Recently we stumbled into a couple of Indian films that really impressed us. I say "stumbled" because the first - Bajrangi Bhaijaan - was posted at the theater with only its Hindi title; no poster, no screen shots, no plot summary. We took a chance on it because we 'd been impressed by such actors as Irrfan Khan and his story-driven films The Namesake and The Lunchbox. (Also, we rather like the energetic dancing and singing so characteristic of the Bollywood films coming out of Mumbai.)
Bajrangi Bhaijaan, with Indian mega-star Salman Khan, turned out to be one of the best films we'd seen in years. It's about a mute little girl from Pakistan who gets separated from her mother in India, and the man who takes it upon himself to find out where she's from and take her home, all of which is complicated by the political tensions between the two countries. We laughed, we cried, we were on the edge of our seats for 2 hours and 45 minutes (yes, Indian films run long, but you don't notice). It's a terrific film and the little girl is wonderfully appealing. Big stars take a risk in appearing with scene-stealing children, but here Khan holds his own in a role that shows his human side, and the kid really sells it.
|Child actress Harshaali Malhotra with Salman Khan|
Indian cinema has come into its own and with better promotion could crossover to a general American audience. The production values are extremely good; in fact, we loved these two so much we saw them twice in the theater and plan to purchase them on disk as soon as they're available.
Salman Khan has a new film coming out in U.S. theaters in mid-November - Prem Ratan Dhan Payo. We can hardly wait.