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Thursday, September 21, 2023

Christmas: 10 Feel-Good Bollywood Films to Watch this Festive Season: Part 2

It’s that time of the year again and Christmas is just around the corner. The festive season is all about fun, laughter, spirituality and family.

Around this time, TV is packed with special shows and films which will strike a chord with audiences. As for films, Bollywood has presented us with many feel-good films.

One of the biggies releasing this festive period is Salman Khan’s Dabangg 3, which is being highly awaited.

Besides that, there are a plethora of cinematic works that one can choose to escape from our mundane realities.

In anticipation of Christmas, Filme Shilmy presents a list of a few Indian movies to lift your spirits high!

Shree 420 (1955)

Shree 420, despite being a vintage watch, is an iconic Hindi film which is equally relevant today.

It is ideal to watch on Christmas as it is high on moral values, emphasises the notion of identity as well as making a comment on how stone-hearted our society has become.

Raj Kapoor is the straightforward Raj, a graduate who travels to Mumbai searching for prosperity. He falls in love with teacher Vidya (played by Nargis) but is soon seduced by the greed of wealth.

That’s when the dishonest businessman Sonachand and the seductress, Maya (Nadira) make him into a crook known as ‘420’, referencing the section in the Indian Penal Code, which punishes the offence of cheating.

This is a nostalgic watch for families, where one gets to witness the true craftsmanship of Hindi cinema’s ultimate showman.

Plus, with evergreen musical numbers like ‘Mera Joota Hai Japani’ and ‘Pyaar Hua Ikrar Hua’, it is refreshing to admire the simplicity of filmmaking and acting.

Seeta Aur Geeta (1972)

It’s only recently that the women empowerment movement has gained momentum in Bollywood, but Ramesh Sippy’s Seeta Aur Geeta was amongst the first films to exhibit female actors in a double role.

The story is about identical twins (in the titular roles, excellently played by Hema Malini) who are separated at birth and grow up with different temperaments.

On one hand, Seeta is a timid girl-next-door who is treated like a servant by her evil aunt and meek uncle in her mansion. Whereas Geeta a feisty girl is raised in a poor neighbourhood and is a street performer.

After a stroke of luck and the two swap positions, this brings some hilarious moments, which will make everyone chuckle – especially the scene when Geeta sits on a fan, mocking the police officers.

Furthermore, topped with some brilliant performances by Dharmendra, Sanjeev Kumar and Manorma, this film is one to lighten everyone’s festive mood!

Mr India (1987)

Regardless of the advanced technology and CGI, nothing can ever beat Shekhar Kapur’s Mr India and it is the best Hindi superhero film made to date.

Anil Kapoor plays Arun, who gains a mysterious watch made by his father that allows him to turn invisible to the eye except when seen from a red filter.

He uses these powers to fight crime and bring justice and faces his greatest challenge when villain Mogambo (Amrish Puri) kidnaps his loved ones and it is up to Arun to save them.

The film was the highest grosser in 1987 which gave us one of the most memorable and menacing villains of Bollywood, Mogambo whose line ‘Mogambo Khush Hua’ is popular even now.

The song ‘Kaate Nahin Katte’ picturised on Sridevi and Anil is one of the most sensuous songs picturised in India. This is a superhero based in ordinary society yet makes a mesmerising watch!

Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (K3G) (2001)

Bollywood is deep-rooted in familial and traditional values. K3G represent these tropes on a bigger and international scale and has the greatest ensemble casts EVER.

Seeing a group of legendary actors including Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan, Hrithik Roshan and Rani Mukerji assemble to perform a poignant, melodramatic act is an absolute treat.

It revolves around an Indian family, which faces troubles and misunderstandings over the marriage of their adopted son (Shah Rukh Khan) to a girl (Kajol) of a lower socio-economic group than them.

Set in Delhi, it subtly shows the juxtaposition of social classes in India as well as the cultural integration of Indians abroad.

Moreover, the picturesque locations of SRK and Kajol dancing to ‘Suraj Hua Maddham’ in Egypt, as well as camera shots of iconic locations in London, this is a key film in contributing towards Bollywood escapism.

Muuna Bhai series (2003/2006)

Rajkumar Hirani’s Munna Bhai series is a trend-setter of many sorts. It is a slice-of-life, film which tackles various issues through the exterior of comedy, which has always bagged awards and accolades.

The first film Munna Bhai MBBS involves protagonist – Murli Prasad Sharma, aka Munna  (Sanjay Dutt), a goon, going to medical school to fulfil his father’s wish. He is aided by his sidekick, Circuit (Arshad Warsi).

In the sequel Lage Raho Munna Bhai, Murli poses as a professor of history in order to meet with a radio jockey (Vidya Balan) whose voice he has fallen in love with.

She asks him to give a lecture on Mahatma Gandhi, and as a result, he becomes a proponent of Gandhism and uses it to solve life problems of people.

Munna, in spite of being an outlaw, acts as the mirror to society. Through naive and hilarious circumstances, this is a universal watch to uplift the human spirits.

