There are lots of movies that explore the lives of NRIs and Indians living overseas. Most of them are made in Bollywood, others overseas. There are lots of films with ‘India Abroad and NRIs’ theme. However, not all the NRIs stories of overseas are well told, well played or worth the time. Some of the best movies that actually leave a lasting impression of the life abroad include:
1. Monsoon Wedding: Directed by Mira Nair, this is romance, comedy and drama – all together – depicting the lives of NRIs and the NRI weddings. An extravagant Punjabi wedding and the family traditions are beautifully depicted throughout this movie. The touch of folk music is very refreshing. Naseeruddin Shah’s acting is solid as always, and plays a father who is organizing an enormous, chaotic, and very expensive wedding that involves NRI families coming together from different parts of the world.
2. East is East: This is a very comic and funny movie with a dark side of an NRI story based out of England. Om Puri delivers one of the best acting of a conflicted father with double standards. Married to a white woman, the father forces his kids to live the traditional and strict desi lifestyle. The children, born and grown up in UK, see themselves as British and reject their father’s rules on dress, food, religion and arranged marriage.
3. Bend it like Beckham: Starring Parminder Nagra and Keira Knightley, the title comes from the soccer player David Beckham’s skill at scoring from free kicks by “bending” (curving) the ball past a wall of defenders. It is a beautiful depiction of a Punjabi family’s life in England. The film explores the lives of Indians abroad and how NRIs ‘bend’ the social and traditional rules to adapt to the local culture. It has a lively music, with a touch of folk genre, like ‘Rabbaa Rabbaa Meeh Barsaa’.
4. Bride and Prejudice:This is a Bollywood style adaptation of the novel ‘Pride and Prejudice’ by Jane Austen. It is filmed primarily in English, with some Hindi and Punjabi dialogue. The lead cast of Aishwarya Rai, Martin Henderson, Nadira Babbar, Anupam Kher and Naveen Andrews plays well in the desi adaptation of an old classic story of west. The wedding and party scenes, the complicated feelings of love, the dance numbers and culture depiction…are all nicely integrated.
5. Purab Aur Pachhim: When it comes to the life abroad, this is an all time classic from Manoj Kumar, supported by Saira Banu, Ashok Kumar, Pran and Vinod Khanna. A storyline that compares the East and West all along, and yes, India wins in the End. Saira in mini-skirts and bikinis, 40 years ago, now that is real bold. Some of the best songs of all times include ‘Bharat Ka Rahnewala Hoon’, ‘Koi Jab Tumhara Hriday Tod De’, ‘Dulhan Chali Teen Rang Ki ’. An evergreen movie, regardless where you live.
6. Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge:This is one of the most successful and ever-green movies of all times. A well told love story of first generation British Indians entangle with Indian traditions, arranged marriage and family integrity. DDLJ stars Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, and Amrish Puri in the lead. The music numbers are equally popular, including ‘Mehndi Laga Ke Rakhna’.
7. Mississippi Masaala: This romance comedy-drama is directed by Mira Nair and the story is based in Mississippi, USA. The film explores the human emotions of love, hate, racism and inter-racial romance between African-Americans and Indian-Americans in America. The lead roles come from Denzel Washington, Sharmila Tagore, and Roshan Seth. A beautiful movie for those who like serious drama with realistic settings abroad.
8. Namaste London:This is a comedy, romance, good music and patriotism – all mixed together in a movie based out of London. A well-made film that provides all-round entertainment for all ages. The approach is similar to Purab Aur Pacchim, but in modern settings. Akshay Kumar’s acting carries the movie throughout and Katrina Kaif looks good – in mini skirts as well as in Punjabi suits.
9. The Namesake: Based on Jhumpa Lahiri’s famous novel by the same name, the movie is directed by, guess who – Mira Nair; no surprise. The film shows the struggles of two first-generation immigrants from West Bengal to the United States, and their American-born children. The topics of modern day dating, love and marriage is explored through the eyes of traditional parents. Tabu, Irrfan Khan and Kal Penn lead the cast.
10. Bollywood Hollywood:A relatively low budget movie out of Canada, with lots of NRI appeal. In fact, Deepa Mehta made this comic drama as a satire or spoof on Bollywood movies. The story revolves around Indo-Canadian families’ life-style and the double standards of younger generation – to satisfy their traditional family at home and the western culture outside the house. Rahul Khanna, Lisa Ray, Moushumi Chatterjee and Kulbhushan Kharbanda play the main caste.
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