I know I have asked this question many times before, but it is a fun one. And one that everyone should be able to answer, even if the answer is “I was born and it was there because my parents are Indian”. Although I am also expanding it, so if you spent your life watching Indian movies and not really thinking about it, and then as a teenager really really fell in love with one movie that got you seriously into the films, tell that story. Or if you have already told your Hindi film story, tell your Tamil or Malayalam or Telugu film story instead. Remember, I am giving away an SRK poster at the end of the month to the person who makes the most comments!
I’ve already told my story of finding Hindi film (watched Lagaan in high school, liked it but wasn’t blown away, stumbled into a showing of DDLJ at an art theater when I was a freshman in college, loved it). But I can tell my story of finding non-Hindi Indian movies.
That same weekend I saw Lagaan in theaters, I also watched Kandukondain Kandukondain, a Tamil movie. It was okay, but it didn’t sweep me away the way that DDLJ did. It was a combination of too fantastical (the strange fantasy songs with the fairy tale setting, and the body make-up), and not fantastical enough (the shabby looking computer office, the less handsome and charming heroes). I appreciated it as a film, but I didn’t fall in love.
I watched a couple other non-Hindi films over the years, I saw Roja and Bombay from Mani Ratnam, and Jeans from Shankar. I sort of knew the stereotypes of southern films, that they were big and silly action films, unlike the Hindi romances that I loved. And then moviemavengal/Pardesi saw Bahubaali in theaters and told me I had to watch it. I went to see it, and loved it (of course). From there I watched Mirchi and Bujjigaddu and loved how inventive they were in the fight scenes, it wasn’t just stupid “dishoom dishoom”, there was meta-commentary on the action genre, and clever graceful movements and all kinds of things. Moviemavengal also told me that I HAD to watch Ohm Shaanti Oshaana, Bangalore Days, and Ustaad Hotel, I also loved those. The problem is, Malayalam films are hard to find streaming, and of course DVDs are dying so I couldn’t buy them. My next step was to request every Malayalam film my local library had, which gave me a cross-section of brilliant art films to terrible early 2000s schlock. For Tamil and Telugu, thank goodness, streaming options are a lot better. I watched a bunch of classic Black and White Tamil films through the Rajshri Tamil youtube channel (all free!), and focused on seeing every Mani Ratnam film. And a bunch of Telugu movies through the various legitimate youtube channels. Plus, movies that you all here recommended to me which I bought through sketchy DVD sources or tracked down through sketchy streaming sources.
The funny thing is, I like the southern films, but they still don’t make me feel the same way the Hindi films do. I was thinking it was simply because I found Hindi films first, when I was only 19 before I started thinking so much I couldn’t just feel, but I actually didn’t, I watched Kandukondain Kandukondain the same weekend as DDLJ, they had an equal chance. However it happened, watching Hindi films for me is like sinking into a warm bath, all soothing and natural and cozy, while watching the southern films still feels more like swimming a race, struggling to keep up and stay afloat.
So, that’s my story! What’s your story of finding Indian films? Or suddenly seeing them in a new way? Or finding a new Indian industry than the one you have been watching?
(Remember, if you comment the most this month, you get the poster below! Who wouldn’t want it?)