Band Baaja Baaraat (BBB) (2010)

Yash Raj Films are pioneers in weaving love-stories amidst various locations and professional backdrops. BBB was the first time we saw a romantic-comedy in the world of wedding planning.

Marking the debut of Ranveer Singh, this slice-of-life movie realistically presents the lives of ordinary youths in Delhi.

He plays a college dropout who teams with the ambitious Shruti Kakkad (Anushka Sharma) to run the successful marriage bureau, ‘Shaadi Mubarak.’

The spunky pairing of Anushka (who was an established actor during the film’s release) and Ranveer has managed to gain iconic status. Even now, people cannot forget Shruti and Bittoo’s Picante pairing especially in songs like ‘Ainvayi Ainvayi’ and ‘Dum Dum’.

Made on a very modest budget, Maneesh Sharma’s BBB emerged as the most-popular sleeper hit of 2010, as well as a popular film… Especially amongst the youth.

Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015)

Unlike previous intense and problematic depictions of the Indo-Pak relationship, this Kabir Khan movie narrates a light-hearted, optimistic story of friendship and an appreciation of both cultures.

If we look at other films like PK, which challenged religious dogmas and superstitions, Bajrangi Bhaijaan is the complete opposite.

This is because the movie does not focus on religious differences, but conveys that we. as human beings should respect and support each other, with a well-intentioned heart.

An innocent story of a simpleton Indian endeavouring to drop a six-year-old back to her home in Pakistan is an endearing watch, in which Salman Khan gives his career’s best performance.

In addition to emerging as a box-office blockbuster, the movie also won widespread awards, including a major triumph at National Film Awards… Making further waves during its release in China.

Barfi! (2012)

Not only did Barfi! gain a great critical and commercial success, it also offers some career-defining performances by Ranbir Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra Jonas, whilst marking Ileana D’Cruz’s Bollywood debut.

Set in the 1970s, it is based on Ranbir as Murphy “Barfi” Johnson (a deaf-mute Nepali boy from Darjeeling) and his relationships with two women, Shruti (Ileana) and Jhilmil (who is autistic, played by Priyanka).

Basu never portrays the handicap aspects in a morbid or dull way. He presents these ‘challenges’ as the protagonists’ strength, as well as showcasing how these conditions impact the people around them.

The love-story itself adopts a very sweet, light and poignant tone, which strikes a chord with the audience. Whether it’s Murphy throwing his shoe in the air to catch Jhilmil’s attention or her locking the small finger with his, the audience cannot stop admiring Jhilmil and Murphy’s innocent bond.

Plus, the picturesque locations of Darjeeling and Kolkata enhance the visual appeal, where it almost seems like a painting. Above all, the soulful and melodious soundtrack by Pritam which also brings a huge smile on our faces.

Gully Boy (2019)

India’s official submission to Oscars, Gully Boy centres around 22-year-old Murad (Ranveer Singh) from a ghetto in Mumbai. He is a rapper, and the story is his journey from realising his love for rap, to chasing his dream and to inadvertently transcending his class.

Prior to this masterpiece, director Zoya Akhtar was stereotyped in solely making films on the ‘elite society’. But here, but here she showcases an organic, authentic & hopeful depiction of Mumbai’s underbelly.

It also beautifully exhibits India’s rampant rap and hip-hop culture, which gives the colonised poor an opportunity to escape the rut and respond to social injustice.

Unlike Slumdog Millionaire, this movie does not romanticise poverty, nor does it indulge in stereotypes.

This is a refreshing and revolutionary and progressive venture for Hindi cinema which will forever be cherished… An uplifting movie which can be watched whilst celebrating a joyful festival.

War (2019)

War is amongst 2019’s highest grossing Bollywood movies, with many of us have grooved to the hit numbers ‘Ghungroo’ and ‘Jai Jai Shiv Shankar’.

This Yash Raj Films production is touted to be one of the biggest action films in Bollywood, uniting handsome hunks Hrithik Roshan and Tiger Shroff for the first time ever, it is a high-octane action entertainer.

The film revolves around an Indian soldier Khalid (Tiger) who is assigned to eliminate his former mentor, Kabir (Hrithik), who goes rogue.

It has everything a commercial audience seeks: exquisite foreign locations, chiselled looks, foot-tapping songs and full-throttle action, with some brilliant performances.

Director Siddharth Anand presents pure escapist cinema which is enjoyable to watch and the two hours (or so) elapse quickly. Watching the two action heroes battle it out is a huge delight for the viewers!

Final Word

On the whole, Christmas is a festival of love, laughs and family.

To present a list of 10 feel-good Bollywood movies is quite a challenging task.

As such, these are a few of our favourite films which you will definitely enjoy watching – many of which are not just entertaining but are high on sentiments as well as social themes.

However, if you fancy watching some more films, here are a few honourable mentions!

  • Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958)
  • Rafoo Chakkar (1975)
  • Satte Pe Satta (1982)
  • Hum Aapke Hain Koun (1994)
  • Om Shanti Om (2007)
  • Wake Up Sid (2009)
  • Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011)
  • English Vinglish (2012)
  • Kapoor & Sons (2016)

Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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