Dilwale Dulhania le Jayenge is, I believe, the only proper “Bollywood” movie to make the list. Now, for those who aren’t familiar with Bollywood (the Hollywood of India), it has a great many tropes and conventions associated with it, probably as much so as Hollywood movies do, though we likely aren’t consciously aware of our own conventions, so Bollywood’s seem that much more apparent to us. But still, for us Americans, a Bollywood movie just seems weird, with its constant musical numbers and melodrama, as well as its usually long length. But once I dived into this one, the time seemed to pass with no trouble at all, and I found myself quite enjoying what this did have to offer.
If you ever had a picture in your mind of what a typical Bollywood movie was like, this would undoubtedly fit it to a T. Ever-present Indian music, set to occasional ludicrously over-the-top dance sequences; really, why this wasn’t classified as a musical in the Book’s appendix is beyond me. Not that this really qualifies as a proper musical; the musical numbers aren’t even a part of the narrative, they’re that disjointed and “out there”. This was weird for me, in that I actually think the film would’ve been better off if it had been played straight, but I can understand the cultural mass appeal that the presentation of the film had for Indian moviegoers. Still, if this were remade either in India or in America without the intrusive musical numbers, and maybe with a good portion of the length cut off, I would probably watch it.
And, oh yeah; points off for the overdubbing. It actually would’ve been fine, but the songs were far too egregious with it for me to overlook it.
I’m not that versed in Bollywood cinema, so I can’t attest to why this one was chosen over all the others, but whether or not this really deserved it over all the other potential candidates, I’m okay with this one making it. The constant songs aside, I enjoyed this, partly because I made a mental switch where I’d enjoy the musical numbers for what they were, then flip the switch and enjoy the actual movie and its love story, without the musical numbers getting in the way. Now, there is one big caveat that’s keeping me from giving this a solid recommendation, aside from what I’ve already mentioned: it’s long. Like, incredibly so. Watching the film, you can understand, with the development of the relationship and the subsequent development of the romance-chasing story in the second half, why it is the length it is, but that still doesn’t mean it’s not the length that it is, so this will be quite the investment on your part to get through, but thankfully, the film makes it a lot easier than it otherwise would be, usually (oddly enough) thanks to the very things I mentioned in this review that make the film stand out from a typical Hollywood production. If you have the time (over three hours worth), and would like to experience what this whole Bollywood thing is all about, this would be a great candidate for your entry into the genre. Just remember, it is still technically a musical, albeit a foreign one, so if musicals aren’t your thing, this will likely rub you the wrong way.
Arbitrary Rating: 8/10