One Hindi film on Netflix is worth prioritizing before it expires. 2013’s Siddharth departs the catalog on November 7, 2016. Not only is it a wonderful, heartbreaking film, but it opened my eyes to the way we take money for granted in the movies. The characters in Ae Dil Hai Mushkil can gallivant all over Europe in private jets because they are filthy rich. What if you are dirt poor, and your son goes missing in a distant city? That’s the dilemma faced by the family in Siddharth. It’s really a movie worth your time.
One of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving as a kid was the annual “Turkey Day” marathon on Comedy Central, featuring back-to-back episodes of my favorite show: Mystery Science Theater 3000. The marathon’s name referred to not only the traditional Thanksgiving turkey we all dined on, but also to the awful movies — “turkeys” — the guys from MST3K skewered each episode.
Though the old Comedy Central event featured lousy films, it got me thinking about how I would organize a Thanksgiving marathon of good Bollywood movies, using only titles available on Netflix. I’ve posted my list below, complete with a fictionalized account of what the day would be like if I were hosting Thanksgiving dinner for my family (which will never happen, BTW).
I’d love to know what your Thanksgiving Bollywood-on-Netflix marathon would be. Here are the rules:
List them in the order you want them to be shown (sure, you could follow Guzaarish with Humshakals, but that’s just mean)
Make sure to limit your movies to those on this Netflix list. This isn’t your ideal Bollywood marathon, just a Netflix marathon. Post your lineup in the comment section below. Happy Turkey Day!
Kathy’s 2015 Bollywood-on-Netflix Turkey Day Marathon
9 a.m. — Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. Gotta start out strong. The catchy tunes are perfect background music for early morning prep. (My review | Netflix link) 11:30 a.m. — Kill Dil. By this point, my brother and his wife have come over to help cook. Kill Dil is quirky enough to appeal to my brother, and Ali Zafar can be the eye candy for my sister-in-law. (My review | Netflix link) 2 p.m. — Dhoom 2. The great thing about Dhoom 2 is that it’s just as entertaining (and makes just as much sense) if you come in halfway through the movie as it is if you watch it from the beginning. Perfect for the time period when most of the guests will arrive. (My review | Netflix link) 4:30 p.m. — Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham. The main course. Dancing, crying, family reunions… This has “Thanksgiving” written all over it. (My review | Netflix link) 7 p.m. — Hawaizaada. How about some kid-friendly fare to go with my Aunt Mary’s pumpkin pie? (My review | Netflix link) 9:30 p.m. — Aurangzeb. My cousins Lara and Jill have taken their kids home, so any adults still lingering are subject to my whims. That means a soap opera about twins separated at birth swapping places to take down their gangster father. Good times. (My review | Netflix link)
What stands out most on my Top Ten list for 2013 is the diversity of genres represented. No matter what you’re in the mood for, there’s a really good movie on this list. (Click on the title of each movie to read my original review.)
In addition to the great variety on the list, all the movies mentioned are accessible to an international audience. Familiarity with Hindi movies and their structure may enhance one’s appreciation of Phata Poster Nikla Hero or Commando: A One Man Army, but a lack of prior experience shouldn’t keep Bollywood newcomers from enjoying them. In fact, Commando‘s best selling point is that it’s a martial arts action flick with a romantic dance number in the middle.
D-Day also features my single favorite scene in any movie from 2013: a heartbreaking song montage about the doomed relationship between an assassin (Arjun Rampal) and a prostitute (Shruti Haasan).
My favorite Hindi movie of 2013 offers the perfect mix of passion and drama in a beautiful setting. If I could dream up an ideal romantic movie, it would be Lootera. [Buy it on DVD here.]
Writers Vikramaditya Motwane and Bhavani Iyer took a short story by O. Henry and adapted it to depict a tumultuous time period in India, as family fortunes were dismantled in the years following partition. Imagine trying to cope with the heightened emotions of first love while your way of life is turned on its head. Such are the circumstances for Pakhi (Sonakshi Sinha) and her beau, Varun (Ranveer Singh).
