shoot a portion of the film in color, but in terms of sheer spectacle and entertainment value, it stunned audiences and set a course for the future for Indian cinema. The film stayed in theaters for three years; its full-color rerelease last year broke world box-office records.
Main Hoon Na (2004)
Bollywood films usually offer a little bit of everything for viewers. But this "Masala" movie named as such for its everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach to storytelling appropriates everything from Mission: Impossible to Grease in a convoluted tale where the fate of the world is in the hands of a hero who just wants to learn a few new dance moves.
Mujhse Shaadi Karogi (2004)
If you can imagine a modern-day Cyrano tale that combines Meet the Parents, There's Something about Mary and the Matrix films, then you'll have a ball at this goofy, splashy, magical comic romance.
Rang De Basanti (2006)
The counterculture hit that's currently breaking international box office records may not seem like such a revolution, but for Bollywood, it is. For once, the musical numbers are all introduced organically and not lip-synched; they occur when someone listens to a radio or dances along with a band. What's more, there's a white, Western love interest for our hero DJ (played by superstar Aamir Kahn), and a message of tolerance between North and South Indians. The topical, critical political view taken by the film may ruffle some feathers, but it has also touched a nerve in socially conscious audiences.
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