Watch: 5 Bollywood Films Streaming on Netflix Worth Watching - Sheba Karim
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Watch: 5 Bollywood Films Streaming on Netflix Worth Watching

If your association with Bollywood is over the top dance numbers and predictable plot lines, it’s time to reacquaint yourself! Though cheesy Bollywood films still abound, there has been a new wave of Indian cinema, ranging from small indie films to bigger budget productions—smart, funny, often unflinching. Here are five films streaming on Netflix that are worth your while:

  1. Sulemaani Keeda – In this comedic slacker bromance, two best friend screenwriters discover how difficult it is to make it in Bollywood with your artistic integrity, and your heart, intact. It’s very funny and features a touching, non-cliche romance, with great performances and a lovely sarangi piece by Yuji Nakagawa.
  2. Angry Indian Goddesses – Billed as India’s first “female buddy pic,” this film begins as a lighthearted romp but quickly addresses heavy issues such as the objectification of women, gender inequality, rape culture, suicide, same sex marriage and tribal rights. It has an appealing all female ensemble cast and is one the best (and few) depictions of female friendships I’ve seen in Indian cinema. The movie’s dark but ultimately necessary turn serves as a sobering reminder of how far we have to go.
  3. The Violin Player – I knew nothing about this movie going in, and I’m glad I didn’t, so I’ll only say that this short feature follows the day in a life of a Bollywood session violinist who, after meeting a mysterious stranger, makes a startling discovery that upends his life.
  4. Masaan – A poignant film beautifully shot in Varanasi, Masaan follows the parallel stories of Devi, a young woman determined to rise above a recent scandal, and Deepak, a low caste boy who falls in love with an upper caste girl. A moving meditation on loss, hope and heartbreak.
  5. Udta Punjab – This exploration of Punjab’s brutal drug epidemic is the most “Bollywood” of the films listed here. Though at times the plot can feel slightly contrived, it’s both an entertaining and deeply disturbing film, and worth watching just for Shahid Kapoor and Alia Bhatt’s standout performances.