Welcome to my new monthly feature, wherein I pair up all manner of pop culture goodies! To start things off, here are five love-laden Hindi-language movies to check out if you like these particular romantic Hollywood films.
Elizabethtown or Garden State – Jab We Met
This desi take on the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope is one of the most beloved Bollywood romcoms of the last two decades, featuring Kareena Kapoor Khan as Geet Dhillon—an effervescent young woman who reminds Shahid Kapoor’s depressed, straitlaced, Aditya about what’s important in life. What keeps Jab We Met from being a pat, recycled, story about a woman rescuing a man is that the story doesn’t stop with Aditya’s growth. It keeps going, and he rescues Geet right back! Throw in the electric chemistry between the two Kapoors (no relation!), and you’ll want to meet these characters over and over again!
The Wedding Planner or 27 Dresses – Band Baaja Baaraat
Part office romance, part friends-to-lovers, this phenomenal romcom about scrappy young wedding planners hits that sweet spot of wedding-centric romance without a lot of the antifeminist underpinnings of some American takes on the trope. Anushka Sharma’s Shruti is an expert businesswoman and knows her own mind, but she doesn’t need to be “loosened up” by Ranveer Singh’s freewheeling Bittoo or learn any kind of lesson besides taking a chance on love. They both mature over the course of the film, taking knocks of both the professional and personal variety, only to realize their own happily ever after is just as important as all those they’ve arranged.
The Princess Switch or A Christmas Prince — Khoobsurat
A bona fide Disney movie done Bollywood-style, Khoobsurat stars Sonam Kapoor as a physiotherapist called to tend to a recovering king—one who has already scared away a ton of doctors! Naturally, brash medico Mili immediately clashes with his somber son, Prince Vikram, played by Fawad Khan. It’s a classic opposites-attract tale and royal romance, complete with hard-to-win-over family members, class difference angst, and big romantic gestures. Mili’s playful spirit heals the entire royal family—and it’s up to Prince Vikram to show her that she belongs there amongst them.
Strictly Ballroom – Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi
I know, Strictly Ballroom is technically an Australian film. But if you like movies about looking inside of yourself and going after what you really want—appearances be damned—and set around a big dance competition, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi fits the bill. This sweet arranged marriage tale stars Shahrukh Khan as mild-mannered Surinder, who reinvents himself as bold dance-loving Raj in order to woo his new bride. You have to take a Clark Kent-Superman leap of faith in terms of accepting that Anushka Sharma’s Taani doesn’t recognize her own husband just because he shaved off his mustache and teased his hair, but once you take that into stride, the steps of this charming story become easy to follow.
French Kiss – Pyar To Hona Hi Tha
It almost feels like cheating to put this 1998 Ajay Devgan-Kajol starrer on the list, because it’s basically a blatant remake of the Kevin Kline-Meg Ryan film from three years earlier—minus the sexual content and plus a bunch of musical numbers. There’s just something incredibly appealing, at least to me, in seeing the exact same story—about a charismatic jewel thief helping a woman get her boyfriend back—played out with a totally different cultural sensibility. There are themes about family responsibility and belonging that feel more weighted when you factor in what Indian society expects from single men and from single women. But, don’t worry, there’s plenty of lightness to balance that out!