India is one of the main sources of inspiration for KENZO’s 2013 Fall-Winter collection. Carol and Humberto have drawn on Indian dance and cinema to offer an innovative reinterpretation of Bollywood culture, combined with more contemporary and punk codes. Here is a compilation of our ten favorite Bollywood films to get you started!
Aan (The Savage Princess) by Mehboob Khan, 1950
The first Bollywood film in Technicolor, this colossal production was a milestone, produced with ambitions equal to the greatest American epic films. It is a love story between a peasant and a princess, against a backdrop of the class struggle in the realm of the maharajahs. With first-rate casting and sumptuous sets, Aan is no less magnificent than Cecil B. DeMille’s Cleopatra.
Mother India by Mehboob Khan, 1957
This is the Hindi answer to Gone with the Wind. A young peasant woman, devoted to her family, leads a life of exhausting toil and respect for traditions. Exploited, she is torn between acceptance and rebellion, and as such she symbolizes the whole country. Inspired by the masters, including John Ford and Eisenstein, this film also bears the mark of a director who is capable of presenting the plight of a nation in a single individual.
Mughal – E – Azam by K. Asif, 1960
This film influenced a whole slate of movies, up to the famous Devdas (2002). This complete work tells the story of star-crossed lovers, a prince who is heir to the Mogul throne and a commoner serving at court. With the remarkable performance of the actors and the director’s ability to offer an intelligent depiction of the essential themes of Indian cinema, everything conspires to make Mughal – E – Azam a film that fully lives up to its means.
King, Queen and Slave (Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam) by Abrar Alvi, 1962
The dialog writer of the mythic actor and director Guru Dutt, who produced the film, made this film in the spirit of his mentor. As an aging architect wanders about the ruins of a palace, memories come back to him about a young man from the countryside who finds himself trapped between two women, in one of the most influential films in the history of Indian cinema.
Pakeezah (Pure Heart) by Kamal Amrohi, 1971
A prostitute dies giving birth to her daughter. The child is placed in the care of her aunt and grows up in a brothel where she learns to sing and dance. Seduced by a man of good family, she refuses to marry him, so as not to damage the reputation of the man she loves. It turns out that he is her cousin. The filming was mythic, and took place over a period of fifteen years. The leading lady became seriously ill and died shortly after the film was released.
Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (The Big-Hearted Will Win the Bride) by Aditya Chopra, 1995
This is the Bollywood film revival, anticipated especially by one segment of its audience: young expatriates of the Indian diaspora. Taking up the basic codes of the genre, the film offers a fundamental shift because it tells the love story of two Indians living in Great Britain. Aditya Chopra signs a moving plea for closer understanding between immigrant communities and their families who stayed in India. The message is heard: this film is one of the biggest hits in history, with a record run in cinemas (over 600 weeks). The film also established the reputation of Shahrukh Khan as the undisputed icon of the genre, who went on to star in a continuous series of his greatest hits.
Devdas by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, 2002
This new adaptation of the most powerful Indian myth of the 20th century, a love story made impossible by the caste system, was presented at the Festival de Cannes in 2002 and it is the point of departure for a new phase of international popularity for Bollywood film. Supported by regal casting (Aishwarya Rai and Shahrukh Khan) and a colossal budget, this new version puts the emphasis on the symbolic and universal dimension of the legend.
Veer-Zaara by Yash Chopra, 2004
The father of Aditya Chopra directs Shahrukh Khan in one of his greatest critical and commercial successes. The elder Chopra, who died last year, had a career of impressive longevity and consistency. Here, the director’s lyrical and grandiose vein turns to a story written by his son: the impossible romance between an Indian soldier and a Pakistani woman. One of the greatest Indian hits on the international scene, with, in particular, screenings that drew notice at the Berlin and Marrakech film festivals.
Swades, We the People by Ashutosh Gowariker, 2004
The ubiquitous Shahrukh Khan is at the center of this story about an expatriate engineer in the United States who returns to India to reconnect with his roots. Conforming to the canons of the genre (duration, singing, etc…), the film is surprising because of its social tone and its realism. A chronicle of the political and sociocultural limits of the Indian people, Swades illustrates the mantra of its author: “Films must entertain but they should also leave the viewer with something deeper.”
Ra.One (Voltage) by Anubhav Sinha, 2011
Indomitable, Shahrukh Khan is back for the biggest budget film in the history of Bollywood, the story of two virtual beings who find themselves in our world, where they face off with no pity. Wildly fantastic, this film is a good example of the enormity of the divide that separates Indian culture from Western standards. One of the songs from the original sound track, Chammak Challo, composed by American R’n’B singer, Akon, was one of the top hits of the year.