Do you like Hindi films? You can probably guess that I like them, and I do. Aren’t they fantastic? Hindi films are widely loved far beyond India. I have personally met people from many countries (Everywhere! Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Kenya, Egypt, Oman, and the UAE) who can communicate in very basic Hindi from years of watching Hindi films. I don’t think that one can learn Hindi simply by watching Hindi films, but if you are learning Hindi (or Urdu), it is great to use them as a learning tool to get greater exposure to the language. As a matter of fact, this site has learning tools such as transliterated lyrics, film guides, and filmi vocabulary lists, which are very useful. It also has a page dedicated to explaining cultural information that might come up for people who are less familiar with desi culture, which answers questions like: “What does it mean when someone tugs their ears?” and “What does it mean when someone wags their thumb?”

In the UAE as a teacher, I once had a student tell me that her hobby was singing. I jokingly asked her to sing something for the class, and she burst into song. In a sweet, clear voice, she serenaded us, and it was a filmi song. She sang “Bole chooriyan, bole kangana, hay main ho gayiiiii, teri saajna. Tere bin jiyo nayo lagda, main te mar gayiaaaaa…,” then suddenly the entire class of Emirati girls joined her and they sung the rest of the song together. It was a surreal experience.

We have our own iconic films in my native culture-The Wizard of Oz, Grease, Forrest Gump, Titanic, and many more. My culture is punctuated with references to these types of films. Similarly, in a very general way, one could learn a little bit about Indian culture from Hindi films, especially the classics.

One often hears the expression “Old is Gold,” about classic Hindi films and film songs. What films are evergreen, iconic classics that you would recommend to someone who wanted to experience the best of the Hindi film industry?

Here is a list that I have created. Which of these films have you seen? Which ones did you love? Are there any favorites that you just ‘don’t get’? Any that you’d add to the list? I will put a (*) by my personal favorites:

Sri Chaar Sau Bees/ Sri 420

Mother India

Guide *

Mirch Masala*

Arth*

Masoom*

Mughal e Azam

Pakeeza

Silsila

Kabhi Kabhi

Amar, Akbar, Anthony

Sholay

Ham Aapke Hain Kaun?*

Maine Pyaar Kiya*

Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak

Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge

Umrao Jaan (original)**** (I love this film. It is sooo tryst and beautiful!)

Kuch Kuch Hota Hai*

Ham Dil De Chuke Sanam

Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham

Devdas

Parineeta

Bandit Queen

Mr. and Mrs. Iyer*

Munna Bhai MBBS

Dil To Paagal Hai

Lamhe

Chandni

Edit: My husband would like it if I add his faves (not an exhaustive list): Namak Halaal, Mausam, Amar Prem, Aapki Qasam, Basera, Karishma, Jo Jeeta Voh Sikandar, Faraar, Yaaraana, Qurbaani,  Lagaan, and Kaala Pathar. He also loves most Amir Khan films. He loved 3 Idiots.

I haven’t seen any of these except for Namak Halaal, Jo Jeeta Voh Sikandar, Lagaan, and 3 Idiots. More for me to explore!

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