15 Hollywood Films About India To Binge Watch
Updated: Jun 3
With life on lockdown it’s the perfect time to catch up on your Bollywood Movies. Though if you’re like me, reading subtitles is very challenging therefore miss the entire movie. I find it impossible to keep up with the pace of the subtitles and following what’s happening in the movie. So if you’re looking to reminisce about India without the need to travel abroad or read subtitles, then why not binge on Hollywood Bollywood Movies. This is what I call Hollywood movies that are in English without subtitles, about the Indian way of life or set in India. Although not all movies are technically Hollywood with a couple of Aussie and Canadian films in the mix. So here are my top fifteen movies to binge watch! Most I’ve watched, with some that are still on my to watch list. If you have one to add to the list then be sure to leave a comment below!
The true story of a life lost and found. In 1986, Saroo was a five-year-old child in India of a poor but happy rural family. On a trip with his brother, Saroo soon finds himself alone and trapped in a moving decommissioned passenger train that takes him to Calcutta, 1500 miles away from home. Now totally lost in an alien urban environment and too young to identify either himself or his home to the authorities, Saroo struggles to survive as a street child until he is sent to an orphanage. Soon, Saroo is selected to be adapted to the Brierley family in Tasmania, where he grows up in a loving prosperous home. However, for all his material good fortune, Saroo finds himself plagued by his memories of his lost family in his adulthood and tries to search for them even as his guilt drives him to hide this quest from his adoptive parents and his girlfriend. Only when he has an epiphany does he realize not only the answers he needs, but also the steadfast love of he has always had with all his loved ones in both worlds.
Lion would have to be one of my favourite Hollywood Bollywood Movies with Australia’s leading lady Nicole Kidman, alongside Dev Patel set in none other than Australia, Tasmania. This is definitely a tear jerker, not dissimilar to Slumdog Millionaire, as Saroo is haunted of memories of his childhood and older brother, who suddenly disappeared. Despite being raised in a loving family with his adopted brother, Saroo can’t shake these memories and starts an impossible quest to find his family. Without giving away too much, there is a happy ending although bittersweet. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and would give it a five star rating.
Things are about to get spicy!
Beautiful divorcee and single mother of one, Meera (Tannishtha Chatterjee, BRICK LANE) is an Australian of Indian origin. Smart and independent, she has carved out a successful life for herself and her daughter... despite family pressure to find 'a nice Indian match'.
Then Meera meets Will... tall and blonde with a charming smile (legendary cricketer Brett Lee in his first leading dramatic role). But falling in love with an Australian man is not only scandalous it's UnIndian!
Will Meera do as her family wishes? Or will she follow her heart and live her life the way she wants? Highlighting the complexities of wooing another from a different culture, UnIndian is a cross-cultural romantic comedy with a lot of heart and a little spice.
Sticking to the Australian films, here’s another great watch that will make you feel good. It may be the typical cross cultural romantic comedy, but it’s a little bit daggy yet still leaves you feeling good. I love a daggy movie, for those who don’t know Aussie slang, in this scenario I use it in a sense that it’s like a low budget film, a little bit silly yet sweet and amusing. Theres plenty of relatable dating an Indian scenes for those of us in a cross cultural relationship with an Indian. Definitely another favourite of mine as I love a good ‘daggy’ feel good movie.
See the film that inspired the series! Todd Anderson (Josh Hamilton-Kicking and Screaming, The Bourne Identity) gets the bad news from his boss: his job has been outsourced. Adding insult to injury, Todd must travel to India to train his own replacement. Despite his struggle to navigate an office paralyzed by cultural misunderstandings, Todd finds his co-workers impossible to dislike - especially his friendly replacement Puro (Asif Basara), and the beautiful and opinionated Asha (Ayesha Darkher - Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the clones, Bombay Dreams). Through a series of hilarious misadventures, this charming, critically acclaimed romantic comedy reminds us that sometimes getting lost is the best way to find yourself.
Unfortunately this one is still on my list of to watch movies therefore I can’t give you my review on the movie. However from the synopsis it definitely sounds like another feel good romcom that’s full of laughs. I’m sure that we could all use as much good feels as possible at the momens.
From award winning British filmmaker Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later) and written by the Oscar nominated writer of The Full Monty. Based on the award winning book Q & A by Indian writer Vikas Swarup and winner of the 2008 Cadillac People?s Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival.
Jamal Malik, an 18 year-old orphan from the slums of Mumbai, is one question away from winning an amazing 20 million rupees on India's ''Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?''
Jamal, is arrested on suspicion of cheating. For Jamal to win back his freedom and chance to win, he tells the police the incredible story of his life on the streets of India, and of the girl he loved and lost. However, the persisting questions remain: What is a slumdog with no interest in money doing on the show? And how does he know all the answers?
This would have to be one of the most well known Hollywood movies about India, yet one that I‘ve only just watched last year. You’ll definitely need the tissues as there are some raw scenes of life on the streets of India for an orphan child. Though it’s not all heart wrenching, with plenty of feel good moments and a happy ending. Definitely a must see Hollywood Bollywood movie
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
A group of British retirees travel to India to take up residence in what they believe is a newly restored hotel. Less luxurious than its advertisements, the Marigold Hotel nevertheless slowly begins to charm in unexpected ways. With an all-star British cast The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a life affirming, smart and charming comedy/drama about life, love and new beginnings.
