Dear Nick Jonas, Here’s Your Beginner’s Guide to Bollywood

[Photo Source: Priyanka Chopra / Instagram]

Dear Nick Jonas,

The Brown Girl community is pleased to inform you that you have WON THE LOTTERY. Confused? Didn’t buy a ticket? We’re not referring to money, but to the Indian goddess who you’ll soon be able to call your wife – Priyanka Chopra.

Listen, Nick. We want this to work. “When You Look Me in the Eyes” got me through my first heartbreak in 6th grade, and I’m sure your music and [lack of] acting talent has touched many more brown girls around the world. Plus, your recent Vogue cover with PC which profiles your too sweet for words romance should help push many of our Bollywood queen’s fans into your corner.

So, Nick Jonas, in an attempt to help you succeed in your new life, here is your beginner’s guide to Bollywood.

LESSON #1: What is Bollywood?

Never forget that “Bollywood” is not an all-inclusive term for any Indian film. You don’t call every sandwich a burger, now do you? Bollywood refers to the Hindi-language film industry. Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Tulu (to name a few) are all Indian languages with entirely different film industries (and I highly recommend that you check them out).

Words To Know:

  1. ‘Masala’ – When a dish is seemingly boring and you want to add some favor, what do you do? You add spices, you add masala. Bollywood filmmakers LOVE to add ‘masala’ to their films so there’s never a dull moment (ie. an affair, an incestual relationship, a divorce, dramatic parental disapproval etc. etc.)
  2. ‘Filmy’ – The Bollywood translation of the popular American pop culture term ‘extra’
  3. ‘Mohabbat’ ‘Pyaar’ ‘Ishk’ ‘Prem’ – Popular Hindi synonyms for the word ‘love’
via Giphy

LESSON #2: Bollywood Royalty to Know (with Hollywood Comparisons for Reference)

Bollywood is essentially run by four entities: (1) the Khans (2) the Kapoors (3) Misc. (Akhtars, Singhs, and anyone else who can finagle their way into the business by being a second cousin or twice removed nephew) and (4) Karan Johar (a perfect combination of Nicholas Sparks and Perez Hilton who desperately needs to be taken to a real prom).

Timeless Actors/Actresses To Know:

  1. Amitabh Bachchan is our Morgan Freeman
  2. Rishi Kapoor is our Robin Williams
  3. Anil Kapoor is our Tom Hanks
  4. Naseeruddin Shah is our Al Pacino
  5. Rekha is our Sigourney Weaver
  6. Jaya Bachchan is our Julie Andrews
  7. Shabana Azmi is our Meryl Streep
  8. Irrfan Khan is our Daniel Day Lewis
  9. Sridevi really has no Hollywood comp because she was just so fantastic in her own way (RIP to the legend).
Sridevi (via Giphy)

Actors To Know:

  1. Shahrukh Khan is our Robert Downey Jr
  2. Aamir Khan is our Leonardo DiCaprio
  3. Salman Khan is our Vin Diesel
  4. Hrithik Roshan is our Bradley Cooper
  5. Ranbir Kapoor is our Ryan Gosling

Actresses To Know:

  1. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is…well, she’s Aishwarya Rai. You should know who that is already.
  2. Alia Bhatt is our Brie Larson
  3. Sonam Kapoor is our Jennifer Lawrence/Kristen Bell
  4. Anuskha Sharma is our Emma Stone
  5. Deepika Padukone is our Margot Robbie
Deepika Padukone (via Giphy)

LESSON #3: Movies ESSENTIAL to Bollywood Pop-Culture, and What You Should Take Away from Them.

1. “Sholay” (1975)

  • Harmonicas are hot
  • Making the sound effect “dishoom” as you punch someone adds to the strength of your punch (probably).
  • The name ‘Gabbar Singh’ is commonly used as an adjective now

2. “Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge” (1995) (more commonly known as DDLJ)

  • Be the ‘Raj’ to Priyanka’s ‘Simran’
  • All Indian dads have crazy eyes
  • What is Karwa Chauth?
via Giphy

3. “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai” (1998)

  • Girls are better at everything, guys only win if they cheat.
  • “Pyaar Dosti Hai”
  • Indians have since actually learned the rules of basketball
    (we think…).

4. “Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham” (2001) (More Commonly Known as “K3G”)

  • “Rahul, take a chill pill!”
  • PHAT stands for “Pretty Hot And Tempting”
  • If this relationship is going to work, you need to frame a giant painted portrait of Priyanka’s parents in your living room ASAP.
via Giphy

LESSON #4: Your Fiancée’s Best Films (Just to Name a Few)

  1. Don (2006)
  2. Fashion (2008)
  3. Dostana (2008)
  4. Kaminey (2009)
  5. Barfi (2012)
  6. Mary Kom (2014)
  7. Bajirao Mastani (2015)
  8. Dil Dhadakne Do (2015)
“Mary Kom” [via Giphy]

LESSON #5: Movies to Have in Your Bollywood Repertoire

  1. “Lagaan” (2001)
  2. “Dil Chahta Hai” (2001) – A bromance movie done right
  3. “Queen” (2013) – think “Eat Pray Love” but better
  4. “Chak De! India” (2007) – think “A League Of Their Own” but better
  5. “3 Idiots” (2009)
  6. “Shahid” (2012)
  7. “Kapoor and Sons” (2016)
  8. “Pink” (2016)

Overwhelmed yet? You should be. This guide only makes a dent into our “filmy” world (quick, what does “filmy” mean?) but we have no doubt (maybe a little doubt) that with time, you’ll learn about and feel like you’re a part of it.

