Some of my friends think I am crazy. Some of them think I am working on a book on the subject. For just about two years, I have been watching Indian films at the rate of one or two a week, sometimes re-watching the same recent release three, four, or five times. It was the madness of the 2016 presidential campaign that drove me looking for something on Netflix other than dystopian fantasy back in later September, 2015. But one movie -- Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham -- led to another, and another, and another. When people ask me why, it's hard to explain just how rich this journey as been, and how hungry for more I am with every film I see. Yes, Shah Rukh Khan (photo on the right) was the gateway drug, but watching his films led me to discover the music of A.R. Rahman, learn more and more about the story of Buddhism and Islam in India, go back and relearn what I once knew about Indian textiles and clothing, and so much more. I even just started listening to an audiotext on basic Hindi. My only regret is that I didn't discover this cultural treasure trove until my mid-60s.
The most interesting films for me are the ones that open my eyes to my own culture and my own assumptions and beliefs -- most recently the romantic film Jab Harry Met Sejal, which is appealing to this American not only because the music is glorious and the acting superb, but also because while love may be universal, the lovers' expectations and boundaries are bound up in their identities as Indians. The more I understand Harry and Sejal, the deeper my understanding of their world and my own.
Thanks, India, for over 100 years of films to explore!