If you’re not up for a heart wrenching story then The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is definitely a must. It’s a feel good heart warming story of a handful of retirees who are charmed into retiring abroad in what they believe to be a luxurious hotel that turns out to be not so luxurious. Another lovable performance by Dev Patel who plays the optimistic goofy yet affable manager of the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. There are many relatable first time moments that we all face as a tourist in India. But it’s the characters who make this film with an all star cast with one of my favourites Judi Dench. It’s an easy to watch feel good film that you should add to your list of movies to watch in lockdown.
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is the expansionist dream of Sonny (Dev Patel), and it's making more claims on his time than he has available, considering his imminent marriage to the love of his life, Sunaina (Tina Desai). Sonny has his eye on a promising property now that his first venture, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and Beautiful, has only a single remaining vacancy - posing a rooming predicament for fresh arrivals Guy (Richard Gere) and Lavinia (Tamsin Greig). Evelyn and Douglas (Judi Dench and Bill Nighy) have now joined the Jaipur workforce, and are wondering where their regular dates for Chilla pancakes will lead, while Norman and Carol (Ronald Pickup and Diana Hardcastle) are negotiating the tricky waters of an exclusive relationship, as Madge (Celia Imrie) juggles two eligible and very wealthy suitors. Perhaps the only one who may know the answers is newly installed co-manager of the hotel, Muriel (Maggie Smith), the keeper of everyone's secrets.
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel follows on from the first film, with Dev Patel returning as Sonny, who has dreams of opening a second hotel. With his eyes set on a promising property, he enlists the help of cranky yet soft Muriel. Richard Gere joins the cast as a hotel inspector who has eyes for Sonny’s very tough traditional mother. Despite all the dramas everyone is brought together in the end, when Sonny marries his love Sunaina, at their Big Fat Indian Wedding. Carrying on from the first film, there are plenty more feel good moments.
The Big Sick
Based on the real-life courtship: Pakistan-born comedian Kumail and grad student Emily fall in love, but they struggle as their cultures clash. When Emily contracts a mysterious illness, Kumail must navigate the crisis with her parents and the emotional tug-of-war between his family and his heart.
A cross cultural love story with all the stereotypical dramas of dating outside of your own culture. In addition to trying to navigate life as his girlfriend is beset with a mystery illness. Based on the actual real life accounts of comedian Kumail Nanjiani and his girlfriend Emily. A real life story that most of us will be able to relate with.
The Hundred Foot Journey
Starring Academy Award winner Helen Mirren (Best Actress, The Queen, 2006), produced by Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey and Juliet Blake, and directed by Lasse Hallström (Chocolat), this uplifting story bursts with flavour, passion and heart.
When the chilly chef proprietress of a Michelin-starred French restaurant in southern France (Mirren) gets wind of a culinary immigrant opening an Indian restaurant just 100 feet from her own, her icy protests escalate to all-out war between the two establishments. It’s a celebration of triumph over exile as these two worlds collide and one young man tries to find the comfort of home in every pot — wherever he may be.
Another feel good movie to add to your list of movies to binge on, surprisingly produced by Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winifrey. Such a dynamic duo, you can’t go wrong. It’s a lovable heart warming film about the Kadam Family who open an Indian restaurant in France. Which just so happens to be across the road from the Michelin starred french restaurant owned by Helen Mirren. It’s a comedic battle between the two establishments with a happy ending. There’s no such thing as too many feel good movies.
Bride & Predujice
A clash of cultures in the spirit of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, this modern musical retelling of Jane Austen's classic Pride And Prejuice is a hilariously entertaining tale of one girl's unlikely search for love! Sparks immediately fly as a love/hate relationship ignites between a small-town beauty (International star Aishwarya Rai) and a wealthy American (Martin Henderson- The Ring, Torque) who's visiting her modest Indian village! In a swirl of music, dance and comic misunderstandings, these opposites continue to attract and repel one another in a riotous romance, that spans three continents! Featuring Naveen Adrews (TV's Lost, The English Patient) and a memorable performance from top recording artist Ashanti- love will eventually conquer all in this acclaimed treat from the director of Bend It Like Beckham!
This happens to still be on my to watch list, though it sounds like a good watch and should be added to yours too.
The Darjeeling Limited
Three American brothers who have not spoken to each other in a year set off on a train voyage across India with a plan to find themselves and bond with each other - to become brothers again like they used to be. Their 'spiritual quest', however, veers rapidly off-course (due to events involving over-the-counter pain killers, Indian cough syrup, and pepper spray), and they eventually find themselves stranded alone in the middle of the desert with eleven suitcases, a printer, and a laminating machine. At this moment, a new, unplanned journey suddenly begins.
If you’re looking to reminisce about India, then this spiritual yet sometimes somber film should be added to your list. Another all star cast with Owen Wilson and Adrien Brady. I’ve only managed to watch half of the film though from what I‘ve seen its another film full of ups and downs. A bit like life in India.