[Read Related: Celebrating 5 Years of ‘Shuddh Desi Romance’ and Other Great Modern Bollywood Romances]

PS: Never forget that Priyanka may only have one brother, but she has millions and millions of Brown Girls who look up to her, and we will hunt you down if you hurt her. Best wishes to the future newlyweds.

By Nikitha Menon

Nikitha Menon (Nikki) hails from the obscure and snow-ridden Erie, Pennsylvania and has always had a passion for comedy and … Read more ›

‘The Romantics’: Revisiting the Legacy and Grandeur of Yash Chopra With Filmmaker Smriti Mundhra

The Romantics

If you are a South Asian, born in the ’80s or the early ’90s, chances are your ideas of love and romance are heavily influenced by Hindi films — that first gaze, the secret love notes, that accidental meeting somewhere in Europe, over-the-top gestures and dancing around trees. While reality may have been far from what was promised on reel, you still can’t stop pining over a hopeless romantic, with chocolate boy looks, chasing you across the earth and many universes; in the life here and the ones after. Somewhere deep down, you still dream of that possibility despite your husband sitting and sipping his morning coffee right next to you. And much of the credit for weaving this dreamland, that we can’t resist happily sliding into, goes to the legendary Yash Chopra. Award-winning filmmaker Smriti Mundhra’s docu-series, “The Romantics,” that released on Netflix on February 14, chronicles Chopra’s prolific career; offering an illuminating look into the highs and lows of his journey, his unblemished vision for Hindi cinema and sheer love for filmmaking. 

I wanted to look at Indian cinema through the lens of it being a major contributor to the global cinema canon and Yash Chopra seemed like the perfect lens to explore that because of the longevity of his career and the fact that he had worked across so many different genres. His films, for so many of us, defined what Hindi cinema is.

— Smriti Mundhra

As “The Romantics” unveils, in a mere episode — a challenging feat in itself — Chopra did experiment with multiple genres as a budding filmmaker, initially under the shadows of his elder brother B.R. Chopra. From the religiously sensitive “Dharamputra” and the trendsetting “Waqt” to the action-packed and iconic “Deewaar.” It wasn’t until later on in his career that he set a precedent for a Hindi film having a wholly romantic narrative; though “Waqt” did offer the perfect glimpse into what would go on to become Chopra’s cinematic imprint. And then came “Chandni” which ushered in a new era for Hindi cinema; defying the formulaic approach to box office success and making love stories the golden goose.

In the words of more than 30 famous faces, a host of archival videos and interviews, and personal anecdotes, audiences get an extensive insight into the life and career of Yash Chopra and the evolution of his vision through the business acumen and genius of his polar opposite son and a famous recluse, Aditya Chopra. “The Romantics” is not a fancy portrait of a legendary filmmaker but an exploration of what goes into making a successful film family and a path-breaking production house. As viewers, we not only get a peek into the making of a fantasy creator but also learn of the many failures, hurdles and uncertainties that the business of filmmaking comes packaged in, the impact of socio-political shifts on the kind of content being produced and demanded, and just how much control we have as an audience over the fate of the film and the filmmaker.

For both the uninitiated and fanatics, there are some interesting revelations like Shah Rukh Khan’s lifelong desire to become an action hero as opposed to a romantic one and the creative conflict between Aditya Chopra and his father Yash Chopra on the sets of “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaayenge” — a project that, surprisingly, did not seem too promising to the latter. Mundhra penetrates deep into the family’s history and industry relationships evoking some really candid conversations; almost as if these celebs were eagerly waiting for their moment to speak. With one appraising interview after the other, it’s a panegyric that does border on being a tad tedious but there is enough depth and fodder in there to keep one hooked. Kudos to Mundhra for managing to achieve cohesion despite there being more than enough material to chew on. In the process of bringing this project to life, Mundhra also ends up achieving a number of milestones: one that the series features the last of actor Rishi Kapoor’s interviews and two, it brings Aditya Chopra, who, it appears, can talk a blue streak contrary to popular belief, to the front of the camera after almost two decades. The moment when he puts the nepotism debate to rest by referring to his brother’s catastrophic attempt at acting is quite the show-stealer.


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A post shared by Smriti Mundhra (@smritimundhra)

At some point during the four-episode series, you might question if it’s fair to credit the Yash Raj family for being the only real changemakers of the Hindi film industry and for picking up the baton to get Hindi cinema the global recognition that it has. But then there is no denying the Chopra clan’s body of work, their ability to understand what pleases the crowd and their commitment towards growth and progress amidst changing times and technology — Yash Raj Studios is in fact the only privately held and one of the biggest, state-of-the-art film studios in India. Chopra’s career and legacy are in no way under-lit that Mundhra can claim to throw new light on with “The Romantics.” But what she really has on offer here are sheer nostalgia, some fascinating discoveries and an ode to a cinephile and his art with a bit of fan service.

In an interview with Brown Girl Magazine, Mundhra discusses why it was so important for Chopra to be the subject of her docu-series, her own learnings during the series’ research and creative process and her accomplishment of getting Aditya Chopra to talk, and that too, at length.

By Nida Hasan

Editor by profession, writer by passion, and a mother 24/7, Nida is a member of Brown Girl Lifestyle's editing team … Read more ›