I am aware my massive lists (Netflix list here and Prime list here) are probably too massive. They are meant to be less of a to-do list, and more of a browsing list. Start with those films, then browse through and check the descriptions and see what you are in the mood for. THIS is your to-do list! The really really wonderful little films that are absolute must watches.
Okay, you know the kind of rom-com that is so light and happy you almost feel guilty for enjoying it, but at the same time can’t stop smiling? These are the ones you should watch from Prime or Netflix for that feeling. Oh, and they are also all smaller star and smaller budget films, so you may have overlooked them.
Ranveer and Vaani Kapoor in a very light French kind of romance. It’s maybe the most French feeling Indian film I’ve ever seen. They still love each other, there is romance, but it is all underneath bluntness and honesty and practicality. And a few farcical moments. What makes it special are the songs, and the chemistry in the central couple. They spend most of the film as exes who are now best friends and you really truly want them to get back together because they are so clearly meant to be together.
Anil Kapoor and Amrita Singh back in the early ideas playing a very young couple who want to get married against their parents wishes. This movie exists in such a happy world. The parents object, but everyone else wants to be helpful and is helpful. Also, our heroine is very immature and silly and in love, and that’s okay! She wants to get married to the boy she likes, and she should get married to the boy she likes because it is what she wants. A great role and a great performance for Amrita.
The best parallel cinema romance of the 80s! Our hero Farookh Sheikh is a good boy with ambitions and no plan to get married, until our heroine Deepti Naval comes knocking on the door of the room he shares with two other young men selling her laundry flakes. They fall in love over laundry, and their romance progresses in fits and starts through walking in parks, and splitting drinks at restaurants too expensive for Farookh to afford.
Parineeti Chopra as a young woman determined not to fall into the dowry trap and ready to trick others to avoid it, and Aditya Roy Kapoor as a young man with an open face and mind and no idea anyone could ever trick him. It’s great seeing peppy fast talking Pari run against loud talking smiling happy ARK, and the sparks between them.
Preity Zinta as a London shopgirl, and Abhishek Bachchan as a fasttalking recent immigrant on the make, meet and fall in love at a London train station. It’s the kind of story we don’t usually get in Hindi film, doubledecker buses and tiny little sweet shops and tiny crowded little immigrant houses. We even get a second heroine who is the local sex worker. And the whole thing is so happy! Happy and non-judgemental and just showing life as it is and how it can be magical.
Zayed Khan and Dia Mirzi are best friends in real life, and they produced this together along with playing the hero and heroine. There is a great warmth and friendship that comes through onscreen between them, as two nice people who live across the country from each other and become friends over the course of a long wedding week.
One of Katrina Kaif’s early great roles, with Imraan Khan doing a great job just being there to support her. Kat plays a free thinking rebel woman who struggles with how to be herself and still find love. Imraan is the guy who recognizes her specialness, but foolishly arranges her her to marry his successful big brother instead of himself. Once Kat and Imraan finally find their way to each other, how can they get out of this wedding that is now well on the way to happening?
Hrithik and Rani and Kareena in a love triangle, with bright colors and pretty scenary and some amazing songs. This is the only time Rani and Hrithik have co-starred, and it really is something to see. Hrithik is half child and half madman, while Rani is all mature wise woman with some big blindspots. They are a couple that don’t really make sense together, but are fascinating individually. Somehow the miss-match drives both of them towards really entertaining performances.
Wild gun young romance in early 2000s Toronto with Uday Chopra and Tanisha Mukherjee. I know that doesn’t sound really appealing, but this film is delightfully meta, including an explanation that the proper way to fake being in love is singing to each other on mountain tops. And I really buy the chemistry between the young couple, all the crazy plot twists work because I believe they are secretly in love after all.
Two newcomers, discovered by Salman Khan, in this beautiful beautiful love story produced by Salman. A young ex-soldier takes a temporary job as a teacher at a remote school just to keep the school going. He falls in love with the kids and the beauty of the area, and also with the female former teacher he gets to know through the journal she left behind. The film intercuts beautifully between the two journeys in the same space, and with the same adorable children.
Uday Chopra and Priyanka Chopra as the geek and the beauty queen. This sounds terrible, right? But it’s surprisingly sweet! And strangely progressive. Uday doesn’t get a big make-over or anything, just gains some self-confidence. And Priyanka gains some maturity. And they realize they aren’t that different after all.