The Jungle Book
The legend will never be the same. Directed by Jon Favreau, based on Rudyard Kipling’s timeless stories and inspired by Disney’s classic animated film, “The Jungle Book” is an all-new live-action epic adventure about Mowgli (Neel Sethi), a man-cub who’s been raised by a family of wolves. But Mowgli finds he is no longer welcome in the jungle when fearsome tiger Shere Khan (voice of Idris Elba), who bears the scars of Man, promises to eliminate what he sees as a threat. Urged to abandon the only home he’s ever known, Mowgli embarks on a captivating journey of self-discovery, guided by panther-turned-stern mentor Bagheera (voice of Ben Kingsley), and the freespirited bear Baloo (voice of Bill Murray). Along the way, Mowgli encounters jungle creatures who don’t exactly have his best interests at heart, including Kaa (voice of Scarlett Johannsson), a python whose seductive voice and gaze hypnotizes the man-cub, and the smooth-talking King Louie (voice of Christopher Walken), who tries to coerce Mowgli into giving up the secret to the elusive and deadly red flower: fire. The all-star cast also includes Lupita Nyong'o as the voice of the fiercely protective mother wolf Raksha, and Giancarlo Esposito as the voice of wolf pack’s alpha male Akela. “The Jungle Book” seamlessly blends live-action with photorealistic CGI animals and environments, using up-to-the-minute technology and storytelling techniques to immerse audiences in an enchanting and lush world.
The Jungle Book has to be one of the most well known children’s stories that’s been retold throughout the generations. This would have to be the latest version blending real life with animation. Of course it’s set in the jungles of India and majority of the characters names are the Hindi translation of the English. Such as Baloo the bear, Baloo is actually the Hindi word for bear. Although it’s not totally a Hollywood Bollywood movie, it is a great family movie.
American-born Gogol, the son of the Ganguli family who left India for America, wants to fit in among his fellow New Yorkers, despite his family's unwillingness to let go of their traditional ways.
The Namesake is a coming-of-age story about an Indian boy who has been raised in America, as he struggles between honoring the traditional values of his Indian heritage and blending into the modern American culture. This is another one that’s on my to watch list,as from the reviews it sounds like a heart warming story of blending cultures and the challenges it brings.
The Million Dollar Arm
In a last ditch effort to save his career as a sport agent, JB Bernstein (Jon Hamm) concocts a scheme to find baseballs next great pitching ace. Hoping to find a young cricket pitcher he can turn into a major league baseball star, JB travels to India to produce a reality show competition called Million Dollar Arm. With the help of a cantankerous but eagle-eyed retired baseball scout (Alan Arkin) he discovers Dinesh (played by Madhur Mittal from Slumdog Millionaire) and Rinku (played by Suraj Sharma from Life of Pi), two 18 year old boys who have no idea about playing baseball, yet have a knack for throwing a fastball.
Hoping to sign them to major league contracts and make a quick buck, JB brings the boys home to America to train. While the Americans are definitely out of their element in India the boys, who have never left their rural villages are equally challenged when they come to the States. As the boys learn the finer points of baseball JB, with the help of his charming friend Brenda (Lake Bell) learns valuable life lessons about teamwork, commitment and what it means to be a family.
This film is one for the sports lovers, that also teaches life lessons about teamwork, commitment and family. Yet another one that’s on my to watch list though definitely sounds like a great watch.
Life Of Pi
Director Ang Lee creates a groundbreaking movie event about a young man who survives a tragic disaster at sea and is hurtled into an epic journey of adventure and discovery. While marooned on a lifeboat, he forms an amazing and unexpected connection with the ship's only other survivor...a fearsome Bengal tiger.
This movie may not be the typical Hollywood Bollywood movie, though from what I’ve heard there are some visually stunning scenes and it’s been awarded four academy awards. This is another film I’m yet to watch however it’s towards the bottom of my to watch list simply as its not the usual movie I go for.
Bollywood Hollywood is a delightful, cross-cultural parody of both India's and America's musical film traditions. Directed by Deepa Mehta (Earth),Bollywood Hollywoodconcerns the desperate effort of wealthy businessman Rahul (Rahul Khanna) to get his mother and grandmother off his back when it comes to his romantic life. In love with a white pop-star girlfriend (Jessica Paré), Rahul's fortunes change when she dies. Still grieving, he is told by his mother that Rahul's only sister won't be allowed to marry until he finds a nice Indian girl to wed.
The solution: hire a beautiful, dark-skinned, allegedly Spanish escort named Sue (Lisa Ray) to pose as his Indian fiancée. With tongue firmly planted in cheek, Mehta pokes fun at a number of Bollywood cinema clichés, especially that familiar mix of modern luxury and old world traditions, melodramas involving the saddest of character backstories, and spontaneous musical numbers that remind one as much of Hollywood's Golden Age as Bollywood's current one.
Last on the list is a cross cultural parody that sounds like a good laugh poking fun at the differences between Hollywood and Bollywood. The perfect Hollywood Bollywood movie to end with. It may appear to be more of a Bollywood film though I believe this is Canadian.