Fans of Victorian literature or contemporary period dramas like Downton Abbey: Lootera is made for you.
The Golf Glen 5 is also holding over Go Goa Gone for a third week, with earnings of $270,139 in the U.S. so far. As noted in my latest Streaming Video News, Go Goa Gone becomes available for rent on Eros Now starting this Friday.
Aurangzeb should not work. The premise is silly: a long-lost twin impersonates his brother to take down their father’s criminal empire. Yet writer-director Atul Sabharwal executes his vision with such sincerity that the movie succeeds. I unapologetically love this action soap opera.
Sabharwal worked in television before this, his feature film debut, and it shows. There are so many twists and turns in the plot that it feels like a full season of a TV series condensed into one 140-minute movie. Aurangzeb: The Series would fit right in alongside The Vampire Diaries on The CW.
Arya (Pritviraj Sukumaran) — the film’s narrator — has a troubled relationship with his father, a disgraced police officer played by Anupam Kher in a moving cameo. Because of his father’s emotional distance, Arya was primarily raised by his uncle, Ravi (Rishi Kapoor), a crooked cop.
On his deathbed, Arya’s father confesses that he has a secret wife and son that Arya is now obligated to take care of. Arya resentfully breaks the news to the woman, Veera (Tanvi Azmi), only to realize that her son looks exactly like the son of the criminal mastermind, Yashwardhan (Jackie Shroff).
Uncle Ravi realizes that Veera and her son, Vishal (Arjun Kapoor), are Yashwardhan’s wife and son, presumed dead for the last 25 years after a “botched” police shootout that cost Arya’s father his job. In order to clear his father’s name, Arya and Ravi conspire to kidnap Yashwardhan’s son Ajay (also played by Arjun Kapoor) so that Vishal can impersonate his identical twin brother while acting as a police informant. Ravi explains that Vishal must act like Aurangzeb, the Mughal emperor who gained his throne by defeating the brothers ahead of him in the line of succession.
The soapiness of the story is enhanced by an amazing soundtrack. Heartrending musical themes accompany Veera’s confessions to her sons. Bombastic rock blares when Ajay (or Vishal) strides into a room, ready to bust some heads. Thankfully, the soundtrack album includes several of the great instrumental songs by Amartya Rahut and Vipin Mishra.
As with any good soap opera, the film is really about family conflicts: brothers turned against one another, children resentful of their parents’ favoritism, and parents who feel they can’t express their feelings to their hot-headed sons. Arya hates Vishal because of the love his own father showed the gangster’s son. Vishal hates his mother for robbing him of a relationship with his biological father. Ajay hates everybody.
As in his debut, Ishaqzaade, Arjun Kapoor plays a scumbag, and he’s great at it. Ajay is loathsome almost beyond the point of sympathy, yet the hurt behind his lashing out is always obvious. Vishal undergoes some real character growth as he, too, as his timidity gives way to aggression.
Pritviraj puts Arya in a similarly precarious position to Ajay’s. One of Arya’s early scenes has him belittling his dying father, so it’s hard to love him. However, it does give him room to grow when he’s forced to choose between his father’s “family first” approach to morality or his uncle’s belief in success at any cost.
Rishi Kapoor is compelling as the head of a family of corrupt cops. Ravi’s son, Dev (Sikander Kher), is involved in the family business, too, and gets to do some sleazy stuff.
Jackie Shroff plays the most sympathetic of the movie’s flawed father figures. Yashwardhan is old enough that he’s not the fearsome thug he once was, making it hard for Vishal to reconcile the man before him with the villainous image he was sold.
The movie isn’t all emotional turmoil. There are plenty of cool fight scenes to keep things entertaining, and it’s impressive how well they integrate with the melodrama. This kind of action-soap opera can’t succeed if it’s done halfway, and Sabharwal goes all out. Aurangzeb is exciting, touching, and totally engrossing.
The zombie comedy Go Goa Gone — which earned $170,044 in its first weekend in U.S. theaters — carries over for a second week at all of the above theaters. Having earned $338,433 in the U.S. so far, Shootout at Wadala gets a third weekend at the South Barrington 30.