I unabashedly love this movie. Reincarnation romance, with a charming funny modern sequence, and an over the top ridiculous Ancient Times sequence. All tied together by three central performances, Sushant Singh Rajput as the confident suitor, Kriti Sanon as the woman surprised by her strong emotions in both eras, and Jim Sarbh as the insanely amusing ex.
Imtiaz’s big break through movie, a love story in which nothing happens outside while everything is happening inside. Abhay Deol can’t quite find himself, and Ayesha Takia isn’t brave enough to look for herself, and then these two mixed up kids meet each other and suddenly everything else falls away, Ayesha’s worry about pleasing her family and Abhay’s worry about proposing to his girlfriend, all ceases to matter and they are just HAPPY.
Rani Mukherjee playing a woman with a fantasy life and a sex drive that is stronger than her need to please her family, or society, or her very sweet fiance. It’s a little bit crazy and a little bit fantastical, and a lot sexy, and also a lot loving and happy. In the end Rani just wants to be happy, and that’s all her family wants for her too.
Kriti Sanon, Ayushmann Khurrana, and Rajkummar Rao, all in the same film! Worth watching for that alone. But also for our heroine, who is “different” and thinks that makes her unable to find love, until, by some miracle, she finds a guy who appreciates all that she is and she never wants to let him go. And the guy, who seems confident on the outside but on the inside is even more fragile than she is.
One of those silly movies that just makes me laugh when I think about it. Shahid is dumped by his first girlfriend Soha Ali Khan, so comes to the city where he meets Ayesha Takia and Tulip Joshi. But which of the three is his True Love? There’s a lot of bright colors and silliness involved, and all three heroines get great characters, and I am legitimately worried by the end of the film that Shahid will choose the wrong one!
Imraan Khan as a slacker hipster type, and Sonam Kapoor as a perfect hardworking Type A type, bounce off each other, become friends, and then try to figure out if they are more than friends. The hero is real rough here, for about the first half hour, the film goes too far in making him not care about anything. But then it gets better, once he and Sonam are for real friends the rest of the movie is smooth sailing. And what I really love, is that the romantic Sonam is shown to be RIGHT. All the signs she saw as Imraan falling in love her, were exactly what she thought they were, it was he who was blind. Also, Imraan logically suffers for his misconceptions and misplaced values. Also, this movie is produced by Karan Johar and he includes some awesome slams at the Dharma house style along the way in a very self-aware fashion.
Maybe the best Hindi Friends-to-Lovers movie ever made. Imraan in his debut movie just immediately alive onscreen, Genelia D’Souza in her big break Hindi film after years of charming teen roles in the south also immediately magical onscreen. We believe in their deep friendship, we believe that they can’t see how there is love underneath it, and we root for them to finally figure it out and get together. Also, Naseeruddin Shah and Ratna Pathak play Imraan’s parents, and the movie is worth watching just to see them play off each other.
Sonam Kapoor as the Delhi physical therapist brought in to treat uptight Prince Fawad Khan’s father. You know that feeling when you were 14 and read a really good YA book that gave you butterflies inside because you identified with the confused growing up heroine and the mysterious but turns out he loves her hero? That’s what watching this movie is like. Our heroine is a professional with life experiences, but also as awkward and unsure as a teenager in romance, our hero is dashing and restrained and handsome, and they get together through a series of missed connections and sexual tension and bright bright colors. The best part, he falls in love with her because of all her oddness, not in spite of it.
Rishi Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia as an older widow and widower who fall in love. It’s a different romance not just because of their ages, but because of the speed of it. They meet, they start going for walks together, then maybe talking a bit, and even the risk of going out for dinner is heartstopping. This isn’t a couple where love magically makes them “young” again, they come to it with all the caution you learn from age, and there is a real risk they won’t get there in the end.
Irrfan Khan and Parvathy playing a mature couple dipping the toes into love again through online dating which turns into a trip together. Parvathy is used to being alone, and Irrfan is tired of being alone. Irrfan pushes, she pulls back. They seem to be connecting, and then are running at different speeds again. For the viewer, the moments of disconnection are fun and funny, but the moments of connection are magic.
Amit Sadh and Taapsee Pannu, she is stubborn and quick to anger, he is quite and quick to give up. Their romance has a lot of ups and downs, but the twists are what makes this movie so rewarding of repeat viewing. What we think they are feeling isn’t always what they are really feeling, and what they think they are feeling isn’t always what they are really feeling either.
Okay, there’s your to-do list! All the light happy small rom-coms you can stream. Get back to me when you’ve finished them all!